What to make of the propositions on California’s June 5 ballot? As ever, the issues span the political spectrum. But two address the environment, one asking voters to shell out billions to improve it and another that could make it more difficult for the state to spend billions on helpful projects. Taken together, these measures would provide money to shore up crumbling levees, give kids more places to play and help clean the air—albeit at a price—and affect how the state spends proceeds of the cap-and-trade system that California uses to reduce greenhouse gases. Let’s unpack.
Archive for date: May 30th, 2018
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Researchers have examined data collected by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission during the period 2002 to 2016 to track freshwater trends worldwide. In a new report, they claim that data shows access to freshwater will be the biggest challenge to humanity in the 21st century. The GRACE data made it possible for the researchers to track changes in freshwater resources around the world even in areas where local data has been scarce or unavailable, according to a report in The Guardian.
In the heart of the drought, reservoirs were getting sucked dry and the immediate concern was that we would not have enough water for everybody. These were stressful, dramatic days and in 2014, California residents voted to spend billions of dollars to fend off the next drought. The Prop 1 Water Bond was passed by 66 percent of voters and the long road to build water storage, and conservation, were underway.
The battle to drain the reservoir in Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley reignited Wednesday as critics of the historic dam told a panel of judges in Fresno that their legal case to raze it should proceed, despite an earlier decision to dismiss the suit. In California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal, attorneys for the group Restore Hetch Hetchy reiterated their longtime argument that San Francisco should not be operating a reservoir in a national park because it violates a provision of the state Constitution requiring reasonable water use.
In contrast to the federal government’s chronic underinvestment in the pipes, pumps, and plants that supply and treat the nation’s drinking water, America’s large cities are forging ahead with fresh spending to modernize their systems. One result is that all the work to repair municipal water systems is raising the cost of service. In its latest annual survey of water price trends in 30 large U.S. cities Circle of Blue found that the average price of residential drinking water for a family of four using 100 gallons per person per day rose 3.3 percent last year.
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday. The situation is so dire that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are using $2.5 million from the Trump administration this year to crack down on illegal growers, who Scott said have been brazenly setting booby traps, confronting hikers and attacking federal drug-sniffing dogs with knives.
San Francisco is hoping to better prepare for the next drought. Though the city’s government agencies were good at cutting water use during the recent dry years, easily meeting a self-imposed goal of reducing consumption 10 percent between 2014 and 2017 and often conserving more, Mayor Mark Farrell wants to pick it up a notch. Farrell is asking the Board of Supervisors to approve an ordinance that would require the five city departments that use the most water to develop plans for trimming water use 20 percent.
Officials with the federal government seem determined to realize a controversial proposal to raise Shasta Dam and increase the storage capacity of the reservoir behind it – despite objections from fish and wildlife agencies and California law that technically forbids such a project. In January, the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam, received a $20 million appropriation from Congress to begin design and preconstruction work – and, with the support of water agencies in the San Joaquin Valley, the bureau has announced plans to begin construction as early as the end of 2019.