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2004 U.S. Regional Water News

December, 2004

Santa Fe, New Mexico's plan to pump billions of gallons of brackish water draws ire in Estancia Valley

Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado announced a proposal last week for Santa Fe to import about 5.6 million gallons a day of Estancia Basin water through a 65-mile water pipeline. The salty, brackish water pulled from wells on farmland south of Moriarty would be treated using reverse osmosis. The massive project has a price tag estimated at $127 million. Jim Corbin, executive director of the Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee, warned that pumping so much water from the valley could eventually dry up already parched land, driving out the 20,000 to 25,000 people living here now. Albuquerque Journal_ 12/30/04 (logon required)

California girds for more fighting over water in 2005

After a century and a half of fighting over California's most coveted resource -- its water -- many more water tussles are expected to occupy farmers, lawyers, environmentalists and politicians during 2005. From the thirsty subdivisions of Los Angeles to the rice paddies north of Sacramento, water politics aligned with California's $27.8 billion agricultural economy will be a reason for more war in the new year. Inside the state Capitol and throughout Congress, old political feuds promise to continue over the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which helps funnel water from rainy northern California to arid population centers in the south. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/28/04

Environmental groups oppose restructuring California's State Water Project to allow local water wholesalers run part of the massive aqueduct and reservoir system
The Environmental Water Caucus, a coalition of about 20 groups, opposes a recommendation that would also allow water contractors to buy and sell water and water rights. The water coalition alleges that some water wholesalers, including the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, are dominated by development or farming interests. Water contractors said environmental groups are overreacting to plans for strictly operational changes in the nation's largest state water system. Los Angeles Times/AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/26/04

San Francisco, Daly City, California moving toward formal agreement on use of aquifer for droughts or emergencies

The groundwater basin, which runs beneath San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, South San Francisco and San Bruno, stores enough water for 150,000 households for a year. It has historically been used by San Mateo consumers as a regular source of their drinking water supply. Two years ago, a pilot program was launched in which the San Francisco public utilities agency, which runs the regional Hetch Hetchy water system, allowed Daly City, San Bruno and South San Francisco to use its surface water rather than pump water from the basin. That provided extra water storage capacity in the aquifer, which can be tapped when times get tough. San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/18/04

California's big farms found to get most water subsidies; Cost is often a fraction of what residents in the L.A. region pay

California's corporate farms are guzzling a disproportionate share of subsidized federal water, a new study concludes. The report by the Environmental Working Group analyzed federal and state records from 2002 to compile a list of the top recipients of subsidized agricultural water from the Central Valley Project, the huge federal water delivery system that supplies roughly one-fifth of the state's domestic and irrigation water - about 7 million acre feet annually. Central Valley farmers typically pay a fraction of the cost south state urbanites pay for the federal water. Farmers and irrigation district managers excoriated the methodology used by Environmental Working Group, calling it sloppy and inaccurate. But the nonprofit advocacy organization said it stood by its report, and it said it would correct any errors if confirmed by water district records. San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/15/04

Carolinas look for compromise to water disputes: Georgia may be next

Gov. Mark Sanford signed a bill creating two-state advisory committees for the huge Catawba-Wateree and the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basins that North and South Carolina share. The committees could lead to oversight commissions or compacts between the states. It's an attempt to stave off disputes over the volume or the quality of water the upstream state releases or the downstream state demands. Talks have begun with Georgia about forming a committee for the Savannah River over the Georgia-South Carolina border.  Charleston Post and Courier_ 12/01/04 (logon required)

Congress sends Idaho's Snake River water rights bill to the President

The bill resolves one of the largest water rights disputes in the West. The Snake River Water Rights Act of 2004 gives the Nez Perce Tribe annual rights to 50,000 acre-feet of water in the Clearwater River and $80 million in cash and land in return for dropping claims to nearly all the water in the Snake River and its tributaries. The state and federal governments also pledged tens of millions of dollars for fish habitat and other environmental improvements. If signed by the president, the bill would have to be approved by the Idaho Legislature and the Nez Perce Tribe. AP/Casper Star Tribune_ 11/22/04

Cooling the water wars: Colorado study urges compromise, state action

A $2.8 million study presented to the Colorado Water Conservation Board said cooperation and good information may be the key to minimizing lost farms and costly water battles. But the authors of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, funded by the legislature in 2003, noted that Coloradans may not be ready to support some comprehensive solutions, including substantial state funding and water projects that serve multiple users. They also sidestepped trans-basin diversions - which involve moving water from one river basin to another - saying tackling the highly charged issue would have threatened their ability to produce meaningful results. The study is the first stab at predicting how Colorado will use water and where it will come from in the future.  Denver Post_ 11/17/04

Ontario, Canada demands tougher protection for Great Lakes in U.S. water-taking deal

Ontario will not sign an international deal to limit how much water can be diverted from the Great Lakes unless changes are made to better protect the basin, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay said. The province fears a growing thirst for water among expanding U.S. suburbs that it warns could fuel demand for large-scale diversions from the five lakes comprising the world's largest system of fresh surface water. Canadian Press_ 11/15/04

Mexico will pay off U.S. water debt 'in the next few years'

A 1944 water-sharing treaty requires Mexico to send the United States an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water annually from six Rio Grande tributaries. The United States in return must send Mexico 1.5 million acre feet from the Colorado River. Abundant rains in 2003 and 2004 largely replenished South Texas' two Rio Grande reservoirs and allowed Mexico to reduce its water debt from 1.5 million acre-feet to less than 800,000 acre-feet. Rio Grande Valley irrigators and farmers have filed a US$500 million damage claim against Mexico for crop loss and other damages the group says were caused by that country's failure to comply with the two countries' water-sharing treaty. AP/Arizona Daily Sun_ 11/11/04

Colorado, Utah and Montana look at headwaters alliance similar to regional coalitions in Michigan and Maryland that safeguard the Great Lakes and Chespeake Bay

The idea is to find new ways and new sources of money to protect Western rivers born high in the mountain ranges along the Continental Divide, said Jeff Crane, a hydrologist who leads a nonprofit watershed restoration effort in Colorado's Gunnison River Basin. During the past 15 months, several river conservation groups in Colorado, as well as from Utah and Montana, have lobbied state officials and their congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., seeking backing for the project. Colorado is home to more than 40 watershed protection groups. Rocky Mountain News_ 11/8/04

Colorado Supreme Court allows challenge of Gunnison River pact to proceed

The ruling settles a side issue in the complex, three-decade-old battle and means a federal lawsuit filed by environmentalists can proceed. The lawsuit claims an agreement between state and federal authorities provides too much water for the fast-growing Front Range and leaves too little water in the river in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to support fish and other wildlife. The Colorado state water court had ordered the state and federal governments to stop negotiating the specifics of the Gunnison River agreement until the environmentalists' lawsuit is heard. The state Supreme Court upheld the water court. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 11/8/04

Cal-Fed water accord said to be in peril

At issue is a plan that would send more water to California's Central Valley fields and Southern California subdivisions and the effect it could have on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta wildlife, particularly salmon. Growing controversy over the increasing pumping proposal threatens to splinter support for CalFed, an ambitious decade-old government program of environmental and water supply improvements to the San Francisco Bay delta system. Recently reauthorized by Congress, CalFed has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to undo 150 years of environmental damage to the bay and delta. But CalFed also promised water users more reservoir space and more pumping capacity. Los Angeles Times_ 11/7/04 (logon required)

Texas legislative report says cities should get priority if private companies lease or buy state water rights

