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North County Report: Ongoing Tension in Carlsbad Over Two Properties’ Fate

In Carlsbad, two parcels of land have caused a number of headaches in recent months.

One is the south shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, which – for those who somehow hadn’t heard – was slated for the development of a luxury mall. The plan to fast-track that project was ultimately defeated by voters.

Less than one mile down Cannon road is the Encina Power Station, which will be demolished when a smaller “peaker” style plant is constructed nearby, starting in 2017.

San Diego Water Upgraded to Triple-A

The San Diego County Water Authority’s senior lien credit rating was upgraded to AAA by S&P Global Ratings. Water authority officials say Wednesday’s one-notch upgrade marks the first time it has achieved a triple-A rating. The authority, in a news release, called the upgrade “a boon for ratepayers who will benefit from lower financing costs.” S&P credited the upgrade to strong financial management, robust drought planning, increased storage capacity due to the San Vicente Dam Raise, and reserves for managing contingencies, among other factors.

El Nino Couldn’t Save West From Drought, La Nina May Not Either

El Nino couldn’t bail California out of an unprecedented drought. Don’t count on La Nina to do any better.

California, in its fifth year of drought, gets most of its water from November to March. The El Nino that’s been in place for about a year helped fill some northern reservoirs but failed to bring much relief to the southern part of the state. And it’s unclear how much more help La Nina can deliver, if it takes over.

House Wading Into California’s Long-Running Water War

Wading into a longstanding California water war, the House of Representatives Wednesday endorsed a Republican plan to shift more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and cut the flow for threatened fish and growers in another part of the state.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., tried to strike that proposal from a spending bill, but lost a 247-169 vote that broke mostly along party lines. He says the plan would pump too much water to Central Valley growers at the expense of the inland Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

House rejects bid to strip California water provision from appropriations bill

The House voted 247 to 169 Wednesday to keep to a measure affecting California’s drought in an appropriations bill.

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) had moved to strip the measure from the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017. He and other Northern California Democrats argue it would have a severe effect on the Endangered Species Act and Clean Air Act.

The House passed Hanford Republican Rep. David Valadao‘s bill almost a year ago , but the Senate has refused to take it up, and many state Democrats object to it.

Good and Bad News for Colo. River Basin

Conditions in the Upper Colorado River Basin, particularly in Colorado, are OK for the time being, officials said Wednesday during a “state of the river” address in Rifle.

However, the largest of several caveats to that statement falls in the context of the entire Colorado River Basin, specifically the lower basin, where water use continues to outpace supply.

San Diego Beach Health Holds Steady

Swimmers, divers, surfers and others can feel good about the water quality at most of San Diego County’s beaches, according to Heal the Bay’s 26th annual Beach Report Card released Thursday.

While above average rainfall pulled scores in the region down modestly during the past year, 97 percent of the area’s monitored beaches received top marks in summer months — when beach visitorship peaks. At the same time, sewage spills remained a black mark. The county experienced 22 such events in the past year, including four incidents that each spilled at least 10,000 gallons, the report said.

Could Overhead Irrigation Work in California?

Overhead irrigation systems have revolutionized agriculture across the United States and in other parts of the world, using less water than furrow irrigation and requiring significantly less labor and maintenance than drip systems.

But in California, the No. 1 agriculture state in the nation, it hasn’t gotten off the ground. That could be changing. University of California Cooperative Extension and Fresno State agricultural production scientists researched overhead irrigation at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center for five years, growing wheat, corn, cotton, tomato, onion and broccoli, comparing them with crops produced under furrow and drip irrigation.

House Passes Republican’s Drought Relief Amendment

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Senate energy bill that includes drought relief legislation introduced by California Republican congressman David Valadao.

The House amendment to the Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 passed by a 241 to 178 vote May 25. It includes Valadao’s legislation, the Western Water and American Food Security Act. It aims to expand water infrastructure and storage and find less water-intensive ways to protect the endangered delta smelt.

UN to Discuss FSU Co-Authored Case Study of Drought

The United Nations will be discussing recommendations from a new report about climate change-related loss and damage, including a case study of how the San Joaquin Valley is coping with drought, during the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA2), May 23-27 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The policy recommendations developed by Dr. Gil Harootunian, Fresno State director of university initiatives, focus on how the Valley can best cope with drought. They are featured in “Preventing the Avoidable, Dealing with the Unavoidable,” published May 19 during the Science Policy Forum at the UNEA2.