A bill that could save money for rural ranchers who divert water by easing a state regulation is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. The California Cattlemen’s Association-backed legislation by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, would change a State Water Resources Control Board rule that those who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year hire a licensed engineer to install a water-measuring device. Assembly Bill 589 would allow diverters to instead install their own devices or implement their own measurement method if they take a course from the University of California Cooperative Extension, CCA officials explain.
Archive for date: October 4th, 2017
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The board of the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, America’s largest water supplier, voted 7 to 1 on September 19 to pull out their $4.5 billion, 26 percent participation in the $17 billion WaterFix, which planned to build two 40-foot wide tunnels stretching for 35 miles to protect fish and divert water from the Sacramento River to the California aqueducts that service the San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southern California cities.
Few things are as important to California’s 39.5 million residents as the quality and allocation of the state’s water. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, wants to hand over more power in that arena to Big Ag by changing how water rights cases are enforced. Gov. Jerry Brown should veto Gray’s AB 313 and keep those issues where they belong — in the hands of the State Water Resources Control Board.
In February, a huge hole opened in the Lake Oroville main spillway. The cause of the hole is still undetermined. The ensuing closure of the main gates and use of the emergency spillway for the first time ever caused damage to the hillside, erosion toward the spillway structure and thousands of people to evacuate. The California Department of Water Resources feared catastrophic flooding and chose to once again release water down the main spillway.
A new group known as the Clear the Air coalition has risen up to discourage the city of San Diego from taking on San Diego Gas & Electric. The city wants 100 percent of electricity sold within city limits to come from renewable sources by 2035. SDG&E argues that it’s too risky and too expensive to abandon natural gas-fired power right now. So, the city is thinking about buying energy for its 1.4 million residents by becoming a community choice aggregator, or CCA. The City Council could vote on the switch in the next several months.
Water management in the West can often seem to pit people against wildlife, but it doesn’t have to, according to a recent report by the National Audubon Society. The report highlights how drying saline lakes in the West and changing riparian habitat along the Colorado River are impacting migrating birds. But the two habitats also share a vulnerability to climate change and water management. The demand for water from growing metropolitan areas, like Salt Lake City, is often at the expense of these habitats and wildlife.