The Senate subcommittee report also recommends that private companies leasing or buying state water rights be required to follow local water district rules. The report will be used to craft bills for the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 11. The subcommittee was formed to study the effects of a proposed lease of state water rights in far West Texas by the General Land Office to Midland-based Rio Nuevo. Rio Nuevo, although it didn't have a client, said it was considering selling the water outside the area. The Rio Nuevo proposal, made in June 2002, caused an uproar among area residents and town officials who said such leasing would deplete desert aquifers that already were drying up because of extended drought.  AP/Denton Record-Chronicle_ 11/4/04

October, 2004

Water rights granted by Idaho spark protests by Washington state environmental groups

The Sierra Club's Spokane chapter and Friends of the Aquifer said they will challenge future water rights applications involving the Rathdrum Prairie-Spokane aquifer, the only source of drinking water for as many as 400,000 people in Washington and Idaho. The Sierra Club released an analysis that contends the Idaho Department of Water Resources has issued permits for billions of gallons in new water rights from the aquifer since January 2002. Mike Keckler, a Boise spokesman for the Idaho water department, said about half of the new water rights permits were issued to individuals and water districts that were already using the water and were attempting to comply with state law. AP/Seattle Post Intelligencer_ 10/25/04

Debate among eight Great Lakes states over entitlement to water boils over, in Canada

The Great Lakes governors wrestled with the issue for the past three years, and this summer released proposed rules that would allow some water to leave the Great Lakes basin, provided most of it is returned in the form of treated wastewater. But a citizens watchdog group in Canada argues the plan cuts Canada off with no rights to approve or veto water diversion. "The compact represents a unilateral approach for dealing with an international problem that reflects a pronounced and problematic trend by the U.S. to go it alone," says the legal opinion issued by the 100,000-member Council of Canadians.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel_ 10/22/04 (logon required)

>Statistics about Great Lakes water use Duluth News Tribune_ 10/25/04

$207 million conservation program will help protect drinking water in Columbus, Ohio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is intended to voluntarily improve water quality in Ohio's Scioto River Watershed, the main source of drinking water for the City of Columbus. The state has two existing successful CREPs, in the western Lake Erie Basin and along the Upper Big Walnut Creek. More than 1,500 stream miles have been protected by the programs. These buffers trap more than 90 percent of the sediment from entering the streams and rivers. Press Release_ 10/18/04

Fargo, North Dakota-area communities work to get more water

Officials estimated the region will need twice the amount of water in the year 2050. The Metropolitan Water Supply Committee is exploring 16 plans for bringing more water to the metro area. Cities in the region would work independently in some of the plans. In other plans, the cities would cooperate. One of the plans would build a treatment plant to bring in Missouri River water. AP/Grand Forks Herald_ 10/18/04

Florida to build new reservoir as part of $1.5 billion in projects designed to speed Everglades restoration

The new reservoir will serve protect the Caloosahatchee River and provide a back up water supply for Southwest Florida. NBC2_ 10/14/04

Maine districts team up to search for water

Officials from seven water districts are working to develop a regional water council. The group will seek formal recognition from the Legislature in the coming session. Across most of south coastal Maine, an ever-increasing number of summer visitors and year-round residents is increasing the demand for water. Already, the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District, which uses 7 million gallons a day at the height of summer and about 3 million a day off-peak, has drilled wells and made deals with other districts for about half of its water needs. Portland Press Herald_ 10/6/04

Idaho  lawmakers fear cost of stabilizing Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer

Cost of buying out willing water users could be $80 million to $100 million in state bonds, but urban residents also would be tapped. At stake is whether the entire state will address regional water conflicts or whether the regions will have to address them separately. Idaho Statesman_ 10/4/04

Owens Valley water - again; Officials in California's Inyo County claim the head of the Los Angeles Water and Power Commission is muscling them for more water

Inyo County supervisors say they plan to ask Mayor James Hahn to overrule efforts by DWP Commission President Dominick Rubalcava to end the lease for the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport unless they agree to let Los Angeles pump more water. Rubalcava denies the accusation. The battle over the airport is the latest in the 91-year tortured relationship between Los Angeles and the Eastern Sierra communities from which the city receives about half of its water. Los Angeles Daily News_ 10/1/04

September, 2004

Report: Great Lakes watersheds threatened by storm water runoff

The Environmental Protection Agency and states in the Great Lakes region are failing to enforce storm water runoff regulations, leading to threats to wildlife habitat in the lakes' watersheds, an environmental group said in a new report. The report by the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit advocacy group, said that state agencies in the half-dozen states it reviewed can't inspect even a fraction of the 20,000 storm water permits for industrial and construction sites. The report claims runoff from those sites — including heavy metals, bacteria and other pollutants — is making its way into the regions' streams and other waterways. AP/Mlive.com_ 9/30/04 (logon required)

Much of Waukesha County, Wisconsin shouldn't be allowed to draw water from Great Lakes to alleviate radium problem, public hearing told

The public information hearing was one of five being held throughout the state in the next week to gather public opinion to submit to the Council of Great Lakes Governors. That group is considering a set of rules for the future of the Great Lakes that will determine what areas will be able to directly access the fresh water and what environmental protections need to be installed to protect lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. The council consists of the eight U.S. states adjacent to the lakes and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Waukesha Freeman_ 9/29/04

Michigan House approves Great Lakes water diversion constitutional amendment

It would allow voters to decide in 2006 whether to change the state constitution to ban the diversion of water from the Great Lakes. The constitutional amendment now goes to the Senate, where it also will need approval from two-thirds of the 38 senators to get on the November 2006 ballot. It doesn't need Gov. Jennifer Granholm's signature. AP/Mlive.com_ 9/29/04 (logon required)

Water managers tackle issue of distressed lakes in West

A few dozen scientists, educators and government officials gathered in Salt Lake City this week at a conference attempting to give what they call "terminal water bodies" their due respect. Comparisons between the Great Salt Lake and lakes in California such as Owens Lake and Mona Lake illustrated how terminal water bodies are overlooked when it comes to water management. Salt Lake Tribune_ 9/25/04

Michigan House panel approves proposal to let voters decide on Great Lakes water diversion

Michigan voters could decide as early as November 2006 whether to prohibit new diversions from the Great Lakes under a constitutional amendment approved Thursday by a state House committee. Some environmentalists and House Democrats have criticized the measure, saying it doesn't go far enough to regulate large withdrawals and puts off the debate until the next general election. Noah Hall, senior manager of the Great Lakes Water Resource Program of the National Wildlife Federation, said the resolution isn't needed because it duplicates an existing law. Detroit Free Press_ 9/23/04

Michigan House again votes to give state regulators oversight of Detroit Water and Sewage Department

It's the second time the Legislature has tried to reform the Detroit water board, which serves 126 southeastern Michigan communities with about 4 million people, or four out of every 10 state residents. In March 2003, Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a similar bill. At the time, she said the bill isn't constitutional because it takes away the ability of a city to own and operate a water supply and sewer system. Mlive.com_ 9/22/04 (logon required)

New York lawmaker seeks compromise in water dispute between Mohawk Valley Water Authority and the Canal Corporation

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is holding up permits to expand the Water Authority's water system citing concerns of the Canal Corporation, over the adequacy of Hinckley Reservoir's water supply.  Utica Observer-Dispatch 9/22/04

