Home>Articles>Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California Reservoirs

Lake Oroville, Butte County in Northern California, holding 53% of average precipitation. (Photo: California Department of Water Resources)

Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California Reservoirs

CA reservoirs were designed to provide a steady five year supply for all users, and were filled to the top in June 2019

By Katy Grimes, May 21, 2021 2:20 am

“In the last 14 days, 90% of Delta inflow went to sea. It’s equal to a year’s supply of water for 1 million people.
#ManMadeDrought,” Central Valley farmer Kristi Diener said.

Diener, a California water expert and farmer, has been warning steadily that water is unnecessarily being let out to sea as the state faces a normal dry year.

“Are we having a dry year? Yes,” Diener says. “That is normal for us. Should we be having water shortages in the start of our second dry year? No. Our reservoirs were designed to provide a steady five year supply for all users, and were filled to the top in June 2019.”

Don’t believe her?

“You’re looking at our largest reservoirs less than two years ago. They were absolutely teeming with water from 107% to 145% of average!” Diener says. “Our reservoirs held enough water for everyone who relies on them for their water supply, for 7 years. We are barely into our second dry year. WHERE DID IT GO?”

“Where did it go” indeed. According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, statewide water use averages 85 gallons per person per day. But it’s always urban/residential water users ordered to conserve water: let lawns turn brown and landscaping die, limit showers and baths, wash clothing and dishes less frequently, and other absurd “helpful tips.”

Diener also asks, “How can this year be the driest year on record when it has more than 7 months left? That’s just fake news and crisis creation.”

“Before our magnificent reservoir projects were built, California never had a steady and reliable supply of water. Now water is being managed as if those reserves don’t exist, by emptying the collected water from storage to the sea, rather than saving it for our routinely dry years,” Diener says. “Our water projects were designed to be managed for the long term providing a minimum five year supply, but California has now put us on track to have a man made drought crisis every time we don’t have a wet season.”

Even San Francisco is suing the State Water Board. Diener explains:

The State Water Board’s 40% unimpaired flows plan is too radical. Requiring 40% of the Tuolumne River water to flow directly to the ocean without being used for anything else on its way, severely limits that river’s supply to Hetch Hetchy—the main water source for San Francisco.

The State Water Board has become the Department of Fish and Wildlife?

The Water Board has said they want to experimentally see if over time they can bring back about 1000 salmon, but it is such an extreme idea that some residents could be limited to as little as 7 gallons of water per person per day during back to back dry years, essentially making these regions uninhabitable. Doug Obegi of the NRDC, along with other well funded nonprofits, have unleashed a barrage of negative press harshly criticizing the city, and chiding them for what they call ”being on the same side as Valley farmers.” But S.F. is not backing down on opposing the plan which gained approval by the cheerleading of Felicia Marcus, former State Water Resources Control Board Chair and NRDC attorney.

Deja vu: In 2018, we addressed the California Water Resources Control Board and lawmakers’ charges of its misplaced priorities:

As chairwoman of the California Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus oversees a massive state bureaucracy with a $1 billion annual budget.

In a prescient op ed today (2018) in the Modesto Bee, Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) had some harsh words for Marcus and her radical environmental cohorts. “Despite her promises to the contrary, she and her board have used their immense authority to jeopardize – not protect – the economy and drinking water supplies of the Northern San Joaquin Valley.”

Gray says, “The State Water Board claims it needs the water to help restore fish populations, but an earlier version of their own report suggested their plan would result in little more than an additional 1,000 fish per year.”

“Irrigation districts in Merced, Turlock and Modesto have all proposed responsible alternatives that call for a combination of increased water flows, habitat restoration and predation controls,” Gray said. “Unsurprisingly, the State Water Board has rejected those proposals out of hand while continuing to preach a preference for voluntary settlements.”

“The truth is, the board will never be happy until it gets our water – no matter the consequence to our economy or our drinking water supplies,” Gray added.

 California’s residents, farmers and ranchers find themselves in this untenable situation once again.

Diener explains Gov. Newsom’s water-related budget proposals:

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent $5.1 billion drought response package will not be used to create water abundance either. Instead, about $1 billion dollars will be used to pay off now unaffordable water bills that were made too expensive by intentionally creating water scarcity. When water restrictions are imposed, supplier revenues fall. They have fixed costs to deliver water and must raise rates as a result. #UseLessPayMore.

