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   Spotlight Archive / 2013


California Aqueduct Repaired in Southern California
DWR engineers oversaw the repair of a section of the California Aqueduct near Palmdale. The project entailed dewatering canal pool 52 (Milepost 342) to remove existing canal liner panels, excavate and replace unsuitable soil, and place waterproof geomembrane along 650 linear feet of the canal. DWR engineers and the contractor worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to complete the repairs in December.
>>Video for California Aqueduct Repaired in Southern California  (12-30-13)
DWR Photography Florence Low and Film/Video Unit Albert Madrid
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Drought Preparedness Workshop in the Central Valley
Staff from DWR, Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology, the University of California at Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture advise the Central Valley agricultural community how to best prepare for a potentially dry 2014. DWR Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones, DWR Water Operations Chief John Leahigh and DWR Water Transfers Chief Thomas Filler discuss the State’s drought-preparation efforts with growers, water managers and policy makers at DWR’s Drought Preparedness Workshop on December 17 in Fresno. This final workshop for 2013 is one of the seven DWR drought preparedness events held throughout California. >> Department of Water Resources Names Drought Management Team to Prepare for a Dry 2014  (12-17-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography
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A Comprehensive Water Reliability and Ecosystem Restoration Plan
Developed from seven years of analysis and hundreds of public meetings, the draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan is now available for public review and comment. Today the 120-day public comment period begins on the draft plan (9,000 pages) and its Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (25,000 pages). The comment period will run from December 13, 2013 through April 14, 2014. The plan aims to restore ecosystem health in the Delta and secure reliable water supplies for California. A dozen public meetings in which people may submit comments will take place around the state from mid-January to mid-February. Brochures that describe the basic elements of the plan and the EIR/EIS are available here: BDCP Highlights brochure   EIR/EIS Highlights brochure   http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/PublicReview.aspx  (12-13-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography
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Dam Removal Project to Protect Lives, Aid Fish and Frogs
Deemed in the 1990s a seismic risk by DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams, 92-year-old San Clemente Dam in Monterey County is scheduled for demolition in the fall of 2015. Safety of Dams engineers and geologists are overseeing every aspect of California’s largest dam removal project, including analysis of recent field exploration findings. Along with removing the risk of dam failure, the project includes re-routing the Carmel River and opening up the waterway for native steelhead trout to freely swim and spawn, and recover red-legged frog habitat. The dam is owned and operated by California American Water.  (12-09-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photographer John Chacon
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Understanding Subsidence Impacts on the San Joaquin
DWR staff are helping to support the San Joaquin River Restoration Program by assessing the potential effects of subsidence on restoration plans. The subsidence, initially identified through mapping done by DWR’s Division of Flood Management, led the San Joaquin River Restoration Program to re-evaluate designs to restore flows to bring fish back into the San Joaquin River above its confluence with the Merced River. DWR’s South Central Region Office and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are collecting data to better understand the impact that subsidence may have on the program.  (12-02-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photographer Florence Low
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Flood Response Exercise Video
To prepare for the winter season, DWR’s Division of Flood Management teamed up with the California Conservation Corps, the Sacramento Office of Emergency Services, and Local Maintaining Agency Reclamation District 1601 to practice response operations on Twitchell Island. New techniques were explored using Muscle Walls to better protect levees from overtopping damage. (11-22-13)
Video credit: DWR Film/Video Unit
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New CIMIS Trailer
With the new California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) trailer in West Sacramento, DWR employees now have a better station for repairing sensors used to gather information for California’s agricultural lands, golf courses and other landscapes. CIMIS was created in 1982 by the California Department of Water Resources and the University of California at Davis to provide reference evapotranspiration (ETo) estimates to irrigators. CIMIS uses the trailer to calibrate, repair and store sensors before dispatching them to the DWR Regional Offices for its weather station network. CIMIS provides ETo and weather data collected from more than 120 automated weather stations throughout California. For CIMIS information 24 hours a day, visit http://wwwcimis.water.ca.gov.  (11-12-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photographer John Chacon
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CALIFORNIA FLOOD PREPAREDNESS WEEK 2013 (November 4-9)
In 2012, a handful of federal, State, and local agencies launched California Flood Preparedness Week. This year, more than 25 federal, State, and local agencies and governments are participating in California Flood Preparedness Week (November 4 – 9, 2013). From Del Norte County on California’s north coast to Ventura County in Southern California, organizations are promoting emergency preparedness activities and public awareness about flooding in California. On November 4, DWR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials signed a letter bringing California into the Silver Jackets program, an interagency approach to plan and implement measures to reduce flood risks. For flood facts, photos, videos and information about flooding in California, finding your flood risk, reducing your risk and being prepared, please visit: 2013 CA Flood Preparedness Week website.  (11-04-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photographer John Chacon
