Several years ago, California farmers, including many in the Valley, began receiving threatening letters from the State Water Resources Control Board. The demand? Provide clean drinking water to local residents with nitrate contaminated private wells or face punitive legal action. The logic? Years of fertilizer application by farmers led to excess nitrates in the drinking water supply for some residents in California’s agricultural regions, including our Tulare Lake Basin.
Archive for date: May 2nd, 2018
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The California Water Commission has been meeting this week to discuss how to invest $2.7 billion in water storage funds approved by voters under Proposition 1. The commission — and all Californians — should bear in mind that water storage doesn’t necessarily mean a dam with water behind it. The commission’s charge is not to fund the biggest new dam but to fund projects with the greatest net benefits to California cities, farms and wildlife.
After a five-hour packed public hearing, the board of Silicon Valley’s largest water provider late Wednesday night put off a closely watched vote until next week on whether to provide up to $650 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water south. Although it appeared there might be four votes on the seven-member Santa Clara Valley Water District board in favor of the project, which the Brown administration calls WaterFix, board members were divided and continued the issue until Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
California utility regulators seem to have little appetite for San Diego Gas & Electric’s $640 million plan to build a new natural gas pipeline across the county. A draft decision released Wednesday shows how regulators have begun analyzing major new projects through the lens of climate change. In that context, a California Public Utilities Commission judge said SDG&E’s plan makes no sense. The state is trying to reduce the use of natural gas, which is a major contributor to climate change.
One way or another, the city is about to rearrange a bunch of electrons. Right now, much of San Diego’s electricity comes from local power plants that burn natural gas to create electricity. City officials want to ditch that power and replace it with green energy to meet their goal of using only clean power by 2035. Don’t expect to see windmills or solar farms popping up all over the city just yet, though. So far, it’s unclear where all the new power will come from.
The scattered showers that slickened roads across San Diego County Wednesday morning, though light as expected, brought the most rain the region has seen since mid March. Next up is a drying and warming trend. Temperatures, well below normal Tuesday and Wednesday, on Thursday should be near normal for early May. By Saturday, building high pressure should raise the highs to around 90 degrees in the inland valleys, the mid 70s at the coast and over 100 in the desert.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state. Selenium, a naturally occurring element, is essential to people and animals alike in small doses. But selenium continues pouring off many San Joaquin Valley farms in larger quantities, which can be toxic.
The river is so foul that rumors swirl about two-headed turtles and three-eyed fish. If you fall in, locals joke, you might sprout a third arm. So go the stories about the New River, whose putrid green water runs like a primordial stew from Mexico’s sprawling city of Mexicali through California’s Imperial Valley. The river, with skull-and-crossbone signs warning about the danger it poses, reminds Calexico resident Carlos Fernandez of a scene in “The Simpsons Movie” where Homer Simpson disposes of pig feces by dumping them into a lake.