Washington governor shelves plans to allocate Columbia River water

An ambitious proposal to decide who will get new water permits from the Columbia River will be left to a new governor and the next legislative session, Gov. Gary Locke has decided. Locke will leave office in January, when a new Legislature will be seated and a new governor sworn in. Since its start three years ago, the so-called Columbia River Initiative was pushed as a rule-making effort that would draw consensus from water users and environmentalists alike. But the consensus never materialized. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/22/04

Plan to save water in Idaho aquifer goes to lawmakers

The deal would cost $80 to $100 million over 30 years and pay willing farmers and business owners to give up their water rights. It seeks to halt depletion of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer and increase the flows out of Thousand Springs near Hagerman that replenish the Snake River as it runs past Boise. Idaho Statesman_ 9/21/04

Proposal by eight U.S. states to allow diversion of Great Lakes water threatens environment and Canada's sovereignty: Critics

Several groups plan to argue at public hearings the proposed agreement among eight U.S. states, especially in its current form, is dangerous. Known as the Implementing Agreement for Annex 2001, it would end a virtual moratorium on new or increased water diversions south of the border. Even though the legislation would allow only small-scale diversions, expert water consultant Ralph Pentland warns it would still be a very large foot in the door. "In the business of water, once you say maybe, you say yes," Pentland said. CP/cnews-Canada_ 9/19/04

Draft legislative plan would significantly limit private marketing of water from state lands in Texas

The recommendations would also strengthen the power of both local groundwater districts and regional water planning groups in state water leases. Desert-Mountain Times_ 9/16/04

Despite improvements, Great Lakes remain dumping ground for pollution ranging from livestock waste to mercury emissions

In its biennial report on Great Lakes water quality, the International Joint Commission urged the governments of both nations to step up protection and restoration efforts. The commission issues biennial progress reports on implementation of the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, in which both nations agreed to reduce pollution and restore damaged areas.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 9/13/04

Drinking water not addressed by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, group says

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Shorezone Draft Environmental Impact Statement has drawn strong reaction from water suppliers on the Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe Basin who are concerned that the health and safety of drinking water was not adequately addressed.

Critics included the Nevada Tahoe Water Suppliers and the Nevada Bureau of Health Protection Services. Tahoe Daily Tribune_ 9/13/04

August, 2004
Mexico slams Texas farmers' $500 million law suit seeking damages for crop losses they say were caused by Mexico's failure to comply with a water-sharing treaty
Mexico said the lawsuit could "cause problems" for bilateral cooperation on the issue, which has seen Mexico try to make greater repayments on past debts in recent months. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 8/27/04

Texas, New Mexico governors agree to Pecos River, Rio Grande water sharing talks

The joint statement signed by Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Bill Richardson of New Mexico calls for not only a new discussion of the compacts, but also cooperation on groundwater evaluation in Doña Ana County, El Paso and Juarez, and joint initiatives to deal with salinity control In the past, those kinds of discussions usually took place in court. Carlsbad Current-Argus_ 8/10/04

Schwarzenegger proposes eliminating California water board system

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's hand-picked efficiency commission, which did not include environmentalists, has called for reorganizing most of the state's environmental agencies under two new departments. Among the most controversial is a recommendation to eliminate the state's system of nine regional water quality boards, which enforce the federal Clean Water Act and the state's Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. San Diego's board has been honored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for vigilant enforcement and adopting tough regulations to curb urban runoff pollution. In contrast, the Central Valley's board has balked at holding the agriculture industry to the same standards. A number of San Diego environmental leaders oppose the plan.   San Diego Union-Tribune_ 8/9/04

New Mexico governor urges border states to focus on water and environmental problems

Gov. Bill Richardson, chairman of  a conference of U.S. and Mexican governors, also said the federal government, through the International Boundary and Water Commission, hasn't provided needed leadership to settle differences over water between Mexico and the United States, including the Rio Grande and Colorado River. Governors from the four U.S. states and six Mexican states at the conference need to explore a "bi-national multistate collaborative approach on water," Richardson said. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 8/10/04

U.S. and Mexican border governors to discuss water, trade in Santa Fe

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will chair the conference, called "Building International Cooperation on Water and Trade." The governors are to discuss water quality, quantity and interstate agreements that govern how water is allocated during the 22nd annual Border Governors Conference. Richardson said he hopes for resolution of interstate and international fighting over water. AP/Star-Telegram_ 8/8/04

Kansas Water Authority will review purchasing 7,000-acre ranch to retire its water rights in an effort to stabilize groundwater levels

The proposal was recommended by two advisory committees, the Upper Arkansas River Basin Advisory Committee and the Lower Arkansas River Basin Advisory Committee. The ranch has 57 irrigation wells and the plans would shut down most of that water area, turning the land into a recreational area for hunters, bird-watchers and hikers. Kansas wants the ranch to help ease water problems and help the Arkansas River flow again from Kinsley to Great Bend. Kansas City Star_ 8/4/04 (logon required)

Georgia begins new statewide odd-even watering schedule

The state Department of Natural Resources can cut off water to repeat offenders and charge a $25 fee to have the service renewed. AccessNorthGa.com_ 8/1/04

Further delays in eastern New Mexico's Ute Water Pipeline could increase costs by $3 million a year: Officials

Total capital and enhancement costs for the proposed Ute Water System are now estimated at 310.2 million, according to estimates presented to the New Mexico Water and Natural Resources Committee. Despite discouraging responses from national politicians earlier in the summer, Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority officials continue lobby for the project. It relies on the federal government for 80 percent of its funding and officials said federal spending usually doesn't go that high. Local authorities said they don't have the money to contribute more. Quay County Sun_ 8/1/04

July, 2004

Green Bay, Wisconsin's suburbs, Manitowoc sign Lake Michigan water contract
Officials from the Central Brown County Water Authority and Manitowoc signed the contract to pipe Lake Michigan water to at least five county communities. The signing is a way around long-fractious talks between the suburbs and the city of Green Bay that broke down last year after some 20 years of discussion of how to handle community water needs.  Green Bay News-Chronicle_ 7/21/04

Monterey Peninsula, California water board opposes moratorium on all new water connections proposed by California-American Water Co.

One water board director, Dave Potter, who also is a Monterey County Supervisor and sits on the California Coastal Commission, rebuked the German-owned company for failing to keep local officials informed of its plans. Cal-Am is under state mandate to reduce its pumping from the Carmel River. The company also wants to build a local desalination plant. Monterey Herald_ 7/20/04

Compact would make it all but impossible to divert water from Great Lakes

The proposed Great Lakes Charter Annex must be approved by Congress and the legislatures in each of the Great Lakes states to become law. The measure would leave the door open for Great Lakes water to be shipped to areas in the region that are outside the basin but prevent it from heading to other areas, such as the Southwest. AP/Detroit Free Press_ 7/19/04

Lawrence, Wisconsin may bolt regional Water Authority
The town may become the latest community to withdraw from a project to bring Lake Michigan drinking water to Green Bay’s suburbs. The Lawrence Town Board voted to open negotiations with Green Bay and Ashwaubenon on a drinking water agreement.
Lawrence is a member of the Central Brown County Water Authority and is signatory to the authority’s water purchase contract. Green Bay Press Gazette_ 7/17/04

New Mexico to receive $66 million for water projects in the southwest corner of the state and up to $128 million if it builds a Gila River diversion project in a deal with Arizona
The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission endorsed the agreement between the states. Now, it's up to Congress to give final approval to the deal, which is part of a broad Arizona water-rights settlement. State officials said the agreement is needed to assure New Mexico's right to water from the Gila River. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 7/13/04

