The sewage spill on the Tijuana River in Mexico the fouled South County beaches may have been significantly larger than first estimated, although it’s unclear how regulators arrived at the new figure. Standing next to the river valley for a news conference Monday, Rep. Scott Peters said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now suspects that discharges may have totaled 230 million gallons, up from the initial figure of 143 million gallons. The original volume already ranked as one of the biggest spills in the region’s history.
Archive for date: March 6th, 2017
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The latest Drought Monitor map was made public to begin March and shows a significant improvement in the very dry conditions experienced for months in the west, but a very different story for portions of the southern plains, the southeast and the northeast US.
Water was running again through the Hyatt Powerhouse beneath Oroville Dam on Monday evening. Water was sent through the hydroelectric power plant Friday for the first time since Feb. 10, but the flow was shut off about 10 a.m. Saturday when Department of Water Resources officials realized they needed a bigger channel through the debris at the base of the damaged main spillway for the powerhouse to operate at full capacity.
For three generations, Phillip Filter’s family has tended orchards that grow on a shelf of floodplain above the Feather River. Because the trees stand between the river and a major flood-protection levee, Filter’s family is no stranger to floods that sometimes spill over the river banks, inundate the orchards and then recede back into the channel below. But Filter has never seen damage to the riverbanks like what happened last week after the state suddenly shut down flows from Oroville Dam’s badly damaged spillway upstream.
Sunday was the first day in several weeks that surfers, swimmers and kids wanting to play in the the wet sand had a green light to touch the Pacific Ocean in Coronado, but miles of beach south of there remained closed due to the huge sewage spill in Tijuana. Beaches from Avenida Lunar, one block south of the Hotel del Coronado, north to the Navy Base were declared safe Saturday evening by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health. Testing confirmed that the water quality met state health standards.
In the wake of the Oroville dam near-disaster, a question floating around Capitol corridors now is: Given the amount of money needed for what everyone agrees must be an expensive revamping of the state’s water infrastructure, is there room now for Gov. Jerry Brown’s heart’s desire — the $15.5 billion twin tunnels project? “This project has been subjected to 10 years of detailed analysis and more environmental review than any other project in the history of the world. It is absolutely essential if California is to maintain a reliable water supply,” Brown declared in a formal statement issued on Dec. 22, 2016.
Here’s a cold, wet reality: the more water in California’s reservoirs, the less urgency there is to build new ocean-water desalination plants that became a major talking point during the state’s long, parched years of drought, an ultra-dry period some folks insist has still not ended despite months of heavy rains. Those record or near-record rains have replenished everything reservoirs lost over the last few years of drought, and sometimes more.
The Carlsbad City Council met Tuesday for a public hearing and approved permits for a proposed four-story mixed-use building, including retail and office uses, and 106 apartments, 16 of which will be affordable housing, on Carlsbad Village Drive. The council also heard a report on public safety in the north beach area, and directed staff to bring back information before summer, including on outreach, lifeguard towers and gate closures. A discussion of permits for a condominium project at Poinsettia Lane was moved to the March 14 meeting.
Just because nature allows a delay of many years while officials dither over a catastrophe in the making doesn’t make that disaster any easier to handle when it finally strikes. This is one major lesson of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis that saw the sudden evacuation of almost 200,000 persons from their homes when the dam’s emergency spillway crumbled under the force of millions of gallons of fast-moving water. Warnings of precisely this sort of crisis at Lake Oroville were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission during a 2005 relicensing process, almost 12 years before those predictions came true.
Let’s say you owned a four-bedroom house, but one room was useless because of clutter. You’d probably eventually take a deep breath and clear out the crap. You’d reclaim the room. That’s pretty much the situation with many reservoirs in California. They’ve got too much gunk in them. And it’s crowding out space for water storage. But you don’t hear any deep breaths being taken in Sacramento. There’s no serious thought of removing the junk — silt, sand, gravel — and making more room for storm runoff.