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A Smoother Path for Fish Passage
To improve fish passage for migrating Chinook salmon and steelhead, the Caprini Low-water Crossing Fish Passage Improvement Project on Mormon Slough near Stockton was completed in October. Replacing a concrete roadway containing three undersized culverts with three10-foot-high by 12-foot-wide box culverts enhances adult passage to spawning habitat upstream and juvenile passage to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Pacific Ocean. The design and hydraulic model was developed by DWR’s Fish Passage Improvement Program engineers. DWR, Stockton East Water District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Caprini family collaborated on the project.  (10-30-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photographer Florence Low and FESSRO Staff
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Ensuring a Reliable Water Supply for Southern California
A portion of the State Water Project’s (SWP) West Branch, in northern Los Angeles County, has been improved to repair channel lining deterioration. Designed by DWR’s Division of Engineering, the three-month Gorman Creek Improvement Channel (GCIC) project completed in October replaced the concrete lining section along the bypass channel, allowing the waterway to serve as backup system for Peace Valley Pipeline. GCIC provides supplemental water deliveries from Lower Quail Canal to Pyramid Lake. Originally constructed in 1970, it is a reliable link in the SWP chain conveying water to Southern California.  (10-25-13)
Photo credit: Division of Engineering staff and DWR Photography
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Helping Fish With BDCP, Collaborative Science
The latest issue of San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science features an essay by Department of Water Resources Director Mark W. Cowin and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham on collaborative science in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The essay describes the scientific uncertainty that exists over the role increased Delta outflows and habitat restoration may play in helping the threatened longfin smelt species to recover. The essay describes the logical, collaborative “decision tree” approach the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would use to test hypotheses about which water project operations may help longfin smelt. “Common sense dictates that we seek a way to reduce uncertainty,” the directors write. “There has to be a better way than arguing about science while species continue to decline and water supply reliability is jeopardized.” Article here: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/7hc3p38b  (10-18-13)
Photo credit: Reclamation Photograph by René Reyes
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An Innovative Weir
Rebuilt Weir #2 on the Sutter Bypass has an innovation new to DWR. Like many weirs, #2 dams the water flow to create a pool for nearby irrigation, but uniquely, this weir’s gates close when compressed air inflates large air bladders that force the gates upward to dam the water. DWR’s Flood Maintenance Office closed the gates for the first time October 2. Located approximately 27 miles upstream of the confluence of the Sacramento and Feather rivers, the weir also has an improved fish ladder that meets federal standards. Salmon had to leap up the old ladder, but they now swim up a ramp-like structure with a series of steps along the way where they can rest in pools and then either leap or swim through holes to the next level. (10-14-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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Oroville Hatchery Opens Gates to Spawning Salmon
Salmon and steelhead are jumping up the fish ladder to be spawned at the Feather River Fish Hatchery. An estimated 20 percent of the Chinook salmon caught off California’s coast by Pacific Ocean sport and commercial anglers come from the Oroville hatchery, which mitigates for historic spawning habitat blocked by Oroville Dam. The fish are raised from the millions of eggs harvested at the hatchery each year between September and November. The hatchery is operated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife with funding from DWR.  (10-08-13)
>> Oroville Fish Hatchery
>> Opening the Feather River Fish Hatchery Ladder (10-02-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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DWR Releases Draft California Water Plan Update
California’s key water planning document – updated for public review – is being released in separate volumes today through October 23. California Water Plan Update 2013 – a four-year effort by DWR – presents a comprehensive picture of California’s water supply, needs, evolving integrated water management and projections of future demands. Produced in collaboration with myriad stakeholders and agencies, Update Volume I (The Strategic Plan) is out today, then Volume 3 (Resource Management Strategies) on October 16 and Volume 2 (Regional Reports) on October 23. Comments are due 45 days after the release of each volume. Volumes 4 and 5, containing the assumptions, data, metadata and supporting documentation behind the Plan, will be available in electronic form only upon release of the final Water Plan in March 2014. Update 2013 will be the focus of an October 29-30 Water Plan Plenary meeting in Sacramento. More information here: California Water Plan eNews(10-02-13)
A View of Folsom Dam’s Expanding Flood Protection
