California’s Northern Sierra could be breaking a record this week as additional precipitation moves onshore across the West Coast. The region — which supplies water for the rest of the state — is expected to surpass its record for the wettest year.
Archive for date: April 11th, 2017
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At the height of the California drought, images of empty reservoirs became the poster children of a state that desperately needed water. Their low water levels revealed massive swaths of dry, cracked lake beds. Now that the state has finally moved out of the drought with a rainy season marked by ceaseless moisture-packed storms, these same reservoirs are filled with water and 100 to 170 percent of their historical averages. Brimming and replenished, they’re a symbol of the state’s recovery.
The lower Colorado is the most-threatened river in America, a conservation advocacy group said in its annual report published Tuesday. The nonprofit American Rivers had placed the entire Colorado River and upper river atop its list of “most-endangered rivers” in previous years. But this is the first time the lower Colorado, which supplies Las Vegas with 90 percent of its water via Lake Mead, has been designated as in danger. “The main criteria we use is whether there’s a key decision point in the year,” said Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for the group. In the case of the lower Colorado,
In this remarkable water year, which ended more than five years of severe drought in most areas of California, there are still plenty of noteworthy water questions to contemplate and act upon. Here’s the central one: Three years after California passed what’s often called a landmark groundwater regulation law, no one knows how much under-surface water remains accessible to wells and no one has a clue about how much replenishment the state’s supplies actually got from the winter’s massive storms.
Over the past five years, California slowly wilted, then parched and crisped. The state went through a period of severe drought, which hurt the state’s agricultural industry and necessitated harsh cutbacks in residential water use. At last, rain has come. Gov. Jerry Brown announced on Friday that the state of emergency was officially over. The drought might officially have ended, but groundwater stores remain depleted. In the face of this, several environmentalist groups have filed a lawsuit against the city of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department and the city of San Bernardino, arguing that a new water management plan will hurt the endangered Santa Ana sucker, a small fish.
President Donald Trump’s top land and dam manager will meet Thursday with Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans on discussing water, fire, infrastructure and conservation with Brown before heading to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks on Thursday and Friday, said Interior spokesman Heather Swift in an email. It’s not clear whether Brown’s office extended the invite or the other way around.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the water allocation for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100 percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday comes only weeks after the bureau told disappointed growers that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from the Central Valley Project. They received a 5 percent allocation last year, causing them to fallow at least 200,000 acres in the Westlands Water District. “That should have been a no-brainer – 100 percent allocation,” said Ryan Jacobsen, chief executive officer of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
California is a land of extremes – where preparing for extremes must be constant and eternal. The past six years have demonstrated California’s precipitation extremes. From 2012 to 2015, California endured one of its driest periods on record. And 2016 was an additional near-average year, classified into drought because water storage levels were so low.
The water agency that supplies drinking water to Los Angeles agreed Tuesday to contribute $1.5 million toward the planning of Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, giving the agency a toehold in a potentially valuable storage project. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, as expected, approved the expenditure by a unanimous vote. If the agency eventually decides to contribute to the construction project itself, it would entitle Metropolitan to control up to 50,000 acre-feet of storage in the reservoir. Sites, to be built on the Glenn-Colusa county line, would store up to 1.8 million acre-feet.
Central Valley farmers learned Tuesday they will get a full allocation of water this year for the first time since 2006. But their celebrations were muted. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will provide a 100 percent allocation to Central Valley Project customers this year, including the large agricultural districts in the San Joaquin Valley. Just a year ago those districts got a 5 percent allotment, and three weeks ago the farmers were told their deliveries might not top 65 percent this year. The announcement came four days after Gov. Jerry Brown declared an official end to the drought practically everywhere in California.