Water Plan Update

DWR Releases updated California Water Plan

After five years of preparation and significant input from stakeholders, the California Department of Water Resources today released its updated California Water Plan which places significant emphasis on integrated regional water management and multi-agency collaboration.

The voluminous document – dubbed Update 2013 due to its original expected date of completion – outlines the goals state water managers hope to see implemented in California’s water system through 2050. Among its top priorities is the implementation of Gov. Jerry Brown’s five-year California Water Action Plan. The update contains 300 specific actions to support the governor’s plan, which include expanding water storage capacity, providing safe drinking water and making conservation a way of life.

“When it comes to water our challenges are as diverse as our state of 38 million people,” said Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird in a conference call with reporters. “Right now we face one of the most extreme droughts in modern times.”

Laird added that the water plan update is “the most comprehensive guide to statewide water challenges and solutions.”

“We have never produced a plan before that has depended so heavily on the involvement of so many stakeholders,” said Laird.

The plan also focuses on the need for stable funding for investments in water innovation and infrastructure. According to the document, local entities such as water districts, cities, counties and utilities spend about $18 billion a year on water, as compared with the roughly $2 billion spent annually by the state and federal governments. Update 2013 predicts that California will need investments of $200 billion over the next few decades just to maintain its current system and about $500 billion to upgrade it.

ACWA participated in and helped coordinate water agency stakeholder input by serving on the DWR Public Advisory Committee, which helped inform the technical and policy landscape for the CA Water Plan.

Mark Cowin, director of DWR, said that the current drought is ‘testing the system” and the water plan “lays out a basic approach of improving the resiliency of our water system and facing future challenges.”

One of the key themes of the document is a call for increased intergovernmental collaboration from the federal, state and local levels as well as the integration of land use planning with water planning.

“California’s complex water system features federal and state water projects, hundreds of local water districts, large coastal cities, and vast tracts of farmland,” Cowin said in a prepared statement.  “To manage our water wisely, Californians need a shared understanding of our challenges and a vision for the future.  The California Water Plan Update 2013 delivers that and creates a path forward.”

Officials today released a ”highlights” booklet of the plan and its first three volumes. The remaining two volumes will be released in a few weeks.

Update 2013 includes summaries of over 30 water/resource management strategies available throughout California as well as a snapshot of regional water conditions and a range of future climate change scenarios.

The water plan is available here.

Water Plan Update

Statewide Reservoir Levels Continue to Decline

As the drought continues, California’s reservoir levels have dropped dramatically, especially in the state’s major reservoirs which currently sit at 43% of historical averages. While comparisons to the 1976 water year have been made, Department of Water Resources Chief Hydrologist Maury Roos says statewide conditions are more similar to those of the 1992 water year.

“It’s probably comparable with what it was at the end of 1992, the end of 1992 water year, which was a six year period of drought,” said Roos in an interview with Capitol Public Radio.

As of November 11, DWR figures show that major reservoir levels are as follows:

Reservoir % of Capacity % of Historical Average
San Luis Reservior 20% 36%
New Melones 21% 37%
Trinity Lake 23% 35%
Shasta Reservoir 24% 40%
Lake Oroville 26% 43%
Folsom Lake 30% 60%
Don Pedro Reservoir 37% 58%

According to DWR’s current data, Lake Oroville is currently at 915,220 acre-feet – which is only 33,200 acre-feet more than the record low-level of 882,000 acre-feet for the reservoir.

managing oak trees

DWR and UC Davis Encourage Homeowners to Prepare Trees for Dry Winter

DWR, UC Davis, Tree Foundation Encourage Homeowners to Prepare Trees for Dry Winter

California’s drought is having a visible impact on lawns throughout the state as homeowners reduce their outdoor watering. Lawns can be brought back to life relatively quickly, but once a tree dies, its loss is irreversible.

As the amount of sunlight falling on trees is reduced with the change in the seasons, trees go into dormancy and require less water than during the hot summer months. But in exceptionally dry conditions, a tree may not have enough stored moisture to survive California’s drought.

Representatives of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) agree that even a return of normal rainfall this winter might not sustain trees without special care and watering.

“We are seeing locations in California where trees are dying because they haven’t been watered adequately,” said CCUH Director Dave Fujino. “While homeowners are trying to save water by letting lawns die, they need to continue watering their nearby trees.”

Chuck Ingels, U.C. Cooperative Extension Horticulture Advisor, urged homeowners to follow these steps:

· Dig into the soil 6 to 8 inches at a tree’s drip line – the area immediately below the widest part of the leaf canopy; if the soil feels dry and crumbly, it needs water.

· Apply water slowly and uniformly using low-volume application equipment, such as a soaker hose that circles the tree at the drip line. Allow water to saturate the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.

· Allow the soil to dry between waterings; for most mature trees, one or two deep waterings per month is adequate. Fewer waterings – and perhaps none – are needed during the cooler and potentially wet winter months.

