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   Spotlight Archive / 2015


Snowpack Is Better than Last Year, But….
DWR’s first media-oriented snow survey of the season on December 30 found conditions much improved at Phillips Station 90 miles east of Sacramento compared to last winter. How could it not? The last measurement there was April 15, 2015, when there was no snow whatsoever at Phillips. Today’s manual reading by Surveys chief Frank Gehrke (in red coat) found 16.3 inches of snow water equivalent, 136 percent of average for this date. Statewide, electronic readings found the water content at 105 percent of average – about twice as much as last year but nothing to shout about. Video and News release.   (12-30-15)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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DWR Grant Facilitates Emergency Groundwater Well
When a reservoir holding more than a million acre-feet is close to literally hitting rock bottom, it’s time to call in the troops. This week, Lake McClure, which provides water for the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District, reported its lowest storage on record at 63,819 acre-feet. Good news is DWR funded a grant to provide quick completion of emergency groundwater wells to serve approximately 3,500 in the Coulterville and La Grange areas of Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. The wells are now producing approximately 350 gallons of water per minute. When fully operated, the wells can also act as a backup water supply in future droughts, plus provide additional supply to a growing community.   (12-18-15)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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DWR Prepositions Flood Fight Materials Across State
As part of preparing for the flood season and in response to several agency requests for flood fight materials, DWR strategically prepositioned flood fight materials in warehouses and pre-loaded containers throughout the State. Having these materials in place prior to a flood event allows DWR to support local response immediately. Each container typically holds up to 20,000 sandbags, 6,000 feet of plastic sheeting, 2,000 wooden stakes, 16 boxes of twine and one box of buttons. By December 2015, DWR flood fight materials will be located in 25 locations from Southern California to the Central Valley and the North Coast to better facilitate flood emergency response.   (12-11-15)
Flood Management Photography
DWR Gets Ready for Winter Season
To prepare for California’s wet weather, DWR employees held statewide flood emergency response meetings and flood fight training classes. Since September, a dozen preseason meetings with speakers from the National Weather Service, County Office of Emergency Services, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Conservation Corps, CAL FIRE and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covered winter weather outlook, regional updates, emergency roles and responsibilities and web resources. Rick Burnett, DWR Flood Fight Specialist and other DWR staff have trained more than 1000 people statewide on sandbagging and levee repair methods. These preparedness activities with federal, state, county and local partners builds alignment, capability and operational capacity to respond to flood emergencies.   (12-02-15)
DWR Photography/John Chacon
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First Major Milestone Achieved as Groundwater Basin Boundary Regulations Go Into Effect
Reaching its first major milestone under the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), on November 16, 2015 the Department of Water Resources (DWR) implemented new basin boundary regulations, a key provision of the groundwater law. Establishment of the regulations comes well in advance of the January 1, 2016 SGMA deadline, effectively giving local agencies an additional six weeks to prepare their requests for any basin boundary changes. DWR will accept requests from local agencies for basin boundary modifications from January 1, 2016 through March 31, 2016. “This is a noteworthy accomplishment for DWR and for the future of groundwater management in California,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “SGMA established a roadmap of goals and milestones for the next several years that will eventually lead to sustainable management of groundwater. Today DWR successfully reached the first milestone, and local agencies have the benefit of more time.”
Basin Boundary Regulations   (11-23-15)
DWR Photography/John Chacon
California’s Largest Dam Removal Project Wraps Up
DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) is making its final visits during the 2015 winter months to the San Clemente Dam removal project site as demolition and construction wraps up in Monterey County. The 106-foot tall arch concrete dam was removed from the Carmel River in August of 2015 to eliminate the seismic safety risk it posed. In addition to DSOD Engineers and Geologists reviewing and approving the demolition plan, they inspected the site to ensure stability of the land surrounding the demolished dam and the two new sediment retention structures. Further restoration work is expected in 2016 by the dam owner. For more information, visit http://www.sanclementedamremoval.org/   (11-17-15)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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Flood Prepare California! Even during Drought
With rain totals rising across the state and the snowpack growing in the Sierra, it may be easy to forget California is still in the grips of an historic drought. And, with California suffering the effects of drought, it may be easy to assume you aren’t at risk for catastrophic flooding. But the truth is, in California, drought and catastrophic flooding go hand in hand. So, while you continue to conserve water throughout this rain season, Flood Prepare California! Watch this Public Service Announcement, brought to you from the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District. View PSA at https://vimeo.com/145184295 and in Spanish at https://vimeo.com/145205820 (11-10-15)
A New Habitat Destination