Here are the budget specifics, explained by Diener – there is much to be concerned about as she lays out:
  • $500 million will be spent on incentives for farmers to “re-purpose” their land. Suggestions include wildlife habitat, recreation, or solar panels.
  • $60 million will go to the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program to help farmers reduce irrigation water use. Farmers north and south of the delta are receiving 0% water, so it’s kinda hard to reduce there, but overall our farmers are already the most productive and water efficient in the world! This proposal and the one above are the same thing, worded differently. They are about giving farmers money not to farm, with contingencies on what they must do with their land instead. It is the equivalent of being forced to “lease” land to the government. Farmers will still pay the taxes on it (unless they sell for pennies on the dollar), but the government would control the land’s use. Once farmland has been intentionally dried up, the choice for desperate landowners will be to sell at a loss, keep valueless land, or take a little something for it from the government.
  • $300 million will be used for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation. This is to make sure you don’t turn to the water under your feet when you have been cut off from your surface supply. This helps to ensure favorable responses from farmers to “land re-purposing” in above proposals.
  • $230 million will be used for wildlife corridors and fish passage projects to improve the ability of wildlife to migrate safely. “Fish passage projects” is a clever phrase for dam removal. No new water created here.
  • $33 million for fisheries and wildlife support to protect and conserve California’s diverse ecosystems. This means empty more water from reservoirs to protect fish, without any accountability, as has been the failing status quo for 30 years.
  • $200 million will go to habitat restoration (yet again!), supporting tidal wetland, floodplains, and multi-benefit flood-risk reduction projects. Seriously?? A drought package with funding for floods? This is about recreating flood plains so when they demolish our dams, the water has someplace to go.

“We all deserve better,” Diener says.

It goes on. You can read all of the non-water related drought proposals here.

If you want to delve more deeply, another article from 2016 delves into the “shadow government” appointees at the State Water Resources Control Board that ordered the release of massive amounts of water from the New Melones Reservoir and Lake Tulloch, to save a dozen fish, and how then-Gov. Jerry Brown systematically booted a number of qualified people off of the California Water Commission, the body that was responsible for decisions on how to spend $2.7 billion in public funds for Prop. 1 Water Bond water storage projects.

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114 thoughts on “Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California Reservoirs

  1. The Governor is in corruption state knowingly NOT repairing the Delta sending water to the sea which makes state controlled water company’s Happy by granting water rate to sky rocket. He plays with state and federal funds for a high speed rail that is NOT need and is why over budget and out of control with out even having land right of ways shitting down farmers. You may post this comment publicly with my name reservoirs are being drained.

    1. This could be taken care of very easily with the tools most sane citizens have including pointy hollow objects for those tools. These liberal vermin need to be gone.

      1. These liberal “vermin” need to be gone? By “pointy hollow things”, that come out of your “tools”? This liberal believes that drought policy must protect everything on a sensibly prioritzed basis that this article leaves me thinking may not be happening, but a farmer wrote it so other voices also need to be heard. But hear this, “James”, this liberal, also a gun owning country boy and former US paratrooper, want’s you to know this simple truth: What comes out of your little “tool” can be sent right back up it.

      2. James, this liberal thinks State controlled water must be sensibly prioritized and this article certainly alerts one that this may not be happening but it is written by a farmer who have never been known for considering uses beyond their farms. But this liberal, a gun owner who understood your language perfectly, and an ex-sergeant of US paratroops suggests you observe this old adage: What you shoot out of your tool can be shot right back up it.
        Dispense with war talk against fellow Americans, of whatever persuaison, because between us there will be no winners, except countries despising America.. We settle our differences with votes.

      1. Johnny Smith….Funny you should mention “Chinatown”. I had an elderly relative who , when the film was released, told me an eerie story, similar to the plot in the film, about what was going on at the Water Department in the late 1930’s. BTW, the character, Noah Cross, was rumored to possibly be William Wrigley of the chewing gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Could never find any info linking him to this story.

    2. “A major ocean current in the Arctic is faster and more turbulent as a result of rapid sea ice melt, a new study from NASA shows. The current is part of a delicate Arctic environment that is now flooded with fresh water, an effect of human-caused climate change.” Creating global crisis to enable global control. Scary.

