With the snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada now at 20 percent of average – lower than at the same time three years ago, the driest year on record – Californians are girding for a repeat of drought conditions. Water scarcity seems likely to be a recurring part of our future. Legislators in Sacramento, therefore, would be remiss to delay the adoption of a group of bills that would place the state on a path to ensuring more sustainable water supplies.
Archive for date: February 21st, 2018
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They say we could use some rain. Why? Let the deluge happen up north. Root for a huge snowpack in the Sierra. Pray for 40 days and 40 nights of rain in the Colorado River Basin. But must we be guilted into acting like we want downpours that wash away parts of the county? Come now. We like sunshine, every day. That’s why we love it here. That’s why so many songs about Southern California feature sunshine.
By paying their water bills, San Diego residents have sent $2.5 million to help reopen a slaughterhouse in Imperial County. It’s one project of many that San Diegans supported through water payments that were earmarked for Imperial County, our neighbor to the east. There’s $346,000 and counting to fight cancer, $1 million to a food bank, $2.5 million to get an ethanol plant up and running, $15,000 to purchase tools for a body shop, $650,000 to expand a tortilla-making business, and $5,000 help a Methodist church hand out food and gas vouchers.
The state Department of Water Resources is still expecting the federal government to pay the bulk of the cost of repairing the Lake Oroville spillways. The estimated cost is up to $870 million, and north state congressmen had indicated the Federal Emergency Management Agency had some doubts whether it could reimburse costs for a redesigned structure. But DWR spokeswoman Erin Mellon said during a media call Wednesday that FEMA has paid 75 percent of costs that have been submitted thus far, and the state has no indication that is going to change.
On Wednesday, the Department of Water Resources provided an update on the construction of the Lake Oroville Spillways. According to DWR officials, current construction on the emergency spillway is underway, with the secant pile wall being 95 percent complete and is expected to be completed by March. The secant pile wall is being constructed 730 feet downhill of the emergency spillway, at depths of 35-65 feet.
A proposal to make California’s drought-era water restrictions permanent could allow the state to chip away at long-held water rights in an unprecedented power grab, representatives from water districts and other users told regulators Tuesday. Members of the state Water Resources Control Board delayed a decision about whether to bring back what had been temporary water bans from California’s drought, spanning 2013 to 2017. The plan is part of an effort to make water conservation a way of life, with climate change expected to lead to longer, more severe droughts.
With California facing another potential drought, legislators demanded Wednesday that a state agency release $2.7 billion in bond funding for dams, reservoirs and other water storage projects. Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, pulling a child’s red wagon, arrived at a meeting of the California Water Commission with a stack of petitions with 4,000 signatures supporting the two largest reservoir projects seeking bond money: Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento and Temperance Flat in the San Joaquin Valley. “Farmers like myself are concerned about the shortage of water – we’re seeing another drought cycle,” he told the commission.
San Diegans got a chance to hear from the Public Utilities Department about concerns about their soaring water bills Wednesday evening. A forum with Public Utilities Deparment officials was held at the La Jolla Riford Library after people across the county have been opening their water bill to see rates in the thousands. While officials attempted to answer questions, a number to water customers tried to dive right in to getting their bills in question resolved. Officials said they understand the raw emotion and confusion.
Scattered showers and a bitter cold combined Wednesday to create winter weather for San Diego that by the day’s end had brought snowfall to the mountains. Temperatures were in the mid 20s to mid 30s for much of San Diego County in the morning, though the increasing cloud cover helped mitigate the cold. The high temperature was forecasted to reach 59 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The mountains in the East County will see a lingering chance for snow flurries throughout the next several nights and days, according to NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh.
Even though there is rain in the forecast, is it enough to ease California’s drought problem? California officials are debating making once temporary water restrictions, permanent. Some of the the restrictions include not watering outside for 48-hours after it rains and not using a hose to wash sidewalks. Offenders could be fined up to $500 per violation. The State Water Resources Control Board delayed a Tuesday vote on the restrictions so there would be more time for public comment. This comes a week after U.S. Drought Monitors declared nearly half the state is now back in a drought.