America’s infrastructure is close to failing. That’s the assessment of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which released its 2017 “infrastructure report card” Thursday, giving the nation’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+. The report came a day after President Donald Trump held a high-profile meeting with a group of executives to discuss his campaign pledge to invest a trillion dollars to upgrade the nation’s critical infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, airports and dams.
Archive for date: March 9th, 2017
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Conditions have improved in a small swath of Southern California that was one of the last areas of severe drought still standing during a wet winter for the record books. Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties are no longer under severe drought, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor report. Recent rainfall improved the outlook for groundwater in the region, accounting for the improvement, the Monitor report said.
California’s biggest lake, about 350 square miles, is dying. It’s not the first time. The Salton Sea, straddling the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, is the latest incarnation of a body of water that has been drying and refilling over eons with water from the Colorado River. Native Americans once fished and camped on Lake Cahuilla, a prehistoric and larger version. The Salton Sea was born in the early 1900s after a canal burst sent water from the Colorado flooding into the valley over a period of two years.
California’s water regulators are looking to strengthen their focus on climate change, adopting policies aimed at helping the state prepare for more severe floods, more extreme droughts and shrinking snowpack. The State Water Resources Control Board approved a resolution this week outlining plans for what it calls a “comprehensive response” to climate change. In the document, the board says given the seriousness of global warming’s impacts on California, “our response to climate change must be comprehensive and integrated” into all of the agency’s work.
Pure Water Monterey now has permission to inject highly treated recycled wastewater into the Seaside basin for later use as drinking water. With staff offering its full-throated support, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on Thursday unanimously approved a permit blessing the recycled water project’s advanced treatment plan for purifying a variety of wastewater sources prior to pumping the water into the basin. The hearing was held at Watsonville City Hall. Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency official Mike McCullough celebrated the latest step forward for the project.
At Heritage Oak Winery, acres of 10-year-old grapevines are still underwater. It’s been days since Lodi’s last rainfall, but for Heritage Oak’s owner, Tom Hoffman, it may be a while before the flooding brought by two wet months begins to recede. Plenty of farmers still have fields, vineyards and other land covered by standing water. Not Hoffman. “I don’t have standing water, I have running water,” he said. Heritage Oak’s property in Acampo includes about 60 acres of bottom land along the Mokelumne River, and 10 acres are planted with grapes, he said.
Just before the Oroville Dam became daily front page news, during what turned out to be a brief lull in this winter’s storms, one of my neighbors asked if I thought the drought was over. “Nope, just an interlude,” I said. Then, within the week, more rain came – rain and snow, depending on where you reside in this great state. But as far as I can tell, we still live in a continuing drought. These storms are just a brief interruption. After so much rain, and massive, record-setting snow, why do I say that?
If you don’t think California has seen enough rain this year, just wait. There may be more to come. Federal forecasters said Thursday that the chances of an El Niño developing by fall are on the rise — now between 50 and 55 percent —an outlook that could skew the odds in favor of yet another wet winter. “There are a lot of players on the (weather) field,” said Emily Becker, a research scientist with the Climate Prediction Center, the federal agency that released the latest report on the El Niño climate pattern.
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 wet winter has raised water levels for many lakes in SoCal, but the discovery of microscopic larvae in an underground pipe system at one Inland Empire lake could lead to an expensive problem. Paul Rochelle, with the Metropolitan Water District, said the recent discovery of the larvae could lead to a massive infestation of invasive mussels throughout the water project at Diamond Valley Lake. “Everyone should be concerned. They are a nuisance,” he said.