November 5, 2015 marks a special day for the Salton Sea. The Red Hill Bay Project, the first of multiple Salton Sea restoration projects, was recognized with a groundbreaking ceremony honoring the construction of new pumps that will allow the passing of Alamo River water to fill 400 acres of the parched salty playa. The blending of agricultural drain water and sea water will create a marine-like pond, providing a shallow feeding destination for important migratory birds and preventing dust emission from the dry land. DWR is responsible for dispersing Proposition 84 grant funds provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, administering the agreements and ensuring CEQA compliance. The project is a joint effort between United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Imperial Irrigation District, and is being implemented under the Natural Resources Agency’s Salton Sea Management Program. Visit http://www.water.ca.gov/saltonsea/ for more information.  (11-05-15)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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DWR Promoting Water-Efficient Landscaping
DWR is on the road throughout California to familiarize local land use agencies and water suppliers with the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO). To cope with the current drought and build resilience for future dry periods, MWELO limits the installation of high water use turf, except for sports fields and some other purposes, requires installation of efficient sprinkler nozzles and bans high water use plants in street medians and parkways with few exceptions. An October 30th workshop was held at Sacramento City Hall with more sessions scheduled for Turlock, San Marcos and South Pasadena. Most agencies have until December 1st, 2015 to adopt a water efficient landscape ordinance, and those local agencies working together have until February 1, 2016 to develop their own regional ordinances incorporating goals of the MWELO. For workshop information, http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/landscapeordinance/docs/workshop%20flyer_pg1_102715.pdf   (10-30-15)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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Salmon Passage Project Nears Completion
To keep salmon in the Sacramento River, the Knights Landing Outfall Gates project led by DWR and several state, federal and local agencies will be completed this fall. One of several projects planned to help salmon recover in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, the $2.5 million project at the 100-year-old gates will keep fish from straying into the Colusa Basin Drain. At the event on October 22, DWR Director Mark Cowin highlighted the integration of fish, farm, water supply and waterfowl benefits in the project. Other speakers included Chuck Bonham of Fish and Wildlfe, Pablo Arroyave of the Bureau of Reclamation and Fritz Durst of Reclamation District 108. For project information, view News Release or video at http://www.rd108.org/video-klog/   (10-22-15)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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Flood Preparedness Week
As if on cue from a Hollywood director, the heavens opened over Southern California late last week as emergency response officials prepared for floods. Bill Croyle, DWR’s Deputy Director for Statewide Emergency Preparedness and Security, joined other State and local officials in Los Angeles today to kick off California Flood Preparedness Week. They urged Californians to prepare for the looming flood threat in a potentially record El Niño year. One place to start is the Flood Prepare California website, where residents can enter their home or office address to learn their personal risk of flooding and other hazards. Water conservation is still mandated throughout California. Video https://youtu.be/HL6RXpSksns   (10-19-15)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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‘Stepping Up’ to Save Water
Appropriately entitled “Stepping Up,” a new Save Our Water TV commercial highlights ways Californians are saving water as the state moves through its fourth year of drought. The spot is part of SOW’s “Fix it for Good” campaign to encourage actions, such as switching to water efficient toilets and drought-resistant landscaping to make water conservation permanent. “Water conservation is crucial in California, now and in the days to come,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.
Video: https://vimeo.com/139384467 (10-14-15)
Save Our Water Day at Big Fresno Fair
Visitors to the Big Fresno Fair were educated by DWR employees on saving water inside and outside of the home. As part of Save Our Water Day on October 9, DWR’s Drought Emergency Operations Manager Bill Croyle spoke about water conservation, drought issues, DWR’s Turf and Toilet Rebate Program and El Niño outlook. The first 100 guests received save our water bags. The award-winning exhibit titled “Californians Don’t Waste – Save Water in Your Home” is showcasing in the Commerce Building until the fair ends on October 18. For fair information, see http://www.fresnofair.com/
To learn how you can save water, visit saveourwater.com (10-09-15)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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Rock Barrier Dismantling Continues
Management of California’s severe drought, now concluding its fourth water year, has required creativity and persistence at DWR. One of the measures used to maintain water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was installation of an emergency rock barrier in West False River to block saltwater intrusion into the central Delta. The barrier was an essential part of DWR’s strategy to maintain good water quality and preserve water in upstream reservoirs to help keep young salmon cool enough to stay alive downstream of dams. Dismantling of the barrier began in early September and will be completed by mid-November. News Release http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2015/100115droughtbarrier.pdf
Video https://youtu.be/-t3VRyo6RUQ (10-01-15)
DWR Photography
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California Native American Day Highlights Importance of Water