The Central Valley Flood Protection Board refreshed its mission earlier this year and created its first-ever strategic plan as a road map to achieve the Board’s goal of reducing the risk of catastrophic flooding in the Central Valley. On that map is the Folsom Dam Joint Federal Project, which the board visited on September 27 for a briefing on a new auxiliary 2,400-foot spillway, a control structure with submerged gates and a 1,100-foot approach channel. With an increased reservoir release capacity and improved capability to regulate flood inflows, the Project doubles the existing flood protection for the Sacramento area. Led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the CVFPB, DWR and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the project is scheduled for completion in 2017.  (09-27-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Improving South Sacramento Flood Protection
Many South Sacramento homes are better protected from flooding thanks to a floodwall project nearing completion by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency. The South Sacramento County Streams Flood Damage Reduction Project’s new floodwall brings more than 1,750 homes east of Morrison Creek up to the 100-year flood protection standard. Since 1952, the South Sacramento County Streams drainage basin has had a history of flooding during heavy rainfall. The floodwall is 3,300 feet long and up to 15 feet high, and spans between the Union Pacific Railroad trestle over Morrison Creek to the confluence of Morrison and Union House Creeks.
> Morrison Creek Union Pacific Railroad Project    > Corps begins floodwall work at Morrison Creek in south Sacramento  (09-17-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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DWR Upgrading Cache Creek Levees
DWR is constructing setback levees to improve flood protection along Cache Creek in rural Yolo County. Setting the levees back from the creek also will benefit fish and other wildlife by creating additional floodplain for stream-shading riparian trees and other vegetation. The Cache Creek North Levee Setback project near the town of Yolo will replace a seriously eroded section of the Sacramento River Flood Control Project, the1,000-mile long system of levees, weirs and bypasses that protects Central Valley cities and farms from floods. Work is scheduled to be completed this fall. (09-13-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Keeping an Eye on Atmospheric Rivers
Check out this California Academy of Sciences video on the atmospheric rivers that dramatically affect weather and water resources in the West. California experiences an average of five to seven atmospheric rivers each winter. To keep a closer eye on this storm-producing weather phenomenon, DWR teamed up with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory to install a recently completed Atmospheric River Observatory near Bodega Bay.
Watch original video at here. (09-09-13)
Dream Jobs
The California Department of Water Resources is testing for 90 positions statewide! These positions are responsible for maintaining and operating the State Water Project, which provides 23 million people with drinking water and 750,000 acres of farmland with irrigation. To explore and apply to these exciting technical career opportunities, visit our Operations & Maintenance recruitment page or view the Dream Jobs PDF flyer. (08-28-13)
Saving Fish Around the Clock
Utility Craftsworkers at DWR’s Skinner Fish Facility, upstream from the Banks Pumping Plant, work around the clock to save up to 15 million fish a year and return them to the Delta. Behavioral guidance devices divert fish away from the pumps that lift water into the California Aqueduct. The fish are held in seven concrete tanks while samples are identified, counted and measured. Every six to 24 hours, depending on the number of fish or species collected, the fish are loaded into a tanker truck, escorted away from the pumps, then released into either the Sacramento or San Joaquin River. Capital Public Radio has more. (08-26-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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The Balancing Act
“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” Indiana Jones wouldn’t like giant garter snakes any better than asps, but he’d have to respect them in California. DWR’s Sutter Maintenance Yard crews show respect for the endangered species by avoiding snakes as they work all summer along 300 miles of levees in seven counties to make them flood-safe. Crews grade the levees, fill cracks and squirrel burrows with grout to strengthen them and burn off vegetation. Trouble is, the giant garter snake likes to live in those burrows. “It’s a balancing act, but we want to protect the snakes,” says Sutter Maintenance Yard Utility Craftsworker Superintendent Karen Hull. (08-21-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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DWR Reduces Delta ‘Footprint’ of Water Conveyance Project
Major water conveyance revisions to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to reduce impacts on Delta landowners and residents were rolled out at today’s press conference (August 15) by the Department of Water Resources and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird. Largely in response to concerns of Delta residents, DWR’s changes include shifting proposed water supply tunnels further away from Delta communities, reducing forebay size, using more state-owned property for the project to reduce impacts on private property, and making other alterations to reduce the proposed project’s construction and operational footprint while increasing reliability of water supplies for cities and farms and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. (08-15-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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Ground Broken for Flood Protection
DWR joins the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency in groundbreaking levee repair construction along the Feather River west bank in the Sutter Basin. Construction commenced just upstream from the site of the historic 1955 Christmas Eve levee failure that killed 38 people. Through DWR’s Early Implementation Program, DWR is providing state bond funds to cover 75 percent of costs for the first phase of repairs to 44 miles of west Feather River levees. DWR Deputy Director Gary Bardini, referring to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s stated goal for his administration, told the crowd that commencement of the project is an example of “getting stuff done.”
