Spotlight Archive

Dry December Produces Below-Average Snowpack
Rainfall in California was far above average in November. Then came December, one of the state’s driest months on record. It’s not a surprise that the first snow survey of the season, on January 3, revealed meager results: just 0.4 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE). The average for early January readings at Phillips Station, in the Sierra Nevada, is 11.3 SWE inches.
Electronic readings show that the average statewide SWE is 2.6 inches, or just 24 percent of the January 3 average.
“As we’re only a third of the way through California’s three wettest months, it’s far too early to draw any conclusions about what kind of season we’ll have this year,” said DWR Director Grant Davis.
California’s wettest months are December through February, so there’s still time for Mother Nature to build her mountain “reservoir” and eventually provide the runoff California needs when it melts.
For more information on January’s snow survey, read our press release. (01-03-18)
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Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation
Since 1977, DWR’s water education program has helped California’s teachers educate their students about one of our most essential resources – water. In 2017, we reached an estimated 1,000 teachers and 150,000 students by providing classroom materials and professional development for teachers.
Much of our water education program’s success comes from our partnerships with numerous water agencies and organizations such as the Water Education Foundation, CEEIN, and the CREEC Network. Together we help classroom teachers and non-formal educators learn educational best practices, how to use Project WET curriculum, and about the importance of floodplains, the Delta, and climate change for water management.
As STEM education spreads, and new science standards come into effect, our water education program helps teachers guide their students to investigate real world questions and become our next generation of resource managers and stewards.
To learn more about DWR’s water education program, email Visit our Water Facts and Fun catalog to order free workbooks, worksheets, and visual aids. (12-22-17)
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Update: Feather River Salmon Spawning Restoration Project
DWR’s 2017 salmon spawning restoration project in the Feather River led to a successful fall run, with several hundred Chinook salmon spawning in the restored habitat.
In August, DWR excavated a side channel in the Feather River to restore river flow in a key spawning area. The channel had been completely filled with gravel as a result of winter 2017’s high flow event, blocking the flow of water. DWR also placed 5,000 cubic yards of new spawning gravel into key sections of the river. Salmon need clean gravel to dig their nests, called “redds,” where they lay their eggs.
In response to the increase in salmon, the area has also seen a resurgence of other wildlife such as turkey vultures, gulls, and raccoons.
View our first video on the project on our YouTube channel. (12-18-17)
Local union workers proud to rebuild spillways
Construction crews working on the Lake Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project put in long hours to complete phase I construction on the main spillway by November 1. Many of the crew members are union workers from Butte County. DWR and its partner, the California Alliance for Jobs, have produced 3 short video profiles of local union workers describing their work and why they are proud to be part of the effort to reconstruct the Lake Oroville spillways. This is the first of 3 videos. (12-08-17)
DWR Hosts December Lake Oroville Spillways Community Meetings
DWR is hosting 2 community meetings to provide updates on the Lake Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project: December 6 at 6:00 p.m. in Oroville and December 7 at 6:00 p.m. in Yuba City. These meetings provide opportunities for the public to hear from DWR leadership and experts about the status of construction on the Oroville spillways and to ask questions about the recovery process.
View our schedule for specific location information. The meetings will also be streamed on Facebook Live.

Visit the Oroville Spillways Incident page for more information on the recovery effort. (12-06-17)
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Checking in on California Reservoir Levels
Though we don’t know what water year 2018 will bring, we do know that our reservoirs are starting out the season in good shape. After a drought-busting water year, most of California’s major reservoirs are storing more than their historical averages for this time of year, and slightly more than 50 percent of their total capacity. The exceptions are Lake Oroville at 35 percent, Lake Perris at 46 percent, and Pine Flat at 46 percent. Visit the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) for regularly updated conditions for major reservoirs.
Uncertainty is the only certainty in California weather, so it is important to keep conserving water, rain or shine. For year-round tips on making conservation a way of life, visit Save Our Water. (11-20-17)
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DWR Talks Season-to-Season Weather Forecasting
California receives about half of its annual water supply from a handful of winter storms called atmospheric rivers. Predicting the arrival and intensity of those storms would greatly benefit water managers, reservoir operators, and flood prevention agencies in their work to sustainably manage water supply and protect people and property from flood damage. The trouble is, weather forecasting beyond a week becomes unreliable. At 7 days out, forecasts are about 70 percent accurate, but the 14-day forecast is only 7 percent accurate. “That just isn’t adequate for water management,” said DWR Director Grant Davis.
On Nov. 9, Mr. Davis and DWR Interstate Resources Manager Jeanine Jones joined experts from state, federal, and local governments for a workshop, co-sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies, on improving “season-to-season” weather forecasting accuracy. Achieving the goal of accurate long-range precipitation predictions will require continued investments in forecasting technology and infrastructure. New radar stations are being installed at Lake Oroville and near Carquinez Strait to gather information on incoming atmospheric rivers. (11-13-17)
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Lake Oroville Main Spillway Ready for Rainy Season
On November 1, we met our objective to repair and reconstruct the main Lake Oroville spillway to handle flows of up to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Construction work after the November 1 milestone will focus on sealing drains, concrete seams, and drain pipes, as well as site clean up. We will also continue work on the emergency spillway to complete construction of the underground secant pile wall, which will prevent uphill erosion if the emergency spillway is ever used again. We expect to complete the secant pile wall by the end of January 2018. During the second phase of construction in 2018, we will place additional structural concrete on the main spillway and complete the emergency spillway buttress and splashpad. Watch the video above to see the incredible transformation of the spillway’s reconstruction. You can watch more videos on DWR’s YouTube page. (11-01-17)
Be Flood Ready
In honor of Flood Preparedness Week, we held a press conference on October 23, 2017 to raise awareness about flood preparedness.
More than 7 million California residents are at risk of flooding, and many don’t realize it. Flooding happens throughout the state, from rural communities to urban areas, at the base of hills, and along the coast. In fact, every California county has received a flood-related emergency declaration in the past twenty years. This year many communities are at additional risk for flooding because of wildfire damage. Flooding after fire is often more severe, as debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. Mudflows can cause considerable damage not covered by homeowner’s insurance. If mudflows, however, are related to flooding then the National Flood Insurance Program flood may cover costs of damage. Please check with your insurance provider for details.

Be “flood ready” by following these steps:
  • Make an evacuation kit.
  • Make an evacuation plan. Familiar routes may not be accessible during a flood.
  • Stay informed during heavy storms.
  • Don’t walk or drive through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • More information is available on our website.
A Golden Anniversary
The Feather River Fish Hatchery, constructed by DWR and operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, celebrates its 50th anniversary this October. Each year, roughly 9,000 to 18,000 salmon and 2,000 steelhead are spawned and raised at the hatchery. Once they reach a specific weight, they are released in the river or in San Pablo Bay to mature in the Pacific Ocean for two to three years before returning to the Feather River. The hatchery was constructed to improve the chances of survival for spring and fall run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, protecting fish eggs from predation as well as abrupt changes in river flows and water temperatures. Read more about the Feather River Fish Hatchery or book a tour by calling 530-538-2222. (10-17-17)
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DWR Earns Environmental Award
On October 11, 2017, DWR Director Grant Davis helped open the second day of the 13th Biennial State of the Estuary Conference at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, California. At the conference, DWR was awarded an Outstanding Environmental Project Award for its more than 2,000 acres of carbon sequestration, land subsidence reversal, and wetlands creation, enhancement, and restoration on Twitchell and Sherman Islands. (10-13-17)
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Aircraft Lift Water from Lake Oroville for Cherokee Fire
In response to the Cherokee Fire in Butte County, Aero Flite firefighting aircraft scoop water from Oroville on October 9 to douse hot spots. As of October 10, the fire is 40% contained at 7,500 acres. Thank you to the community and all agencies responding to this fire and the many others burning throughout California. Get the latest updates on the Cherokee fire and other fires in the state on CalFIRE’s Twitter page. (10-10-17)
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California Water Plan Update 2018 Plenary Meeting
There is still time to RSVP for the second California Water Plan Update 2018 Plenary meeting. The meeting will be held September 27, 2017, at the Wildland Fire Training and Conference Center in McClellan Park and via webinar for those who can't attend in person.
The Plenary will focus on 3 main themes: data, funding, and advancing integrated water management (IWM) across the state. IWM is helping California resolve some of the fragmented and divisive water management practices of our past by supporting collaborative, open, and transparent engagement among diverse stakeholders.
View meeting materials and learn more about The California Water Plan. (09-22-17)
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Feather River Salmon Spawning Restoration Project
In anticipation of salmon spawning season this fall, we placed 5,000 cubic yards of gravel in key salmon spawning areas of the Feather River in Oroville near the Feather River Fish Hatchery.
Last winter’s high river flows washed much of the gravel in the area downstream. Heavy equipment vehicles such as dump trucks, bulldozers, and excavators hauled the gravel into the river at locations designated by our biologists.
Adult salmon need clean spawning gravel to dig their nests, called “redds,” where they lay their eggs. This project improves and increases the spawning habitat available to the salmon, in an effort to boost salmon population.
Learn more about the project on YouTube. (09-11-17)
Register for C.A.S.T. for Kids Event at San Luis Reservoir
We're looking for participants for the free Catch A Special Thrill (C.A.S.T.) for Kids event on September 16, 2017, at the O’Neill Forebay at San Luis Reservoir. The program provides children with disabilities, ages 7 to 17, the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation through fishing. The event is from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
We also need boat captains and other volunteers. Pontoon, bass, and ski boats are all welcome. Children will learn watercraft safety, how to fish, and the importance of life jackets. They will receive a free fishing pole and tackle box, and be treated to a barbecue lunch.
We sponsor the event along with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, CAL FIRE, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation.
Reservations are first-come, first-served, with priority given to first-time participants. Register online as a participant, volunteer, or boat captain on C.A.S.T.’s website. (09-05-17)
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Central Valley Flood Protection Board Adopts Updated Plan to Invest in Flood Protection
On August 25, 2017, our 2017 update to the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) was adopted by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board.