As part of the 48th annual Native American Day at the State Capitol on September 25, DWR and other state and federal agencies promoted the theme of “Water: Protecting Our Natural Resources.” DWR showcased a water conservation exhibit, where kids created water smart bracelets. A second booth featured drought information. Hosted by the California State Tribal Liaisons and the Northern, Southern and Central California Tribal Chairmen’s Associations, the event honored the history and culture of Native Americans in California, featuring traditional dancers, artists, Tribal Leaders and a Tribal flag ceremony. DWR’s Tribal Policy Advisor Anecita Agustinez is Chair of the State Tribal Liaisons, the planning arm of this event. (09-25-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Reservoir’s Dip and Memories of ’77
“The major cause of both this year’s and last year’s drought is the high-pressure system hanging over the eastern Pacific.” Does that look familiar? The quote is from the February 1977 edition of DWR News, but it might as well have been written about California’s current drought, too. The declining storage in the state’s major reservoirs is another similarity. Lake Oroville’s lowest level ever was recorded on September 7, 1977, when storage fell to 24.9 percent of capacity. Oroville’s storage is about 30 percent of capacity, and falling. Whether a new Oroville low-water mark is set in the new water year beginning on October 1 remains to be seen. (09-17-15)
DWR Photography
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Mulching at the Capitol
An easy, practical way to turn homeowners’ yards into rich, drought-tolerant landscapes through mulching was demonstrated on the grounds of the State Capitol on September 14 under the sponsorship of the California Department of General Services and Save Our Water. A sizeable crowd observed “sheet mulching,” an environmentally friendly lawn conversion process that turns soil into an organically rich, spongy bed for California-friendly plants. Save Our Water’s “Fix It for Good” campaign was launched at the event that also included water conservation exhibits. The Save Our Water campaign is sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies. Video of sheet mulching is available here. To view “Fix It for Good” ads, visit https://vimeo.com/138257233 and in Spanish at https://vimeo.com/138346680. News Release (09-14-15)
DWR Photography
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El Niño Is No Guaranteed Drought Buster
With the uncertainty of El Niño’s impact on the drought, Californians must continue to conserve water and be prepared for potential heavy storms and local flooding. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists predict a 95-percent chance that the El Niño now building in the eastern Pacific will continue through California’s winter and gradually weaken in the spring. Of the 22 El Niños since the early 1950s, only five became “drought busters.” According to State Climatologist Michael Anderson, we can’t tell from current El Niño conditions how many storms may arrive in California this winter or how much rain and snow will fall. Strong El Niño events have led to wetter-than-average conditions in Southern California, but offered mixed results for the state’s main water supply regions in the north.
For more El Niño information, view http://water.ca.gov/waterconditions/docs/Drought_ENSO_handout4.pdf
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/
enso_advisory/ensodisc.html

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0tNgVnuYZQ (09-10-15)
Viewing Drought Impacts in the Central Valley
Rows of dead trees across the dry Central Valley may evoke images of the Dust Bowl for some folks on the Water Education Foundation drought tour. Participants got a first-hand view of the devastating effects and impacts of the drought on water systems, businesses and communities. The two-day tour this week included stops at Millerton Lake, diversified cropping operations, dairy and beef cattle operations, Porterville’s drought-impacted communities, land subsidence areas near the California Aqueduct and municipal diversions for Coalinga and Huron. Speakers included DWR Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones, DWR Engineering Geologist John Kirk and DWR Drought Operations Chief Laura Peters. (09-03-15)
DWR Photography
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DWR Seeks Final Public Comment on Key Draft Groundwater Regulations
Historic legislation enacted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last year empowers local agencies to bring groundwater basins into sustainable patterns of pumping and recharge. Defining the boundaries of groundwater basins is crucial to implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) held the first of three public meetings today to solicit final public review and comment on the draft regulations that establish a process for local agencies to follow should they seek to modify the boundaries of a groundwater basin. Today’s meeting was held at the California Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters in Sacramento. For more information, see News Advisory, Website, Video (08-31-15)
DWR Photography - Zack Cunningham
Video Highlights Turf and Toilet Rebates Program
DWR’s new program that provides rebates for turf removal and inefficient toilet replacement is the subject of a video produced by the Public Affair Office’s Video Unit. The goal for both rebates is reducing water use. For more information, visit SaveOurWaterRebates.com and www.water.ca.gov/turf. Video https://youtu.be/wJcMiUM2Q8Q (08-26-15)
DWR Video - Albert Madrid
Symposium Focuses on Climate Change
Water Year 2016 will begin October 1st, and the four-year drought has no end in sight. Warming temperatures, rising sea level, wildfire proliferation and worsening air quality are all results of climate change, which the preponderance of scientific opinion accepts as real. Meeting those and other challenges is the focus of a two-day conference in Sacramento, “California Climate Change Symposium 2015: Using Climate Science to Plan for a Resilient Future.” Scientists, policymakers, academics, agency staff, citizens and many others shared research and perspectives with the goal of creating solutions to guide California water policy in the climate change era. For more information, visit http://www.californiascience.org/#program.