Dispute over Montana's Smith River water heats up again
A dispute over water use in the Smith River basin is heating up again, with one rancher threatening to sue if his crops are hurt by a state order banning further irrigation.  The dispute hinges on whether groundwater in the river basin's aquifer is connected to the surface water. The Smith is both a popular fishing and floating stream and an important source of irrigation for Meagher County ranchers.  Billings Gazette _7/11/04

Cal-Am ban: Who won't get water?
A water-connection freeze could affect a long list of projects

As the California-American Water Co. prepares to seek a moratorium on new water connections on the Monterey Peninsula, it remains unclear exactly who would be affected by the freeze. Depending on how things shake out, a long list of projects could be affected, including redevelopment projects in Seaside, a golf course and housing project in Pebble Beach and an assortment of home-building efforts throughout the Peninsula.  Monterey County Herald _7/11/04

California water wars
You are driving down the California coast to Monterey, looking out over the blue Pacific, and your view is interrupted by tugboats pulling what appear to be huge plastic bags the size of football fields going south. The bags are filled with water from Northern California rivers that has been sold to thirsty Southern California and Arizona residents. Far-fetched? If it weren't for the objections of two different North Coast communities, plans for exactly such a scheme -- known as "water bagging" -- would be in place and the tugs would be passing the Golden Gate on a regular basis, raising the question of who owns the river water. San Francisco Chronicle _7/11/04

Los Angeles mayor slows Owens Valley development 100 years after "Chinatown"
After being accused for nearly 100 years of stealing water from faraway Owens Valley, Los Angeles officials now want to preserve 500 square miles of the scenic area from development. The valley has been the site of continual feuding over water since before 1913, when the city diverted water into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The events were fictionalized in the 1974 movie "Chinatown."  AP/Newsday_ 7/7/04

New laws protect Missouri's Ozark water
One measure gives rural areas in the Upper White River Basin access to low-interest loans for centralized sewage treatment facilities. Another bill prohibits glass food and beverage containers in canoes, inner tubes and similar watercraft on state streams and lakes and a third authorizes the state Board of Fund Commissioners to issue bonds for water, sewer and stormwater control projects.  Springfield News-Leader_ 7/1/04

June, 2004

Southern California may double historic water take from San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is planning to pump billions of extra gallons of Northern California water south over the next few years, relying on assumptions about the state's water supply that appear "very aggressive" to one high-ranking state water official. It is a sign that worsening problems with Colorado River supplies will put more pressure on Northern California and the Delta. Tri-Valley Herald_ 6/30/04

Competing political interests stall California's federal water funds
CalFed, an ambitious state and federal plan to improve both water supply and the environment, has been stalled since 2000 by a lack of federal funding. It is in jeopardy this year because of competing bills in the two houses of Congress. San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/30/04

Expanding population won’t tap Reno, Nevada-area's water supply: regional report
Sufficient water supplies exist to serve nearly 500,000 people expected to live in the Truckee Meadows and surrounding communities by 2025, a new regional water plan predicts. The plan is set for approval today by the Regional Water Planning Commission, the first of several government panels to consider the document. Reno Gazette-Journal_ 6/29/04

Dropping water supplies force Riverside, California to use costly alternatives

The city plans to buy more imported Northern California water and is considering reuse of treated sewage water now discharged into the Santa Ana River. In the past, the utility relied on groundwater in Riverside and San Bernardino to provide 78,000 acre-feet of water to about 230,000 people. The search for new sources is spurred by a drop in the Bunker Hill basin, a vast aquifer that supplies the city but is diminishing. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/28/04

Environmental groups seek commitment from Michigan lawmakers to support voluntary agreement on Great Lakes water withdrawal

The 1985 agreement called upon all Great Lakes states to register companies that use 100,000 gallons of water or more a day. It is a nonbinding accord among the region's governors, their first effort to stand together against unregulated withdrawals. But Michigan, which is surrounded by Great Lakes water, was the only state that never followed through by having the Legislature pass legislation. Toledo Blade_ 6/28/04

New spirit of cooperation puts Colorado's proposed Wolcott Reservoir on the fast track

Backers say the reservoir could help water users as diverse as urban Denver and endangered fish in the Colorado River. Summit Daily News_ 6/26/04

New Nebraska water law gives Department of Natural Resources authority to determine if water is overappropriated and new uses are permitted
The law will significantly impact the Platte River, where regional officials already have halted new well-drilling. The new water law will also give the DNR the responsibility of examining water basins throughout Nebraska each year to determine whether the those basins are either fully appropriated or overappropriated. Grand Island Independent_ 6/26/04

Waukesha County, Wisconsin government leaders consider regional water solutions
Issues include radium, use of Lake Michigan, federal funding and regional cooperation. Waukesha Freeman_ 6/26/04

Florida Public Service Commission to decide if new company can sell water in 50,000-acre area of Volusia and Brevard counties

Opponents fear application is a bid to begin massive development. News-Journal_ 6/24/04

Central Brown County Water Authority says Green Bay, Wisconsin didn’t have all the facts when it blasted the suburbs' analysis for buying water from Manitowoc
A report released late last week by an economics expert paid by Green Bay to examine the Water Authority’s data concluded that the authority’s analysis was “deficient” and failed to meet “accepted standards of financial and economic analysis." But those responsible for the analysis that was used to reject Green Bay’s offer in favor of a competing offer from Manitowoc said Green Bay’s expert worked without all the facts. Green Bay Gazette_ 6/24/04

Oregon water districts faced with grow-or-die decisions look to third option: merger

Getting the four north Clackamas water districts, which serve more than 31,000 customers, to join hands, however, is a little like getting the Hatfields and the McCoys to sit down for Sunday dinner. They are wary of each other and reluctant to forge alliances. Portland Oregonian_ 6/24/04 (logon required)

Southwest Florida drafting water plan for the future
It’s called the Lower West Coast Water Supply Plan. The area’s original plan, adopted in 2000, found that if people only continue to draw water from traditional sources, such as wells, groundwater would be undrinkable in 20 years. Levels would quickly drop and salt water would intrude. Precious wetlands that support the region’s famous wildlife would dry up. A 1997 Florida statute requires these plans and triggers an update every five years. News-Press_ 6/24/04

Economist questions validity of study suburbs’ used to reject water deal with Green Bay. Wisconsin
The Central Brown County Water Authority — Allouez, Bellevue, De Pere, Howard, Lawrence and Ledgeview — voted in February to buy water from the city of Manitowoc instead of Green Bay. Green Bay Press-Gazette_ 6/22/04

Rural Nye County, Nevada builds wall of paperwork to protect its water from thirsty Las Vegas
In response to the Southern Nevada Water Authority's renewed push to tap groundwater in rural areas, Nye County officials have filed a barrage of protests and pre-emptive water applications meant to keep their most precious natural resource from flowing down a pipeline to Las Vegas. AP/San Francisco Chroncle_ 6/20/04

Spring was 3rd warmest on record in U.S., 4th warmest worldwide
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the Southeast and parts of the West were unusually dry during spring, but precipitation was above average in the Great Lakes region, parts of the Deep South and Northeast. Michigan had its wettest spring on record. AP/Bucks County Courier Times_ 6/19/04

Bureau of Reclamation and New Mexico's GOP Sen. Pete Domenici question funding for state's $307 million Ute Water Project
Eastern New Mexico sits above the declining Ogallala aquifer which is estimated to provide water for 15 years to 40 years. The bill by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation to spend up to $250 million to assist the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority in constructing a pipeline that would supply water from Ute Lake near Logan to communities in Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties. Clovis News Journal_ 6/18/04