      1. Human…… Meaning Government Controlled Climate Change, is what I hope you are saying. And Yes that is Happening. The government is controlling our weather and THEY ARE THE HUMANS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CLIMATE CHANGE……….. not us regular citizens! And even though your end game is Correct in that the Global Elites are Creating the Crisis that Will Inevitably Lead to Global Control, Make No Mistake…….. NASA is a HUGE part of that system and I Really take what they say with the finest grain of salt anymore-

    1. Water is life. Controlling the water gives power to those who hold the tap. The central valley feeds a whole lot of people. Wouldn’t you like to own that property? You would have total control over the people and take all the money too.

        1. Well, at least the State wasted 100 billion for a fast train to carry 400 people fast, for a status symbol, instead using the100 billion, building more reservoirs, buying fire fighting equipment, aircraft, improving electrical infrastructure, desalination plants and pumping stations.
          Just a classic California scene, for the price of 3 or 4 Navy Aircraft Carriers, and all their support ships & subs, California got a giant waste of money in a train to haul 400 people….weeeee. Typical Sacramento legislature stupidity on a grand scale….lol

          1. Amen Brother……………. Couldnt have said that any better myself!!!!!! LOL!!! The Truth is Shockingly Funny Sometimes HUH!!!

    2. It produces most of the food for the entire country. Gotta starve those too smart to kill themselves with with the Bill Gates needlepoint kit….

        1. James, this liberal thinks State controlled water must be sensibly prioritized and this article certainly alerts one that this may not be happening but it is written by a farmer who have never been known for considering uses beyond their farms. But this liberal, a gun owner who understood your language perfectly, and an ex-sergeant of US paratroops

    3. Everyone needs to start understanding that these people that are in these positions are not “Democrats” but actual communists w/ the intentions of destroying America. Watch the “Yuri Bezmenov Interview” as this Soviet propaganda expert and defector explained to G. Edward Griffin ( The Creature From Jekyll Island ) the actual formula Marxists use to bring down a country so it can be taken over. Been going on for over 100 years !!!

    4. “s”, Democrats see bo value in crippling California. Our agenda is not your agenda, sorry about that, but we are not rats any more than you are. We see things different, we solve them by the vote and democratic means. Vilifying your fellow Americans will not get us where we need to go, together.

      1. Voting is exactly the problem.
        Stop empowering the psychopaths in Sacramento and d.c.
        Stop enabling their manufacturing the myth of consent of the governed.
        The real battle isn’t republicans vs Democrats, the battle is those of us who want to live our lives in peace vs those who want to use the state’s tools of violence to control and manipulate us – everything from controlling the water supply, to media and communications, to the “Simon says” lockdowns, to the fake dollars being counterfeited by the federal reserve and being handed out to the big banks.
        As long as you continue to vote and continue to support the lie of authority, the myth of legitimacy of the state, you’re supporting the vampires who have their fangs in your neck and are draining your lifeblood every day.

  2. “The grassroots group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho wants to flip Oregon’s mostly rural eastern and southern counties — plus a few northern counties in California — into Idaho, believing they’d be better off in Idaho’s more conservative political environment. It’s hoping that political pressure from county initiative votes will lead to negotiations between Oregon and Idaho to move the border between the two states, putting up to 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties in Idaho.” – The Oregonian

    Dividing California into North and South won’t solve the water rights dispute since northern California has most of the water resources in the state. However, an East versus West split puts much of the supply of the Sierras in the eastern counties. Perhaps the time has come for the eastern and northern counties in California to join this group of counties in Oregon, break off, and head to Idaho. Oregonians think it’s a long-shot deal but they’re willing to give it a try. Let’s have a vote – Proposition XX ( where X = Exit or Exodus).

    1. Nons of this talk of reconstituting states will do and is just another polarizing waste of energy. We have over two hundred forty years of resolving our issues democratically with the states as they are. Gerrymandering will only take us where we can’t go, to a completely divided powderkeg of a country.

  3. Great article, Just can’t believe this has really happened to save some Salmon who are being eaten by invasive species. Someone needs to shut down the State Water Board, they have wayyyyyyyy to much power! When the world starts getting hungry, because the Central Valley no longer provides enough food, then maybe some angry politicians will do something about it.

  4. One of the “water” projects I remember from years ago, funded by taxpayer money meant to build and expand state water infrastructure, was the creation of a local “casting pond” in the foothills; a pet project for the benefit of amateur anglers. The pond was dug, filled with water, stocked with fish, began to LEAK, had to be drained, after which it was lined with thick plastic sheeting to prevent leaking. Repeat the filling-with- water and stocking-with-fish. Of course this phony pond could not be maintained, it soon started to smell, and became swampy and gross, at which point I think the project was abandoned. Unknown what happened to the fish.

