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OPINION: Californians Voted To Spend Billions On More Water Storage. But State Government Keeps Sitting On The Cash

Good signs: There’s still a lot of water stashed in reservoirs from last year’s abnormally wet winter. And we’ve become better at using less water in our homes and yards. One very bad sign: We haven’t increased our water storage capacity. Government at all levels moves at a glacial pace, especially when it’s trying to deal with the complex and contentious issue of water. Four years ago in the midst of a scary, five-year drought — one of the state’s driest periods in recorded history — voters eagerly approved a $7.5-billion water bond proposal, Proposition 1. The vote was a lopsided 67% to 33%.

Forecasters No Longer Expecting Lots Of Rain In San Diego

It appeared that San Diego would get significant rain two or three times this week, helping to ease a quickly developing drought. But the National Weather Service said Monday that its latest models show the county will remain mostly dry for the rest of the week, and temperatures will rise above average starting on Thursday. “The systems are weakening and dying out when they get down here,” said Steve Harrison, a weather service forecaster.

City Water Bill Mess Puts Attention On The Water Department And Its Lack Of Oversight

City auditors are investigating billing problems at the city’s water department. Water officials have already acknowledged the city overcharged several hundred customers an average of $300 apiece. The mess has put unwanted attention on a major plan to change the way the city collects information from water users. If it were up to the city water department, auditors would definitely not look into the $60 million effort to install 280,000 new “smart meters” across the city – at least not right now.

Drones And Wireless Sensors Take California Water Research To New Level

California is about to learn a whole lot more about how water moves through its many diverse landscapes. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded a $2.2 million grant to the University of California to use remote sensors and drones to monitor hydrology across various landscapes. The subject areas will be the U.C.’s Natural Reserve System, a network of protected lands covering more than 750,000 acres and representing many habitat types in the state.

Southern California Will Get Gray Clouds While Arizona And Baja Get Beneficial Downpour

An unpredictable storm will flit past Southern California this week – bathing the region in dreary gray, but not much else. Late last week meteorologists cautiously predicted rain would hit the Southland, possibly invigorating a lackluster winter. But unlike most storms the region gets, which march through the west-east jet stream, this one came freewheeling from the north, said Brett Albright, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Can New California Water Storage Projects Win State Funding?

If California taxpayers are going to spend $2.7 billion on new water storage projects, the projects had better come with many more environmental benefits. That was the message sent by the California Water Commission, which on February 2 released its first analysis of 11 projects vying for a share of the riches. The money will come from Proposition 1, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014, which empowered the state to issue nearly $2.7 billion in bonds for water storage, whether new reservoirs, groundwater recharge or some form of hybrid.

California’s Drought Restrictions On Wasteful Water Habits Could Be Coming Back — This Time They’ll Be Permanent

Anyone caught wasting water in California may be fined as much as $500 under new rules being considered by the state water board, officials said Monday. The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1.

Gallagher’s Dam Safety Bill Goes To Governor On Evacuation Anniversary

The California Legislature unanimously passed Assemblyman James Gallagher’s bill requiring high hazard dams be inspected annually on Monday – the one-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam spillway evacuation. The bill also sets standards for those inspections and requires consultation with independent experts to update dam safety practices every 10 years, a periodic review of original design and construction records and that inspection records be made public, with sensitive information redacted when necessary. It is an urgency bill, meaning it will immediately go into effect if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.