Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s drought this month, lifting emergency water restrictions in all but a few counties across the state. This winter has been the wettest on record for Northern California, but that doesn’t mean California’s problems are over. Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Jay Lund (@JayLund113), professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California Davis.
Archive for date: April 17th, 2017
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The water spread into every corner of the fields, beckoning wading ibises and egrets as it bathed long rows of sprouting grapevines. Several inches had covered the vineyard ground for a couple of months. But rather than draining it, Don Cameron was pouring more on. “This is not about irrigation,” the sprawling farm’s manager kept telling his quizzical workers. “It’s about recharge. … I want all the water you can get into the grape fields now.” After a drought-busting winter, reservoirs up and down California are dumping water to make room for spring snowmelt.
Lead was a problem for hundreds of San Diego children even before the latest scare involving San Diego Unified, records from the county health department show. Last year, public health officials found hundreds of children in San Diego County with elevated levels of lead in their blood. The children are at risk for a host of health problems, including behavioral disorders. The county health department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program collected blood test data from 37,574 of the county’s 250,000 children under the age of 6, which is when children are at most risk of problems from lead exposure.
State data shows more than 300 schools in San Diego County are testing their water for lead, following an NBC7 Investigates series on water quality in schools. A state spokeswoman said more schools are testing in San Diego County, by far, than any other county in the state. At least 17 of schools, across several school districts, have received lab results of lead in school water at levels greater than five parts per billion.
Just a week after Governor Jerry Brown declared the end of the California drought emergency, the northern half of the state logged its wettest year into the record books. But that doesn’t mean California’s water problems are over. On 13 April, rainfall measuring stations in the Sierra Nevada mountains recorded 89.7 inches of water. The previous record set in 1983 was 88.5 inches. In the past 12 months, California has simultaneously dealt with the effects of not enough water and far too much of it.
Recharging underground water supplies through old and new channels and methods may only lead to overconsumption, especially if drought conditions return in a few years. Several water management experts in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley, where painful drought conditions have prevailed for the past five years, are discussing additional channels and choices for putting some of this year’s excess water into underground storage for future use. And they’re considering continuing programs to bolster those pools every year.
When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, cities inland saw an influx of evacuees escaping the storm and its aftermath. Now, a new University of Georgia study predicts that this could happen again as a result of sea-level rise. In a paper published today in Nature Climate Change, researchers estimate that approximately 13.1 million people could be displaced by rising ocean waters, with Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix as top destinations for those forced to relocate.
In response to this year’s wet winter weather and effective water conservation, California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the Golden State’s more than 5-year-long drought over, for the most part. With the exception of four counties, Brown lifted the official drought emergency on April 7. Even as he did so, however, he emphasized the importance of preparing for future droughts — and dealing with the fallout from the one that just ended. “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”
Oregon and Washington lead the way in state programs that facilitate environmental water transfers. A new Stanford study concludes Colorado Basin states, including California, have lots of catching up to do. Water transfers are an important way to share a limited resource, especially to help fish and habitats that were historically left with scraps when water rights were parceled out around the West. The water for such transfers usually comes from farmers, who free up water through some kind of conservation measure. By transferring the saved water, a farmer can help imperiled fish and make some money.
Kiewit Corp., a construction giant with extensive experience in dam projects, was awarded the massive repair job at troubled Oroville Dam on Monday. The California Department of Water Resources announced that Kiewit, based in Omaha, Neb., beat two competitors for the job with a $275.4 million bid. Kiewit had the low bid, although its offer was still higher than DWR’s internal estimate that the project would cost $231 million. (DWR said on Saturday that it estimated the project would cost $220 million, but released a corrected estimate Monday.)