The updated 2017 CVFPP is based on the latest science to improve flood risk management in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. The plan identifies the need to invest in long-term flood risk management actions that provide multiple benefits such as enhancements to water delivery and ecosystem functions.

We are required to update the plan every 5 years, according to the Central Valley Flood Protection Act of 2008. We collaborate with federal, State, and local agencies, and a diverse network of stakeholders to develop and update the plan to ensure public safety, ecosystem and environmental benefits, and economic sustainability.

For more information, read our press release or view a video of the recent board meeting. (08-28-17)
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Hundreds of East Porterville Homes Connected to Water Supply
A year has passed since the first family in East Porterville received water provided by the new distribution system connected to the City of Porterville’s water supply. Since August 19, 2016, a total of 321 homes are receiving water from the system and an additional 446 homes are expected to be connected by the end of 2017.
Hundreds of households in East Porterville lost access to clean, running water as a result of dry wells during the recent 2012-2016 drought. Along with the State Water Resources Control Board and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, we partnered with the City of Porterville, other Tulare County agencies, and local nongovernmental organizations to deliver a permanent solution to East Porterville’s water woes.
“This project has been a huge success,” said Steve Doe, DWR project manager. “We’re pleased to see that by the end of the year, more than 750 families will have a permanent solution to the current water crisis, as well as the next.”
For more information on the project, visit our East Porterville webpage or read our press release. (08-18-17)
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Updates and Stats on Oroville Spillways Construction
Work continues on the Lake Oroville spillways as crews pour concrete to create the underground cutoff wall downslope of the emergency spillway, assemble electrical towers to reroute power lines away from the spillway, begin installation of the main spillway’s walls, pour and grade structural concrete, and install more stay-forms for drainage.

To repair the spillways, crews are using:
  • 800,000 cubic yards of roller-compacted concrete – enough to fill 245 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • 146,000 cubic yards of structural concrete – enough to build a 6-foot-wide sidewalk from Sacramento to Los Angeles
  • 55,000 feet of drainage pipe – if stacked on top of each other, the pile would stretch more than 10 miles high
View our press release or visit the Oroville spillways webpage for more information.   (08-10-17)
Oroville Spillways Construction Updates
On July 27, crews began laying roller-compacted concrete to fill erosion areas in the middle of the Lake Oroville main spillway.
On July 26, we received authorization to proceed with our final 2017 construction plan from the California Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The first phase of construction will be completed by November 1, 2017, to ensure that the main spillway can safely pass Feather River watershed flows this year. We have established a projection schedule to draw down the reservoir's elevation to 700 feet, also by November 1; this is a more conservative reservoir level than normal for that date. Read our news release for more information.
We recently held 3 community meetings to provide updates on repair and construction efforts. Visit our YouTube playlist to view the full recordings, and view our images related to Oroville Spillways Construction.   (07-28-17)
Water-wise Gardens Exhibits and Kids Day at the California State Fair
We’re out at the State Fair in Sacramento promoting “Water Conservation Rain or Shine” at our water-wise gardens exhibit, featuring California native and other water-wise plants, and a step-by-step guide for creating your own garden at home. Changing your outdoor landscaping is the best way to conserve water, and saving water saves money. Plus, water-wise landscapes are beautiful, colorful, low-maintenance, and attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
Come out for Kids Day on Tuesday, July 24, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Kids can make a self-watering planter and take home an edible or flowering water-wise plant.
The Fair runs through July 30. Find us at the Farm across from Building B, daily from Fair opening until 8:00 p.m. View our State Fair Exhibits page for more information, including how to apply for a turf rebate. (07-21-17)
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“DWR Hosts Next Round of Lake Oroville Community Meetings
We’re hosting 3 community meetings to provide updates on the Lake Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project.

The meetings take place at 6:00 p.m. on July 17 in Oroville, July 19 in Marysville, and July 24 in Yuba City. We invite you to join DWR leadership and experts to learn more about the status of the Lake Oroville spillways repair and reconstruction efforts. We will provide time for attendees to ask questions. Each meeting will be available on Facebook Live and later on YouTube. View our news release for more details and location information.
The fair starts July 14 and runs through July 30. Find us at the Farm across from Building B, daily from fair opening until 8:00 p.m. View our State Fair Exhibits page for more information, including how to apply for a turf rebate. (07-17-17)
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“Water Conservation Rain or Shine” at the California State Fair
Join us at the California State Fair in Sacramento to discover ways to cut your outdoor water use through water-wise landscaping. Our exhibit features water-wise garden beds planted with California native and other water-wise plants and a step-by-step process for replacing your turf with water-wise and edible plants. Enjoy activities for kids and adults alike, including a water-wise garden quiz to earn poppy seeds.

The fair starts July 14 and runs through July 30. Find us at the Farm across from Building B, daily from fair opening until 8:00 p.m. View our State Fair Exhibits page for more information, including how to apply for a turf rebate. (07-12-17)
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Watch the Latest Oroville Spillways Construction Video
Drone video footage shows construction progress on the Lake Oroville main spillway from July 1 through July 6. Efforts continue to focus on excavation of debris on the lower chute, rock crushing, and rock cleaning to prepare the foundation for concrete pouring. The concrete batch plant is producing materials for concrete that will be used for reconstruction.
The public can also watch a live video feed of construction activities. For more information, visit the Oroville Spillway Incident page. (07-07-17)
Oroville Spillways Construction Updates
Progress continues on the demolition and reconstruction of the Lake Oroville main flood control spillway. Stay-in-place concrete forms are being constructed as part of the new concrete foundation and drainage system for the spillway. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractor hired to lead construction efforts, and DWR are making swift, steady progress to have a safe, secure spillway by November 1.

The public can watch a live video feed of construction activities. For more information, visit the Oroville Spillway Incident page. (07-05-17)
Fireworks on the Water in Oroville
Celebrate Independence Day in Oroville by watching fireworks over the water at the Thermalito North Forebay. The free fireworks display starts at approximately 9:00 p.m. There are 3 viewing locations: the Nelson Sports Complex, Thermalito North Forebay State Recreation Area, and Thermalito South Forebay State Recreation Area.

Parking is free at Nelson Sports Complex, and parking fees are waived at the North and South Forebays after 6:00 p.m.