(08-25-15)
DWR Photography - Division of Flood Management
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DWR Aids with Fires in Lake County
To help CAL FIRE equipment and crews access the Rocky and Jerusalem fires in Lake County, DWR built a temporary low-water crossing measuring 110 feet long by 22 feet wide at Cache Creek Regional Park. DWR’s Division of Flood Management staff completed construction on August 14 and are maintaining the crossing until removal in November. The crossing at Highway 16 and County Road 40 in Yolo County was built in two days by eight Sutter Maintenance Yard employees using about 600 tons of material and three 36 inch diameter culvert pipes measuring 40 feet long. DWR, Fish and Wildlife, National Guard and Caltrans were tasked by Cal OES to work with the Yolo County agencies and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation on this project. (08-18-15)
DWR Photography - Division of Flood Management
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San Clemente Dam Coming Down
Demolition of 106-foot tall San Clemente Dam in Monterey County – California’s largest-ever dam removal project – is expected to be completed by the end of this month. Removal of the seismically unsafe, sedimented dam will reopen historic spawning grounds to endangered steelhead trout. DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) is supervising demolition by the California American Water Company, the dam’s owner. For more information, visit http://www.sanclementedamremoval.org/. (08-07-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Perris Dam Seismic Upgrades Underway
State Water Project Contractors check out the construction underway to upgrade the seismic safety of Perris Dam in Southern California. DWR's Division of Engineering and Operations and Maintenance staff show the blasting of the access road and rock processing in the quarry to provide material for construction of a new stability berm. Lake Perris, located 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Riverside County, is the southernmost reservoir on the State Water Project and holds drinking water supplies for millions of Southern Californians served by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency. For more information about construction progress and its impacts, visit website at http://www.water.ca.gov/lakeperris/ (08-04-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Sergio Romo Goes to Bat for ‘Save Our Water’ Sergio Romo Goes to Bat for ‘Save Our Water’
With major reservoirs at drastically low levels, Californians are stepping up to step down water use. Among celebrities pitching conservation is San Francisco Giants star Sergio Romo. In a Public Service Announcement for Save Our Water, the all-star right-hander talks about brown lawns, leaking faucets, drip irrigation and the urgency to use water wisely and sparingly. The video was filmed in the Giants’ stadium garden in cooperation with the Bay Area Council.
Video https://vimeo.com/133789819
(07-31-15)
Will El Niño Help California’s Reservoirs?
Movie audiences once flocked to sci-fi thrillers like The Thing and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Today, Californians are anticipating a real-life drama: Will El Niño Make It Rain? Scientists say there’s a 90-percent chance of a strong one forming in the Pacific this winter, but will rain fill Northern California reservoirs? State Climatologist Mike Anderson says this drama’s ending is still unwritten: “Unfortunately, even a strong El Niño doesn’t correlate to a particular outcome for California.” If this El Niño is a dud, California’s next spooky thriller may be just ahead: A Fifth Year of Drought! Photos of the State Water Project’s Lake Oroville and the Central Valley Project’s Folsom and Shasta lakes taken on July 20, 2015..
(07-22-15) Aerials video
DWR Photography / Paul Hames
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New Landscape Regs Signal Change
DWR’s Water Use and Efficiency Branch has a big role in guiding California toward a “drought-tolerant” future. Governor Brown’s April 1 Executive Order directed DWR to revise the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, which agencies throughout California must consult in developing local guidelines to ensure water efficiency in urban landscapes. The revised model ordinance, which the California Water Commission adopted on July 15, will result in more efficient irrigation systems. It also has provisions for stormwater capture and graywater usage, and it reduces the square-footage size of new landscaping projects that are subject to the ordinance’s provisions. Ordinance details can be found here. See press release.
(07-14-15)
DWR Photography
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Brainstorming Drought Solutions
As the West’s historic drought deepens, government, university and corporate water managers and thinkers gathered in Sacramento July 10 to brainstorm water-saving ideas, highlight conservation successes and discuss obstacles to conservation in California fields, homes and businesses. California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, a summit moderator, stressed the importance of sharing rapidly evolving water conservation technology to dampen the increasingly severe effects of drought. Drip irrigation, water recycling, advanced metering and myriad other technologies and strategies – existing and developing – were on the discussion agenda. The “Summit on Water and Drought Leveraging Technology to Build a Drought-Resistant California” – sponsored by Imagine H2O, the Association of California Water Agencies and the State of California -- was held at California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in downtown Sacramento. (07-14-15)
DWR Photography / Kelly Grow
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Visit DWR’s California State Fair Water-Wise Exhibits
Come join the fun at the California State Fair and learn new ways to save water by visiting DWR’s award-winning exhibit appropriately entitled, “Californians Don’t Waste – Save Water in Your Home.” Showcased in the Counties Building from July 10 to 26, the hands-on exhibit demonstrates easy ways to conserve water in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. The companion award-winning outdoor garden exhibit located in the Farm section illustrates landscape irrigation efficiency, including how to keep shade-giving trees alive during drought. The colorful bird, bee and butterfly friendly garden filled with flowers and ornamental grasses has something for everyone. To learn more Save Our Water tips, visit saveourwater.com   DWR State Fair Exhibits video (07-10-15)
DWR Photography & Video
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Save Water While Saving Trees Save Our Water Starts Summer Campaign
As California enters a hot and dry summer, Save Our Water’s statewide conservation education program launches a new campaign urging Californians to help more by reducing water use. Californians are invited to “Turn It Off” and further cut their water use indoors and outdoors. The first phase of the campaign that runs until end of July will be seen and heard through billboard, radio and theatre ads. From tips on how to keep trees healthy to ways for saving water indoors and outdoors, the website for the Save Our Water campaign sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies provides Californians a tool for reducing water use at home and at work. Visit the website at saveourwater.com or in Spanish at ahorrenuestraagua.com. News Release
(07-01-15)
Save Water While Saving Trees Save Water While Saving Trees
To help trees survive drought conditions, keep trees as the first priority for outdoor watering. Lawns can come back if they go brown, but trees take decades to grow and never return once they die. Slowly deep water trees as needed early in the morning or after sunset. Trees are a vital resource that clean the air, provide homes for the wildlife and improve our neighborhoods. For more information on how to help your trees survive the drought, see http://saveourwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Drought-tree.pdf.