(08-07-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Saving Water and Energy
With summer being the peak time for water and energy use in California, DWR, the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Center for Sustainable Energy are promoting ways to use water and energy wisely. More than 19 percent of energy used in California is dedicated to water-related activities, such as treating, pumping or conveying water to homes. To help prevent power outages by minimizing energy and water use, turn off all unnecessary lights, don’t use major appliances until after 6 p.m. and keep your air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. To learn more Water-Energy Facts, visit: https://energyupgradeca.org/save water and energy (07-29-13)
‘Water Wise’ Kids Get Their Hands Dirty at the Fair
Kids at the California State Fair are getting smart about water conservation by getting their hands dirty at the “Save Our Water” exhibit sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies. Each Tuesday of the fair, hundreds of children planted drought-tolerant seedlings and learned of ways to save water. Radio Disney’s Team Green Road Crew joined DWR in promoting water conservation at the State Fair, which runs through July 28. (07-24-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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‘Water Wise’ at the California State Fair
DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) are giving outdoor water conservation tips to California State Fair visitors. “Water-Wise Landscaping – It’s as Easy as 1-2-3” is the theme at the DWR-ACWA exhibit, where hands-on workshops teach water-wise gardening and landscaping with drought-resistant plants. The "Save Our Water" water-efficient garden exhibit is located at the Farm in the America’s Great Outdoors – Discovery Island area. The fair runs July 12-28. For more water conservation tips, visit Save Our Water web site and ACWA state fair news release. >> Water-Wise Landscaping Workshop Schedule. (07-15-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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July is Water Smart Month for California
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has officially deemed July 2013 – generally the month when outdoor water use peaks – as “Water Smart Month” throughout California. “The snow packs are shrinking and the state will not see its reservoirs begin to fill again until fall,” said the governor. He urged Californians to water lawns less frequently, construct a drip irrigation system, or upgrade existing systems with “smart” irrigation controllers that water only when the landscape requires it. Read the Governor’s letter for more details, and visit the Save Our Water campaign’s new “Sprinklers 101” section for specific homeowner or business water-efficient landscaping tips. (07-08-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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Record Number of Spring-run Chinook Salmon Tagged at Feather River Hatchery
At the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, DWR’s Environmental Scientists study spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead to gather information on their health. The spring-run tagging program enables the hatchery to spawn early-arriving spring-run separately from fall-run Chinook. By distinguishing the spring run from fall run at the hatchery, DWR can help restore and protect genetic diversity. This year, tagging began on May 2. Division of Environmental Services employees tagged more than 20,000 spring-run Chinook salmon by the end of June. Since the spring-run tagging program began 11 years ago, the highest total of tagging per season was 17,438 Chinook salmon in 2006.(07-01-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Kids learn about Water and Environment
DWR employees brought their kids to work in June to learn about water and the environment. The event sponsored by the Division of Environmental Services, Division of Engineering, and North Central Region Office was held in West Sacramento. It included several interactive exhibits about the frog development stages, the creatures that live in the benthos, and water safety on a fishery studies vessel.(06-25-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Florence Low
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A Special Day for Kids in the Delta
Offering outdoor adventure to children with special needs, DWR has co-sponsored “Catch A Special Thrill” (C.A.S.T.) events at State Water Project reservoirs since 2005. On June 15, the first-ever C.A.S.T event was held in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where 34 disabled and disadvantaged children gathered at Brannan Island State Recreation Area for a day of boating, fishing and education about the Delta as the hub of California’s water supply system. The Rio Vista event included a representative from the office of State Assemblyman Jim Frazier. For information about C.A.S.T. events at California reservoirs, visit http://water.ca.gov/cast/(06-18-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Rock Barriers Aid Delta Farmers
DWR improves water supplies for south Delta farmers each spring by installing three temporary rock barriers near the State Water Project’s Banks Pumping Plant. These barriers increase water levels and circulation for local agricultural diversions by trapping flood tides and causing water to flow up Middle River and Old River and down Grant Line Canal.(06-10-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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DWR Promotes Water Conservation at Green Fair