The event is organized by Oroville-area organizations and proudly supported by DWR and other government agencies. View the event brochure for a map, directions, and visitor details, or call the Oroville Chamber at (530) 538-2542 for more information. (06-27-17)
Oroville Spillways Recovery Ahead of Schedule
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractor hired to lead the Lake Oroville spillways reconstruction efforts, is ahead of schedule. Kiewit began demolition work on May 22, with a focus on controlled blasting and excavation of concrete debris on the lower chute of the main flood control spillway. They are also beginning to remove sections of the upper chute of the main spillway.
Work-site safety is a priority. A siren was recently installed as an alert system for work-site emergencies and will be tested monthly. DWR and Kiewit are working around the clock to have a safe, secure spillway by November 1. Learn more about the Oroville spillway recovery effort. (06-01-17)
Prevent the Spread of Quagga Mussels: Clean, Drain, & Dry
If you’re heading to the lake with your boat this Memorial Day weekend, be prepared for quagga mussel inspections. The quagga mussel is a small, invasive mollusk that poses an ecological threat to California’s native species and can colonize hard surfaces, clogging water intakes, screens, and pipes. Watercraft can spread mussel infestations to other waterbodies. Quagga mussels were found in State Water Project facilities Pyramid and Castaic Lakes in December.
Boaters should expect watercraft inspections at launch ramps around the state, including Lake Del Valle, San Luis Reservoir, O’Neill Forebay, Los Banos Creek Reservoir, Silverwood Lake, Lake Perris, Pyramid Lake, and Castaic Lake and Lagoon. Boats must be cleaned, drained of all water, and 100 percent dry to pass inspection and launch, and in some cases, to exit.
Visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Quagga Mussel webpage for more information on keeping boats free of mussels. In the greater Los Angeles area, contact Los Angeles County Parks for additional area requirements. (05-26-17)
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Oroville Spillways Recovery Construction Updates
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractors rebuilding the Oroville spillways, ramped up construction work on May 22. Recovery efforts include work on both the main flood control spillway and the emergency spillway, with the objective to get the main spillway operational by November 1 to accommodate flows from winter storms. Work will resume in 2018 to complete the multiple phases of construction needed to complete the reconstruction of both spillways.
Before the spillway flows were shut off, DWR and Kiewit got a head start on construction efforts with road construction and slope stabilization in and around future work areas.
The public can watch a live video feed of construction activities from two cameras with rotating views. For more information, visit the Oroville Spillway Incident page. (05-23-17)
Flows to Feather River Increase
DWR began a scheduled increase in flows to the Feather River at 5:00 a.m. on May 10. Total flow to the Feather River gradually increased from 7,750 cfs to approximately 27,750 cfs as the Lake Oroville flood control spillway gates opened to release 30,000 cfs. Hyatt Powerplant will be operated as needed. DWR is lowering the reservoir to a level that will provide ample flood control storage through the run-off season so that construction of the spillway can begin as soon as possible.
Visit the Oroville Spillway Incident webpage for more resources and information, including Board of Consultant Reports, a timeline of the incident, maps, and links to archived photo and video. (05-11-17)
Statewide Snowpack at 196% Average
Closing out a historically wet winter, today’s manual snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada found a Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) of 27.8 inches, 190 percent of the May 1 long-term average (14.6 inches). Electronic measurements indicate the water content of the statewide snowpack today is 42.5 inches, 196 percent of the May 1 average.
Today's readings will help hydrologists forecast spring and summer snowmelt runoff into rivers and reservoirs. This melting snow supplies approximately one-third of the water used by Californians.
"California’s cities and farms can expect good water supplies this summer,” said DWR Acting Director Bill Croyle. “But this ample snowpack should not wash away memories of the intense drought of 2012-2016. California’s precipitation is the most variable in the nation, and we cannot afford to stop conserving water.”
View SWE measurements on CDEC. (05-01-17)
Key California Reservoirs Reach Capacity
The Northern California reservoirs of Oroville, Folsom, Antelope, Davis, Shasta, and Frenchman are all full. As of March 31, 2017, statewide reservoir storage was 113 percent of average, compared to 87 percent in 2016 and 68 percent in 2015. Groundwater reservoir levels are still recovering from drought. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. lifted the drought emergency in most of California on April 7, 2017. He said, “The drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner.”
Learn more about making water conservation a California way of life, and view more photos in our gallery. (04-25-17)
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Reoperation of Oroville Flood Control Spillway
Reoperation of the Oroville flood control spillway began Friday, April 14, at 9:00 a.m. The outflow from the spillway is 35,000 cubic feet per second and will continue for approximately 14 days. The flood control spillway was last used March 27, 2017.