(06-26-15)
DWR Graphics / Bob Peterson
New Outdoor Landscapes to Use Less Water
A DWR hosts public workshops this week on the proposed update to the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. The proposed measures will reduce new residential landscape water use by 30 percent and new commercial landscape water use by 40 percent. The measure requires the installation of efficient sprinklers and limits the planting of turf in commercial landscapes, except for specific purposes such as sports fields. The April 1 executive order by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed DWR to update its ordinance to help California deal with a fourth year of extreme drought and prepare for future droughts. “About half of California’s urban water is used on landscaping,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We can gain a lot of water savings year after year with smart landscape design, installation and maintenance.” For more information, view News Release http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2015/061215_ordinance.pdf (06-16-15)
DWR Photography
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Forum on Water Bond
A two-day tribal government consultation on the Proposition 1 Water Bond is underway at the CalEPA building. Meetings on June 9 and 10 provided significant information and answered pertinent questions from California’s Tribal Governments on funding and grants for water projects, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protections and restoration and drinking water protection. Those participating in the presentations and meetings include DWR, Natural Resources Agency, State Water Resources Control Board, California Water Commission Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oceans Protection Council and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. (06-10-15)
DWR Photography / Kelly Grow
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DWR’s State Fair Exhibit Wins!
“Step inside and discover some gnarly ways to make every water drop count inside your home.” That was the “Save Our Water” exhibit’s inviting welcome at the 2014 California State Fair. The “Californians Don’t Waste – Saving Water in Your Home” exhibit showed walk-through visitors how they can conserve water where they live. The National Association of Government Communicators has awarded the exhibit First Place in its category in the Association’s national competition. On DWR’s exhibit team were Dorothy Benjamin, Peter Brostrom, John Carter, Teresa Chaney, Bob Peterson, Michelle Robinson, Chris Sanchez and Linda Sinnwell. The award-winning exhibit will be at the State Fair again and the Big Fresno Fair this year. (06-08-15)
DWR Photography
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Protecting California’s Water Supply
With California’s epic drought heading into its fourth summer, a new emergency drought barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is helping DWR keep salt water out of the Delta and preserve water in upstream reservoirs. The snowpack is virtually non-existent by now, and little runoff will flow to the reservoirs from which managers normally would release water to create a barrier to saltwater. The approximately 750-foot barrier on West False River between Jersey and Bradford islands was built in less than a month with 150,000 tons of rock barged in by Dutra Construction. It will be removed by mid-November.
News release http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2015/052915.pdf
Video https://youtu.be/qHshvRjBntY (06-01-15)
DWR Photography / Kelly Grow
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Connecting Creativity and Conservation
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – attributed to Pablo Picasso. This quote rang true for the highly competitive California Arts Council’s “Conservation Creativity Challenge” poster contest. Hundreds of amazing entries were judged as students across California were asked to get creative by designing a poster depicting the need for water conservation. The California Arts Council, in partnership with DWR, Save Our Water and Project Water Education for Teachers, sponsored the contest. With winners selected from 4th and 5th grades, more than 650 children throughout California participated. "The Conservation Creativity Challenge is a great way for students everywhere to get involved and share their ideas about saving water every day,” said Michelle Robinson, DWR Water Education Specialist. (05-27-15)
DWR Photography
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IRWM 2.0 – The Next Generation
Integrated Regional Water Management – words that describe an essential approach to survive California’s severe four-year drought. Gary Bardini, DWR’s Deputy Director for Integrated Water Management, is leading the department’s integrated resources team at a May 21-22 IRWM conference in San Diego for policymakers, city and county officials, water agencies, businesses, tribes, environmental organizations and academia. Among the topics are IRWM practices and programs to help meet drought-related challenges, stronger IRWM practices, aligning multiple agencies and coordinating multiple missions and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Also featured is an expo where attendees can check out DWR tools to support IRWM efforts. (05-22-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Be Water Safe
As the weather gets warmer and the desire to enjoy California’s waterways increases, DWR releases on May 15 the first Water Safety Public Service Announcement (PSA) at Livermore movie theaters. The 30-second PSA reminding viewers to obey warning signs, swim with a buddy and always wear a life jacket will be screened throughout the summer at movie theaters along California’s State Water Project, including Paradise, Oroville, Yuba City, Brentwood, Tracy, Palmdale, Victorville and Hesperia.