· Add mulch (leaves or wood chips) between the trunk and drip line to retain the soil’s moisture.

· Reduce competition for water by removing weeds and grass within 4 feet of a tree’s trunk.

Anne Fenkner, Greenprint Regional Coordinator, Sacramento Tree Foundation, said trees are essential to the health and beauty of residences and entire communities throughout the state. “Trees provide food for people and animals and shade that helps make hot climates livable,” she said. “We owe it to ourselves, our children, their children and the trees themselves to help them get through this extraordinarily dry period. When water supplies are limited, priority should be given to trees, then shrubs and perennials and lastly to lawn and annuals.”

Julie Saare-Edmonds, DWR’s Landscape Program Manager, said Californians are responding to the call in January by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to reduce their water usage by 20%.

But if a homeowner has allowed a lawn to dry up during the drought, trees growing in that lawn may not be getting enough water and may need more to help them transition into winter dormancy.

Anne Fenkner, Sacramento Tree Foundation, said trees have varying water needs depending on their species, age, size, slope of the ground beneath them and other factors. Homeowners can nurture their trees and improve their health by understanding tree care principles:

· Older established trees may be starved for water as well as younger trees. The low rainfall last winter did not replenish the soil moisture adequately and they may need a moisture boost before winter.

· Avoid fertilizing trees now; it will stimulate new growth at the wrong time of year.

· When planting new trees, choose species wisely. Consult a local urban forestry group such as the Sacramento Tree Foundation or check the Arboretum All-Stars list at UC Davis. We don’t know how long the drought will last, so consider selecting drought-resistant varieties and delaying planting until drought conditions improve. If the drought worsens in 2015, investments in new trees may be lost.

· Improve the quality of the soil in which the trees grow. Aerate lawns so the roots of mature trees have good access to water and oxygen.

· Consult the Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners or a certified arborist if you have questions about the health of a mature tree.

Additional advice on caring for trees can be found at these websites:

California River Awards

Friends of the River – California River Awards – 2014 Mark Dubois Honoree

WBA staff member, Cheryl Buckwalter, was one of the distinguished honorees this year for the Mark Dubois award – Friends of the River. Congratulations Cheryl!
 Water Management
“Our second honoree is a true leader in landscape water conservation, a sector that accounts for more than half of total urban water use.

Cheryl Buckwalter has dedicated herself personally and professionally to helping Californians grow beautiful “River Friendly” landscapes that use minimal water and reduce runoff. With her experience as a landscape designer and Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Cheryl is taking on America’s largest irrigated crop: lawn grass.

Today, as the Executive Director of Eco Landscape California, Cheryl is transforming landscapes to need little or no irrigation, greatly reducing the amount of water we need to pull out of rivers and aquifers. Cheryl provides practical, user-friendly training, plans, referrals, and outreach to help Californians create healthy, beautiful, vibrant urban landscapes while conserving water, reducing yard waste, and preventing pollution of our air and rivers. She developed Eco-Friendly Landscape Design Plans for the New California Landscape—a free, on-line “package” of landscape and irrigation designs, comprehensive plant profiles, irrigation schedules, and maintenance practices to demonstrate watershed-based models for sustainability, resource-efficiency and protection, and environmental stewardship.

Her work has resulted in homeowners and municipalities implementing low-water use landscapes across central California. Cheryl has collaborated with countless agencies, land developers, and non-profit organizations to teach about, and implement, water-efficient landscaping including Roseville’s “Cash for Grass” landscape incentive program

The drought has greatly expanded her audience as her work has been widely reported by media outlets throughout the state. She is now leveraging this exposure and her experience to accelerate the pace of change toward more sustainable landscapes across the state.”

March For Water

California Water Year 2014 Among Driest Years on Record

California’s water year 2014 – which ended Sept. 30 – will go down as one of the driest years in the state’s recorded history, resulting in a dismally low 5% of water deliveries from the State Water Project and thousands of acres of cropland idled, according to newly released figures from the California Department of Water Resources.

Water year 2014 is ending with less than 60% of average precipitation and is the third consecutive year the state has battled record low precipitation. It is the fourth driest year on record exceeded only by 1977, 1924 and 1931. As a result of the lack of rain, on Sept.1 the state’s major reservoirs collectively held only 57% of average storage for the date, or about 36% of capacity, according to DWR figures.

Forecasts are unclear as to whether 2015 will bring more rain. The federally run Central Valley Project has reduced deliveries down to zero for some junior rights holders.

“The immediate certainty is that day-to-day conservation – wise, sparing use of water – is essential as we face the possibility of a fourth dry winter,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said in a prepared statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January and called for a 20% reduction in water use. Water agencies up and down the state have responded to the call for conservation, adopting mandatory water restrictions and ramping up their conservation messaging. Many communities have exceeded the 20% reduction in water usage over last year’s figures.

Still, some communities are scrambling for drinking water and on September 19, the Governor streamlined the delivery of water to families in need.