As part of May’s Water Awareness Month, DWR staff promoted water conservation during the 2013 California State Green Fair at the state Capitol. The “Save Our Water” campaign, sponsored by DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies, educates Californians about easy ways to conserve water indoors and outdoors. Conservation tips can be found at www.saveourh20.org.(06-04-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low / DWR Photography
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Final Chapters of BDCP Outline Cost, Economic Benefits
Drafts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s (BDCP) final chapters were released today by John Laird, Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, DWR Director Mark Cowin and Beau Goldie of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.(05-29-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography / Carl Costas
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Another Dry Year Dramatizes Water Awareness Month
DWR is encouraging water conservation as California moves through a second dry year and observes May as Water Awareness Month. Employees took the conservation message to events including Feather Fiesta Days in Oroville, State Scientist Day at the state Capitol, and Kids’ Fish, Swim, and Fun Day at San Luis Reservoir.(05-21-13)
Photo credit: Carl Costas and John Chacon / DWR Photography
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Governor Pledges Delta Fix Governor Brown discusses the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Wednesday (May 8) during the spring conference of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) in Sacramento. Detailing the plan today (May 9) for ACWA attendees are DWR Director Mark Cowin and California Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. DWR is also presenting information on flood management, water conservation and other topics during the ACWA conference ending Friday at the Sacramento Convention Center.(05-09-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low / DWR Photography
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Improving Drought Predictions This winter turned dry, and next year may, too. To help California prepare for the possibility of drought, DWR, the Western States Water Council and the Western Governors’ Association co-sponsored an Improving Drought Prediction Workshop on April 29 through May 1 in San Diego. The workshop aimed to help western states and federal agencies find ways to improve drought prediction in time to better respond. Workshop topics included the ongoing Colorado River Basin drought, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information Systems program, and opportunities to improve predictions by using alternative information sources. For more information about the workshop, visit www.westernstateswater.org/wswc-cdwr-wga-improving-drought-prediction-workshop.(05-06-13)
Photo credit: John Chacon/DWR Photography
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Snow Surveys Take to the Air
In April, following the driest January-March period on record for portions of California, DWR took to the sky to conduct aerial snow surveys of the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory Program is a pilot project and three-year partnership between DWR and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Aerial surveys began with the Tuolumne River Basin and will be conducted weekly through snowmelt season with a Twin Otter plane equipped for Lidar technology, which measures snowpack depth, and spectrometer readings, which gage snowpack reflectivity. Combined with data from the traditional manual snow surveys and electronic sensors, this information gathered from above can provide a better estimate of California’s water supply. (05-03-13)
Photo credit: John Chacon/DWR Photography, NASA
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Small Changes, Big Savings
May is Water Awareness Month in California. Many Californians think they waste more water indoors than outdoors, when exactly the opposite is true. Simple actions like fixing leaky sprinklers and not watering in the heat of the day can save gallons of water every day. For even bigger savings, install drip irrigation or a weather-based controller. Plant choice matters too—pick plants that will thrive in your climate without much water. Simple changes will yield big rewards for our state. For more conservation tips, visit www.saveourh2o.org. (04-29-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography
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Keeping Dams Safe
Param Dhillon, Senior Engineer with DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), this month inspects O’Shaughnessy Dam and Early Intake Diversion Dam in Yosemite National Park. DSOD inspects 1,250 state-regulated dams (non-federal, publicly and privately owned) at least once a year. Staff also reviews and approves design plans and specifications for the construction, enlargement, alteration, and repair of dams and then oversees their construction. DSOD was created by the California Legislature in response to the 1928 failure of St. Francis Dam in Southern California that killed 450 people. (04-17-13)
Photo credit: Carl Costas/DWR Photography
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A New Method for Monitoring Extreme Precipitation Events
