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OPINION: Oversight Needed Of Delta Tunnel, High Speed Rail

Tucked away in a book in my Capitol office is a letter addressed to Kenneth William Cooley whose return address is stated simply as The White House.  A 4 cent stamp on the envelope shows a Mercury space capsule floating above a luminous Earth with the words “US Man in Space.” Its cancellation mark shows it was mailed on May 4th 1962 in Washington, D.C. I had written President John F. Kennedy at the age of seven, and received that response shortly after I turned eight.

Every Last Drop

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed two giant tunnels, each wide enough to contain most of the Sacramento River, to alleviate California’s chronic water woes and reduce tension between San Joaquin Valley farmers and salmon advocates. This controversial project, billed “California WaterFix,” is little more than a modern application of irrigation technology developed by the Roman Empire. Scientists at an East Bay laboratory, meanwhile, are also trying to address water shortages, but to do so, they’re delving into uncharted realms of science and technology.

San Diego County Moves a Step Up in Drought Severity

The US Drought Monitor moved San Diego County up to the next level of severity Thursday.  It’s now at moderate, which is the second highest level of the five.  At the same time, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was woefully low.“We’re around 27-percent of normal,” said San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Specialist Jeff Stephenson.

‘Moderate Drought’ Declared Across San Diego County

A U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows all of San Diego County is now in a moderate drought. The Category 1 declaration comes a year after water officials declared the region’s drought was over. According to the Drought Monitor, a “moderate drought” means ongoing dry conditions could cause damage to crops, and a possibility of water shortages could develop.

Battery Storage Begins to Find a Home at Some Water Utilities

High-capacity batteries aren’t just making electric vehicles viable. They’re also beginning to transform water utilities. In Southern California, a number of water utilities have begun to install large batteries alongside their pumping plants and water treatment facilities. The idea is to store energy in the batteries overnight, when energy is cheaper. Then during the daytime, when power is more expensive, a water agency can tap that battery power for its routine operations.

The Real Culprit Behind Snowmelt Floods Isn’t Temperature—It’s Dirt

Every spring in the western United States, snow melts off mountains, feeding rivers with surges of water that can cause disastrous floods. But warm weather isn’t the main culprit, a new study finds. Instead, dusty soil that sticks to snow can darken it and accelerate its melting. The findings could establish a new way of forecasting snowmelt flooding—and suggest that the current prediction system has been getting it all wrong. The work is “groundbreaking,” says Adrian Harpold, a hydrologist at the University of Nevada in Reno who wasn’t involved with the study. “Dust is a really big deal for snowpack.”

New Suit Seeks Huge Damages for DWR ‘Recklessness’ at Oroville Dam

The California Department of Water Resources is facing a new and potentially very costly lawsuit over the failure of the spillways at Oroville Dam a year ago. A complaint filed in Butte County Superior Court Wednesday outlines approximately $120 million in losses claimed by more than 40 farms, businesses and other property owners along the Feather River downstream from the nation’s tallest dam.

Sierra Nevada Snow Picture Brightens, but is Still Just a Fraction of Normal

The last time California officials conducted their snow survey near Echo Summit, a month ago, the ground was practically barren. This time there was snow. Just not a lot of it. The Department of Water Resources’ monthly snow survey at Phillips Station on Thursday revealed a meager 13.6 inches of snow, or 14 percent of historical average. It was the latest evidence of a dry winter that has conjured up fears of another drought.

OPINION: Water Storage Needed — But Keep Faith with Prop. 1

In the midst of California’s severe drought back in 2014, more than 67-percent of California voters helped to pass Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond to fund water quality, supply, treatment and storage projects. In the nearly four years since the bond’s passage we have seen the last historic drought come to an end, but the reprieve may be short-lived. And one fact remains unchanged: California still desperately needs to develop additional storage to capture runoff in above-average water years.