With storm after storm filling reservoirs and swelling the Sierra Nevada snowpack to 171 percent of its historic average, Californians might be surprised that officials with the State Water Resources Control Board want to extend emergency statewide drought rules for 270 days instead of letting them expire Feb. 28. They argue that the snowpack can be rapidly depleted and say there are still dry conditions and unfilled reservoirs in parts of the state.
Archive for date: February 7th, 2017
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For decades, millions of gallons of treated sewage water has been pumped into the ground to fight sea-level rise. While this process sounds harmful, it’s actually quite the opposite, according to experts. It is crucial in keeping salt water out of aquifers and keeping groundwater replenished. To date, nearly 490 billion gallons of recycled water have been recharged into the Central and West Coast Basin aquifers. That is one of many water recharge projects occurring all over the world.
At a recent workshop to discuss whether the state’s emergency drought regulations should be extended beyond February, two government agencies scheduled to report on drought conditions were noticeably absent because they were busy responding to flooding issues. Apart from this ironic twist, one cannot brush aside this winter’s record rainfall, snowpack and reservoir conditions. A week after this workshop, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for 50 counties from flooding, erosion and mud flows. So one wonders why an editorial in The Sacramento Bee encouraged the Brown administration to keep its emergency drought regulations in place through April.
Water regulators in Sacramento on Wednesday will decide on a recommendation to extend the drought rules, uncertain if rain and snow will continue through spring. Republican State Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber, who leads a swelling coalition of law makers and local water districts statewide, says it’s time for Gov. Jerry Brown to end the drought emergency, or lose the public’s trust. Californians heeded the call during the historic drought, taking shorter showers and ripping out their lawns during the five-year drought, but the weather has dramatically changed, which everybody can see, Nielsen says in a letter to the governor.
California’s recovery from drought has been so remarkably quick that reservoirs on the verge of record lows just a year ago are now too full to handle more rain, prompting dam operators across the state to unleash surpluses of water not seen in years. The northern Sierra’s Feather River swelled with so much mountain runoff Tuesday that state officials considered shutting the road beneath Lake Oroville, California’s second largest reservoir, to allow dangerously swift waters to pour out the foot of the dam.
A major storm packing a triple threat Tuesday dumped more than a foot of new snow in the Sierra Nevada, unleashed heavy rain that triggered flooding and mudslides in the valleys around Reno and Carson City, and pushed potentially damaging winds across much of western Nevada.
The National Weather Service issued avalanche, flooding and high wind warnings up and down the eastern front of the mountains.
Classes were delayed two hours at some schools around Lake Tahoe, where more than a foot of snow was reported at ski resorts.
The rain has been unrelenting, to say the least. So much so that several water agencies across Southern California are saying that, yup, that nasty, historic drought is officially over. In late January, the San Diego County Water Authority made that bold declaration, adding that San Diego County had amassed enough water to last residents for the next three years. On Monday, Orange County joined the celebration as the board of directors at the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) voted unanimously to declare that the community is mostly out of the red, reports the O.C. Register.
Since December storms have been battering Los Angeles. In this first week of the city’s traditionally rainiest month, L.A. is more than 7.5 inches above normal rainfall for the entire season — which ends Sept. 30. A normal year gets about 15 inches for the year; we’ve seen 15.44 inches through yesterday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. And more rain is probable on Friday, forecasters say. So why is the six-year drought still in effect?
Weary from one of the wettest winters in years, Bay Area residents suffered through another chaotic commute on Tuesday, as the latest “atmospheric river” to soak the region triggered traffic madness from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Not only was the main connector between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz closed indefinitely, but every other route over the Santa Cruz Mountains was cut off too. The closed roads included Highway 9, Bear Creek Road, Old Santa Cruz Highway and San Jose-Soquel Road, all of which had mudslides, according to CHP.
Southern California Edison will ease its severe water rationing mandate for much of Avalon after last month’s storms brought much-needed rainwater to Catalina Island. SCE announced the changes during Tuesday evening’s meeting of Avalon’s City Council, according to information from SCE spokesman Robert Laffoon Villegas. Prolonged drought conditions resulted in SCE imposing what are called Stage 3 drought restrictions last September. That resulted in most Avalon residents — those who are served by the utility’s desalination plants — being required to cut their water consumption by 40 percent. All others on Catalina had to reduce their water use by half.