California’s governor is important not just here, but across the nation and even around the world, so it matters whom we choose to lead our great state. At the risk of sounding irredeemably self-centered, it matters even more here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. That’s because our region of 1 million is under attack by the State Water Resources Control Board. The next governor must not only understand our battle, but be willing to rein in an out-of-control state agency or at least alter the conversation.
Archive for date: July 18th, 2018
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Here we go again. There’s nothing better than California water politics to prove the sagacity of French writer Alphonse Karr’s immortal quip: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (“The more things change, the more it’s the same thing.”) Last week the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board voted for a second time to finance the Delta tunnels, aka the California WaterFix. (Applying an abundance of caution, the Board decided to re-vote to preclude the impacts of a number of unsubstantiated allegations from WaterFix opponents such as purported Brown Act violations and other sundry sins, crimes and misdemeanors).
Reliable energy infrastructure is a hallmark of a modern world, and affordable power is vital for economic development and social cohesion. Ensuring that electricity is both affordable and reliable are ultimately the responsibility of our state government leaders when they set the ground rules for how electricity is generated and how it is transmitted around the grid.
In 2010, San Diegans won a huge victory in decommissioning the South Bay Power Plant. The natural-gas fired plant raised concerns about poor air quality and asthma in the surrounding Latino/a community of Chula Vista for too long. It occupied precious San Diego Bayfront land, and perpetuated our state’s dependence on fossil fuels at a time when we needed to turn towards renewable energy.
Concerns over the cost and environmental impacts of desalinated water were overridden by the desire to fortify water supplies when the Orange County Water District board voted 6-2 Wednesday to approve non-binding contract terms with Poseidon, which has spent 20 years on the desalination plant proposal for Huntington Beach. The plan for the $1 billion plant and water distribution infrastructure would increase the monthly bill for the average residential customer receiving the water by an estimated $3 to $6. It would help ensure the area has water during droughts when supplies from Northern California and the Colorado River are curtailed.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to place the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. If two-thirds of voters in the Los Angeles County Flood Control District agree, property owners would be charged a new tax of 2.5 cents for every square foot of land shedding water. That includes roofs, patios, driveways and other hard surfaces.
If you’ve been to Disneyland, Cambria, many parts of Los Angeles, then you most likely had a swig of highly treated recycled water. Recycled water meaning, yes, it was once in a sewage treatment plant. For many years this recycled water has helped Orange County meet the needs of its growing population and reduce the toll on its declining aquifers. Soon, the same kind of water may be coming to Clovis and Fresno’s drinking water.
Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels project.
But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project are poised to ask the Trump administration for a $1.6 billion federal loan that millions of Californians ultimately would have to repay through increases in their water bills.
A colleague once observed, many years ago, that California has two seasons. Green and brown. We are in the latter, and death has visited my neighborhood this summer. Half the ground cover in my frontyard has burned to a crunchy crisp. Across the street, a neighbor draped white sheets over shrubbery that hadn’t already gone brittle. The Los Angeles-area forecast offers no relief. After weeks of relentless heat, including record-shattering temperatures more commonly associated with Palm Springs, it’s supposed to get hotter over the next several days.
Momentum for Salton Sea restoration is growing quickly these days and the effort could amass $600 million in state funding by the end of 2018 – a huge increase from just a few months ago.
On June 5, California voters supported Proposition 68, the $4.1 billion water bond that specifically included $200 million for Salton Sea restoration. During a recent press conference, state Senator Ben Hueso, who represents portions of San Diego and Imperial counties, thanked voters for passing Proposition 68 and said the State of California is committed to funding restoration efforts at the sea.