OPINION: ‘Accidental’ Salton Sea has a purpose worth saving

Clouds of toxic dust. Piles of dead fish and birds. Selenium-laced waters.

Observers often wax apocalyptic when talking about the Salton Sea, and part of that narrative is the inevitable reminder that this blight isn’t natural, that the sea only exists because the Colorado River breached a man-made canal in 1905.

But to millions of birds, the Salton Sea’s creation was a godsend. We see more than 400 bird species at the Salton Sea. Hundreds of thousands of sandpipers migrating between Alaska and South America stop there, and up to 90 percent of the world’s Eared Grebes descend on it every winter.

How Do We Sustainably Manage the Delta’s Fish?

It’s no secret that the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is in rough shape, by many metrics. One of the most talked about, and controversial, subjects is the state of the delta’s native fish populations, including endangered salmon runs and delta smelt. Management to protect critical fish populations has meant curbing water exports from the delta, which support farms and cities farther south and west – a policy unpopular with many water users.

But is there a better way to do things?

Many Still Pondering Low Water Allocations

Many are still wondering how some growers who rely on the Central Valley Water Project for irrigation are getting such low water allocations this year. Consumers might see higher prices at the grocery store in result.

Pomology Tree Crop Advisor David Doll says he was also a little shocked by the five percent water allocation projection for the west side of the Central Valley this year.

California Water Bill Savings Act approved for water efficiency upgrades

Senate Bill 1233 – The Water Bill Savings Act – will allow residents to finance water efficiency energy upgrades in their homes, which will significantly reduce their water and energy use while saving money on their monthly utility bills as well. 

The “Pay As You Save” program will allow residents to finance energy efficient hot water systems, gray water systems, high efficiency toilets, aerators, hot water recirculation pumps, irrigation controllers, commercial dishwashers and several other water efficiency measures on their water utility bills including removing their water hog lawns and replacing the turf with drought tolerant landscapes.

 

Can Scientists Help Crack California’s Drought Conditions? For Industry’s Sake, Let’s Hope So

We are a thirsty nation. We consume nearly 1,500 gallons of water each day, with three-quarters of it going to supply industry and to create energy, as well as for food and fiber to feed the masses. The rest goes to homes and businesses. 

These practices are unsustainable in the long term, but in water-short California they’re already coming to a head. After several years of drought with little relief, the state and its electricity providers want to make sure there is enough water to keep industry humming, and to serve the agricultural industry. Possible?

Analysis of California WaterFix Potential Effects

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Bureau of Reclamation submitted testimony to the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) as required for the upcoming public hearings on a request to add three new points of diversion to the State Water Project, with coordinated operations for the Central Valley Project, for California WaterFix.

Drought, bark beetle killing trees at high rate in Lake Tahoe Basin

Trees are dying at a staggering rate in some parts of the west. Nearly 30 million trees are dead or dying in California, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.

In the Lake Tahoe Basin, the mortality rates sits at upwards of 40 thousand, according to a 2015 report. And that number is expected to rise this year. “It’s increasing over the last few years because of the drought,” said Rita Mastutia, forester/silviculturist with the U.S. Forest Service.

 

OPINION: Why Trump Is Wrong On California’s Drought: It’s Much More Than Farmers Vs. Fish

During a stopover in Fresno, Calif., Donald Trump remarked that the state has “no drought” and that the whole thing could be fixed if less water is allocated to save an endangered fish and a lot more water is instead, directed to the farmers. Put that way, he would be right — except that the situation is not quite so simple.

 

California Farmers Count Every Drop with Efficient Irrigation Technologies

Despite hopes for a drenching from El Niño, California farmers are facing another drought year in 2016.  Even after four years of the worst drought on record, California farm output was a record $54 billion in 2015, accounting for more than half of the nation’s fresh produce. Groundwater has helped compensate for California’s lack of rainfall, but groundwater overdraft cannot be continued indefinitely. California farmers have responded to the drought by fallowing land; switching to crops that yield higher value per unit of water; and switching irrigation technologies.

Easing Drought Boosts California Hydropower, For Now

The easing of California’s drought has boosted the state’s early spring hydropower generation to its highest level since 2011, helping it to recover from a 15-year low reached last year. But hydroelectricity production is not expected to improve much overall this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The West’s four-year drought desiccated many reservoirs in California, the nation’s fourth largest hydropower producer, reducing their ability to generate electricity and forcing the state to rely on other renewables and more fossil fuels for its power supply.