Drought has crept back into Northern California. Despite a flurry of late storms in spring, precipitation for the winter season was below normal and the region is facing moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions once again, according to the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor. What’s more, temperatures were above normal throughout winter. The Drought Monitor’s weekly map, released Thursday, shows a large swath extending north of San Francisco through the Sacramento Valley to the Oregon border in moderate drought. The Bay Area and the North Coast went from normal to abnormally dry; parts of the northern Sierra remain normal.
Archive for month: June, 2018
You are now in California and the U.S. Media Coverage category.
A winter of exceptionally meager snowfall has revived California’s water woes. Snowpack typically supplies the state with much of its water during the spring and summer, but this year, snow is in short supply, spurring Gov. Jerry Brown to instate permanent conservation measures. Thanks to climate change, the problem is only going to get worse, leaving officials worried about the future of water in the Golden State. Huntington Beach, a seaside Southern California city, is taking the long view, investing in a new desalination plant that will turn seawater into clean, drinkable H20.
After a detailed – and dire – technical presentation from one of her experts, the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday told an audience of water stakeholders that officials weren’t trying to scare people, only make plain the risks of historically low levels on Lake Mead. Commissioner Brenda Burman and other federal officials urged, cajoled and pushed Arizona to finalize a so-called Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. The plan identifies earlier, steeper cuts to water users than those mandated by a 2007 agreement to decrease the risk of a rapid decline in lake level.
Wholesale water rates adopted Thursday by the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors include some of the smallest increases in the past 15 years due to successful litigation against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and strategic use of financial reserves, the agency said. They also highlight a historic shift in water costs: The Water Authority’s independent supplies from the 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement are now less expensive for the region than supplies from MWD, and that difference will grow in the years ahead.
Arizona water officials committed Thursday to reach a multi-state plan by the end of the year to stave off Colorado River water shortages, or at least lessen the impact. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been prodding Western states to wrap up drought contingency plans, one each in the lower and upper basins. Little snowpack, rising temperatures and ongoing drought have led to steady declines in the river that serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states.
Underneath San Diego streets lies a network of pipes and tunnels that most people never see. But when it rains, that network is busy carrying water out from neighborhoods and into the city’s rivers, bays and beaches. Much of that network is on the verge of collapse, and the city has nowhere near enough money to fix it. A report from the City Auditor’s Office released this month notes a staggering $459 million funding shortfall for stormwater infrastructure.
In less than six months, California will begin to enact new statewide water conservation laws. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668 call for new urban-efficiency standards for indoor and outdoor uses, water lost to leaks and appropriate variances. The bills will take effect in 2019, although there will a grace period before enforcement, according to Mario Remillard, water conservation specialist for the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. Additionally, water agencies are required to stay within their water budgets regardless of current drought conditions. However, the California State Water Board will not enforce these standards until November 2023.
In this episode of Deeply Talks, Tara Lohan, managing editor of Water Deeply, talks with Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife, about how water storage projects in California are being funded, which projects are receiving state money and what kinds of water projects the state really needs.
Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the San Diego County coastline. Mayor Richard Bailey and Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20 minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United States and Canada. “We discussed possible next steps and (Pruitt) expressed a strong desire for some tangible progress in the very near future,” Mayor Richard Bailey said.
California has always been America’s leader on environmental policy, and water is no exception. So it was hardly surprising when the state made headlines across the nation in early June with a new policy on residential water use: Californians will be limited to 55 gallons per person per day for their indoor water needs. The rule is apparently the first of its kind in the nation. But lost in the excitement is the fact that water agencies have no way to measure how much water their customers use indoors.