The first of four coastal Atmospheric River Observatories (ARO) was installed on March 19 at Bodega Bay Marine Lab. The ARO, which is part of a new extreme precipitation monitoring network being installed by a partnership between DWR, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth Systems Research Laboratory, will allow weather forecasters and others to detect and monitor the atmospheric rivers that cause extreme precipitation and flooding during winter. The observatories will also provide data to detect and monitor other atmospheric features, such as the depth and strength of the marine inversion, fire weather conditions, and local weather phenomena, such as sundowner wind events. Other observatories will be installed at Point Sur, Eureka, and Goleta. NOAA scientists and engineers are installing the AROs. (04-10-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low of DWR Photography and NOAA staff
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DWR Highlights Integrated Water Management
Speaking at yesterday’s (April 3) Integrated Water Management Summit in Sacramento, DWR Director Mark Cowin notes how agencies are working together for the benefit of California’s ecosystem, water supply and flood control. The large turnout for DWR’s “Water 360” summit testifies to the evolving success of agencies working collaboratively to address challenges including climate change, flood risk, environmental regulations and unstable funding. “DWR supports using an integrated approach to meeting the State’s water, flood and ecosystem management challenges, and we encourage our local and regional partners to do the same,” Cowin said. The discussion continues today and tomorrow with an Integrated Water Management conference at the Sacramento Convention Center. (03-28-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low / DWR Photography
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Today’s Snow Survey Shows Dry Conditions
Pole in hand, DWR’s Frank Gehrke measures water content in today’s snowpack near Echo Summit. After a record dry January-February in the northern Sierra, the snow at Phillips Station was only 13 inches deep, containing only 6.1 inches of water to flow into streams and reservoirs during the spring melt already under way. That is 32 percent of the historical average for Phillips, although the readings were higher at a number of other Northern California locations. Statewide, electronic readings indicate snowpack water content is 52 percent of the historical average. California normally gets a third of its water from the snowpack. Fortunately, reservoir storage is good. (03-28-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low / DWR Photography
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Video Illustrates Delta’s Problems, Solutions
A video released today by the Department of Water Resources describes the ecological and economic importance of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the basic elements of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The federal and state governments and public water agencies, in collaboration with environmental organizations and other groups, have been working seven years on the BDCP. The plan seeks to preserve and enhance the Delta ecosystem for fish and wildlife while increasing the reliability of the Delta as a major source of water for homes, farms, and industry. The draft plan is being released to the public in stages, several chapters at a time, through March and April. Public meetings will follow each release of chapters. For more information, please visit www.baydeltaconservationplan.com. (03-14-13)
Video credit: DWR Video Unit
>> Video
Fun and Facts at Vista del Lago
— a State Water Project reservoir off Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles – are entertaining and educating thousands of travelers about water. The “Blue Planet” movie screen offers cinematic explanations of A to Z issues from water delivery infrastructure to climate change. Passing beyond the global theater, two visitors get on the scales to check their collective “water weight.” Fun and factual, the Vista del Lago Visitors Center, a roadside attraction for years, is getting a technological, visual and data content upgrade scheduled to be completed this summer. (03-13-13)
Photo credit: DWR Photography
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Critical Reservoir Running Low
San Luis Reservoir, the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States, is only at 60 percent of capacity, 69 percent of average for the date. This south-of-Delta reservoir is critical for both the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project because it can be drawn on when Delta pumping is shut down or restricted. However, since San Luis is filled by pumping from the Delta, it has not filled this year due to Delta pumping restrictions to protect listed fish species. Currently, DWR estimates that it will only be able to deliver 40 percent of requested SWP water this calendar year. Since December, more than 700,000 acre-feet of water was not pumped to protect listed fish species, principally Delta smelt, but also salmon. (03-01-13)
Photo credit: John Chacon / DWR Photography
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Young Salmon Released to Feed in Yolo Bypass
On February 19 and 20, 2013 scientists from the Department of Water Resources, the University of California at Davis, and other agencies launched a study to monitor Chinook salmon growth rates in the Knaggs Ranch floodplains of the Yolo Bypass. Twenty acres were stocked with thousands of tagged juvenile salmon whose growth will be monitored until spring. The investigation, led by UC Davis and DWR, is being conducted to determine if floodplains reclaimed for growing rice and other crops can be managed to help salmon thrive. Last year, a smaller-scale study of salmon reared in the same rice fields showed some of the highest growth rates on record in the Central Valley. Knaggs property, managed by Cal Marsh and Farm Ventures, is located in the northern reaches of the Yolo Bypass between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River. (02-20-13)