Aurora, Colorado and state's Western Slope water agencies agree on water use
The agreement with several Eagle River Basin water entities gives all sides more flexibility in the use of water from Homestake Reservoir. Both sides praised the deal as opening a new era of cooperation over water by Western Slope and Front Range users. The agreement is an equal water-for-water exchange and involves no money. The pact must get final approval from the Aurora City Council and Colorado Springs Utility. Peter Binney, Aurora's director of utilities, said the "quid pro quo" water swap will give Aurora an insurance policy, especially during very dry years such as 2002. Rocky Mountain News_ 6/18/04

Former village president denies making a special drinking water deal with Green Bay, Wisconsin that doomed hopes for a regional solution to radium problems
"Absolutely not," said Ted Pamperin, former president of the village of Ashwaubenon. The Central Brown County Water Authority — the Green Bay suburbs of Allouez, Bellevue, De Pere, Howard, Lawrence and Ledgeview — voted in February to buy Lake Michigan water from the city of Manitowoc. On the same day Ashwaubenon, a former Water Authority member, voted to buy lake water from Green Bay. Green Bay Press-Gazette_ 6/17/04

Colorado governor urges state's eight river basins to end water bickering and negotiate agreements that could be put in state law
The proposal is modeled after interstate water compacts, including the Colorado River Compact and another between Colorado and Kansas. Rocky Mountain News_ 6/17/04

It's agriculture and water districts vs. environmentalists in California's Central Valley CalFed water project

A proposal by the Schwarzenegger administration, which opponents call a "water tax," would increase costs for all users of water from the Delta, including farmers, who said they are under great pressure from other rising costs. The money would go to CalFed, the biggest water project in California's history -- an $8.5 billion, 20-year program designed to save endangered fish in the Delta and supply more water to the Central Valley and the state's southern counties. Environmental organizations said the farmers are just trying to get out of paying their share. AP/Contra Costa Times_ 6/15/04 (logon required)

New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission signs contracts to buy land and water rights along the Pecos River but won’t reveal the names of the sellers or how much public money each stands to get
Bob Johnson, the head of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said state real-estate-purchase contracts are clearly public information once they’re executed and must be released under state law.The state Legislature last year put up $40 million for the ISC to purchase 18,000 acres and associated water rights along the Pecos River. The state intends to retire the land from farming to increase river flows to meet waterdelivery obligations to Texas. Santa Fe New Mexican_ 6/11/04 (logon required)

Federal restrictions could prevent southern Nevada water officials from drilling test wells on protected land in the Desert National Wildlife Range north of Las Vegas
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said monitoring wells might only be allowed along existing roads, not in wilderness study areas in the 1.6 million-acre range. The Southern Nevada Water Authority faces similar access problems from the Defense Department, which controls the Nellis Air Force Base Test and Training Range. Test results could be used to support an authority plan to draw groundwater from seven wells on and around the wildlife range and pipe it to Las Vegas.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/10/04

Arizona-New Mexico water settlement close
An agreement for 18,000 acre-feet of Gila River water may be close to being put into the Arizona settlement bill being heard in Congress. Although the water was allotted to New Mexico in 1968 by congressional legislation, the state has never received either the money awarded or the use of the water. According to Dutch Salmon, founder of the Gila Conservation Coalition, the negotiators are close to a settlement as to how much federal funds New Mexico might get to use or store the water, and under what conditions Arizona might get the water. Silver City Daily Press_ 6/8/04

Governors of South Carolina, Georgia to work on compact defining Savannah River water rights
Now that both Legislatures have adjourned, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford can move forward in trying to formalize the way the states share the river that divides them. Five years of drought lowered water levels at Lake Thurmond and officials almost stopped releasing water downstream in the Savannah River in 2002. There is fear that cities like Atlanta will take coveted water from the Savannah River that nearby residents depend on.  AP/The State_  6/7/04

Election year politics in Congress add suspense to landmark Idaho water agreement
The Nez Perce tribe, the state and lawyers for water users are working with Idaho's two senators to write federal legislation. They hope to get it passed by Congress and send it to President Bush by the end of the year — a tall order. Then the agreement must be approved by the Idaho Legislature and the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. All three legislative bodies must give final approval by March 31, 2005. Idaho Statesman_ 6/5/04

A "win-win" water ballet for Colorado water users
Aurora's recent approval of a breakthrough water agreement has cleared the way for Colorado Springs, Fountain and Pueblo to cooperate in an intricate ballet of water exchanges that will save time, money and the precious liquid gold itself for the citizens of all the jurisdictions involved. Also joining in the deal are the Pueblo Water Board, the Colorado Canal Co. and the Southeastern Water Conservancy District. The pact doesn't require building large new reservoirs. Instead, the group will seek congressional approval to enlarge the Pueblo Reservoir and make more effective use of other existing facilities.  Denver Post_6/6/04

Las Vegas plans to pipe water, upsetting its unwilling donors
Water agency officials in Las Vegas are scrambling to meet the seemingly unquenchable demand for water, as the region suffers through one of the worst droughts on record. They are also opening old wounds that pit rural areas against one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. Among the plans under consideration by the Southern Nevada Water Authority: drawing groundwater from remote areas, piping it into the Las Vegas area, and compensating farmers for taking land out of production so the water once slated for irrigation can be used by thirsty subdivisions. The plans are triggering protests, just as they did when they were first filed in 1989.  Boston Globe_6/604

San Francisco's water bill coming due
Water in the West has never made sense, thanks to states drawn with straight lines and watersheds that won't stay put. Then there's California, where hydrology and demography rebound off each other. In opposite directions. Two-thirds of the people live in the south, while two-thirds of the surface water is in the north. This mismatch between nature and culture has made the south dependent on water imports, and to some, this is evidence of Southern California's parasitic self-indulgence. Denver Post_6/6/04

Water storage projects get push
South Florida Water Management District to press the 'speed pedal' on some of the most crucial aspects of its $8.4 billion Everglades restoration plan: three huge reservoir and marsh projects in Martin, Palm Beach and Hendry counties.
Among the projects, a 9,315-acre reservoir and filter marsh in rural Martin County would be done in 2007, two years ahead of the existing schedule.  Palm Beach Post_6/6/04

May, 2004
South Florida water managers eye $1.7 billion water storage plan to capture state's 50-plus inches of annual rainfall
It calls for 333 wells to drink down and store a potential 1.6 billion gallons of water pulled from canals and reservoirs in times of plenty. The plan would bank all that water 1,000 feet underground, inside a rock sponge called the Floridan Aquifer.  Sun-Sentinel_ 5/31/04

Constitutional end sought to New York's Adirondack water problems
Residents in several communities in the pristine Adirondacks live through what can be weeks of boil-water orders, constant low pressure, and water so murky that some residents say their toilets look no different after flushing. The Adirondack Council on Monday proposed a constitutional amendment to allow municipalities to drill wells in publicly owned land _ a far less costly prospect than building a plant and reservoir. The wells limited to 2 percent of the forest preserve would tap into a clean and plentiful underground water source in constitutionally protected forest preserves in the Adirondacks as well as the Catskill park. AP/Newsday_ 5/31/04

