Water Policy

Obama 'Celebrates' World Water Day by Approving Polluting Pipeline

By Dan Bacher

After rejecting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal in January, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced his plan to fast- track the construction of the pipeline's southern end at a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma.

As Native American activists protested the pipeline on the motorcade route miles from the President’s pro-oil event, Obama explained that the TransCanada company has applied to build a new pipeline to "speed more oil" from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast.

Klamath Riverkeeper Plans To Sue Shasta River Dam Operator

By Dan Bacher

In a major effort to restore coho salmon to the Shasta River, the Klamath Riverkeeper (KRK) is planning to sue the operator of a dam and reservoir on the major Klamath River tributary.

On March 12, the group filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue the Montague Water Conservation District (MWCD) for ongoing operation of Dwinnell Dam and associated diversions in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Notice provides an opportunity for the District to propose measures to settle the claims before initiating a judicial proceeding, according to KRK Executive Director Erica Terence.

United Delta Community Leaders: You Can’t Restore the Delta by Draining It

By Ann Johnston
Mayor of Stockton, Delta Coalition leader

How is it possible to restore the Delta by taking millions of acre-feet of water out of it each year? That is exactly what the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) proposes to do.

The Delta Coalition, a group of private businesses, local governments, environmental advocates, farmers and fishermen, are united in opposing any plan that would take millions of acre-feet of water out of the Delta every year and send it directly to multinational corporate agribusiness by a peripheral canal or tunnel.  We have lost millions of acre-feet of water in recent decades, and that is why our Delta is so fragile now.

A Victory for Central Valley Salmon

By Kate Poole
Natural Resources Defense Council

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit ruled, once again, that Westlands Water District and other junior Central Valley Project (CVP) water users in the San Joaquin Valley are only entitled to “surplus” water from California’s Bay-Delta, and are not entitled to flows that Congress dedicated to restore California’s beleaguered salmon runs. The decision may be found in full here. This decision should put a rest to the relentless campaign by Westlands’ approximately 600 agribusinesses to elevate their claims to California’s water resources above the public’s interest in healthy rivers and fisheries.

Here are a few highlights of the decision:

The court reiterates that the CVP was initially authorized “to provide for the transportation of ‘surplus’ waters within the Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin River.” Page 5.

Oppose the "State Water Rights Repeal Act" (H.R. 1837)

By Doug Obegi
Natural Resources Defense Council

This week, the House is scheduled to vote on “State Water Rights Repeal Act” (H.R. 1837). This bill would devastate California’s rivers, the Bay-Delta estuary, our fisheries and wildlife, and the jobs and communities that depend on their health. The legislation is opposed by the State of California, California’s two Senators, more than 10 members of the state’s House delegation, the leaders of both state legislative houses, and literally hundreds of commercial and recreational fishing associations, environmental groups, water districts, local governments, and farmers. See here for more information about those who oppose this bill.

Here’s a quick rundown on some of this radical bill’s most harmful provisions.

Not a Drop to Drink: Inside California's Water Crisis

By Elizabeth Royte
On Earth Magazine

When Josie Nieto visits her relatives in Mexicali, Mexico, she luxuriates in long showers. And when she’s thirsty, she enjoys a glass of water straight from the kitchen tap. At Nieto’s own house, the water pressure is so low it can take her 45 minutes to shower and shampoo. And sometimes there’s no water at all, which is why some of her neighbors hoard water in buckets. It’s fine for laundry and houseplants, but Nieto isn’t keen on drinking the stuff. The main pipe of her community water system runs straight down the middle of an irrigation ditch. "I’ve seen dead animals in there," Nieto says.

Nunes Bill to Remove Delta Protections Passes Committee

By Dan Bacher

The House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday approved H.R. 1837, a bill that would eliminate environmental protections for the Delta and Central Valley rivers, secure more water for corporate agribusiness on the San Joaquin Valley's west side and upend water rights in California.  

Congressional Republicans and agribusiness interests celebrated the Committee's passage of the legislation as a "historic North-South compromise that will protect all users," while Northern California Congressional Democrats, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Delta advocates slammed the bill as a "job killer" and "water grab."   

The Path to Success in the Bay-Delta

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

In his State of the State address, Governor Brown emphasized his commitment to developing a visionary Bay-Delta plan that will restore the estuary and its fish, and ensure a reliable water supply.  Developing this plan will require hard work, but it can be done. The Bay Area has a great deal at stake. The Bay-Delta is the defining feature of our region.  It provides a cornucopia of recreational opportunities and is a major reason why people choose to live here.  But this ecosystem is in trouble, as shown by the plight of Chinook salmon.  

Feds Approve Ban on Cruise Ship Sewage Discharge

By Dan Bacher

The federal government on February 9 approved a landmark California proposal banning the discharge of more than 22 million gallons of treated vessel sewage to shorelines and shallow marine waters in California every year, drawing praise from environmental and shipping industry groups alike.

U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld signed a rule that will finalize EPA’s decision and approve a state proposal to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along California’s 1,624 mile coast from Mexico to Oregon and surrounding major islands.

The action established a new federal regulation banning even treated sewage from being discharged in California’s marine waters.

Repeal $11.14 Billion Water Bond

By Kristin Lynch
Pacific Region Director for Food & Water Watch

Corporate agriculture giants are plotting a massive, multi-billion dollar water heist and they want you to pay for it. Part of their thirst was quenched in December when Senator Feinstein made it easier for them to resell public water for private profit. Now these water barons have their eyes set on a bigger prize: passage of an $11.14 billion bond measure to help them tap the Sacramento River. In order to protect California’s fiscal and environmental health, the state legislature should repeal this wasteful bond.