Photo credit: John Chacon / DWR Photography
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Oroville Dam Overlook Nears Reopening
DWR employees are completing upgrades to the Oroville Dam Upper Overlook, scheduled to reopen this spring. The site was a popular "vista point" during construction of Oroville Dam and still provides a dramatic view of the dam, Lake Oroville and the surrounding countryside. Upgrades to the overlook – located 50 feet above the dam at Canyon Drive and Royal Oaks Drive -- include a new ramada, a 165,000-pound impeller from the Hyatt Powerplant beneath Oroville Dam, interpretive signs, picnic tables, and landscaping. (02-13-13)
Photo credit: Matt Murray of Oroville Field Division and Florence Low of DWR Photography
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Surveying Eagles at Lake Oroville
DWR’s Environmental Scientists monitored more than 70 bald eagles a day during their January survey. With approximately 20 eagles found in the area during summer months, this winter’s count highlights Lake Oroville’s importance as a wintering area for bald eagles. To meet regulatory requirements for the operation of Oroville’s SWP facilities, mid-winter surveys are conducted as part of DWR’s overall bald eagle monitoring. In addition to the mid-winter counts, nesting surveys occur from January through July with the data shared with the Department of Fish & Wildlife’s California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB). (02-06-13)
Photo credit: Ryan Martin of Oroville Field Division, Danika Tsao of Division of Environmental Services, and Florence Low of DWR Photography
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Ground Broken for New Fish Science Building
The Department of Water Resources broke ground this morning for its new Fish Science Building at Skinner Fish Facility in Byron. The facility -- scheduled for completion late this year -- will be used to tag and hold fish for studies to meet regulatory requirements for operation of the California State Water Project. DWR staff at today’s (February 1, 2013) groundbreaking ceremony included (left to right) Javier Miranda, Teresa Geimer, Chief Kathy Kelly and Roger Padilla of the Bay Delta Office with Chief Joel Ledesma and Rey Chavez of Delta Field Division. (02-01-13)
Photo credit: Carl Costas / DWR Photography
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Second Snow Survey of 2013 Below Normal
During the snow survey at Phillips Station on January 29, water content in California’s mountain snowpack was found below average for the date. Manual and electronic readings today record the snowpack’s statewide water content at 93 percent of average for this time of year. That is 55 percent of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack is normally at its peak before the spring melt. Left to Right: Secretary of California Natural Resources Agency John Laird, DWR Chief of Snow Surveys Frank Gehrke, and Deputy Secretary of California Natural Resources Agency Todd Ferrara conducting snow survey. (01-29-13)
Video credit: DWR Film / Video
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DWR Works Toward Salmon Restoration
DWR South Central Region Office employees monitor sand accumulation and take pebble counts to measure streambed grain size distribution on the San Joaquin River at Wildwood in the Central Valley. The monthly checks, performed from November to February, are part of salmon restoration efforts of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP). The SJRRP is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore flows to the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River, restoring a self-sustaining Chinook salmon fishery in the river while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from restoration flows. (01-22-13)
Photo credit: John Chacon / DWR Photography
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EBMUD Connecting Mokelumne Aqueducts in Delta
East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), with DWR Implementation Grant funding, installs pipeline interconnections in Stockton and Brentwood, connecting EBMUD’s three Mokelumne Aqueducts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. EBMUD is improving the reliability of the 82 miles of aqueducts that deliver water from the Sierra foothills to its customers in the East Bay. The pipelines run underground in the Delta where they are vulnerable to damage from a seismic or other catastrophic event. If ever needed, the interconnections will allow EBMUD to bypass damaged segments and divert water through operational segments. (01-16-13)
Photo credit: Florence Low / DWR Photography
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DWR Records Snowpack Water Content
DWR's Frank Gehrke measures the water content in the January 2, 2013 snowpack at Phillips Station near Echo Summit in the Sierra. The surveys – conducted on or about the first of the month from January to May – help hydrologists determine how much water will flow into the state's streams, reservoirs and aquifers when the snow slowly melts in the spring and early summer. About a third of the water we use in California comes from the snowpack, which many consider to be California's largest reservoir. Reporters from national, regional and local media outlets were at Phillips Station this afternoon to record this winter's first survey results. (01-03-13)
Video credit: DWR Film / Video
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