When California officials got serious about building two giant tunnels to divert freshwater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, it didn’t take critics long to propose alternatives. One of the first was a grassroots scheme that, at first, seemed radical and counterintuitive: Let winter floods retake vast parts of the San Joaquin Valley – the very farmland that needs those Delta water diversions. The floods would recharge depleted groundwater that could then be used to irrigate the farms, preventing the need for Delta water exports.
Archive for date: October 24th, 2016
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Southern California was hit by scattered showers — with some areas experiencing thunder, lightning and spells of heavier rain — as a storm moved through the region late Sunday and early Monday. The National Weather Service said showers will continue on and off through Monday before giving way to clear skies by Tuesday. A stronger storm was expected to move into the area Thursday and Friday, forecasters said. In a region that has seen so little rain in recent years, the storm was welcome, but the weather service said most areas saw considerably less than an inch of precipitation.
Backers of the proposed Sites Reservoir west of here believe they have plenty of momentum going into next year’s application period for Proposition 1 water bond funds. The number of agencies signed on to participate in the project has grown from 14 to 34, including from the San Francisco Bay area and San Joaquin Valley, said Jim Watson, general manager of the Sites Authority. And the Legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 2553, a bipartisan measure that will give flexibility in construction methods to help speed the project.
Rain will douse California late this week, with the potential for some rain to reach southern portions of the state. While the rain will be beneficial in terms of the drought, enough rain can fall to cause travel disruptions and localized flash flooding from Thursday to Friday. More than 40 percent of California is dealing with extreme to exceptional drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released on Oct. 20. Prior to the late-week dousing, showers will affect portions of northern and Southern California into Tuesday before dry weather returns for a time.
Federal climatologists predict that dry conditions will generally recede over the winter in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and parts of Northern California, providing an early and upbeat outlook on next year’s water supply. The Climate Prediction Center forecast a 70 percent chance of a weak La Nina, a cooling of the ocean around the equator. La Nina generally tilts the odds in favor of wetter and cooler winters in the northern U.S., according to the center. It’s not a sure bet, though. La Nina’s influence will vary by region. The odds it stays through the winter are 55 percent.
Some bad news for avocado lovers — some local restaurants have taken the fruit off their menus due to a shortage. Several things play into this shortage, including California’s drought and an early harvest. Plus, according to local avocado farmers, growers in Mexico went on strike because they weren’t happy about the prices they were getting. “And that’s what you have now, is a created shortage by them because they did a shutdown,” said Alan Cavaletto, Morro Creek Ranch General Manager.
The signs vie for space with political campaign placards at intersections along State Route 43 as a constant reminder to Central Valley residents. “No water, no jobs.” Trees along the roadside are yellowed and shrunken. In the distance a tractor creates a cloud of dust as it makes its way across a field. “Water=Jobs,” reads one billboard. “Tell Feinstein to pass [the] water bill,” reads another. The region’s congressman is among the most vulnerable incumbents in California.
New research may have found a solution to address California’s prolonged period of drought. A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University suggests that California’s aquifers, underground areas where water collects, may have up to three times the amount of useable groundwater as previously estimated. The research estimates that the previously untapped deep groundwater source could hold up to 2,700 billion tons of freshwater under the state’s Central Valley. Historically, deep groundwater aquifers have been developed for gas and oil extraction, rather than used as a viable water source.
Large swaths of California will be pounded by rain this week, offering a bit of relief as the state enters a sixth year of drought. Southern California was hit by scattered showers — with some areas experiencing thunder, lightning and spells of heavier rain — as a storm moved through the region late Sunday and early Monday. A bigger storm is expected later in the week. The Bay Area, meanwhile, was drenched with more than an inch of rain Sunday and Monday with a heavier storm that could reach as far north as Sonoma County expected later in the week.
Back-to-back bouts of rain that began Monday will make for an unusually wet week leading up to Halloween, said forecasters who are beginning to grow concerned about potential flooding this winter in fire-scorched areas. Sprinkles began falling Monday morning and spread throughout the afternoon, with downpours expected to last through the night. The stormy weather will continue until Tuesday evening, with as much as 2 inches of rain expected in the hardest-hit areas of the North Bay, National Weather Service meteorologists said.