For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (04-14-17)
Oroville Spillway Recovery Plan
We're implementing a recovery plan to ensure that by November 1, 2017, a system is in place that can safely accommodate heavy inflows at the Feather River watershed and Lake Oroville next winter. We'll work non-stop with partner agencies to meet that objective.
The goal of the recovery project is to return both the gated flood control and emergency spillways to original design capacity of being able to handle the maximum possible inflows into Lake Oroville. The complete recovery or replacement of both damaged structures will need to be done in multiple phases due to the enormity of the project and time limitations of the construction season.
For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (04-07-17)
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Statewide Snowpack is 164% of Average
California snowpack continues to pile up. Today’s statewide measurements of snow water equivalent (SWE) are seven times what they were in January. Despite a respite in storms for most of March, statewide SWE is 45.8 inches, or 164 percent of the average for March 30. In the northern Sierra Nevada, the manual survey at Phillips Station today recorded the snowpack’s water content at 183 percent of average. The season’s accumulation of snow indicates a spring and summer of high river flow from snowmelt, which according to Frank Gehrke, DWR, is “great reservoir recovery.” (03-30-17)
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East Porterville Water Supply Project Deadline Approaches
The final deadline to sign up for a free connection to the City of Porterville’s municipal water system is March 31. As of mid-March, 287 homes have been connected to the City of Porterville water system and are receiving water. The effort to deliver a reliable water supply to East Porterville homes was launched in response to hundreds of homeowners whose wells went dry during California’s five-year drought. The project is financed by the State of California, in collaboration with Tulare County, the City of Porterville, and several non-governmental organizations. In February, the East Porterville Water Supply Project team received a Water Justice Leadership award from the Community Water Center for its efforts to end East Porterville’s drought emergency. Learn more about the East Porterville Water Supply project, including how to sign up for the free connection. (03-24-17)
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Oroville Spillway Releasing 40,000 cfs Water
As of March 22, the Lake Oroville flood control spillway is releasing water at 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), with Hyatt Powerplant discharging 5,200 cfs. Inflows to the lake are approximately 40,000 cfs. The flood control spillway gates were opened on March 17 to bring down the lake elevation. Current lake elevation is 848.2 feet. Total flow down the Feather River is 45,700 cfs.
For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (03-22-17)
Flows to Feather River to Increase
As of March 14, the low-flow section of the Feather River (the river channel through Oroville) is at 5,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will increase by 2,000 cfs to 7,200 cfs. Afterbay flow will be curtailed by 1,500 cfs, so total flow to the Feather River will increase to 14,200 cfs. Lake Oroville flood control spillway outflow remains at zero cfs. Inflow is approximately 14,000 to 20,000 cfs, which has resulted in the lake rising from 861.4 feet to 862 feet elevation. Five units at the Hyatt Powerplant are running, allowing for a total outflow of 12,900 cfs. Contractors continue to remove sediment and debris below the spillway 24 hours a day. Approximately 1,148,000 cubic yards of material have been removed from the debris pile.
For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (03-14-17)
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Five Units Running at Hyatt Powerplant
As of March 9, five units at the Hyatt Powerplant were running, ramping up from an outflow of 8,800 cubic feet per second (cfs). This situation will be monitored to determine the efficiency and safety of excavation during outflow. Flood control spillway outflow remains at zero cfs while inflow is approximately 10,000 to 15,000 cfs. This has resulted in the lake rising from 858.8 to 859.7 feet elevation.
Approximately 715,000 cubic yards of material have been removed from the debris pile, and contractors continue to remove sediment and debris 24 hours a day. Work continues on the area below the emergency spillway.
For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (03-09-17)
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Lake Oroville Hyatt Power Plant Update
A second Hyatt Powerplant unit was started on Monday, March 6, at 6 p.m. allowing for a total outflow of 3,550 cubic feet per second (cfs). As a result, flow to the Feather River will also increase incrementally, causing the river to become gradually deeper and swifter. Flood control spillway outflow remains at zero cfs while inflow is approximately 15,000 to 20,000 cfs. Lake level has risen to 857.4 feet as of mid-day Tuesday. Approximately 517,000 cubic yards of material have been removed from the debris pile, and contractors continue to remove sediment and debris 24 hours a day. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (03-07-17)
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Lake Oroville Hyatt Power Plant Update
On March 4, 2017 at 10 a.m. a temporary shutdown of Hyatt Power Plant began so that crews can deepen the channel beneath the spillway in order for the power plant to reach its full capacity. On Friday, March 3 Hyatt Power Plant was successfully restarted with flows from the plant reaching 2550 cfs. DWR engineers have determined that further deepening of the channel will help the power plant reach full capacity sooner. DWR expects that it will take 1-2 days before the plant is restarted. Once fully operational, the plant can release up to 14,000 cfs, which is important for managing reservoir inflows and outflows through the spring runoff season. Work continues on the area below the emergency spillway, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, read our news releases or visit our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (03-03-17)
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Statewide Snowpack Is 185 Percent of Average
Evidence that this water year is one of California’s wettest on record keeps piling up, like snowpack in the Sierra. The March 1 snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada found snow 9.4 feet deep, with a water content of 43.4 inches – 179 percent of the Phillips average. Frank Gehrke, Chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, conducted the survey with the assistance of California Water Commission Chair Armando Quintero and Vice Chair Carol Baker. Statewide, the snowpack’s water content is 45.5 inches, which is 185 percent of average for March 1. (03-01-17)
Lake Oroville Spillway Repairs Continue, Including Road Work
As of February 26, Lake Oroville levels have decreased to 843 feet, 58 feet below the reservoirs’s maximum level. Outflow remains at 50,000 cubic feet per second, consistent with DWR’s established plan to manage lake levels. Repair work continues 24 hours a day on the area below the spillway, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff.
  • Caltrans will begin emergency work on Canyon Drive as early as Tuesday, February 28. This work will take approximately 7-10 days and the road will be restricted to single lanes with a pilot car guiding traffic.
  • Construction crews are installing foundations for check structures that would slow water flows should the emergency spillway be required.
  • Barges have been assembled and equipment is being staged for debris removal below the flood control spillway in the diversion pool.
DWR is actively monitoring the status of the dam, spillways, Hyatt Power Plant, related structures, and progress of repair activities. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can also be found in our press releases and on our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (02-24-17)
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Lake Oroville Outflow Exceeds Inflow
As of February 24 , Lake Oroville levels have decreased to 849 feet, 52 feet below the maximum level of the reservoir. Outflow was reduced to 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from 60,000 cfs around mid-day on February 23, and is still exceeding inflow. The rate is consistent with DWR’s established plan to manage lake levels. Repair work continues 24 hours a day on the area below the spillway, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff. DWR is actively monitoring the status of the dam, spillways, Hyatt Power Plant, related structures, and progress of repair activities. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can also be found in our press releases and on our Oroville Spillway Incident webpage. (02-24-17)
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Lake Oroville Levels Continue Dropping
In anticipation of increased inflow from forecasted weather, DWR increased outflow from the Oroville Dam flood control spillway on Sunday, February 19, from 55,000 to 60,000 cubic feet per second. The increase is consistent with DWR’s established plan objectives to continually manage lake levels, water flow, and support construction activities. Repair work continues 24 hours a day on the area below the spillway, the monoliths, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff. DWR is actively monitoring the status of the dam, spillways, Hyatt Power Plant, related structures, and progress of repair activities. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can also be found in our press releases and at Cal OES. (02-20-17)
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Lake Oroville Levels Continue Dropping
On Sunday, flow from the Oroville Dam Flood Control Spillway will remain at 55,000 cfs and continue to outpace the inflow encountered. The reduction in flow has allowed assessment teams to view debris buildup and dredge debris piles below the flood control spillway. Lake elevations continue trending downward and had fallen to 852 feet, by 4:00 this morning, 48 feet below the emergency spillway. As runoff flows into the reservoir, water levels will likely fluctuate but will remain within acceptable and typical levels during times of storm activity. DWR continues work on the area below the spillway, the monoliths, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff. DWR continues to aggressively monitor the status of the dam, spillways, the Hyatt Power Plant, related structures, and progress of repair activities. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can also be found in our press releases and at Cal OES. (02-19-17)
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Progress on Oroville Spillway Repairs, Lake Levels Dropping
Construction crews continue to work around the clock to repair erosion below the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. Rock, aggregate, and cement slurry are being used to repair and backfill affected areas. As of the morning of February 17, water flow from the flood control spillway is 80,000 cubic feet per second. This reduced outflow is allowing debris removal from the diversion pool, below the spillway. The level of the reservoir has been reduced by 40 feet, and continues to drop, to accommodate inflow from current and forecasted storms. Inflows are not expected to exceed anticipated outflows. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can also be found in our press releases and at Cal OES.
Concerns at Oroville Spillway Trigger Evacuation Orders
Evacuation orders were delivered to residents surrounding Lake Oroville at approximately 4:30pm on Sunday. DWR has been monitoring conditions at Lake Oroville’s main and auxiliary spillways around the clock for signs of erosion that could threaten the integrity of the emergency spillway and allow large, uncontrolled flows to the Feather River. To lower the lake level and thus reduce flows and the potential for erosion at the top of the emergency spillway, DWR increased flows down the main spillway’s damaged, concrete chute to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Current releases remain within the capacity of downstream channels. Oroville Dam is a separate structure from the emergency spillway and remains sound.

For up-to-date information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can be found in our press release.
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Water Flows Over Oroville Dam Auxiliary Spillway
Lake Oroville reached an elevation of 901 feet above sea level this morning at approximately 8:00 a.m., which triggered the natural flow of water over the lip of the lake's auxiliary spillway. The auxiliary spillway is a wooded hillside that will carry substantial debris into Feather River. In anticipation of these flows, DWR and CAL FIRE crews have been clearing trees and brush from the water's path for the last several days. The auxiliary spillway has never been used in the lake's 48-year history. Feather River flows are not expected to exceed flood control capacity.

For up-to-date information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Additional details can be found in our press release.
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Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Could Be Used for First Time
As of 2 a.m. Friday morning, flows down the Oroville Dam spillway were increased to 65,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), up from 35,000 cfs. Due to heavy inflow to the lake, the emergency spillway may need to be used for the first time in Oroville Dam’s 48-year history. In preparation, trees and brush have been removed from the hillside to minimize debris flow into the river. Evacuation of fish from a downstream hatchery is underway to avoid harm to young fish and eggs. Oroville Dam itself is sound and there is no imminent threat to the public, said DWR Acting Director William Croyle.

View our latest press releases for more details. More photos are available in our online gallery. (02-10-17)
DWR Investigating Damage to Oroville Dam Spillway
On February 7, DWR suspended flows down the Oroville Dam spillway to investigate concrete erosion discovered on the lower half of the spillway. On the afternoon of February 8, DWR launched a test flow to determine the appropriate level of water to release down the spillway. In the coming days, DWR will continue to investigate ways to bolster and protect the spillway. There is no anticipated threat to the dam or the public. For more information, read our press release (02-08-17)
Statewide Snowpack 173% of Average
The Department of Water Resources conducted its second manual snow survey of 2017 in the Sierra Nevada on February 2, in addition to 101 electronic readings throughout the state. Statewide, the water content of the snowpack was 31 inches compared to the February 2 average of 18 inches. On January 3, when snowpack was last measured, the statewide water content was 7.3 inches. Despite readings being higher than any February survey since 1997, California’s drought conditions remain a reality until groundwater reservoirs make a comeback. For more information, read our press release and view our photos. (02-02-17)
DWR Launches Pixel Photo Gallery for Free Public Use
Browse, download, and create lightboxes of DWR photos from Pixel, our updated media library with nearly 8,000 images. Pixel has nine public domain collections divided into smaller subsections that cover a wide variety of topics including reservoirs, dams, landscapes, floods, drought, and more. We update the galleries daily with both new and historical images dating as far back as the 1860s. Browse by category or search by keyword, location, and date without logging in. To download images, view invite-only galleries, and create or share lightboxes, you must log in through your account. Sign up now for a free Pixel account. (01-26-17)
DWR Photography
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Aerial Video Shows Recent Flooding and High Water
California experienced a series of wet winter storms during the first half of January, and DWR has been closely monitoring the impacts. On January 13, Department staff shot aerial video of flooding and high water from Folsom Lake through the Greater Sacramento region and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Heavy rain and snow fell across the state, resulting in fast-moving streams and rivers, large inflows of water into local reservoirs, and flooding in a number of locations. (01-19-17)

