Not since 1959 has Stockton staggered into the new year with less than an inch of total rainfall. But that’s exactly what’s just happened. It almost seems like we’ve gone from drought, to flood, right back to drought. That may be premature. Our reservoirs are well above average, still flush with last year’s bounty. And there’s still plenty of winter left to add to that supply. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed here, too,” said Hannah Chandler, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
Archive for month: December, 2017
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Every year is different for water management in California. The 2012-2016 water years were among the driest and warmest on record. 2017 was the wettest year of record for much of California, with thousands of water managers struggling to store as much water as possible in reservoirs and aquifers. So far for this 2018 water year (which began October 1), Northern California precipitation is about 67% of average for this time of year. Further south, the San Joaquin Basin precipitation is about 38% of average and Tulare basin is about 25% of average. Snowpack statewide is about 27% of average for this time of year.
One of the hard truths revealed by California’s five-year drought is that many small, rural communities lack the resources to adapt to water shortages. In this case, that means both money and expertise. It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town. Even if a community finds the money to build a small treatment plant, it may not have anyone locally with the expertise to operate it.
The Trump administration said Friday it will look at revving up water deliveries to farmers from California’s Central Valley Project, the largest federal water project in the United States, in what environmental groups called a threat to protections for struggling native salmon and other endangered species. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation formally served notice it would begin looking at changing the operation of the massive California water project to maximize water deliveries. Spokeswoman Erin Curtis called it the first step in what would likely be an 18-month analysis.
Unfortunately, since the late 1970s, the Desert Riviera has been ravaged by what Johnson calls a “slow-motion apocalypse.” Hotels and marinas were ruined by floods, then left high and dry by drought. Giant, stinky algae blooms linked to farm pollutants drove people out of the water. Rising salinity levels linked to evaporation helped kill nearly all the fish. Traces of everything from DDT to arsenic have been detected in the mud beneath the lake, and in dried-out stretches of lakebed exposed by drought.
Three years ago, California voters passed Proposition 1, a bond that provided $7.12 billion for water projects and reallocated another $425 million. The funds had to be split among seven categories: safe drinking water, water storage, flood management, water recycling, drought preparedness, ecosystem and watershed protection and groundwater sustainability. Ellen Hanak and Jelena Jezdimirovic at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) dove into the numbers to see how the proposition money has been spent throughout the state.
At Rainbow Grocery, a cooperative in this city’s Mission District, one brand of water is so popular that it’s often out of stock. But one recent evening, there was a glittering rack of it: glass orbs containing 2.5 gallons of what is billed as “raw water” — unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water, $36.99 each and $14.99 per refill, bottled and marketed by a small company called Live Water. “It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouth feel, nothing that overwhelms the flavor profile,” said Kevin Freeman, a shift manager at the store.
A state appeals court has affirmed punishing sanctions in a lawsuit involving local environmental attorney Cory Briggs for failing to obey court orders. The decision ends a lawsuit Briggs filed on behalf of a nonprofit against a Wal-Mart in Riverside County and establishes legal precedent. The admonishment arose after CREED-21, the nonprofit Briggs was representing in court, “willfully failed to obey” two court orders to produce one of its members.
What a difference a year makes. The winter of 2017-18 is off to a slow start in the Sierra Nevada, a stark contrast from the record-busting snow totals last year. The contrast from last year is particularly evident in the Lake Tahoe Basin where winter is off to its third-driest start since 1980-81. Snow survey results posted Thursday show the basin is at 30 percent of normal for the date, compared to 67 percent on the same date last year.
A multi-million dollar pipeline project intended to bring desalinated water from Mexico to Otay Mesa is off the table indefinitely after years of planning. The Otay Water District began environmental reviews in 2010 on a plan to build a 3.5 mile pipeline to transport desalinated water from a new plant in Rosarito, Mexico to its reservoir in Otay Mesa. The district received a crucial permit from the U.S. government in May, allowing it to build the cross-border pipeline.