NEWS

by Lois Henry
Several public interest groups sued the City of Bakersfield Nov. 30 alleging the city has been derelict in its operation of the Kern River by diverting most of its flows to agriculture and other uses leaving a dry riverbed through the heart of town. “The river is dry, but not because of a lack of…
by Rose Horowitch, SJV Water reporting intern
A lawsuit over groundwater plans in the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley is being closely watched as it could have implications for how the state’s groundwater mandate moves forward, according to a recent briefing on the issue at the Kern Groundwater Authority. At the Nov. 16 meeting, authority attorney Valerie Kincaid explained that…
In the chronically overpumped San Joaquin Valley, groundwater recharge can’t happen fast enough. And researchers at University of California, Davis and Stanford University have found underground highways that could put recharge into the fast lane.  In a new paper released today, scientists show that airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys flown with helicopters can locate ancient underground…
The math was not in Tom Birmingham’s favor. It was clear weeks before the Nov. 8 election that the board of the massive Westlands Water District in western Fresno County would be changing. And that change would likely result in the controversial General Manager’s ouster. There were four board seats up for election. A preliminary…
by Rose Horowitch, SJV Water reporting intern
After an election night marked by statewide victories for moderate Democrats, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s biggest agricultural water districts assessed how best to maintain its influence.  During the Nov. 9 Board of Directors meeting of the Semitropic Water Storage District, former Democratic state senator Dean Florez, now a lobbyist for Semitropic, updated the…
The makeup of the Westlands Water District board will change this election – shifting power to a coalition of growers with a list of new actions, at the top of which appears to be ousting longtime General Manager Tom Birmingham. “There needs to be a change of leadership, that’s a foundational issue,” said Sarah Woolf,…
by Rose Horowitch, SJV Water reporting intern
Two more members of the Kern Groundwater Authority (KGA) announced that they will form their own groundwater sustainability agencies, continuing a pattern of members distancing themselves from Kern County’s largest groundwater agency. The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District and North Kern Water Storage District will each form their own GSA, it was announced at the Oct. 26…
by Jesse Vad and Lois Henry, SJV Water
A long simmering water war between Kings County’s two biggest farming entities blew up Wednesday over groundwater when the state rejected the region’s plan to shore up its declining aquifer. The fallout could be significant if the state pursues enforcement, which could include pumping limits, steep fines and fees for all groundwater users in the…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Though $40 million was added to the state’s farmland retirement pot, some worry it won’t be nearly enough. Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the funding Tuesday night to be added to the state’s new Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program. The program, initially funded with $50 million in 2021,  pays for farmland to be taken out of production…
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Maven’s Notebook is an excellent daily accounting of California water happenings statewide.