A new report from Stanford’s Water in the West program assesses progress among states in the Colorado River Basin with respect to environmental water rights transfers, a legal tool that enables water rights holders to voluntarily transfer their water to rivers, streams and wetlands to benefit the environment and potentially generate revenue. The Colorado River provides water for more than 35 million people, supports numerous fish and wildlife species, including several threatened and endangered species, and irrigates more than 6,000 square miles of farmland. It also supports a variety of aquatic ecosystems from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the deserts of the Southwest.
Archive for date: March 28th, 2017
As snow continued to fall on the eastern Sierra Nevada this week, platoons of earth movers, cranes and utility trucks fanned out across the Owens Valley, scrambling to empty reservoirs and clean out a lattice-work of ditches and pipelines in a frantic effort to protect the key source of Los Angeles’ water.
What a difference a year makes, I’m thinking as I head to Sacramento for meetings with legislators and company members of Connect the Drops, a campaign my organization spearheaded to drive smart water use in California. Last year, more than 90 percent of the state was experiencing some level of drought – today, just 8 percent is. This winter, our state was inundated by rain and snow, with precipitation beating records going back to before 1895, when they started keeping track. And the Oroville Dam has been the big story of late, replacing last year’s headlines about fallow fields.
This past winter’s weather should serve as both a reminder and a warning. It’s a reminder that the California climate cycles between long periods of extreme drought and short bursts of extreme rainfall, and it’s a warning that climate change is making this cycle more extreme. The Golden State must adapt to this “new normal” now – and that requires funding. It’s long past time that our state had a serious discussion about how to fund the kind of water infrastructure we need now and in the future. Here is an idea: a public goods charge for water.
Water releases down the damaged main spillway at Lake Oroville have been halted in order to work on repairs there, and for now the lake is slowly rising. The state Department of Water Resources stopped spillway releases around 5 p.m. Monday and instead is running water to the Feather River through the Hyatt Powerplant under the dam. About 11,700 cubic-feet per second of water is going through the hydroelectric plant. As of Tuesday afternoon, Lake Oroville’s surface elevation was just above 837 feet, which is about 64 feet below the lip of the emergency spillway.
More than half off all beaches in Southern California could disappear by the end of the century due to sea-level rise, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Geophysical Research. As a result of sea-level rise, up to 67 percent of beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego could be completely eroded back to sea cliffs or coastal infrastructure by 2100, according to the report from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers will soon be able to recover their money from a landmark class-action settlement. Starting this week, ratepayers will receive packets in the mail that detail what types of refunds and damages may be claimed from the settlement. The DWP has been plagued by a faulty computer billing system launched in 2013 that overcharged tens of thousands of customers while failing to bill others at all. Ratepayers filed a class-action lawsuit against the utility and the city; all sides reached a tentative settlement that was approved in December.