Its marshes drained and diked, its rivers dredged and diverted, today’s Delta has been called a “brittle skeleton” of what it was 200 years ago. In fact, scientists concluded in 2014 that the Delta is hardly a river delta at all, anymore. But in a follow-up report published today, those same experts with the San Francisco Estuary Institute say there is still hope of bringing back at least a portion of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas. Their broad plan calls for fundamental changes to the mostly agricultural landscape that exists today.
Archive for date: November 14th, 2016
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Is California headed for a clash with President-elect Donald Trump? Last week voters pushed forward a broad progressive agenda, from legalizing recreational marijuana to strengthening gun control. And they chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by nearly 30 points. The state is also home to the most ambitious climate change plan in the nation while Trump has rejected the science on climate change and called it a” hoax” to benefit China.
The San Francisco Bay Estuary and the rivers that feed it face an existential crisis. The signs of impending collapse include six endangered native fish species, shrinking wetlands and beaches, and more frequent cyanobacteria blooms that generate neurotoxins powerful enough to kill pets and sicken people. Just outside the Golden Gate, Orca whales feeding on Chinook salmon go hungry, while commercial fishermen cope with another shortened fishing season.
La Nina has arrived and could hang around through winter, government weather forecasters said Thursday. La Nina, the flip side of El Nino, is the periodic cooling of the central Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the globe. Predictions called for fleeting La Nina conditions that could last through February. It’s “anticipated to be a weak, short-lived event,” said Mike Halpert of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
Cloud seeding has resumed over the Sierra Nevada in hopes of increasing the winter snowpact, but La Nina might have other plans for the central California rainfall season. The Northern California Power Agency, which has conducted cloud seeding every year since 2006, has begun seeding a 74-square-mile watershed above New Spicer Reservoir in Tuolumne County above 6,500 feet, according Randy Bowersox, hydroelectric facilities manager for the power agency. The cloud seeding project, which commenced on Nov. 1, hopes to augment the winter snowpack runoff by at least 2 percent.
Now that the state has cleared the way, the Sacramento City Council will again consider finalizing an artificial turf ordinance that would lift a longtime ban on faux grass in front yards. Last year, the Sacramento Planning Commission approved a measure that would lift a three-decade ban on fake turf in front and side lawns visible from a street. But when it got to the council last November, the ordinance stalled out of concerns that too much faux turf could harm the city’s lush urban tree canopy.
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a productive agricultural area and a vital linchpin in the state’s complex water supply system. It’s also a highly unique ecosystem, which was a hotbed for endemic species, many of which are now under stress and some facing extinction. As various agencies and other stakeholders work on ways to balance the economic and environmental demands on the Delta, a new report released today attempts to build a framework to help locally driven restoration efforts.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s massive Delta tunnels project is moving forward through a series of state and federal environmental reviews. But it still faces an array of major hurdles including public opposition, financing and approvals by state water contractors. The $15 billion project, known as California Water Fix, is on track to finish the state environmental impact report and federal environmental impact statement by the end of the year, said Cindy Messer, assistant chief deputy with the state Department of Water Resources.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California failed to get an independent appraisal of Delta islands that they bought earlier this year, prior to the time of purchase, as required under the District’s own Administrative Code, says Restore the Delta, an environmental group that opposed planned water tunnels under the Delta. The water district bought four water-filled “islands” and a portion of a fifth in the California Delta from a unit of Zurich Insurance Group of Switzerland.