View video and photography of the storm and its aftermath.
DWR Opens Sacramento Weir for First Time in Over a Decade
DWR engineers opened a number of the Sacramento Weir gates to direct water through the Sacramento Bypass and into the Yolo Bypass early on January 10, 2017. Weir gates were opened based on forecasted conditions indicating the amount of water heading down the Sacramento River could overtop riverbanks in the urban areas of Greater Sacramento. The Sacramento Weir has been in operation for 100 years. Nearly 2,000 feet in length, it consists of 48 gates that are removed manually to allow water to spill from the Sacramento River. Learn more about Sacramento River Flood Protection System Weirs and Flood Relief Structures.

View photos of today’s opening of the Sacramento Weir, as well as historic photos, in our gallery. (01-10-17)
Prepare for Potential Flooding this Weekend
California is expected to experience heavy precipitation through the weekend of January 7 and into the following week. Visit Flood Prepare California for tips to stay safe.

To check local conditions and advisories, visit the National Weather Service. If you have an emergency, contact the 24-hour dispatch of your regional emergency services.

For periodic updates on storm conditions and news statewide, follow DWR on Twitter. (01-06-17)
Statewide Snowpack Still Below Average
Despite considerable snowfall in the Sierra during the New Year weekend, the water content of the statewide snowpack remains below average for early January. DWR conducted its first manual snow survey on January 3 at Phillips Station just off Highway 50, three miles from Echo Summit. The snow water equivalent was 6 inches, compared with the early-January average of 11.3 inches. Statewide readings from electronic sensors indicate water content of 7.2 inches, 70 percent of the January 3 average. California normally receives two-thirds of its precipitation from December to March. Today’s readings provide a key starting point for the season but don’t indicate how the season will end.