North Dakota tribal members worry a state outlet to ease Devils Lake flooding will disturb water they hold sacred and transfer unwanted fish and pollution
State officials want to speed up work on the $28 million outlet from Devils Lake to the Sheyenne River, now that the lake has reached a record peak. It would run from Devils Lake to the Sheyenne, a tributary of the Red River, which flows north into Manitoba, emptying into Lake Winnipeg. Officials in Manitoba and Minnesota worry the outlet would pollute their watersheds. Bruce Engelhardt, a Water Commission engineer, said Devils Lake already drains into other water sources in the region. The outlet would use filtration and other measures to prevent the transfer of unwanted material, and it would be tested frequently, he said.  AP/Bismarck Tribune_ 5/22/04

Sacramento, California clears the way for a $690 million water project

There was strong neighborhood opposition to construction of the plant that will provide additional water to Sacramento County from the Sacramento River and in dry years send water to San Francisco's East Bay. To help nearby residents during construction, the Freeport Regional Water Authority will offer free car washes, house cleaning and a private security service. It also will hire an ombudsman. Sacramento Bee_ 5/19/04

NOAA expects above normal 2004 Atlantic hurricane season
The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) outlook calls for 12 to 15 tropical storms, with 6 to 8 becoming hurricanes and 2 to 4 becoming major hurricanes. Reuters_ 5/18/04

The Nez Perce Tribe, state of Idaho and federal agencies agree to augment Snake River flows in settlement of one of the largest water rights cases in the West
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said the agreement preserved existing state and private water rights while it established a framework for water use and timber management compliance under the federal Endangered Species Act. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ 5/15/04

Even with 50 inches of rain a year, Georgia looks to outdoor water conservation

State's proposal could become stiffer if the current "mild drought" worsens. Atlanta Constitution_ 5/16/04 (logon required)

Interior Secretary Gale Norton to announce settlement of Nez Perce claim to Idaho' Snake River water rights
The Snake River is vital to farms, city water systems, power generation, and returning salmon and steelhead runs throughout southern and central Idaho. It winds 1,056 miles through the state.  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/14/04

USDA funding $1.8 million study this year of West Texas aquifers where Rio Nuevo Ltd. wants to lease state land and sell the water
The whole U.S. Department of Agriculture study will take about three years. Not much water study had been done in West Texas because of the sparse population and the complex web of aquifers that run through the region. Odessa American_ 5/13/04

Texas' Lower Colorado River Authority to work with water experts from three state universities on longterm needs of the river basin and San Antonio

The $4.2 million study will look at the feasibility of the Lower Colorado River Authority-San Antonio Water System project and address environmental stewardship. San Marcos, Texas Daily Record_ 5/7/04

For 28 cows and precious Arizona water, Wally Klump vows to sit in jail
"Sometimes a man has to die for what he believes in before anyone knowed he truly believed it," says the 70-year-old rancher who refuses to remove cows from federal land. Arizona is expected to grow by 40 percent in the next 20 years and officials wonder where the future's water will come from. Recycled toilet water is one idea. The retirement of ranchers is another. About 20,000 ranchers have their cattle grazing on federal land in the West, and how the land and water regulations are being enforced is the key to their survival or death.  New York Times_ 5/9/04 (logon required)

April, 2004
Colorado's Douglas, Arapahoe county water suppliers back $2.5 billion plan to wean the area from its dependence on depleting groundwater supplies
The 11 water districts will negotiate with the Denver Water board and the Colorado River Water Conservation District on the Western Slope to secure surface water supplies, said Pat Mulhern, manager of the study that led to the plan. Levels in underground wells that supply much of fast-growing Douglas County's water had been dropping 30 feet a year, prompting cities and districts to search for new water sources. The plan would import surface water and build a system of reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants to connect the water suppliers. It would cost $2.5 billion over 50 years and be paid for by higher tap fees for new homes and higher water rates. Rocky Mountain News_ 4/29/04

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford supports a proposal to seek water agreements with Georgia and North Carolina
South Carolina shares most of its rivers with Georgia or North Carolina. During the five-year drought's peak in 2002, South Carolina had to broker a deal with North Carolina to ensure enough water was released from upstream dams. AP/Herald Tribune_ 4/28/04

Georgia proposes permanent outdoor water restrictions
The timing of the proposal is unrelated to the mild drought conditions being experienced in the state, officials said, although the proposed system could be used to establish water use schedules if drought conditions intensify. Macon Telegraph_ 4/24/04

Will a regional water system around Toledo encourage urban flight to the suburbs?

Area water planners to hold second meeting on building a second water-intake system to serve communities outside Toledo. Toledo Blade_ 4/24/04

Florida commuity asks residents to voluntarily limit water use beyond restrictions already in place
The city of Palm Coast said low pressure in water lines is the result of high demand in an extended period of little rain and has led to changes in color in the drinking water system. News Journal online_ 4/24/04

Eastern North Carolina water district gets $62 million in federal funds to build a regional water system
The total project by the Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority encompasses the construction of a water treatment plant, storage facility and distribution system and costs $83 million. The remaining money will come from other federal and state sources.
The facility will serve about 28,865 residential users. The project is the result of the state Environmental Management Commission's decision to require municipalities and water systems within a 16-county area to reduce the withdrawal of water from the Black Creek and Upper Cape Fear aquifers. Daily Reflector_ 4/23/04

Pocatello, Idaho leaders say east Idaho's urban lawmakers are being left out of region's water discussions
Mayor Roger Chase said rural lawmakers comprise the majority of a 12-member state working group formed to study and develop long-term water solutions, and he worries cities won't be fairly represented. Idaho State Journal_ 4/22/04

Colorado legislative committee approves bill to bring state into compliance with the Republican River Compact with Nebraska and Kansas
A spokesman for the Burlington-based Plains Groundwater Management District said Colorado already could be 10,000 acre feet of water short of meeting its compact obligations in only the first two years of a revised settlement. Fort Morgan Times_ 4/22/04

Drought intensifies in U.S. Southeast, West - NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said unusually warm and dry weather this week in the U.S. West prompted Idaho to declare drought emergencies in two counties. The Southeast drought extends from southeastern Mississippi eastward into southern Alabama and northwestern Florida and on into central and northeastern Georgia. Reuters_ 4/22/04

Rural Arkansas water districts agree to form a regional association
The meeting was organized by the Mount Sherman Water Association. Word of the meeting spread generating a great deal of interest. Representatives from water systems in neighboring counties and state and federal agencies converged on the Arkansas House. Newton County Times_ 4/21/04

March, 2004

Southwest New Mexico government officials discuss a regional water authority for 18,000 acre feet of Gila River flow
Legislation passed by Congress in 1968 created the Central Arizona Project and said 18,000 acre feet of water that normally flows from the Gila River into the Colorado River could be diverted. Silver City Daily Press 3/31/04

Plan to sell state water rights to private company has West Texans worried
State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is negotiating with private investors for the sale of underground water rights on state-owned lands, a move that could affect up to 350,000 acres in as many as five West Texas counties. Nearby El Paso is considered a possible customer. Fort Worth Star-Telegram/KRT/Miami Herald 3/31/04
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens wants to sell his Ogallala Aquifer water in the Texas Panhandle
Earlier, Pickens told the Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business' Chief Executives Roundtable, that selling the water could triple the land value to about $700 an acre, which would give land owner about $1 million. AP/Star-Telegram 3/30/04

Florida developers accused of making an Everglades water grab
The developers have launched a quiet campaign in court and in the Legislature to scrap a proposed rule that would help save water for Everglades restoration and wetlands across the state. Miami Herald 3/31/04
Suburbs near Green Bay, Wisconsin may begin construction on water pipe to Lake Michigan this summer
The Water Authority communities — Allouez, Bellevue, De Pere, Howard, Lawrence and Ledgeview — voted in February to build a $118 million water system that will link its member communities to the city of Manitowoc’s water treatment plant on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Green Bay Press-Gazette 3/31/04

