Storms like the one that have doused arid California in recent days are cause for celebration, but also for better conservation. The Sierra Nevada mountains received nearly six feet of snow, which was especially welcome in a dry winter. Snowpack in the Sierras had measured a quarter of its historical average.
Archive for date: March 6th, 2018
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Electricity in California would all come from sources like wind and solar if a bill in the Assembly becomes law. Senate Bill 100 starts by boosting the state’s renewable electricity requirement to 60 percent by 2030. Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner says the bill also sets a goal of getting 100 percent of electricity from non-carbon emitting sources by 2045. “If we pull that off, then we will be the largest users of energy in the world with such a goal,” said Skinner, who co-authored the bill.
In the wake of rising outcry in San Diego of cross-border flows of contaminated water, trash and sediment from Tijuana, Mexico is moving ahead with a series of short-term upgrades to Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment system aimed at preventing such incidents, and responding with greater speed should they occur. These efforts include upgrading a key piece of infrastructure in Tijuana known as Pump Station CILA that is critical for preventing dry weather flows in the Tijuana River channel from crossing into the United States.
California’s water regulator paved the way for the increased use of recycled water on the same day it instituted new pesticide thresholds for a river on the central coast. The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously passed regulations that hold local water agencies accountable for the amount of pesticides that flow from agricultural operations into the Salinas River. “I understand the benefits of pyrethroid pesticide use as it makes food production possible at this time,” said water control board member Steven Moore.
Agriculture already monopolizes 90 percent of global freshwater—yet production still needs to dramatically increase to feed and fuel this century’s growing population. For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent without compromising yield by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants, as reported in Nature Communications.
It’s been an usually dry winter, and last weekend’s atmospheric river was welcome for the snow and rain it brought. But what did it mean for California’s water supply? In truth? Not much. As of last week, this winter was on track to be one of the warmest and driest on record. So, no one would blame you if you breathed a sigh of relief when that freezing cold storm came through and dumped rain and snow on our parched state. But look at the numbers and you’ll see that California’s far from recovered.
When it rains, it pours — and that has San Francisco water officials looking into charging property owners a new “storm-water fee” to help with the upkeep of the city’s aging sewer system. The first target will be the owners of vacant lots. “It’s a tax on rain,” fumed Jason Sanders, who was just notified that effective July 1, he will be assessed $31.46 a month for runoff on his vacant lot on Ashbury Street.
Jim Cuming is a retired farmer whose grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. Edward Cuming got 160 acres in Arizona’s Yuma Valley from the federal government. Jim Cuming said the land was as undeveloped as a dry riverbed. In order to survive and develop the farm, his grandfather had to make a living. “This Laguna Dam project opened up. So they moved up to the dam and he worked on the dam there as a carpenter,” he said. That means Cuming’s grandfather helped build the dam that made it possible to irrigate his own farmland.
Monday’s snow survey at Phillips Station tells a more positive story than it did before the recent storm, but totals are still well below average. Despite the recent late-winter storm that brought much-needed snow to the Sierra Nevada, the snow water equivalent (SWE) is 9.4 inches, which is 39 percent of normal for early March. “California has unquestionably experienced a dry winter this year, with a near-record dry February,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.