Every brief rain brings hope that California is not slipping back into drought. And local water officials assure us that we have enough water to get us through the year, even if the drought resumes. They point to state and local reservoirs filled to their historic averages or more, a deal to access water from the Imperial Valley and added supply from a new desalination plant in Carlsbad.
Archive for date: March 22nd, 2018
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A powerful storm moved into Southern California on Wednesday, drenching fire-ravaged neighborhoods and setting several new rainfall records for the day but so far not causing the damage and destruction that some officials feared. The storm marked a direct hit by an “atmospheric river” system but has proved to be less powerful than forecasters initially predicted. Still, they warned that the heaviest downpour is yet to come on Thursday and urged residents to stay vigilant.
The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted Thursday to endorse Proposition 68, a $4 billion state bond measure on the June 5 ballot for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply and flood protection. Approval of the measure would mean $12 million for the San Diego River Conservancy and $200 million to Salton Sea restoration activities. “Robust Salton Sea funding in this bond measure is significant for San Diego County because it supports agreements that generate substantial water supplies for our region,” said Mark Muir, chair of the water authority’s board.
Last year’s deluge of water was significant enough in Southern California to end a six-year drought in the region, but not enough to keep the drought at bay this year. The U.S. Drought monitor finds most of San Diego County is experiencing moderate drought conditions with much of the region in the Los Angeles basin experiencing severe drought conditions. The KPBS Drought Tracker follows rainfall and snowpack conditions, with the help of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and both indicators are significantly below where they should be for this time of year.
A fierce atmospheric river blasted the northern and central Sierra overnight, dumping several feet of snow to elevations above 8,000 feet and bringing a slushy mix of rain and snow to lower elevations. On State Route 88 over the Carson Spur, Caltrans snow ploughs faced drifts that rose well above the top of their trucks. As of 11:30 a.m., the road still wasn’t clear. In the mountains, ski resorts shuttered lifts due to the high volume of snow. Squaw Valley and Alpine Ski resorts ceased operations at 3 p.m. due to high avalanche conditions.
The flows have been shut off through the Hyatt Powerhouse at the base of Oroville Dam, and the lake is beginning to rise. And that’s all by design, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The flows were shut down about 10 p.m. Wednesday and hadn’t resumed as of Thursday afternoon. But hours-long cutoffs have been occurring since March 8. Since March 15, water has been released for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening but the penstocks in the powerhouse have been closed off for the rest of the day.
Heavy rain in the Sierra foothills pushed a small dam within San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water system to the brink of failure Thursday, sending a brief scare through the rural region where roads were closed and a few dozen residents were forced to evacuate. Officials at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said the danger in the area, west of Yosemite National Park, had diminished by nightfall as the storm gave way. There was no interruption to water service for the agency’s 2.7 million Bay Area customers.
A class-action lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the city of San Diego, the Public Utilities Department and the city council, alleging the city misused taxpayer funds to pay for the city’s new smart water meters. The legal action alleges the city’s Public Utilities Department fostered an “illegal financing scheme” by using municipal sewer funds to pay for the advanced metering infrastructure, also known as the “AMI smart water meter program”. NBC 7 Responds has been investigating the smart meter program since last July and has revealed problems with meter installations and questions surrounding the financing behind retrofitted water meters.
A company’s controversial plan to sell groundwater from the Mojave Desert ran into new opposition as a Southern California water district voted against the proposal. The board of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District decided not to approve a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase water from the Cadiz Inc.’s proposed project. The company is looking to pump as much as 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater a year and pipe it across the desert to sell to cities in Southern California.