Idaho Middle Snake River emergency water deal becomes law
The deal was prompted by Water Resource Director Karl Dreher´s order that 1,300 irrigation and other wells north of the Middle Snake would be shut down April 1 unless a plan was developed to fill senior water rights, primarily those of the commercial fish hatcheries in the Hagerman Valley. Idaho Statesman 3/28/04
New Jersey Pinelands water getting closer look
The state Department of Environmental Protection reports water demand in Atlantic County may already outstrip the "dependable or sustainable yield" of the region's aquifers. Courier-Post 3/28/04

Colorado's Horsetooth Reservoir is full again

No, it wasn't the drought. A $56 million rennovation meant three sparse summers when dirt seemed more plentiful than water. Ft. Collins Coloradoan 3/28/04

Give Texas cash instead of water?
Erasing Mexico’s water debt with money has supporters, skeptics. Valley Morning Star 3/27/04
Colorado Attorney Ken Salazar blasts High Plains water transfer
"Our position is that the transfer should be denied summarily because what they are doing is speculative," Salazar said in a speech. Lamar Daily News 3/26/04

San Diego's hold on county water authority is holding steady
A proposal by North County water agencies to restructure voting procedures on the San Diego County Water Authority was rejected yesterday by the countywide authority. The coalition of smaller agencies making up the Economic Study Group contends that the city of San Diego has an unfair advantage because it can take action with the support of only one or two more agencies, even though the city might be opposed by a majority of the authority's 23 member agencies. San Diego Union-Tribune 3/26/04

Detroit mayor says city won't share control of water with suburbs
"When you pay a utility fee, you're not paying for a piece of the company," Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told a meeting with suburban commissioners. Detroit Free Press 3/26/04

Erie County, New York to take over Buffalo's water system in a move toward regionalism
The deal, crafted over three years of negotiations, still needs approval from the city Water Board, Buffalo voters, the Common Council and the state.

Buffalo News 3/26/04

Senators dismayed by Animas-La Plata cost overruns but commit to funding  the Colorado project
In 1999, the Bureau of Reclamation put the cost of the water project at $338 million. But last July officials said the initial figure underestimated the actual costs and the true price tag had climbed to $500 million. AP/San Francisco Chronicle 3/24/04

Missouri river plan heading back to court
South Dakota is headed back to court to seek firmer guarantees that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage the Missouri River to protect fish spawning in upstream reservoirs during the spring months. Gov. Mike Rounds has told state officials to ask a federal judge to make the corps give more consideration to the needs of Lake Oahe in South Dakota, Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota and Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana. AP/Billings Gazette 3/24/04

Missouri River plan falls short, Interior Dept. says
It says the new plan for operating the Missouri River does not comply with the Endangered Species Act. The letter is significant because an Interior Department agency — the Fish and Wildlife Service — must sign off on river operations. The Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to put the new plan in place. AP/Kansas City Star 3/24/04

Columbus, Ga. vs. Atlanta water fight over the Chattahoochee holds implications for Florida and Alabama
The only thing the two sides agree on is that the Chattahoochee must be preserved -- for Atlanta and for its downstream neighbors.The question is how.The answer is nobody knows. Columbus Ledger-Enquirer/KRT/Miami Herald 3/21/04

Idaho water well crisis warnings date to the 1970s
New law develops longterm plan for the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer, a 10,000-square-mile underground reservoir.
It came after a series of tense negotiations that halted the shutoff of more than a thousand wells and prevented farms, dairies and communities from going dry. Idaho Statesman 3/22/04

Nye County, Nevada opposes Las Vegas plan to reach north for more water
Hearings are scheduled next week in Carson City before State Engineer Hugh Ricci, who will determine if the authority can draw 17,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Three Lakes and Tikaboo valleys in northwest Clark County and southwest Lincoln County.
Nye County Commissioner Midge Carver said Pahrump and Nye County fear the example of California's Owens Valley, which dried up after losing water rights to Los Angeles a century ago. AP/Las Vegas Sun 3/18/04

International Boundary and Water Commission leader wants to ask Mexico for money, erase water debt
“We need to look out for a permanent, long-term solution, and the water debt needs to be erased,” said Arturo Duran. Brownsville Herald 3/18/04

Montana governor dismisses Corps' Missouri River plan as ineffective
Gov. Judy Martz told U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives that changing the minimum water storage level at which water will no longer be released for downstream barge traffic won't help conditions at Fort Peck Lake in northeast Montana. AP/Billings Gazette 3/18/04
After 14 years of struggles, Corps is scheduled to adopt a disputed new Missouri River management plan that shifts water upstream in severe drought and delays environmentally friendly flow changes
Army officials planned a ceremony in Omaha, Neb., today with cake and refreshments for the signing of documents formally adopting a new Missouri River Master Water Control Manual, a guidebook that will govern the operation of dams and water allocation along the 2,341-mile river. St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KRT/Mississippi Sun-Herald 3/18/04

Idaho parties reach tentative water deal to avoid shutting down more than 1,300 wells
If the deal is completed, it would avert -- for at least a year -- what some had described as a potential economic disaster stemming from curtailment of water to hundreds of dairies, farms, municipalities and businesses. Twin Falls Times-News 3/16/04

Water pacts may affect North Carolina region's growth
A series of water and sewer system mergers with Raleigh is leaving the city in control of how fast some small Wake towns can grow in the future. Raleigh News Observer 3/15/04

Southern Idaho farms, businesses, cities face water cutoff: Depletion of the Snake River aquifer threatens livelihoods
A dispute between farms, businesses and cities that pump their water from wells and trout farmers who get water from springs threatens the foundation of Idaho water law and with it the economy of the state. Idaho Statesman 3/14/04

Northern California housing developent could set big regional water precedent, opponents argue
Environmentalists claim that a dispute over part of the water supply for a proposed 8,390-home development west of Roseville threatens a key agreement that guides water use in the Sacramento region. Sacramento Business Journal 3/12/04

Lawyer: Irrigation use for Animas-La Plata water OK
Animas-La Plata Project water could still be used for agricultural purposes, a project attorney said Wednesday. The claim angered at least one environmentalist group long opposed to the project. The goal of the Animas-La Plata Project is to fulfill Ute and Navajo water claims by diverting water from the Animas River to Ridges Basin Reservoir, which is being built southwest of Durango to store 120,000 acre-feet of water. Durango Herald 3/11/04

'Keeping water where God put it:' Georgia water bills ban interbasin transfers

Recently, HB1615 passed the Georgia House. The bill defines and restricts inter- and intrabasin water transfers. It would prohibit transferring water from one river basin across more than two adjacent counties to another river basin. Moving water within the same basin across more than four counties would be disallowed, as well. And the receiver of water in either type of transfer can't transfer the water to a third county. The bill's author said it's about “keeping water where God put it." Hartwell, Georgia Sun 3/11/04

New suburb enters water talks with Green Bay, Wisconsin
Hobart, which has been trying to arrange a return to the Central Brown County Water Authority at a later date, now is talking to Green Bay about a water purchase. Green Bay New-Chronicle 3/11/04

Aurora, Colorado gets final approval to tap Arkansas Valley
A 12,600-acre-foot water lease between Aurora and 152 Arkansas Valley farmers, the largest temporary water transfer in state history, has cleared its final hurdle with the approval of the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Rocky Mountain News 3/9/04

