Melt From Historic California Snow May Be Less Damaging Than Feared

From the Washington Post – As California’s “big melt” nears its anticipated peak, officials on Monday painted a more optimistic picture of the potential for flooding from the record snowpack in the southern Sierra Nevada. Even as the once-dry Tulare Lake expands — expected to swell to more than 117,000 acres at the end of May — new modeling suggests that inundation will be less damaging than originally predicted, sparing the major towns in the lake basin. Officials cite two reasons for the reduced risk: luck with the weather combined with ongoing efforts to divert and manage the floodwaters. (more)

Central Valley Flood Protection Board and DWR to Hold Zoom Media Briefing on

Flood Planning and Prevention in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys 

Media Briefing Will Be Held Wednesday, May 24th from 12 – 1 p.m. Spanish Interpretation Provided  

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board (CVFPB) will discuss with local flood agencies how advanced planning with the 2022 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan Update benefited communities during extreme flood events.

If you wish to attend the Zoom briefing, please click here. A recording of the briefing will be made available later on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

Why: Coordination and planning with local, state, federal agencies is crucial to protecting more than one million people and billions of dollars of critical infrastructure, businesses, agriculture, and personal property that are at risk of flooding in the Central Valley. Climate change is exacerbating this risk and planning is key. The Central Valley Flood Protection Plan is the State’s fiscal and strategic framework for reducing flood risk in the vulnerable Central Valley.

Media briefing open to credentialed media only. Registration for the webinar is required (click here to register).

Early Funding Award Increased for Sites Reservoir

From – At last week’s Water Commission meeting, commissioners approved increasing the early funding award for Sites Reservoir by $2.9 million.

Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority (and not the ex-governor), was on hand to make the request.  He also provided an update on the project. The proposed 1.5 MAF reservoir is one of seven projects that have been selected to receive funding through the Prop 1 Water Storage Investment Program. The project would capture and store stormwater flows from the Sacramento River in an off-stream reservoir that is located west of the river.  The water would be delivered through mostly existing and some new conveyance infrastructure.

Mr. Brown said that they have completed their water rights application and the State Water Board is expected to issue notice of their water rights application at the end of May or first week of June.  They are expecting to finalize the EIR in August.

The project has 22 participants and a waiting list, so it is now fully subscribed.  Project participants are guaranteed a proportionate share of the storage space and a proportionate share of the water that the project diverts. Mr. Brown said that had the reservoir been in place this year, Sites would have been able to capture 500,000 acre-feet of water.  He also noted that the project does not rely on the Delta Conveyance Project; the release and movement of water to southern California participants would occur by flowing across the Delta, as it does now.

Construction is estimated to take six to eight years.  The bulk of time is needed to construct two large earthen dams.  The project also has yet to begin land acquisition, which Commissioners Solorio and Makler expressed some concern about.  There are 14,000 acres to be acquired from about 30 landholders.  Mr. Brown said it comes down to funds, which they don’t have at the moment.  Although they do have eminent domain authority, he does not anticipate having to use it as the project enjoys ‘fantastic’ local support.

CALIFORNIA WATER PLAN: The State’s Integrated Plan for Water Management

From – The California Water Plan is the state’s strategic roadmap for managing the state’s precious water resources equitably and sustainably. First developed in 1957, it has been continually updated to tackle the evolving issues and challenges of the day. The latest update, expected mid-2024, will highlight sustainable water resource management, climate urgency, and the need to ensure that all Californians benefit from water planning and investments.  New for this update, the Plan will also include a chapter written by the Tribal Advisory Committee that will present the Tribal perspective and provide insights into how state and local entities can engage and collaborate with Tribes. At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, Kamyar Guivetchi, Manager of DWR’s Division of Planning, gave the Commission an overview of the latest iteration of the Plan. (more)

Scientists Take Flight To Map California’s Vast Snowpack And Measure Flooding Threats

