The water industry in the west has an impressive history of building dams, moving water hundreds of miles to where it’s needed, removing contaminants to assure public health and safety, and developing distribution systems that have set the international standard. These accomplishments aside, twentieth century solutions are becoming less and less viable as disruptors to the status quo fundamentally challenge the way we operate. The types of incremental improvements the industry is used to aren’t adequate to address the twenty-first century challenges we are facing.
Archive for date: February 23rd, 2016
With California on the verge of “bankrupting” some of its most important aquifers, state officials Tuesday reiterated the responsibility local water agencies have in enforcing the state’s new groundwater-monitoring laws.
During a legislative oversight hearing, state officials updated implementation plans for the newly enacted Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, telling lawmakers it will largely be up to local communities to monitor and prevent further depletion of California’s vital underground water supply.
A Sacramento Valley Democrat revealed plans on Tuesday for a big new California water bill that likely will upset some of his colleagues and potentially affect water politics in the U.S. capital.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said his proposal would provide for new dams, spur water transfers and fund emergency drought aid.
At the depth of California’s four-year drought, water-use experts found plenty of stark images to illustrate the urgent need to conserve. They pointed to half-empty Folsom Lake or once-floating boat docks aground on caked clay. Fallow fields and dying orchards echoed the dire message: Save water or perish.
Motivated by such examples, many residents got the message and turned off their taps. Homeowners let their lawns die and retooled their irrigation. They took shorter showers and converted bathrooms with low-flow toilets.
More than 36 million Californians are still living in drought-affected areas — roughly 95 percent of the state’s population, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. The fight to end the drought in California, is far from over.
Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency for California in January of 2014 and urged residents to conserve in every way possible because of the drought.
At first glance, a proposed initiative to reallocate bond funds from the controversial high-speed rail project to fund water storage projects seems tailor-made for Northern Californian water leaders who have been pushing for such projects, particularly Sites Reservoir, for decades.
But the North State has staunchly opposed the proposal being circulated for signatures to qualify for the November ballot, saying it would not only delay projects such as Sites Reservoir for years, but would also change the state constitution in a way that would jeopardize the Sacramento Valley’s mostly senior water rights.
Even in the midst of a strong El Niño, California’s sunny weather this February is not surprising, experts say: The longest dry spell this month — 14 days — is actually less than the average for a strong El Niño winter.
But state water officials said Monday that unless the rainy weather returns with a vengeance, some drought restrictions are likely to continue this summer.
Californians are doing an outstanding job conserving water, reducing urban water use by nearly 26 percent during the last seven months of 2015, compared with the same period in 2013, exceeding Gov. Jerry Brown’s 25 percent reduction mandate.
California’s investor-owned water utilities, together serving approximately 6 million people, are partnering with their customers to achieve those savings. The State Water Resources Control Board has recognized many of our members among the state’s water conservation standouts.
The California think-tank Pacific Institute released a report—Impacts of California’s Drought: Hydroelectric Generation 2015 Update—earlier this month that contains significant false and misleading information that could negatively impact California rivers and delay the transition away from dirty energy.
First, the report and the news stories surrounding it repeatedly say that hydroelectric power is “less expensive” in California than competing sources. This statement gives credence to the anti-environmental mindset of discounting the negative impacts that dams and reservoirs have on free-flowing rivers, and disregards the externalized costs to the environment. In fact, the report omits the devastating impacts hydropower has on fish, wildlife, wetlands and countless other species that depend on healthy flowing rivers for survival. If the report would have included an “environmental full-cost accounting,” the cost of hydropower for California consumers would have been shown to be huge.