California’s drought — now in its sixth year — and climate change that promises to reduce water supplies in years to come have transformed the state’s water woes from an occasional crisis to an emergency. In response, as detailed in this week’s Insight, the state is stepping up efforts to replumb the state’s water system to balance what supply there is among cities, farms and the environment.
Archive for date: December 9th, 2016
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“Headache!” is what professional tree climbers yell to warn folks about falling branches. It’s also what many scientists are experiencing these days as they consider the fate of the giant sequoia, the biggest tree on Earth. Journalist Thayer Walker stomped into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest to report “Last Tree Standing” for bioGraphic, a multimedia magazine. (The story has also appeared at atlasobscura.com.) Walker explains that California’s lengthy drought has felled many shorter leafy victims: 102 million trees and counting since 2011. But at first no one was all that worried about giant sequoias, which can live for thousands of years.
A federal vote this week could lead to more water stored in California reservoirs south of the delta, as well as a future Sites Reservoir. The plan would be to allow more water to flow into storage after big storms in the winter. The U.S. House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 612 on Thursday, with a vote of 360-61. Both Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) were in favor. A vote in the Senate could come as soon as Friday, unless there is a procedural delay.
I spotted these seemingly conflicting headlines on DWR’s water news roundup yesterday.What gives? Who’s right? Confusing as it may seem, both stories are correct. The journalists are looking at the same numbers but are comparing them in different ways.The L.A. Times story (on the left) focuses on the fact that following a somewhat alarming drop-off in water conservation rates in August, savings have slowly ticked upward in the ensuing months. Back in August, conservation levels fell from 20.1 percent to 17.6 percent (compared to 2013), after officials eliminated water conservation mandates for most cities.
The House by a lopsided margin passed a massive water resources development bill Thursday that includes newly added provisions for California water storage projects and permits additional water to be sent south of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta to Central Valley farmland. The 360-61 vote moved the measure to the Senate, where Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has vowed to derail it on Friday, what may be the last day Congress is in session. Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village and Steve Knight, R-Lancaster, voted for it. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, voted against it.
California is working to put into place a framework that will help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a draft report released last week, is the collective effort of five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016.
Over Sen. Barbara Boxer’s objections, the Senate voted 78 to 21 Friday evening to pass sweeping water infrastructure legislation that changes how much water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southern California. The bill — co-authored by Boxer — authorizes hundreds of water projects across the country, including new infrastructure to fix lead issues in Flint, Mich., and and millions of dollars for projects connected to the Los Angeles River, Salton Sea and Lake Tahoe.