https://youtu.be/pTjg2T80uVg
(05-15-15)
Video: DWR Video Unit
Drought Barrier Construction Begins
Calling it an "undesirable but necessary action," DWR Director Mark Cowin announced on May 8 that construction has begun on a temporary emergency drought barrier in the Delta. The approximately 750-foot rock barrier will span West False River between Jersey and Bradford islands approximately 0.4 miles from where the river flows into the San Joaquin River. Rocks will be deposited into the West False River channel to help block the tidal push of saltwater into the central Delta. The barrier will be removed by mid-November. About 25 million Californians depend on fresh water flowing through that part of the Delta. News Release.
Video of Drought Barrier Installation
(05-08-15)
DWR Photography - Bill Kelley
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Taking Charge of Change
As drought year four tightens its grip on California, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. speaks about California’s drought and water conservation efforts during the 2015 Association of California Water Agencies Conference titled “Taking Charge of Change” in Sacramento. A drought panel consisting of California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, DWR Director Mark Cowin, California Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton ‘Chuck’ Bonham and Undersecretary of CalEPA Gordon Burns covered unprecedented actions and plans underway for 2016. To learn more about the four day conference, visit the Agenda.
Video of Governor Brown At ACWA Spring 2015 Conference
(05-06-15)
DWR Photography - Bill Kelley and Kelly Grow
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Habitat Restoration Plan Revised
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a revised approach to restoring habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and improving State Water Project infrastructure. "Today marks a very significant step in dealing with California's water problems," the Governor said. A key goal of the plan is enhanced water delivery reliability for 25 million Californians who use Delta water. The plan would divert water using a modernized water conveyance system from the Sacramento River and send it to existing pumping plants. State-of-the-art fish screens would block their entry into two tunnels. "Fish populations are at an all-time low," Brown said. "Bold action is imperative.... This revised plan is the absolute best path forward." See this fact sheet for additional information.
(04-30-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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DWR's Worst Case Scenario at Play

Let's say...You manage the State's water resources. The dreaded 7.2 earthquake suddenly hits the Bay Area...crippling critical water infrastructure...in the middle of an epic drought. What do you do?

The Department of Water Resources tackled just that very scenario during the Delta Emergency Response Tabletop Exercise. Brass from across all Divisions including Executive, Flood Management, Engineering, Statewide Integrated Regional Water Management, Operations and Maintenance, Safety of Dams and Environmental Services came together to test how they'll respond, recover and continue to serve the more than 25 million Californians who rely upon DWR's State Water Project.
(04-23-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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DWR Celebrates Creek Week
Sacramento area creeks got a free Spring Cleaning April 18 as volunteers cleansed their banks and waters of litter, trash and junk. DWR, a co-sponsor of the 25th Annual Creek Week event, was on hand to emphasize the importance of keeping the state’s watersheds healthy. This year’s cleanup, organized by the Sacramento Area Creeks Council, helped to cleanse both creeks and the rivers into which they flow. See http://www.creekweek.net/ for more information.
(04-20-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Keep Saving Water
Explore fun and simple ways to save water as part of the Keep Saving CA campaign. With the new Save Our Water Web site Californians can find numerous ways to conserve water at home and work. Check out drought facts, landscaping ideas and much more. Save Our Water is sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies. Visit saveourwater.com or ahorrenuestraagua.com
(04-14-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Uniting to Battle California's Drought
As the drought window widens and the relief window tightens, top officials are banding together to battle one of the driest periods in California history. Today, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) hosted a drought briefing entitled "Four Years and Counting: Impacts and Actions" at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Presentations on drought impacts and responses were made by DWR's Michael Anderson, State Climatologist (first photo), John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency; David Murillo, Director, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region and Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board. For more information, see www.water.ca.gov/recent_news.cfm
(04-09-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Snowpack's Water Content at Record Low
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. joined DWR Director Mark Cowin and Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, for the season’s fourth media-oriented manual snow survey today. At an elevation of 6,800 feet, Phillips Station in the Sierra has been measured since 1941, with an average April 1 snow depth of 66.5 inches. Today was the first early-April measurement that found no snow at Phillips, an indication, the Governor said, of the drought’s extreme severity. Statewide, the snowpack’s water content is just 5 percent of average for April 1, breaking the previous record of 25 percent in 1977 and 2014.
