The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish population. A proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to “maximize water deliveries” represents the administration’s first concrete effort to make good on a promise Donald Trump made while campaigning for the presidency in Fresno, where he vowed to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and derided protections for endangered fish species.
Archive for date: January 3rd, 2018
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States throughout the West have rushed to legalize marijuana over the last four years. The biggest by far is California, where recreational use of the drug became legal on January 1. The states are clamoring for the tax revenue in these new markets, but they seem less concerned with how they may affect water resources. Even now, no state regulators can answer a basic question about marijuana cultivation: How much water will this new industry consume? Yet state and local governments are permitting tens of thousands of indoor and outdoor marijuana farms without such answers.
Californians thirsting for relief from a parched, nearly rainless start to the state’s wet season are finally getting some relief this week. The single meteorological factor contributing to one of the driest final three months of the year on record in California has been a stubborn area of high pressure aloft. Nicknamed the “ridiculously resilient ridge” during the heart of the state’s exceptional drought earlier in the decade, this atmospheric roadblock has steered the Pacific storm track well north of California much of the fall and early winter so far.
Unfiltered and untreated water from a natural spring might sound like an elixir, but health experts warn that drinking so-called “raw water” could end with a trip to the doctor, or worse. “Raw water” or unsterilized water bottled directly from a natural spring, is becoming a sought-after item in California and parts of the U.S., according to the New York Times. The water, which can sell for around $40 for a 2.5-gallon glass jug, is often free of the any water filtration processes that some “raw water” advocates argue strips natural water of probiotics.
When the chief of California’s snow measurements conducts his manual surveys, he usually does it in style, skimming the snow in cross-country skis as reporters plod behind him in snowshoes. No need this time. The vast meadow around Phillips, a remote spot near Echo Summit, was mostly grass and dirt Wednesday, with pitifully small patches of snow. Frank Gehrke, the Department of Water Resources employee who runs the survey, wore simple winter boots as he walked the 200-yard course off Highway 50 to complete the first official snow survey of the season.
The California Water Commission got a look in December at all 11 projects vying for water storage bond money, including Sites Reservoir. Proponents of Sites, an off-stream reservoir proposed for a valley west of Maxwell, are seeking $1.7 billion from Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure approved by voters in November 2014. Proposition 1 included $2.7 billion for water storage projects, but the 11 proposals would cost $5.7 billion.
The giddiness California water resources officials felt last winter as storms dropped record amounts of rain and snow has faded under a relentless barrage of blue sky and sun, but this week’s promise of stormy weather is giving them hope. Snow surveyors measured only 3 inches of water in the Sierra snowpack Wednesday, a dismal 24 percent of average for this time of year.
Southern California is seeing one of its driest starts to the water year in decades, the National Weather Service said Wednesday. Since the start of the water year on Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, downtown Los Angeles has received just 0.12 of an inch of rain. That is tied with 1962-63 for the fourth-driest start to a water year since record keeping began in 1877, the weather service said. “The start of the storm season has been exceptionally dry,” said Ryan Kittell, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s one of the driest in history.”
It’s been almost a year since Los Angeles residents felt any real rain, and precious little snow is in the Sierras, but water managers say it’s too early for fears that California is sliding back into drought as abruptly as the state fell out of it. Water officials carry out the first of their regular ritual winter snow measurements before news cameras on Wednesday. Plunging rods into snowpacks to measure the snow depth, water managers use the event to acquaint Californians with the state of the water supply.
California water officials on Wednesday confirmed with manual measurements what electronic sensors have been saying for weeks: the state’s largest drinking water reservoir – the Sierra Nevada snowpack – is well below its average water content for this time of year. But water managers say it’s too early for worries that California is sliding back into drought.