For years, Colorado River states have been negotiating a plan to avoid the worst – a shortage in Lake Mead so bad it could trigger unprecedented cutbacks. With the region experiencing drought conditions since 2000, even California, which has senior rights, came to the negotiating table. State officials said they were willing to voluntarily reduce Colorado River allocations to keep water levels in Lake Mead – the reservoir that holds water behind Hoover Dam for Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico – from slipping below a critical threshold.
Archive for date: March 21st, 2018
All Californians desire clean air, clean water, coastal protection, environmental protection, flood prevention and safe, well-maintained recreation areas. That’s why our state already spends about $5 billion annually to support these types of programs, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. In June, voters will be asked to approve Proposition 68, the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access For All Act, which would authorize the sale of $4.1 billion in bonds. The borrowed funds will have to be paid back over 40 years with interest.
It has all the earmarks of a “Miracle March” — heavy dousings of rain, intense flurries of snow in the Sierra and roadway havoc — but the showy display of stormy weather across California this week isn’t fooling the experts. Despite encouraging signs, including a Sierra snowpack that has risen to respectability from record-breakingly meager depths this month, meteorologists say California will almost certainly emerge from the winter drier than normal.
The Los Angeles City Council moved Wednesday to officially oppose staged construction of a proposed multibillion-dollar water- delivery tunnel project if it would result in greater costs or a greater portion of the financial burden for Los Angeles ratepayers. State water officials announced last month they will pursue staged construction of the California Waterfix project, leaving water agencies in the Southland and elsewhere to decide if they want to continue supporting the effort.
Inclusion of money for raising Shasta Dam got the most attention in a recently released federal budget proposal, but the same package also includes money for Sites Reservoir. The Department of Interior is recommending spending $33.3 million under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which was signed into law in December 2016. The biggest piece of that would be $20 million for design and pre-construction work on raising Shasta Dam 18 feet. However there’s also $4.35 million to complete a decades-old federal feasibility study on Sites Reservoir.
The multipurpose aspect of many reservoir projects adds an extra layer of regulation to those projects–and gives government agencies and advocacy organizations additional opportunities to seek more water and other concessions from reservoir operators. That scenario is playing out in attempts to relicense California hydroelectric projects that also provide water supplies to farms, ranches and cities. The Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts, joint owners of the Don Pedro Hydroelectric Project on the Tuolumne River, are seeking to renew the hydroelectric facility’s 50-year-old license to operate.