Great Lakes water drain a concern
Cities along the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan are pumping so much ground water that they're actually reversing the lake's water flow, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Capital News Service_ 3/8/04

Water broker battles counties for New Mexico rights

The push to finally use an 18,000 acre foot allotment from the Central Arizona Project is shaping up as a battle between private enterprise and government. Albuquerque Business Journal 3/8/04

North American Development Bank funds $16.4 million in projects
The six water conservation projects are in Texas, Arizona and California along the U.S.-Mexico border. The projects are expected to save more than 38,600 acre-feet of water annually. AP/Miami Herald 3/4/04

February, 2004

California dam plan ignites water war

A pristine, 19,000-acre watershed in northern California is at the center of debate over one of the state's most contentious issues -- water. On Tuesday, voters will say whether the lake should be made five times larger, inundating almost 2,000 more acres of valleys and hills, along with 10 miles of hiking trails. Supporters say it will help in times of drought. Opponents fear the water will be sent to southern California's thirsty cities. San Francisco Chronicle 2/29/04

Green Bay, Wisconsin urges suburbs to reconsider on water deal
The city of Green Bay has asked its suburbs to reconsider a decision to buy Lake Michigan drinking water from the city of Manitowoc. “I thought it was a done deal because it was the right thing to do,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. “Well, they’re not doing the right thing. I’m not letting this thing die.” Green Bay Gazette 2/28/04

Water problem 'dire' on Maui

For years local officials have performed "a delicate dance around the truth"— Central and South Maui's main domestic water source was being tapped out, area mayor says. Officials now look to the mountains. Honolulu Advertiser 2/28/04

Wisconsin water deals: Split decisions end three years of debate. Green Bay's suburbs pick Manitowoc as water source. Ashwaubenon goes with Green Bay. Suburbs want to buy Lake Michigan drinking water to replace their dwindling supply of radium-tainted groundwater. Green Bay Press-Gazette 2/25/04

The Southwest Florida Water Management District's governing board refused to give DeSoto County a $125,000 grant. Action could indicate ramifications from county's decision not to join a four-county regional water plan. Sun Herald 2/25/04

Southern Nevada's search for water may include a $1 billion pipeline. Water to the Las Vegas area may come from the Muddy and Virgin rivers and outlying mountains and valleys. AP/Las Vegas Sun 2/23/04

North Florida group campaigns to keep water from going South. Tallahassee Democrat 2/21/04
Arkansas River water leases close to agreement. Deal with Aurora, Colorado is largest temporary water agreement in state history. Rocky Mountain News 2/21/04

South Dakota governor says Corps of Engineers new plan for Missouri River water use may be better than current system. Plan due April 15.  AP/Aberdeen News 2/19/04
Surprise! The numbers are in and Green Bay, Wisconsin's offer to sell water to the suburbs is the most expensive option. Will the suburbs go it alone? Green Bay Press-Gazette 2/19/04

Colorado legislation intended to make sure rural areas get paid for water used by urban areas likely to die because of opposition by Denver Water. Denver Post 2/18/04

California's agricultural big guns settle Central Valley water dispute. Porterville Recorder 2/17/04

Deep South Texas growth is meeting up with the limits of the Rio Grande. The river is the sole water source for one of the fastest-growing areas in both the US and Mexico. AP/Houston Chronicle 2/17/04

Water mining plan for west Texas draws strong reaction from area ranchers. Odessa American 2/15/04

Head of Wyoming water panel cool to Platte River plan. Even so, he says he supports the agreement with Nebraska and Colorado. Billlings Gazette 2/14/04

Settlement possible in 40-year-old New Mexico water rights dispute. A $280 million regional water system could settle the water rights of Indian pueblos and non-Native Americans. Native American Times 2/12/04

Dwindling groundwater supplies prompt South Carolina to regulate large well withdrawls in six eastern counties. Pee Dee rules highlight concerns about coastal aquifer. The State 2/13/04

Federal judge rules for Atlanta in water fight with Florida and Alabama. Atlanta wants to draw more water from Lake Lanier. Ruling upholds agreement between Atlanta and Corps of Engineers.  AP/Miami Herald 2/11/04

Alabama lawmaker wants local officials to have veto power over use of Tennessee River water outside of the basin. Cites concerns that Atlanta, Tennnessee and other areas of Alabama may be eyeing the river's water. 2/10/04

Central California's massive Friant Water Users Authority fractures over water rights. One fear is increased agricultural water sales to urban Southern California. Fresno Bee 2/6/04

Georgia is no longer united in its decade-long battle for water with Alabama and Florida. Some cities downstream from Atllanta align with Alabama and Florida in dispute over Lake Lanier water. AP/Miami Herald 2/4/04
Texas to test how much water is in the state's western aquifer before allowing a private company to sell it. West Texas land owners fear years of drought have made the aquifer dangerously low. AP/Houston Chronicle 2/3/04

Just a blip of change at Colorado's Shoshone Power Plant sends shock waves to water users downstream.  Daily Sentinel 2/1/04

January, 2004

Colorado likely to need 60% more water by the year 2030, according to state report. Study still evaluating how much water the state can produce. Grand Junction News Sentinel 1/29/04

Six west Texas water districts oppose private water mining. They're seeking support from other districts. Odessa American 1/29/04

Water fight brewing in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Users look to the South Platte for answers. Ultimate solution may be found in Water Court. AP/Star Telegram 1/27/04

President Bush to seek $21 million for Western water solutions. Plan to resolve longterm, contentious problems. AP/San Francisco Chronicle 1/26/04

Preliminary blueprint for managing the Platte River: Supporters say it protects wildlife and endangered species and still allows for growing demands from cities and businesses. AP/Columbus, Nebraska Telegram 1/25/04

Colorado's Douglas County may have to spend $2.5 billion to access Denver's water system. Groundwater supplies in the fast-growing county are dropping. Rocky Mountain News 1/23/04

Florida governor says controversial plan to move water from northern Florida to the south is dead for this year. "There needs to be a few years of conversation," he says. St. Petersburg Times 1/22/04

Water dominates talk during western Colorado's Club 20 visit to Denver lawmakers.  Grand Junction Sentinel 1/22/04

Green Bay, Wisconsin's water-deal negotiator won't meet in secret with the city council. "... I've never seen anything good ... come out of a closed session," he says. Council member replies: "He can go jump in the lake."   Green Bay Press-Gazette 1/22/04

California boosts water allocation to farmers, cities including Los Angeles. AP/Mercury News 1/18/04

After seven years, hundreds of public meetings and input from thousands there's almost agreement on a preliminary regional water plan for the Albuquerque area. Hot button issues are metering water use and growth.  Albuquerque Tribune 1/14/04

Filtration studies to begin next month on Green Bay, Wisconsin water supply. Six suburbs are interested in buying water. Green Bay Press-Gazette 1/8/04
South Carolina governor's committee urges state to reach water agreements with Georgia and North Carolina. Rights to shared rivers a concern. AP/Wilmington Star News 1/7/04

Texas' Canadian River Municipal Water Authority to buy about 9,000 acres of water rights in Roberts and Hutchinson counties. Water district still looking for another 150,000 acres of water rights. Amarillo Globe News 1/7/04

Texas official questions New Mexico's effort to referee border water flap with Mexico. "It kind of blows my mind, because they're not even involved," says Texas agriculture commissioner. Houston Chronicle 1/2/04

Fastest growing area of Masssachusetts gets permanent advisory panel for its aquifer. Boston Globe 1/2/04


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U.S. Regional Water News 2004
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