NEWS

Longtime Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham announced Nov. 23 that he will retire as of Dec. 31. “I am retiring with extreme pride in the things Westlands had accomplished over the last two decades,” he wrote in an email announcement. Birmingham had faced the likelihood that a newly-elected majority on the Westlands board…
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,…
–California’s crippling three-year drought is revealing the unique water vulnerabilities of small towns across the San Joaquin Valley. And while the state has stepped in to help impoverished communities and residents whose wells have gone dry due to plummeting groundwater levels, the handful of towns on the valley’s west side that rely on surface supplies…
Divisions are deepening within the giant Westlands Water District as some growers fear the district’s longtime, controversial general manager is amassing too much power. In mid-February, district staff proposed new groundwater rules that would give General Manager Tom Birmingham almost total control over how groundwater is accounted for and to which grower accounts it would…
Groundwater plans for two regions in the western San Joaquin Valley were deemed deficient by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Friday. The Westside subbasin, overseen by Westlands Water District, and the Delta-Mendota subbasin’s plans were officially labeled as “incomplete” by DWR. The state also found groundwater plans for the Paso Robles and…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water reporting intern
During a contentious Westlands Water District meeting on Tuesday where growers spoke out against district leadership, board members voted 8-1 to extend General Manager Tom Birmingham’s contract another three years. As has been the district’s recent practice, the contract extension came a year before Birmingham’s contract expires. Westlands growers criticized Birmingham, expressed frustration at the…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water reporting intern
Water transfers, trades and sales doubled this year as drought left San Joaquin Valley farmers scrambling for supplies. “This has been kind of an exceptional year for transfers,” said Sam Boland-Brien, program manager at the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights. Boland-Brien said he’s seen about twice the amount of transfers this…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water reporting intern
This story was produced with funding and support from Fresnoland, for the Fresno Bee. Republishing is encouraged 48 hours after initial posting. The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired. Now, with the drought, those well projects are…
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance Authority meeting on Thursday. This is a scaled down version of a proposal under Gov….
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Maven’s Notebook is an excellent daily accounting of California water happenings statewide.