Among the changing red and yellow fall leaves of Yosemite National Park, nature artist Penny Otwell is marveling at the fullest rushing waterfalls and rivers she’s ever painted there in autumn. But down in the dry Southern California suburbs, David Cantuna laments the same dead and dying grass in his backyard. California’s historic drought finally is easing in parts of the north, thanks to October rains that were three or more times the norm.
Archive for date: November 8th, 2016
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Two of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy projects were on the line Tuesday, as Californians decided whether to require a statewide vote for any state mega-project requiring $2 billion or more in revenue bonds. If Californians approve the revenue-bond measure, Proposition 53, Brown’s plans for $64 billion in high-speed rail and $15.7 billion for two giant tunnels that would carry Northern California water south may have to face their own statewide votes. Brown, who is pushing to launch both projects before he leaves office in 2018, has made defeating the ballot measure a priority.
Customers of the Santa Fe Irrigation District, who saw their water bills go up by an average of 9 percent on June 1, face another rate hike of as much as 15.8 percent on Jan. 1, 2017. At its meeting on Nov. 17, the board of directors of the district, which serves customers in Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch, will consider the second installment of a three-year rate plan approved in May. That plan calls for three annual rate increases, averaging 9 percent per year.
Most people think access to water is a God-given right, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. History is filled with legal precedents trying to resolve basic water rights; essentially sorting out the “haves versus the have nots.” Even today, in water-scarce areas like South Africa and the Middle East, unstable governments are allowing private companies to provide water services. Unfortunately many of these large corporations are callously controlling limited water resources making access to this life-giving substance an economic burden for the poor.
Is California still in a drought? It’s a question a lot of people are asking these days, especially after the state abandoned mandatory conservation earlier this summer. The situation is made even more confusing by some stakeholders who are talking out of both sides of their mouth about California’s water supply availability in an effort to try to shift all of the burdens of the drought on to the environment, fisheries and other stakeholders. Two recent letters from the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) are a perfect example of the double-speak on the drought.
A giant, solar-powered pipe unveiled by Vancouver researchers at Land Art Generator Initiative 2016 could end California’s drought problem. California has had state-wide drought restrictions in place for years, to the point where some have asked if the Golden State will be dry until the clock finally runs out on this ball of dirt we call the Earth. This pipe is supposed to help solve those problems by filtering seawater. Unlike the filtering systems that are already used, though, it would use electromagnetic filtration to gather drinking water without having an adverse effect on the oceans themselves.
Until 1980, water use went up steadily as population increased, necessitating investments in infrastructure and boosts to capacity. But since then, there has been a dramatic decoupling across the United States, with water use declining even as the population and the economy continued to grow. The U.S. Geological Survey found that water consumption peaked at 440 billion gallons (1,665 billion liters) per day before dropping in 1980 and then remained steady through the 1980s and 1990s. It rose slightly in 2000, but significantly declined between 2005 and 2010, when it fell to 350 billion gallons (1,325 billion liters) per day.
Is it Christmas yet? The weather patterns rolling across the Pacific Northwest and Northern California seem out of sync with the calendar, an environmental science professor said. Gregory Jones, a Southern Oregon University professor who tracks weather and climate data, said the past year was seemingly off by a month in temperature — March was like April, June was like July, and so on. And now the storms and rain of October were more typical of November.
It’s been fairly rainy the past few weeks, but the month of October was probably the wettest month the Reno-Tahoe region will experience for the rest of the year. That’s according to Climatologist Dan McEvoy at the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno. Although October is known to be the first water month of the year in the West, it isn’t going to fully mend the drought. However, the rain put many positive impacts on the area, McEvoy said. “The soil is moistening in high elevation before snowfall hits,” he said.
A temporary discount combined with a limited-time rebate is helping San Diegans save 90 percent on 50 gallon rain barrels through the end of the year. After the SoCalWaterSmart Program increased its rain barrel rebate from $35 to $75, the San Diego County Water Authority announced that it will sell 50 gallon rain barrels through the Solana Center for $90, down from its normal $149 tag. So, from now until the end of the year, water-conscious locals can take home rain barrels for just $15.