From AOL News – Flying thousands of feet above the Sierra Nevada in a plane equipped with specialized imaging devices, Elizabeth Carey has been scanning the mountains with lasers to precisely map the snow. The snow blanketing the Sierra lies so deep that the mountain range looks surprisingly swollen and “puffy,” said Carey, who leads the flights as part of a state-funded program. “The amount of water that we have in the snowpack this year is just mind-blowing,” she said. “It’s just been extraordinary.” By mapping the snowpack with laser pulses and spectrometers, Carey and her colleagues are able to provide a detailed picture of one of the biggest snow accumulations ever recorded in the state. The flights are also collecting data to estimate when and how fast the snow will melt, helping California officials prepare for the runoff, manage water releases from dams, and assess which areas are most at risk of flooding. (more)

USACE Sacramento District Projects American River Levees – Levee Upgrades to Build on Recent Flood Risk Management Efforts

From USACE, Sacramento District – The Sacramento Metropolitan area is one of the most at risk areas for flooding in the United States due to its location at the confluence and within the floodplain of two major rivers. Significant levee improvements, primarily through the construction of 22 miles of seepage cutoff walls, were completed on the American River in 2016 as part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 96/99 project. Now, this project will add up to 11 miles of bank protection for Lower American River levees. But this portion includes more than just the American River. Sections of the Natomas East Main Drainage Canal (NEMDC), Arcade Creek, and Magpie Creek would be improved to address identified seepage, stability, erosion, and height concerns. (more)

Shasta, Lake Oroville Rise to the Top

From the Enterprise-Record – Both Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta reported near-full capacity Monday with plenty of snow in the northern mountains anticipated to melt. Shasta Lake reached 1,063 feet elevation on May 1 with four feet of capacity remaining and Lake Oroville reached 890 feet on May 13 with 10 feet left of capacity — each holding steady since. Lake Oroville is at 96% capacity and is expected to be filled into the spring. Oroville last reached capacity in 2017 and in the last 30 years reached capacity in 2017, 2012, 2011, 2006, 2005, 2003, 1998, 1996 and 1993, according to an email from DWR Information Officer Jason Ince. (more)

California Holds the Key to Western Water Security

Opinion from Edward Ring of The California Globe – Dams and aqueducts on the Colorado River make civilization possible in the American Southwest. But for the last 20 years, as a prolonged drought has gripped the region, withdrawals from the river have averaged 15 million acre-feet per year, while inflows into Lake Mead and Lake Powell have averaged only 12 million acre feet per year. For the first time since these reservoirs were built nearly a century ago, the relentlessly escalating quantity of water demanded by the cities and farms of the Southwest, combined with years of drought, have brought the levels of remaining water to dangerous and unprecedented lows. As of May 8, 2023, only 7.7 million acre feet (MAF) remains in Lake Mead, and only 5.8 MAF remains in Lake Powell. Despite months of negotiation, the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River have failed to come to an agreement on how to adapt to its dwindling flow. The current deadlock pits California against the other six states – Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. But if they had the political will, California could solve the whole problem for everyone. (more)

Putting Flood Waters to Work: State Expedites Efforts to Maximize Groundwater Recharge

From CA Dept. of Water Resources – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is implementing an emergency program to divert high river flows away from flood-prone Central Valley communities and into groundwater recharge basins. DWR is working with local agencies and equipment vendors to provide funding and secure much-needed temporary diversion equipment, including pumps and siphons, and will support their deployment by local agencies. The first set of temporary pumps and siphons were deployed by Fresno Irrigation District on April 25… (more)

Board Member Keely Bosler’s Appointment Confirmed by Senate

The Board and staff would like to extend a congratulations to Board member Keely Bosler, who’s appointment was confirmed by the Senate last week.

A 22-year veteran of California state government, Keely Martin Bosler most recently served as the Director of the California Department of Finance from 2018 to 2022. Over four fiscal cycles, she led the development and negotiation of California’s $300 billion budget, shaping the financial framework of the world’s fourth-largest economy.

First appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to this role, she continued to serve as Governor Gavin Newsom’s chief fiscal advisor through the COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession, as well as historic wildfires. Despite these challenges, she directed efforts to build historic reserves, pay down pension liabilities, and secure financial relief for millions of working Californians.

Prior to leading the California Department of Finance, Keely served as Governor Brown’s Cabinet Secretary for more than two years, working across state government in partnership with 11 government agencies and over 70 departments. She also spent nearly a decade in the State Legislature, leading and advising across all budget and policy areas, including taxation, energy, water, education, and public safety.

Congratulations, Keely!