Find more details in the news release and view snow survey photos. (01-03-17)
Moving Toward Sustainable Groundwater Management
It was just a little more than two years ago that DWR met its first deadline under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), prioritizing the State’s 515 alluvial groundwater basins. Since then, our Sustainable Groundwater Management Program has:
  • Invested thousands of hours in outreach and community engagement
  • Developed tools like the Groundwater Basin Boundary Assessment Tool and Best Management Practices to assist local agencies in water management and planning efforts
  • Collected and shared data and information on California’s groundwater, entering more than 1.5 million groundwater elevation measurements into an online system we manage with local water districts
The year ahead brings a pivotal new deadline: SGMA requires the formation of locally-controlled groundwater sustainability agencies in California’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins by June 30, 2017. (12-19-16)
DWR Photography: Kelly Grow and John Chacon
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DWR launches new research vessel
The Sentinel, DWR’s new 60-foot, state-of-the-art research vessel, is ready for action. She replaces the San Carlos as DWR’s flagship for gathering water quality data on Bay-Delta waters and sampling for phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthos. The Sentinel has a 266-square-foot laboratory with the most sophisticated instrumentation available.
The vessel will be used by DWR’s Environmental Monitoring Program, which ensures compliance with state water mandates under Water Rights Decision 1641, and has seen a rise in special study requests, such as the drought’s effect on water quality. The Sentinel will ensure DWR can comply with these mandates, and future challenges, in a safer and more efficient manner. (12-19-16)
Photos by DWR and Vigor. View more in our photo gallery, and watch the commissioning video.
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DWR Employees Participate in Emergency Responder Flood Fight Training
The flood season is upon us and DWR is ready. The Department recently held a training session at its Maintenance Yard in Sutter to teach DWR staff how to build two structures: a temporary levee using earth and plastic and a temporary barrier using Muscle Wall. These flood-fighting techniques can add critical inches or feet to protect structures and people during sudden flood events.
The training was part of an ongoing program to prepare DWR Incident Commanders and California Conservation Corps teams with strategies to quickly and effectively respond to flood risk.
Watch this Muscle Wall video to see how crews assemble the barrier. (12-08-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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It’s Time to Turn Off Your Sprinklers
Fall and winter bring rain, snow, and decreasing temperatures. To conserve water, we recommend you shut off your sprinklers. Conservation is a California lifestyle, regardless of the season. Winterizing your sprinkler system can also protect your pipes from freezing.
“We can take much greater advantage of incoming storms if people shut off their sprinklers. There’s no need to add more water to already soaked landscaping,” said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin.
Learn about other tips to reduce water use around the yard. (11-30-16)
DWR Photography
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Winter Outlook Workshop Aims to Improve Precipitation Forecasting
Oceanography in La Jolla, November 16-18, 2016. The workshop focused on efforts to improve seasonal precipitation forecasting, which could help agencies better manage water resources.
“We'd all like to know if 2017 will be wet or dry, but determining that is scientifically difficult. We’re trying to emphasize the need for prioritizing this research in the science community,” said Jeanine Jones, Interstate Resources Manager at DWR.
Find more information on water conditions, including whether La Niña will make a difference in 2017. (11-17-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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CIMIS Weather Station Promotes Water Conservation and Learning
DWR’s new California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) station at Beattie Middle School in San Bernardino County collects climate data to be used by farmers, irrigation managers and students. "This CIMIS station is one of many used throughout the State to assist farmers and water agencies in their water conservation efforts. In this case, it also benefits students as a tool for learning about the science of climatology, water conservation and irrigation management,” said DWR’s Michael Sabbaghian at the October ribbon-cutting ceremony. CIMIS stations across California collect data that can also be used to manage pests, generate energy, fight fires and forecast weather. Review CIMIS data, maps, news, and more (11-10-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Stretching California’s Water Supply
As California starts a new water year after five years of drought, DWR managers recently presented at a workshop in Long Beach, along with academic and water resource officials, to discuss strategies for improving drought resilience and reducing drought vulnerability. One priority strategy for DWR is improving seasonal precipitation forecasting skills, in part by supporting emerging research on atmospheric river storms that may improve forecasts. Other tools for increasing resiliency include sustainable groundwater management and development of urban stormwater capture programs. Get the latest on drought conditions here. (11-02-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow and Florence Low
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DWR advises, Flood Prepare California!
DWR, along with CAL FIRE and the National Weather Service, warn that weather and land conditions across California increase the potential for flash flooding during the rainy season now under way. Five years of drought conditions have exacerbated wildfires across the state. Rain is beginning to fall across fire burn scars, making these areas prone to sudden erosion along roads and through neighborhoods. DWR says, Flood Prepare California! To learn more about flooding after fire events and recommended actions you should take if traveling through a flash flood-prone area, watch this educational video produced by DWR with funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (10-24-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Construction Underway for Two Fish Release Sites
DWR broke ground late summer for the construction of two new fish release sites, Little Baja and Manzo Ranch, on the northwest side of Sherman Island in Rio Vista. It has been nearly 40 years since DWR constructed release sites, which are used to return fish salvaged from the John E. Skinner Fish Protective Facility back into Delta water. The new sites along the Sacramento River will include a new release system, automated gates, site lighting, overhead downspout, electrical hookup and security fencing. With completion expected by December 2017, DWR’s fish release sites will total four with the existing Curtis Landing and Horseshoe Bend. The project complies with the 2009 National Marine and Fisheries Service’s Biological Opinion mandate to reduce predation and improve survival rates of salvaged fish returning to the Delta. (10-17-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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East Porterville Residents Urged to Sign Up
The East Porterville Water Supply Project in August began connecting homes to existing water distribution lines from the City of Porterville. Approximately 300 properties are eligible for the no-cost connection in the project’s first phase. Owners who attended an informational meeting in Porterville on October 5 were briefed on the three-step process that’s required for water to begin flowing to their homes. Phase 1 is planned for completion by the end of the year, with another 700 homes scheduled for Phase 2 in 2017. For information, visit website. (10-06-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Preparing for Next Water Year
California’s new water year began October 1, and DWR’s Flood Operations Branch employees are hosting a dozen statewide Preseason Flood Coordination meetings. Topics include flood threats, winter weather outlook, regional updates, emergency roles and responsibilities and web resources. The National Weather Service, County Office of Emergency Services, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Conservation Corps, CALFIRE and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are among the presenters. The Riverside meeting held in September marked the halfway point in the series. If you’re interested in attending one of the remaining six meetings, see flyer. (10-03-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Restoring the Suisun Marsh
Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and DWR Director Mark Cowin spoke this week at the groundbreaking event for the restoration of 420 acres of tidal marsh in the Grizzly Bay region of Suisun March. Known as the Tule Red project in Solano County, it is home to duck hunting clubs created when people more than a century ago built earthen dikes to block off part of the Suisun Marsh. The area will be restored by changing berms and creating new channels and basins to improve food production for threatened or endangered species, such as the Delta smelt, longfin smelt and Chinook salmon. The project expected to be completed in 2019 is being led by DWR and the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency. For more information, visit (09-21-16)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Ensuring a Safe Water Supply
Could you imagine a day without clean, safe water? On September 15, DWR, the State Water Resources Control Board and several agencies gathered for the “Imagine a Day without Water” event in Willows as they celebrated the completion of the Willows Chromium-6 Treatment Plant with a ribbon-cutting. DWR’s Chief of Financial Analysis and Risk Management Office Linda Ng recognized this important achievement by Cal Water and how this project funded by DWR through a $5 million Proposition 50 grant addresses drinking water contaminant removal technology. Speakers presented an overview of chromium-6 and the treatment plant. The plant will help ensure water supply meets new State water quality standard. (09-16-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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DWR Celebrates Sacramento Weir Centennial
Constructed in 1916 and in large part prompted by the 1915 flood on the Sacramento River, the Sacramento Weir is today the last proactive defense against Mother Nature’s flood flows speeding toward the City of Sacramento to deliver a catastrophic punch. At nearly 2000 feet in length, and with 48 gates with wooden plank ‘needles,’ the Sacramento Weir is the only weir in our flood system that is manually operated in times of need. DWR marked the 100-year anniversary of construction by providing a tour and historical briefing to Floodplain Management Association Conference attendees and Sacramento area media. (09-08-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly grow
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A Novel Approach to Improve Delta Smelt Survival
Plankton is an important element in the endangered Delta smelt’s food chain. Four years ago, DWR scientists observed plankton blooms in the Delta following agricultural drainage from the Yolo Bypass – the first fall blooms in more than 20 years. Acting on a hunch, they pursued an experiment this summer with numerous agencies to redirect water from the Sacramento River down the Colusa Basin Drain into Yolo Bypass to see if they could produce similar improvements in plankton. At the Yolo Bypass today, DWR’s Director Mark Cowin and Lead Scientist Ted Sommer gathered with State and federal leaders to unveil the initial results of the flow action, which is a key part of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy. News Release (08-31-16)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Tribal Governments Briefed on Groundwater Act Implementation
To attain Tribal perspectives and chart the next steps for Tribal engagement as part of the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), DWR’s annual Tribal Governments workshop was held in August in Sacramento. DWR’s Tribal Policy Advisor Anecita Agustinez, Regional Tribal Liaisons, Sustainable Groundwater Management Program staff and members of DWR’s Tribal Advisory Group briefed Tribal Leaders and representatives on program activities, outcomes of the recent boundary basin modification process, ongoing engagement opportunities and funding opportunities. In Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-10-11, tribal consultation and communication is a separate and distinct form of communication practice. This includes government to government engagement with California’s Native American Tribes. For DWR’s SGM Program, visit and for DWR’s Tribal engagement, visit (08-26-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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First Water Connections Made in East Porterville