  5. The state of California has been trying for decades to take the farmer out. If they don’t waste the water they poison it. There was a RICO case against Jerry Brown for poisoning the water supply I’m sure Newsom has just added to it. It’s time we show up with pitch forks they literally are tying to kill us through our food supply…My whole family farms we’ve been offered millions more than the land is worth for years, we’ve held out and will continue for as long as we can…

    1. Thank you Liz and to your family for hanging in there and providing us with food! I am sure someone would LOVE to get their dirty hands on your property to demolish it and build stack and pack housing!

      1. James, this liberal thinks State controlled water must be sensibly prioritized and this article certainly alerts one that this may not be happening but it is written by a farmer who have never been known for considering uses beyond their farms. But this liberal, a gun owner who understood your language perfectly, and an ex-sergeant of US paratroops

    2. Thank you Liz. Please have lots of children and grandchildren to keep the farm going.
      The people that called for the draining of the resevoirs need to hang for treason,
      as this clearly is part of the sabotage scheme to destroy this country and it’s people.

    3. Liz, I think you make an important point here. Nobody is making you sell.
      Your land is your land, your water is your water.
      The State serves many interests but no one can say that one of them is to push her all-important farmers out. That’s disingenuous on the face of it.

  6. Clearly the State Water Board is not being responsive to the people of California but to special economic and environmental extremist interests. This governmental responsibility must therefore be removed from the discretion of the State government and returned to the control of the citizens of California by making the Water Board an elected body whose membership is required to run for office and publish their water use philosophies and intents. They should nave to rerun for office every two years to provide reasonable control by voters.

    1. Good, practical suggestion. There are far too many regulatory agencies who answer only to their political bosses in Sacramento, and we need to subject them to the people instead.

      My one reservation in this is that any elected board is likely to be composed (a) of political climbers who view it as just a stepping stone to higher office, or (b) of ordinary everyday citizens with little or no idea of how the agency they oversee is supposed to function, and who are therefore at the mercy of an entrenched civil service to “advise” them on what can, and should, be done.

      1. Peter, in our city, we have a local elected water board. In addition, the city manager is a member of the board. So, it’s a mixture of an appointed position (the manager) and elected. This is another option.

  7. Bill Gates is buying up farmland in America like crazy. Maybe this is part of that plan. The other plan may just be the Communists want California and the Democrats are getting the conservatives to leave the state. They will do this by fire or by lack of water. Either way, something diabolical is happening.

    1. Comrade
      Nothing but in plain site….Commissars believe in return on investment, you invest, they create chaos and take-

  8. Increasing the cost of food is a way to push out the surplus population. Remember: Hitler was a vegetarian. The great reset says we will eat less meat. We are all useless eaters in their eyes. This is the WaterBoard Aktion T-4 program. Back in 1968, the president of the American Eugenics Society (a close friend of J Paul Getty Jr. and Judge Newsom – Gavin Newsom’s father) said they would have to carry out their work in secret behind the scenes.

    Do you really think Newsom was trying to hide his French Laundry – he was flaunting it. You are a peasant.

  9. Seems like just part of a well engineered Globalist agenda to destroy Kalifornia and weaken the U.S. As long as we have any of these elected Communists in charge of any of these United States it is nothing short of treason.

    1. Really? Who plays the Victims? The Perpetrators? Talk violence and it may become a self fulfilling prophecy. Some will find they are not in the group they thought.

  10. I really hope that the entire state breaks off and sinks into the sea.
    An entire state filled with worthless, dumb liberals and criminals.
    You Californicators make the rest of the USA look terrible.
    How about you secede already.

    1. I was wondering how long it would take for a loser troll to show up to this big boy conversation. Now go back downstairs in your moms basement and finish your milk and cookies. We all recognize your divisionist tactics.

      1. If California did secede, it would remain better than the worlds 5th biggest economy, while the United States without California would slip a few notches to fourth. California has made an outsized contribution of wealth, innovation, and military manpower since becoming a state yet you think you can afford to trash talk her. If such a thing ever happened the country, not so much the state, would be the big loser. I have lived all over this country and if you think Californians are unworthy or undesireable you must lack relevant education and appreciation of patriotic character..