Many experts believe the deepening drought has increased the severity of the fire season, with fires spreading more rapidly and farther due to dry conditions.

Officials with DWR note that while cumulative reservoir storage in 1977 – California’s driest year on record – was approximately five million acre-feet less than today, the state’s population has increased dramatically since that time so the state’s water now must serve far more people.

DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies urge all Californians to conserve water by following the advice and tips found at http://SaveOurWater.com.

DWR’s California Data Exchange Center websites show current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations.



Almost 60 percent of the state is facing exceptional drought.

California is drying up.

“This is a big deal,” California Governor Jerry Brown said at a ceremony Tuesday as he signed into law a trio of bills regulating, for the first time, the state’s groundwater use. As of Thursday, almost 60 percent of the state is facing “exceptional drought,” the most severe level of dryness measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

But if you’re not living in a community dependent on bottled water rations, farming land that’s projected to lose $800 million in crop revenue or watching raging wildfires ravage your drought-parched town, the historic California drought may still feel like little more than a headline.

To fully grasp how desperate California is for relief, we’ve created six before-and-after GIFs that will show you how badly the drought has dehydrated the state in just the last three years.

The Green Bridge passes over full water levels near Bidwell Marina on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, and much lower levels on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

The Green Bridge passes over full water levels near Bidwell Marina on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, and much lower levels on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

Full water levels are visible in the Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, followed by current drought levels on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

Full water levels are visible behind the Folsom Dam at Folsom Lake on July 20, 2011, in El Folsom, California, followed by current drought levels on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Getty Images

Full water levels are visible in the Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, followed by current drought levels on Aug. 19, 2014.

The Green Bridge passes over full water levels at a section of Lake Oroville near the Bidwell Marina on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, followed by current drought levels on Aug. 19, 2014.


This article was originally produced by Lydia O'Connor and Chris McGonigal from the Huffington Post.

State Water Board Approves Emergency Regulation to Increase Water Conservation

Due to the severe continuing drought in California, on July 15, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board approved emergency regulations to ensure water agencies and their customers conserve outdoor water use or face possible fines.

 Almost 60% of water use is for outdoor landscaping, mostly turf.  Californians will be expected to  stop washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitting with using a shut off nozzle and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature unless water is circulated.

Local agencies can ask courts to impose fines of up to $500 for failure to adhere to these water restrictions. 

 This emergency regulation will be in place for 270 days.  The State Water Board will revisit this regulation and may enhance the restrictions as the drought continues.

 One way of reducing your outdoor water is to remove turf.  Many water districts are offering rebates to homeowners – as much as $3.00 a square foot – to remove the turf from your property in favor of California friendly plants.  Contact your local water agency for information on turf removal rebates or go to SoCal Water Smart.  LA County is offering free mulch at 11 different locations across the county.  For more information, go to Be Waterwise.    You will save money and our precious water.

California Landscape Consultants

Be Fire Smart!

April 30, 2014

Be Fire Smart!

High winds and hot, dry weather = fire threat

Southern California is experiencing extremely hot, dry weather, compounded by powerful Santa Ana winds, gusting up to 75 mph in some areas, prompting red flag warnings.  Temperatures in some areas could reach 100°.   The prolonged drought has made the threat of fire very high. 

Homeowners can take measures to keep fire from their homes. 

  • Clear leaves and debris from gutters, eaves, patios and decks.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and clear all brush and dead vegetation away from house.
  • Keep tree tops pruned.
  • When planting, choose native fire-resistant landscape.





High winds and hot, dry weather = fire threat

Southern California is experiencing extremely hot, dry weather, compounded by high winds.  Powerful Santa Ana winds are gusting up to 75 mph in some areas, prompting red flag warnings.  Temperatures in some areas could reach 100°.   The prolonged drought has made the threat of fire very high. 

Homeowners can take measures to keep fire from their homes.

  • Clear leaves and debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and clear all brush and dead vegetation away from house.
  • Keep tree tops pruned.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • When planting, choose native fire-resistant landscape.
irrigation education

Irrigation and Pesticide Training for Spanish Speaking Gardeners

In conjunction with the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California Cooperative Extension, William Baker & Associates is conducting training for Spanish speaking gardeners in the areas of irrigation and proper pesticide use and safety.  Classes are taught entirely in Spanish.  To date, over 300 gardeners have been trained in ten separate classes.  On April 22, 2014, we had 48 attendees at the San Marcos Community Center in San Marcos.   Instructors were Jaime Bayona and Lea Corkidi.  Two continuing education credits were earned by DPR license and certificate holders.

Two upcoming training classes will be held in May:  May 19th at the LA Arboretum, 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 (8:00 AM to 4:00 PM) and May 22nd at Western Metropolitan Water District, 14205 Meridian Pkwy, March Air Reserve Base, CA 92508 (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM).  Continuing education credits will be available to DPR license and certificate holders.  Topics will be pesticide use and safety and irrigation.