News Release:
http://www.water.ca.gov/recent_news.cfm
Electronic snowpack readings:
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/sweq.action
(04-01-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow and Florence Low
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California Enters Fourth Dry Year with New Legislation, Regulations
As Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last week announced a $1 billion legislative package to help California communities cope with the state's ongoing drought and the State Water Resources Control Board expanded water conservation regulations, DWR continued preparations for a fourth dry year with snowpack water content at only 9 percent of average and groundwater levels continuing to drop. While key reservoirs contain more water this year than last, they remain below average. The State Water Project's principal reservoir, Lake Oroville, holds 50 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity. "We cannot stress enough," said DWR Director Mark Cowin, "that water conservation will be critical in stretching our supplies to the maximum extent possible throughout the coming year."
Photos of Lake Oroville on March 2, 2015.
To learn more about the emergency water regulations, visit
http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/emergency_regulations_waterconservation.shtml . (03-23-15)
DWR Photography - Paul Hames
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Stretching California’s Water Supply
With unprecedented reductions in agricultural surface water supplies pending in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley, DWR and the Water Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State University, provided a briefing on drought conditions and expected water project operations this summer. Availability of groundwater will be vital for many valley growers this year; continuing implementation of DWR’s CASGEM program is providing an unparalleled overview of groundwater conditions in the valley. The March 19 briefing at Fresno State included speakers from DWR, the State Water Resources Control Board, Bureau of Reclamation and NASA Ames Research Center. Topics covered hydrologic conditions, Central Valley Project and State Water Project operations and groundwater conditions. For briefing information, see http://www.watereducation.org/foundation-event/challenges-2015-drought-water-project-operations. For the latest on statewide groundwater conditions, see http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/MAP_APP/index.cfm. (03-19-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Green Power Energizes SWP Water Conservation Poster Contest
Take the challenge and unleash your creative side to help promote water conservation. The California Arts Council and Department of Water Resources are hosting the Conservation Creativity Challenge Student Poster Contest. Students in 4th and 5th grade are invited to illustrate fun and unique ways to reduce water use. Winning artwork will be displayed at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Entries must be submitted by March 31, 2015. Complete contest details, teacher curriculum and lesson planning resources are available at http://www.arts.ca.gov/conservation. (03-10-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
Snowpack's Water Content Near Historic Low
Today's manual snow survey by DWR's Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, found a continuing decline in the snowpack's water content compared to winter's first two surveys. At 0.9 inches, the water content was 5 percent of the March 3 average near Echo Summit. Statewide, the water content was just 19 percent of average, the second lowest early-March reading since 1950. Precipitation from only two storm systems this winter, the warmest in California's recorded history, has fallen mostly as rain. DWR forecasts critically low runoff to the state's reservoirs from the melting snowpack this summer. (03-03-15)
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DWR Photography - John Chacon
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DWR Responds to Drought at Irvine Workshop
As reservoir levels fall and California's snowpack fades away with no significant storms in sight, DWR and other experts are outlining drought-response measures at a multi-agency Drought Response Workshop in Irvine. Agenda items include drought conditions and state and local agency response actions, implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Proposition 1 funding for Integrated Regional Water Management and other programs and water conservation activites. The two-day workshop is sponsored by DWR, the Southern California Water Committee and the National Water Research Institute. DWR participants include Jeanine Jones, Tracie Billington, Peter Brostrom and Mary Scruggs. For details, see http://www.nwri-usa.org/events.htm (02-26-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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DWR Receives National Climate Leadership Award DWR Receives National Climate Leadership Award
DWR has been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In announcing the award on February 24, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that "DWR exemplifies the dedication and accomplishments that make a difference in the fight against climate change and sets a high standard for other organizations to follow." DWR has already reduced carbon emissions 30 percent below 1990 levels and is working toward an 80 percent reduction by 2050, primarily by using renewable and cleaner energy sources and improving energy efficiency for the State Water Project.
