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Can The Salton Sea Be Saved?

If you don’t live near the fading banks of the Salton Sea, it’s easy to forget it exists — that is, until the winds pick up. Depending on which way they are blowing, gusts carry tiny, toxic particulates — and sometimes the stench of decaying fish and sulfur dioxide — from the Colorado Desert to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and points beyond. The smell is a reminder of the public health crisis that will occur if more isn’t done — and quickly — to save the sea.

California Board Debates Lawsuit, Seeks Scrutiny Of Contaminated Flows From Mexico

Members of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board have agreed to take the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the federal government to stem the cross-border flow of contaminated water into the Tijuana River Valley. Voting in a closed session on Monday, board members authorized staff to prepare a 60-day notice of intent to litigate against the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission for violations of the Clean Water Act. David Gibson, the board’s executive officer, said the state agency will offer details of the decision in a statement that will be released in coming days.

‘Pineapple Express’ Forecast To Deliver Three Days Of Rain To Bay Area

A warm, wet storm known as a “pineapple express” chugged into the San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday, with the first rain falling in the early morning in the South Bay. The system driven by an atmospheric river that’s pulling moisture from the subtropics is centered in Central and Southern California, but its northern edge is forecast to bring rain to the Bay Area Tuesday through Thursday. San Francisco, Livermore and Concord are expected to record 1 to 1.5 inches across the three-day period; San Rafael and Half Moon Bay 1.5 to 2 inches; and Santa Cruz 2 to 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Winter Storm Expected; Free Sandbags Available

The National Weather Service is predicting rain around San Diego County this week, potentially heavy rain on Thursday. People in unincorporated areas can get free sandbags at numerous locations to help them protect their homes, properties and communities. County public works officials said the coming rain was also a good reminder for people to check around their home and land to make sure drainage areas are clear and free of debris.

California Farm District Drops Water Lawsuit, Seeking To Settle Dispute

Last year, farmers who lead the irrigation district in Blythe sued the biggest urban water district in the country to challenge what they called a “water grab.” Now the Palo Verde Irrigation District has dropped that lawsuit, looking to smooth the way toward a possible settlement with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

California State Capitol Building Dome

Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose Proposed Water Tax

California voters overwhelmingly oppose state legislation that would create a new tax on drinking water, according to a recent poll of likely 2018 voters around the state.

In all, 73 percent said they opposed Senate legislation that would impose a tax on residential customers across the state in order to fund safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities living in areas with groundwater contamination. Over half said they “strongly opposed” the measure, while just 8 percent said they “strongly supported” it.

When asked their preference, three out of four voters preferred using existing state funds for providing safe drinking water to low-income communities in need, rather than establishing a new tax on drinking water. Just one in five voters chose a new tax on drinking water. Five percent said they didn’t know.

The results cross party and demographic lines, and preferences held firm even as respondents learned more about the tax proposal and its aims to provide safe drinking water to low-income communities.

“Clearly, voters want elected officials in Sacramento to use existing resources such as the state’s general fund, available federal funds, voter-approved water bonds and agricultural assessments intended for this purpose to fund the objective of this policy,” according to Tulchin Research, which conducted the poll of 1,000 likely voters in late January. The poll was commissioned by the Association of California Water Agencies and has a 3.1 percent margin of error.

The legislation in question, Senate Bill 623 by Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel, proposes taxing fertilizer, dairy products and water customers around the state to address groundwater pollution largely related to farming.

The bill is opposed by water agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority, as well as their industry organizations such as the Association of California Water Agencies and California Municipal Utilities Association.

Opponents of the bill say the bill violates the California principle of “polluter pays” by putting the onus of cleanup on urban ratepayers. They say a greater portion of the funding for drinking water pollution cleanup should come from the agricultural and dairy industries, whose assessments make up just 15 percent of the anticipated revenue. Poll respondents agreed overwhelmingly that ratepaying customers should not be stuck with the bill.