    2. If California did secede, it would remain better than the worlds 5th biggest economy, while the United States without California would slip a few notches to fourth. California has made an outsized contribution of wealth, innovation, and military manpower since becoming a state yet you think you can afford to trash talk her. If such a thing ever happened the country, not so much the state, would be the big loser. I have lived all over this country and if you think Californians are unworthy or undesireable you must lack relevant education and appreciation of patriotic character..

  11. What a load of nonsense, from the first sentence.
    Apparently this self proclaimed water expert can’t do arithmetic (Delta outflow the last 14 days is not 90% of inflow, it is about 60%; the “expert” doesn’t seem to know that 25% of inflow went to Delta farmers, and 15% went to exports or other in-Delta users). And that outflow wasted to the ocean? Go ahead and pump it if you like salt water on your crops. The “expert”doesn’t seem to understand what is needed to keep the water fresh at the export pumps.

    The “expert” claims it is “fake news” that this is one of the driest years on record because there are 7 months left! Wow, this expert doesn’t even know the basics of California water accounting: the Water Year starts on October 1 (following natural hydrology) and we have a little over 4 months left, the driest of the year.

    She claims the reservoirs were designed to get through a 5-year drought. The SWP contracts are for 4.4 million acre-feet per year; Oroville Reservoir holds 3.5 million acre-feet of which 2.8 million is usable (it will drop to 800 thousand acre-feet this year and that is the effective bottom unless they open the river release valves, which nobody is sure they can close since they are for emergency draining of the reservoir). Shasta holds 4.5 million acre-feet for all its contracts from Shasta to the Delta (around 5.5 million acre-feet). It takes about 3 to 3.5 million acre-feet per year to keep the Delta fresh; Delta farms take up another 1.5 to 2 million acre-feet per year. It seems that storage is a little bit short of what is needed to get through 5 years of drought. Or even 1 year. The fact is we depend on snow in the Sierras, and there isn’t much of that this year. That is not fake news, it is a fact.

    This “expert” doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

    1. Much of the lower delta farmland is vineyards , owned by wealthy leftists and politicians. ( who give themselves greatly reduced water rates.) Those managing the water talk about the fish for much of these releases. First it was the smelt, a brackish fish not bothered by salt water intrusion, and made scarce by government; import of aggressive game fish, and then government import of Asian Smelt, a more aggressive relative. Now it is Salmon.

      No, much of the release is over the top and very illogical. And the same government spends a hundred billion on a train to nowhere, denies water for farmers, insures water for vineyards, and vastly under spends on water security while wasting millions of acre feet.

  12. Thank god I left California. Just reading about the insanity happening there raises my blood pressure dangerously high. Living there would surely kill me.

  13. Katie, I suggest you collaborate with Jim Steele, an environmental professor from SFSU. ( I think retired now) Also an author on occasion at WUWT. He is an amazing researcher, and both brilliant and articulate to the lay person. I think he has his own web site.

    All the Best…

  14. Have people become so brain dead that they can’t see the reactions of their actions . Now we have drought issues.

  15. Its unfortunate the Globe edits to undermine the message of any response submitted contrary to it’s views, or just refuses to publish. Where the is no discussion, we will not discuss, nor compromise. That leaves the Globe’s interests at risk in a State government dominated by those of differing views and therefor less likely to prevail given the all or nothing premise it operates under. We don’t HAVE to talk, or listen, but it can only help your position. Under your contrary positioning, the Globe’s constituency will suffer.

  16. The ultimate plan is to rewild most of California. The environmentalists believe humanity is second or third to animals and trees. They look at us as parasites that drain the life from nature. They do not know they are human.
    Then we have Newsom, a man owned by communist China. A man who would take his grandmother’s last dollar if her back was turned.
    Lastly, Bill Gates, he puts humanity below pond scum. He wants all the money and power. He has been poisoning people in Africa and India since the 90s.
    What’s happening is environmentalists are trying to starve us into smart cities with Newsom’s help. He is banning natural gas and coal. He is taxing us to death while subsidizing illegals’ with our tax dollars.
    While these two are herding us into smart cities, Gates is sterilizing our young people with his experimental injections. He’s killing the elderly, causing unknown damage to the general population, and sterilizing our children. It is predicted, by well credentialed scientists and doctors, that between 50 Million and 200 billion people will die because of the injections.
    We’ve got to stand up and take control of our water, children, and lives.

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