More than two decades ago, the San Diego County Water Authority heard a clarion call from the region’s ratepayers – a call demanding better water supply reliability. A call to never again let our region – our communities, our friends, our neighbors, our businesses – be vulnerable to crippling water shortages, as when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California cut water supplies to our region in 1991 by 31 percent for more than a year.
Archive for date: August 15th, 2016
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Sacramento has issued an edict to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels within four years. One of the quickest ways to reach that goal is to not build the Twin Tunnels as proposed by Gov. Brown who wants greenhouse emissions reduced even further. The reason is simple. Electricity generation accounts for 20 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions according to the state Air Resources Board.
The drought continues for California’s agriculture in 2016, but with much less severe and widespread impacts than in the two previous drought years, 2014 and 2015. Winter and spring were wetter in the Sacramento Valley, to the extent of several reservoirs being required to spill water for flood control, but south of the Delta was unusually dry. The much-heralded El Nino brought largely average precipitation north of the Delta, replenishing some groundwater, and drier than average conditions to the southern Central Valley and southern California.
One of the shocking truths to emerge from California’s continuing drought is this: the state has no idea how much water it has. Nor do its leaders have a clear idea how much water is actually diverted by users, what it is used for and how much is left over. “It’s kind of surprising how little we know about some of these issues,” said Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. “There is much room for improvement.”
Flames racing through dry brush Sunday destroyed at least 10 homes and forced 4,000 people to flee and firefighters to carry animals out of a northern California lake community that was evacuated in a devastating wildfire last year. Cal Fire officials say the fire about 90 miles north of San Francisco has grown to nearly 5 square miles since it erupted Saturday afternoon. They have confirmed 10 homes destroyed, but eyewitnesses could see many more. On Sunday afternoon, the flames jumped a road and marched into Main Street in Lower Lake, a town of about 1,200.
From his office along the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, Eric Kuhn can see the bottom of Lake Powell.
Kuhn, the general manager of the Colorado River District, has been working for months on a study asking if future droughts will drop water levels in Lake Powell so low that Glen Canyon Dam won’t be able to produce hydropower or release enough water to meet downstream demands.
If there’s any hope of preventing California from shriveling into a parched wasteland, the state will have to figure out some simple things first. Namely, how much water it has and where it’s all going. Shockingly, California isn’t tracking much of its water. It’s like a business that’s opted to fire the accountants and operate under the honor system, using an abacus and semi-annual estimates from middle managers. A new report from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, known as PPIC, says that the state’s five-year drought has exposed “serious gaps and fragmentation.”
It is disheartening to see once credible environmental organizations calling for a “more of the same” approach – one that has so miserably failed for a quarter century – in a misguided attempt to help the imperiled delta smelt. Of course we must save them, but neither the public, nor the delta smelt, will benefit from a proposal built on fiction. Claims that the Projects have “sucked”, “trapped”, or made the Delta too salty thru “massive water diversions” are patently untrue.
Wildlife experts at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge have found alarming evidence that the salinity of the sea has reached a point where the fish are not breeding. Biologists noticed that among the dead fish washing up on the shores of the sea this summer, there were no small ones. They were all full-grown. This means the fish are not breeding. And there’s more bad news. Audobon California Policy Director Mike Lynes says the diminishing habitat is hurting the birds.
A year ago, it seems to us, a whole lot of people were thinking over their water habits. We’re just hoping the progress we made at conserving water (albeit forced upon us) won’t go down the drain (pardon the pun). Last summer, people were attending workshops and demonstrations on native plantings and low-water maintenance landscaping. They were deciding to let some of their green space go brown and were checking out alternative groundcovers.