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Bill Targets Secrecy in California Water Data

Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s largest water agency.

That would change under a bill now before the California Legislature. The bill would clarify previous legislation by specifying that while residential customers’ data may be kept confidential, the public is entitled to information about how much water and energy is used by businesses and institutions.

Study Finds Surprising Source of Colorado River Water Supply

Every spring, snow begins to melt throughout the Rocky Mountains, flowing down from high peaks and into the streams and rivers that form the mighty Colorado River Basin, sustaining entire cities and ecosystems from Wyoming to Arizona. But as spring becomes summer, the melting snow slows to a trickle and, as summer turns to fall, all but stops.

Scientists have known for a long time that flow in rivers is sustained by contributions from both snowmelt runoff and groundwater.

Should California Limit the Number of Small, New Water Systems?

California’s drought has revealed that when it comes to water, not every community is equal.

Large urban areas, from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, asked residents to conserve, raised rates to buy water from other places and generally have gotten by without much inconvenience, other than brown lawns and shorter showers. But communities served by smaller systems, from farm towns to forest hamlets — often lacking money, expertise and modern equipment — have struggled and, in some cases, nearly run out of water entirely.

BLOG: What Lake Mead’s Record Low Means for California

When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last month that the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, had fallen to its lowest-ever level at 1,074ft (327m), the question many asked was: How will it affect one of California’s primary drinking sources?

After all, some 19 million Californians, nearly half the state’s population, receive some part of their water from the Colorado River, which flows into the 80-year-old reservoir created by Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas.

California Drought Bummer: Sierra Water Runoff Coming Up Short

The El Niño-fueled storms that coated the Sierra with nearly normal snow this winter brought blasts of hope to drought-weary California.

But after the flurries stopped and the seasons changed, the melt-off from the high country has been swift and disappointingly scant, according to new water supply estimates from the state. The Department of Water Resources now projects that the mountains will produce about three quarters of normal runoff during the months of heaviest snowmelt, shorting the rivers and reservoirs that typically provide a third of California’s water — and cementing a fifth year of historic drought for the Golden State.

Desalination Plant Again Faces Environmental Questions

Carlsbad’s new desalination plant went through years of regulatory review and faced 14 legal challenges from environmental groups before it opened last year. Six months after opening, it’s still facing regulatory hurdles, including one that’ll make the water it produces more expensive.

The plant is also facing claims from regulators that it’s having a larger effect on greenhouse gas emissions than its developers promised, and that the desalination process could be hurting nearby ocean life.

Twin Fires Burn More than 4,500 Acres and Trigger Evacuations in San Gabriel Valley

Two sprawling wildfires tore through at least 4,500 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains on Monday, and only a canyon prevented the blazes from merging into one massive inferno, fire officials said.

The two brush fires broke out in Azusa and Duarte amid a blistering heat wave, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes and at least 750 residents. The first blaze, called the Reservoir fire, was reported about 11 a.m. at Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains, said Andrew Mitchell, spokesman for the Angeles National Forest.

Imperial Beach Braces for Rising Sea Levels

Imperial Beach is surrounded by water on three sides: the Pacific Ocean to the west, the bay to the north and the Tijuana River to the south.

That means it’s always endured storm surges and cross-border pollution, but the city is now coming to terms with another environmental reality: rising sea levels that could eventually impact 30 percent of the city’s properties, 40 percent of its roads, an elementary school and more. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts sea levels could rise up to six and a half feet by 2100, a projection that would be dire for Imperial Beach.

OPINION: Welcome to Another Summer Apocalypse

With triple-digit heat, a full moon and fires raging from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border, another summer straight out of end times has arrived.

Monday’s summer solstice followed an unsettling 13 consecutive months of record-setting heat on this planet, in a year that is on track to be, yet again, the hottest ever. Across the American West, warnings of dangerous heat have been issued, spanning four states and some 40 million people. At least five deaths have been attributed to the heat wave so far in Arizona, which hit 120 degrees in Yuma.


The Latest: Record-Setting High Temps Around California

A severe heat wave has set new record highs for several cities in Southern California. The National Weather Service says the thermometer hit 112 degrees in Lancaster, breaking the old record of 110 degrees set for the same day in 1961.

The service says a record high temperature was set at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank with 111 degrees. That breaks the old record of 106 degrees set for this date in 2008. Forecasters expect Monday to be the peak of the heat wave. Officials say about 20,000 customers were without electricity when outages were at their worst Monday.