East Porterville residents have been waiting for a day like August 19th for years. Hundreds have gone without a sustainable water supply since their properties’ wells went dry during California’s five-year drought. DWR’s engineers have led the way toward sustainability by designing a distribution system that eventually will deliver water from the City of Porterville to 1,800 homes in its neighboring community to the east. The first connection was made on the 19th, and dozens more are expected to be completed in the coming weeks. The era of temporary water tanks and bottled water deliveries is ending for East Porterville. (08-19-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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How to Remove Turf and Create Water Wise Landscape
Create an edible or pollinator garden by following these simple steps for removing your turf to create a water-efficient landscape. The DWR video created at the California State Fair’s California Lifestyle outdoor exhibit covers the entire process. Before starting the project, apply for turf rebate and learn tips on how to convert your turf into a beautiful outdoor landscape by visiting (08-15-16)
Water Conservation for Life
The new Save Our Water summer campaign titled “Water Conservation: It’s For Life” thanks Californians for their conservation efforts and asks for their continued commitment to saving water. “While we had some relief this past winter, the fact is California remains in drought,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “The need for conservation remains and Save Our Water will help make permanent changes to save water.” Save Our Water, sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies, is a statewide water conservation program created to help Californians find ways to reduce their water use. To view the improved website that has tools and tips for saving water around the house, yard and neighborhood, visit (08-02-16)
Lake Perris Aquatic Adventure Camp
By teaching water safety to children at the 2016 Aquatic Adventure Camp (AAC) at Lake Perris, DWR helps keep children safe at its State Water Project reservoirs. DWR in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation offered a 10-day program from July 11 to 22 focusing on educating children ages 7-15 about water safety and the steps to take during an emergency. Activities include life jacket safety, basic first aid training, water sports such as kayaking and snorkeling and lessons on physical health and fitness. The free AAC program offers sessions each year for up to 75 randomly selected children to participate. Water safety information available here. (07-20-16)
DWR Photography - Joh Chacon
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Making Conservation a Way of Life Exhibits at State Fair
With California in its fifth year of drought, inspiring visitors to make conservation a way of life is what DWR’s three California State Fair exhibits are designed to accomplish now through July 24. The trio of exhibits, dubbed Conservation: The California Lifestyle, feature drought-tolerant landscaping ideas, edible gardens and take-home information on conservation. Flyers are available for DWR turf rebates and water-wise plant lists. Visitors can find the two outdoor exhibits in Farm Areas #1 and #2 and the indoor exhibit in Building B. For an online look at DWR’s exhibits, visit For information on the California State Fair operating hours, visit (07-12-16)
Four Decades of Serving California
As part of the California Conservation Corps’ 40 years of Serving California celebration, DWR and 12 other agencies were honored with Legacy Awards for their partnership with the CCC. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird spoke at the State Capitol event on June 30. In the last 40 years, CCC crews assisted DWR during several projects, such as floodfighting and turf replacement. The CCC, created on July 7, 1976 by Governor Brown, is celebrating more than 74 million hours of natural resources work in California. For CCC celebration information, see website here  (07-07-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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DWR Marks 60th Anniversary
Congratulations to DWR for managing California’s water for the last 60 years. Created on July 5, 1956, DWR manages the water resources of California in cooperation with other agencies, to benefit the State’s people and to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments. Take a look back at DWR jobs during its earlier years. To view other DWR 60th anniversary articles, view DWR Magazine here.   (07-05-16)
DWR Photography
Celebrate the Fourth of July at Lake Oroville
The skies over Lake Oroville in Northern California will sparkle with red, white and blue as DWR proudly supports Oroville's 2016 Fourth of July fireworks celebration. The Tallest Dam Independence Day Celebration is organized by the Rotary Club of Oroville. Free parking will be available at the Oroville Dam Overlook parking lots and Visitors Center beginning at 9 a.m. The spectacle celebrating our nation’s 240th birthday begins just after dark, and revelers can set their sights on the sky from the top of Oroville Dam, by boat on Lake Oroville, and from many other spots in the hills around the lake. See details on traffic restrictions and regulations here(06-30-16)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
Study for East Porterville Water Supply Project Available for Comments
DWR, in partnership with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, has made public a draft feasibility study for construction of a new water distribution system for East Porterville in Tulare County. The project’s purpose is to provide a permanent, safe and reliable household water supply to the community of East Porterville. During a community meeting on June 23, speakers explained the project and responded to questions. To learn more about the project, visit   (06-24-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Tree-Rings Provide Drought Insight
DWR and University of Arizona researchers hope to get snapshots of as much as 1000 years of streamflow and precipitation data for Southern California watersheds from tree-ring samples such as these collected on June 14 at Switzer Falls in Los Angeles County. Samples gathered from the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and other watersheds will help local water agencies to better assess drought risks in their service areas. As part of Executive Order B-37-16, DWR requires local agencies to develop contingency plans for drought of at least five years as well as plan for more frequent and severe drought periods.   (06-14-16)
DWR Photography - Florence Low
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Kids Learn Water Safety at Lake Del Valle
From water rescue to life jacket safety, children between the ages of 7 to 15 and their families are stopping by Lake Del Valle in Livermore for the East Bay Regional Park District’s “Vamos a Aprender” water safety education program. Sponsored by DWR, the weekend program began June 4 and runs through August. In the two 45-minute sessions offered at 11 a.m. and noon in English and Spanish, kids learn the proper way to wear a life vest, how to stay afloat, beach rules and more. Participating children receive a complimentary life jacket and DWR take-home water safety materials. For more on water safety, visit   (06-06-16)
DWR Photography - Kelly Grow
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Water Year 2016: San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Conditions
San Joaquin Valley groundwater conditions took center stage at a water year 2016 briefing today in Fresno. Speakers from DWR, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Fresno County and the Kings River Conservation District gathered at California State University, Fresno. They provided the latest information on the state’s current hydrologic, drought and San Joaquin Valley’s groundwater conditions. Topics covered the local perspective of beginning the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation and monitoring of San Joaquin Valley land subsidence with remote sensing. DWR and the Water Education Foundation co-sponsored the event, in cooperation with the Center for Irrigation Technology.   (06-01-16)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Camp on Water at Lake Oroville
Enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Oroville on a floating campsite. Each of the ten 20 feet by 24 feet campsites equipped with a camp table, sink, toilet and barbecue grill can accommodate up to 15 people. Eat, sleep, relax in the only two-tier floating campsites in California. For reservations, see website at or call 1-800-444-7275.   (05-19-16)
DWR Photography
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California Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations Approved
The Department of Water Resources regulations that will guide local groundwater sustainability agency management and regulation of California’s groundwater basins as outlined in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) have been approved by the California Water Commission (CWC). SGM Executive Program Manager David Gutierrez and his team presented the regulations to the CWC prior to the vote. The regulations will be filed with the Office of Administrative Law and go into effect in June 2016. “Today we reach a major milestone in California’s quest to sustainably manage groundwater,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “These regulations will help communities bring aquifers into balance and prepare for a changing climate and future droughts.” News Release   (05-19-16)
DWR Photography - John Chacon
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Some Reservoirs Nearly Full, but Drought Persists
While key Northern California reservoirs – Oroville, Shasta and Folsom - are nearly full, water levels are below average in much of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. On May 9, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order that builds on temporary emergency water restrictions to make the wise and sparing use of water a permanent way of life. Measures called for include water use reporting and bans on wasteful practices such as hosing off sidewalks and driveways. “Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” said Governor Brown. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”
Executive Order available here.
Video of Folsom Lake, Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake here.   (05-16-16)
DWR Photography by Kelly Grow and Video by DWR Video Unit
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ASCE Recognizes Three DWR Projects
At the 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Sacramento Section Awards event on May 11, ASCE recognized three outstanding DWR projects – the Department’s Climate Action Plan, Sherman Island restoration project and West False River Emergency Drought Barrier. DWR’s Climate Action Plan, created to guide DWR on addressing climate change for its programs and projects, received the Sustainability Project of the Year award. The Sherman Island Whale's Mouth Wetland Restoration and Scour Pond Habitat Enhancement project that restored approximately 600 acres of wetlands on Sherman Island was recognized as the Environmental Project of the Year. The emergency drought barrier that controlled saltwater intrusion into the Delta during reduced reservoir releases also was recognized as an outstanding project. For awards information, visit   (05-12-16)
DWR Photography/Florence Low & Zack Cunningham
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DWR Apprentice Program Accepts Applications
Earn while you learn by joining DWR’s Apprentice Program. For one day only on May 12 at five locations throughout California, DWR will accept applications for the three and four-year apprentice programs, where DWR electricians, mechanics, operators and utility craftsworkers take the next generation of journey-persons under their wings and teach them their trade. Applications for the Hydroelectric Plant Electrician, Hydroelectric Plant Mechanic and Hydroelectric Plant Operator and Utility Craftsworker Apprentice classifications must be submitted in-person at one of DWR’s five field divisions in Oroville, Byron, Gustine, Bakersfield and Pearblossom. For more information, including job descriptions, salary details and minimum qualifications visit   (05-05-16)
Improving Flood Protection
Ground breaks on a dream of Hamilton City forefathers back in the 1930s: reliable flood protection for the small Glenn County community that today boasts of just over 2000 residents. Folks there have evacuated six times in the past 33 years. Now, thanks to a $5-million grant by DWR, land donated by the Nature Conservancy to offset local cost, and recent Federal funding, improvements to the J levee along the Sacramento River are finally underway. “This multi-benefit project moves forward in the spirit of Governor Brown’s California Water Action Plan,” Deputy Director Gary Bardini told the celebratory crowd. “The new levee will not only protect the community, but make room for restoring native habitat along the river.”   (05-02-16)
Water Conservation Outreach Recognized
Save Our Water, a joint partnership between the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources, won a silver-level CAPPIE Award from the Sacramento Public Relations Association for its 2015 outreach efforts. During the state’s 4th year of drought, the program delivered critical conservation messages to millions of Californians. The year-long campaign included celebrity water conservation public service announcements, billboard advertisements, radio spots, increased social media messaging and more. Save Our Water was created in 2009 to educate Californians on daily water conservation. Visit for water saving tips.   (04-29-16)
Watershed University Held in Central Valley
