A new wave of natural gas power plants planned for Southern California has stoked a high-stakes debate about how best to keep the lights on throughout the region.
Archive for date: May 31st, 2016
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In the fourth year of California’s current drought, the absence of water has clearly affected our state, evident by the dead grass of front lawns, water usage limitations, and the ever-present lack of rain. Today, we can mitigate some of these problems with our modern infrastructure, siphoning water from elsewhere and distributing it throughout the state. But what about one hundred years ago, before the proliferation of pipelines and modern irrigation systems? Well, a little glimpse into the past can be made at the Irvine Museum’s current exhibition, “The Nature of Water.”
Matheny Tract sits deep in the bowl of California’s Central Valley, an area that’s been hit hard by the prolonged drought. Like the nearby community of East Porterville, Matheny is seeing wells run dry, but before East Porterville became famous as the town that dried up, it shared a different kind of water problem with Matheny—one that also affects hundreds of other small, mostly Latino communities in the area.
A postwar refugee exodus to Palestine made Israel in 1948. Then, Israel made water.
The new nation had to. Its population exploded, placing extreme demand on land and water resources. For the production of food, especially, efficient use of water, and producing more where resources lagged, were essential. Author Seth Siegel’s 2015 book “Let There Be Water” chronicles Israel’s role as a developer of water technology and innovation. He suggests that other arid economies look at Israel as a model and follow the young nation’s path toward water security.
After a season of normal rainfall, both state and local water regulators are poised to cancel the range of use regulations put in place during the past two years. Pointing to reservoirs now almost fully-filled, water agencies here in Northern California – having just raised water rates to compensate for the reduced billings during the drought – are backing off. We believe this is short-sighted and foolish; times of ample water are precisely when progress on long-term solutions can be implemented.
While the rest of California may still be struggling with drought, Del Norte County is not. And, that has some local officials questioning why the state wants to apply the same tighter water regulations here as elsewhere.
A new regulation requiring water diversion permit holders to monitor withdrawal beyond what they are currently doing — down to the acre-feet-per minute — is drawing fire from Del Norte County Supervisor Chris Howard and other stakeholders because new monitoring systems could cost thousands of dollars to install.
The fact-checkers had a field day with Donald Trump’s pronouncement last week that, in effect, there is no drought in California.“Lies Trump reality,” blared the headline in Slate. I realize that because he’s running for president, and because of his track record, everything Trump says will be — and should be — closely scrutinized.
But everyone who has expressed outrage over Trump’s comment should understand that it’s absolutely nothing new. The “there is no drought” sentiment has been expressed many times over the years, and it is not exclusive to south San Joaquin Valley water exporters.
The perhaps not-so-secret nature of California’s major reservoirs — the big artificial lakes designed to impound floodwaters and snowmelt coursing down the state’s biggest rivers — is that they’re little more than big bathtubs. We depend on a beneficent nature to turn on the taps every winter and fill them. And we pull the plug every spring to drain them for use by farms and cities far away. Drought, not very beneficent to us or to anything else that might depend on water, interrupts the cycle of filling and emptying.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, has called solving California’s water wars one of the toughest challenges of her career. Tougher, she says, than passing a federal assault weapons ban in 1994.
But the reason the 82-year-old lawmaker says she keeps pushing is simple: The state’s water infrastructure is outdated and its drought emergency persists. She has spearheaded a bill that would pump $1.3 billion into water desalination, recycling and storage projects.
Sacramento mayoral candidate Darrell Steinberg has worked since July as an adviser to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the massive agency that partly relies on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to serve more than 19 million south state residents.
Steinberg is the only person named as “key personnel” in the district’s contract with law firm Greenberg Traurig, where the former state Senate leader works, according to a copy of the contract obtained by The Sacramento Bee. His firm has been paid $90,000 since the contract began, at a rate of $10,000 a month, according to an invoice.