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How ‘Green’ Is Hydropower?

People have harnessed energy from moving water for thousands of years. Greeks used various types of water wheels to grind grain in mills more than 2,000 years ago. In the late 1800s, people figured out how to harness the power to produce electricity. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, hydropower has expanded, producing about 17 percent of the world’s electricity by 2014 and about 85 percent of renewable energy—and it shows no signs of slowing.


California to Extend Cap-and-Trade System to 2050

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration yesterday released a plan to extend the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program in a bid to slash greenhouse gas emissions through midcentury.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) proposed amendments to the program yesterday evening that envision a carbon market through 2050 with increasing allowance prices, sending a signal to businesses that have been waiting to see if they should keep participating in the state’s quarterly auctions.


Cadiz executive claims legal victory for Mojave Desert water transfer plan

The time period for legal challenges to the controversial San Bernardino County Mojave Desert underground water transfer plan has passed, officials for Cadiz Inc. said this week.

“As a result, all challenges to the environmental review and approval of the Cadiz Water Project under the California Environmental Quality Act, the toughest environmental law in the U.S., are now final having withstood scrutiny by state superior and appellate courts,” the company said in a statement.



Water management is a wicked problem, but not an unsolvable one

Last summer, it was hard to miss news about California’s drought, caused by the four driest years in the state’s history. Its impact on California’s economy in 2015 alone was estimated at $2.7 billion dollars and 21,000 jobs lost. Thanks to El Niño, this drought has eased some, but 42 percent of the state is still in a condition of extreme drought.

In 2007, there was a drought that didn’t garner quite the same national attention: Atlanta, Georgia was in a state of exceptional drought from September to December and came within a few months of running out of water.

Denham’s ‘Save Our Salmon’ Act Passes Through Congress

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4582, the Save Our Salmon (SOS) Act, introduced by area Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock).

Denham’s bill would remove the fish doubling provision in the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) for non-native, predatory striped bass, thereby protecting native salmon and steelhead and reducing nonessential water usage.

“One of the greatest threats facing the Central Valley is drought, and this bipartisan legislation would provide a common sense solution to wasteful fresh water usage,” said Rep. Denham.

Low Sierra snow seen as piece of alarming climate picture

A fifth year of disappointing snow in the Sierra is part of a much larger predicament of record-low snow across the Northern Hemisphere, a setback that scientists identified Wednesday as another reminder of the alarming pace of human-caused global warming.

A panel of climate experts organized by SEARCH, or the Study of Environmental Arctic Change, met in Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the historic melt-off of snow and ice during the first six months of 2016 — and the resulting problems.


House sets stage for post-election showdown over California water

Controversial efforts to steer more water toward California farms advanced Wednesday in the House of Representatives, setting up yet another post-election showdown.

Amid frustration and finger-pointing from all sides, the Republican-controlled House rejected Northern California Democrats’ efforts to strip the California water provisions from a fiscal 2017 funding bill.

The House’s actions, following debate Tuesday night, mean House and Senate negotiators will once again confront technical and highly consequential California water language when they work out a final federal government funding package.

OPINION: Brown calls on Bruce Babbitt, as time runs short for water fix

Working from a bland, windowless office on the 13th floor of the Resources Building, one of California’s newest state employees focuses on the one issue from which all else flows, water. Bruce Babbitt has signed on to help Jerry Brown fix what the governor calls the California WaterFix. They are of a type, Westerners, who understand the precarious balance between being environmental stewards and having millions of people inhabit deserts. And at 78, Babbitt and Brown understand that time is not limitless.


OPINION: San Diego Lacks Adequate Reservoirs, Victimizes Lake Morena

East County Magazine did a recent piece on Lake Morena and whether water levels were maintained too low to be a viable source of water for fire-fighting.  In the article, Billie Jo Jannen is quoted as saying if there’s a safety issue it needs to be examined.  Billie Jo is quite right.

But this is not the first time Lake Morena has been so low.  As an occasional fisherman out there, I’ve seen the shoreline covered with dead fish as the City transferred water down-system to the reservoirs closer in to the City. 

Agency’s Decision Could Expand Farmland in the Desert

Water from the Colorado River could transform several thousand acres of desert into farmland under a change in policy adopted by the Coachella Valley’s largest water district.

The Coachella Valley Water District’s board made the change in a contentious 3-2 vote Tuesday, approving new guidelines that allow for water from the Colorado River to be supplied in a larger zone than in the past. The decision has the potential to open up new areas to agriculture, pushing farmland farther outward along the dry fringes of the eastern Coachella Valley.