Learn about your flood risk and tools that can help you at the online Watershed University being held April 27 and 28 at the Office of Emergency Services in Atwater. This free event led by the California Silver Jackets is being hosted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, CALFIRE and the Merced County Office of Emergency Services. Topics include FEMA flood mapping, National Flood Insurance Program, California Water Action Plan and integrated water management collaboration. To view the agenda and register, visit   (04-27-16)
Drought Puts Focus on Water Operations
Challenges of meeting California’s water supply needs during the state’s historic drought were discussed today by DWR and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials during a briefing at California State University, Fresno. “Water Year 2016: The Challenges of Water Project Operations,” sponsored by DWR and the Water Education Foundation in cooperation with the Center for Irrigation Technology, focused on hydrologic conditions, precipitation patterns, groundwater management, and operations. DWR speakers included Interstate Resources Manager Jeanine Jones, Water Operations Chief John Leahigh, Snow Surveys Chief David Rizzardo, Bay Delta Office Chief Paul Marshall and Senior Engineering Geologist Dane Mathis. Area Manager Michael Jackson represented the Bureau of Reclamation.   (04-26-16)
DWR Promotes Water Conservation at Earth Day Events
As Earth Day celebrates its 46th anniversary, DWR educates participants about the importance of water conservation. DWR’s booth at several Sacramento area Earth Day events includes Save Our Water posters, bumper stickers, conservation booklets and information on the state’s turf and toilet rebates. The Department’s educational water burger will also be on display highlighting how much water it takes to make a hamburger. Earth Day events will be held at CalEPA Building on April 20, Sierra College on April 20 and Southside Park in downtown Sacramento on April 24. For more information, visit Earth Day website.   (04-20-16)
Turf and Toilet Rebates Available from DWR
As California enters a fifth year of drought, are you looking for ways to save water in your outdoor landscape or bathroom? DWR’s turf and toilet rebates are still available. By changing from a non-efficient to high-efficiency toilet, you can save 45 gallons per day. Consider converting your lawn into a water wise landscape. The Turf and Rebate program managed by DWR offers a $100 toilet rebate and up to $2 per square foot for lawn replacement. To apply for rebates, visit   (04-14-16)
Major Milestone in Protecting Sacramento from Floods
DWR Deputy Director Gary Bardini joins Sacramento flood management leadership for a close-up look at improvements made to levees along the American River. Bardini, along with U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui and Ami Bera, and Central Valley Flood Protection Board President Bill Edgar, highlighted the significance of improving a 22-mile stretch of levees built to protect lives and property. Sacramento’s risk of flooding is still the greatest of any major city in the country. The completion of this work is a milestone achievement and a step forward in the plan to protect Sacramento from the catastrophic consequences of a 200-year flood. Visit ARCF project website for more information.   (04-08-16)
DWR Photography/Florence Low
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Snowpack Not Miraculous Despite March Rain
Rainfall at the Northern California stations monitored by DWR was impressive in March – more than 16 inches, almost two and one-half times the month’s average. While the rainfall was encouraging, the snowpack hasn’t kept pace. Frank Gehrke of DWR’s snow survey team reported about average water content at Phillips Station on March 30. The statewide content was just 87 percent of average for the date. “The effects of previous dry years will remain for now,” he said. In other words, California still has drought conditions.   News Release   Snow Survey Video   (03-30-16)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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Draft Groundwater Regulations Highlighted at Statewide Meetings
DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Program goes on the road to present new draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Emergency Regulations to communities around the state. SGM Program Manager Trevor Joseph explains the regulations to an audience at the Visalia Convention Center on March 21. This is one of three public meetings and a statewide webinar to be held to solicit comments on the draft GSP Regulations. The statewide webinar will be held on Thursday, March 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. Register for the webinar at
Information about other meetings at News Release.
Visit DWR’s SGM Program website.  (03-22-16)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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Storms Haven’t Ended Drought
This month’s storms have boosted California’s two largest reservoirs – Shasta Lake north of Redding and Lake Oroville in Butte County – to their historically average levels for this time of year, but other key reservoirs remain critically low as our historic drought keeps its grip on the state. One average season does not overcome the effects of four dry years, and precipitation (rain and snow) has been well below average in Southern California as well as some areas in Northern California. San Joaquin Valley reservoirs, such as San Luis Reservoir, remain low, and groundwater levels in many areas of the San Joaquin Valley and throughout the state have dropped to historic lows in the past four years. Conserving water in our homes and businesses remains critically important. To learn ways to save water, visit  (03-17-16)
DWR Photography/Florence Low/John Chacon
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DWR Honored with National Climate Leadership Award
DWR triumphed at the 2016 Climate Leadership Conference in Seattle, Washington last night by receiving the Organizational Leadership award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This award recognizes organizations that not only have their own greenhouse gas inventories and targeted emissions reduction goals, but also show extraordinary leadership in their internal response to climate change. The conference is dedicated to professionals focusing on global climate change through policy, innovation and business solutions. In 2015, DWR was awarded the Climate Leadership Award for the “Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management” category. John Andrew of DWR (right) accepts award from Dennis J. McLerran of U.S. EPA. More information about the 2016 Climate Leadership Award winners is available at
News Release  (03-10-16)
Photograph by U.S.EPA
Making Conservation a California Way of Life
It’s time to be dazzled with blooming brilliance at upcoming garden shows. In response to California’s continuing drought, DWR invites the public to the Sacramento Home and Garden Show at Cal Expo March 4-6. Check out the Water Use Efficiency exhibit “Making Conservation a California Way of Life” with tips on how to replace lawns and ornamental turf with drought tolerant landscapes. Learn more about the Residential and Institutional Turf Replacement Initiative and other conservation actions. If you miss the event this weekend, you have another chance on March 16-20 at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show at the San Mateo Event Center. To learn more about the Turf and Toilet Rebates, visit  (03-04-16)
DWR Photography/John Chacon
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California Needs Another March Miracle
Just when hopes took flight that El Niño might validate the predictions of many for lots of precipitation this winter, Mother Nature counted to 3 and scolded, “Not so fast, California!” She teased us in December and January with above-average rainfall, but February was a bust. When DWR walked the media through today’s snow survey at Phillips Station, the statewide snowpack water content was just 83 percent of average for March 1, and rainfall in the Sierra since October 1 has been only about average. It looks like it’ll take another March Miracle to significantly impact this four-year drought. News Release   Snow Survey video  (03-01-16)
DWR Photography/ Florence Low
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California's Reservoirs Below Historical Average
While a few of California’s northern reservoirs - Shasta and Oroville and Folsom - may be above 50 percent of capacity, most of the reservoirs are below 50 percent of capacity and the historical average. Reservoirs below 50 percent of capacity include New Melones at 19 percent, San Luis at 43 percent, Castaic Lake at 27 percent and Lake Perris at 35 percent. El Nino brings no guarantee of sufficient rain to end the drought. Water conservation is a key part of life in California. To view reservoir levels, visit (02-26-16)
DWR Photography/ Florence Low
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Experts Discuss Water Year 2016 Operations
What will water year 2016 bring for California? DWR's experts on February 23 provided a briefing on the status of drought and hydrologic conditions, weather and climate prospects, runoff forecasts and expected State Water Project operations, with updates from the Bureau of Reclamation on Central Valley Project operations and from NASA on land subsidence monitoring. Sponsored by DWR and the Water Education Foundation at the Sacramento Convention Center, the event was attended by members of the media, elected officials, water district managers, farmers, environmentalists, attorneys, consultants, engineers, business executives and public interest groups. (02-23-16)
DWR Photography/ John Chacon
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Keep Your Sprinklers Off
California’s rainy weather has not ended the possibility of a fifth year of drought, but it has soaked our landscapes in most parts of the state and reminds us to keep sprinklers off. All Californians can benefit from the latest storms by allowing nature to water our landscapes and keeping sprinklers off until the soil dries. For more tips on how to save water, visit (02-16-16)
Improving Habitat at Lake Oroville
Lake Oroville's habitat is getting better for fish thanks to the helpful hands of the California Conservation Corps members who placed 1400 Christmas trees at the lake during the last two weeks of January. The trees provide a place for fish to hide from predators. The trees placed at Bidwell Canyon Boat Launch area and the Afterbay are expected to last about 15 years before decomposing. As sponsor of the yearly project that began 20 years ago, DWR also coordinates with Chico Boy Scout Troop 2, Recology and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (02-10-16)
DWR Photography/ Kelly Grow
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Wet January Leads to Better Snowpack
DWR’s media-oriented snow survey on February 2 confirmed what Californians’ already knew: It rained and snowed a lot more this January than last. The water content at the Phillips snow survey course in the Sierra Nevada was measured today at 25.4 inches, 130 percent of normal for the early-February survey. The state’s reservoirs also reflect the improved precipitation this year. Lake Oroville has risen more than 70 feet in the last month, but it is only at 44 percent of its capacity. The drought is not over, and water conservation is still the norm. News Release Video (02-02-16)
DWR Photography/ John Chacon
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Solving the Puzzle
To help find solutions to the many pieces of the puzzle of California’s new water realities, DWR experts joined state, federal and other agencies in panel discussions at the California Irrigation Institute’s 54th annual meeting on January 25 and 26 in Sacramento. DWR staff presented information about the State Drought Response Plan, the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, making conservation a way of life and updates on urban water conservation statewide. (01-26-16)
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 and in Spanish at (01-19-16)
Moving Toward Sustainable Water Management
Governor Brown highlighted progress of his California Water Action Plan at a January 14 Sacramento meeting with State, local and private water officials. Other speakers at the event hosted by the Association of California Water Agencies included Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, DWR Director Mark Cowin, Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham and Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. Steps cited as progress toward a more resilient water system included passage of Proposition 1, enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and authorization of $2.7 billion for increased water storage. News Release   (01-14-16)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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Truckee River Operating Agreement in Effect
To celebrate the execution of the landmark Truckee River Operating Agreement this month, DWR and other major TROA signatories—the U.S. Department of Interior, the states of California and Nevada, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority gathered on January 5, 2016 in Reno. TROA’s implementation resolves more than a century of water rights conflict and creates an interstate allocation between California and Nevada for the waters of the Lake Tahoe, Carson and Truckee River basins.   (01-05-16)
DWR Photography/Kelly Grow
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Archive of Spotlight Stories / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012