> News Release     > Website    (02-24-15)
DWR Photography
Green Power Energizes SWP Green Power Energizes State Water Project
The State Water Project is a large generator and consumer of electric power in California as it transports water through pumping plants and aqueducts. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to generate some of that electricity is a long-term DWR goal. Under a new power purchase agreement, the SWP is now being partially energized by Dominion Solar Holdings’ RE Camelot Solar Photovoltaic Project in Kern County. The 45-megawatt plant uses single-axis photovoltaic panels that track the sun’s movement across the sky. The plant is expected to deliver 125,000 megawatt-hours of annual generation to SWP, whose goal is a 50-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2020. (02-20-15)
DWR Photography - Dominion Solar
Innovative DWR Model Honored
DWR's Center Led Contract Processing Model was selected as one of California's Top Five Finalists for the Award of Excellence among city, county and state government projects at the 2015 Government Transformation Forum in Sacramento this month. "DWR's Center Led Model enabled us to achieve a 100 percent approval rating from the Department of General Services' Office of Legal Services last year, which means that our contract packages are complete, accurate and in full compliance," said DWR Deputy Director Kathie Kishaba. "Because of DWR's excellent reputation, our Contract Specialists are often consulted by other State agencies for assistance. The high quality of our contract solicitations has reduced the number of bid protests, which improves vendor relations and ultimately saves DWR time and money." (02-17-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Research Probes Atmospheric Rivers
Two atmospheric rivers (ARs) – called the Pineapple Express when they originate near Hawaii – barreled into California a few days after scientists briefed the media on February 3 about "CalWater-2015." DWR is a sponsor of this largest AR research project ever undertaken. Four aircraft and a NOAA research ship were deployed during the storms to capture massive amounts of data to help achieve better AR forecasting. California usually has six ARs each year, and scientists call them "drought busters" because of their potential to deliver so much water. These two ARs delivered substantial rainfall, but did little to build the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The drought remains unbroken, and water conservation is as important as ever. (02-10-15)
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DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Federal Aid to Bolster Drought Response
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced Friday a nearly $29 million package of federal drought aid for California. "We need to be all in on dealing with this drought," said Secretary Jewell. The funds will go to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project for a range of projects including endangered species monitoring, local drought planning, and water reuse and recycling. Governor Brown called balancing multiple demands for water in a potentially fourth drought year "complex, difficult stuff" and said wise use of water is critical. "We can't waste, we have to recycle, we have to restore, and save," said Governor Brown. (02-06-15)
News Release     /     Video
DWR Photography - Florence Low
Drought Operations Highlighted
Facing a possible fourth year of drought, DWR Director Mark Cowin and David Murillo, Regional Director of the Bureau of Reclamation, updated the California State Board of Food and Agriculture on drought mitigation operations during the Board's February 3 meeting in Sacramento. Board members also were briefed on the California Water Action Plan by the California Natural Resources Agency, fisheries by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and water storage by the California Water Commission. A panel discussion on water storage options was conducted by the Friant Water Authority, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Semitropic Water Storage District. (02-03-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Dry January Shrinks Snowpack
DWR's second manual snow survey of the winter today suggests that, if anything, California's drought is getting worse. California relies on the snowpack for about 30 percent of its water during normal years, but the statewide snow water equivalent has shrunk from 50 percent of the multi-year average on December 30 to 25 percent today. Precipitation since the December storms has been so meager January may set a new dryness record for the month. If these conditions continue, California's drought surely will be confirmed for a fourth straight year. The need for water conservation is more urgent than ever. (01-29-15)
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DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Historic Groundwater Legislation Highlighted
The benefits and mechanics of California's historic move toward sustainable, locally-driven groundwater management were reviewed by DWR Deputy Director Gary Bardini at a January 27-28 workshop at Stanford University. Joining Bardini in discussing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act recently passed by the California Legislature were Maurice Hall of The Nature Conservancy, Russell McGlothlin of the national law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and moderator Lester Snow of the California Water Foundation and former DWR Director. Forum hosts were The Nature Conservancy and Stanford University’s Water in the West program. (01-27-15)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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New Home for Fishery Studies
DWR's four-decade-long legacy of fishery studies continues in a new home next to the John E. Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility in Byron. The new facility that opened for operation in December of 2014 will be used to tag and hold fish in tanks for fish studies to meet regulatory requirements for operation of the California State Water Project. Current fish studies include the Clifton Court Forebay Predator Study, Skinner Facility Efficiency and Improvements Study, Barker Slough Pumping Plant Entrainment Monitoring and the State Water Project (SWP) Fish Release Site Monitoring Studies. This building provides essential space to conduct multiple studies simultaneously that could not be done in the smaller building that was being shared with University of California, Davis.
(01-21-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Solving the Water Puzzle
Reservoirs, groundwater, snowpack, runoff, biological opinions, pumping restrictions – they're all pieces in the jigsaw puzzle representing California's water picture. Missing has been the key evaporation piece. Scientists haven't had a good understanding of how much water is evaporated into the atmosphere from the state's open bodies of water, such as lakes and reservoirs. DWR, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Desert Research Institute of Reno, Nevada partnered to address that piece of the puzzle and recently launched a floating weather station in Folsom Lake to gather evaporation data. Once in hand, it will help fill in the puzzle's vexing blank spot. (01-16-15)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Managing the Drought
DWR Climatologist Michael Anderson was the lead-off speaker at the "Managing Drought" conference sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California on January 12 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Anderson urged attendees to focus on California weather variability rather than averages, which he said aren't so useful anymore in understanding and managing drought. "California has more weather variability than anywhere else in the country," he said, and when rain comes, it comes in amounts that vary greatly from the norm. He said atmospheric rivers (the old "pineapple express") are the major deliverers of rain and snow to the state. (01-13-15)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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New Save Our Water Website
Save Our Water's new website has hit the internet streets. Featuring a fresh new look, the website highlights many water-saving tips for kids, work and home life as well as important drought facts. The site also details how Californians can report water waste. Save Our Water is a joint partnership between California Department of Water Resources and the Association of California Water Agencies. Visit the new website at www.SaveOurWater.com. (01-07-15)

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