Proposition 3, which asks voters to approve $8.9 billion in bond funds for water projects, has a surface appeal. The state’s need for improved water infrastructure and new water storage facilities is plain. But there are strong reasons to reject it. The first and most obvious is that Proposition 3 is on the ballot not because the Legislature thought it was necessary but because of signature-gatherers paid by those who stand to benefit from the bond. A July 16 CALmatters story noted that more than half the money raised to promote the measure came from business groups and farmers seeking specific improvements, especially to the 152-mile-long Friant-Kern Canal in the Central Valley.
Archive for date: September 11th, 2018
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California officials are poised to seize control over a major arena of federal regulation in response to Trump administration rollbacks: the management and protection of wetlands. Wetlands are vital features on the landscape. Basically low spots in a watershed, when they fill with water they provide important habitat for birds, fish, and other species. Wetlands also help control floods and recharge groundwater, and they filter the water we drink. On the other hand, being generally flat and maligned as “swamps,” they are popular places to pave and build. As a result, wetlands have nearly disappeared across the western United States.
A growing backlog of broken water meter boxes and lids has plagued the San Diego Public Utilities Department — an agency still reeling from months of public outrage following spiking water bill throughout the city. That’s according to a recent report by the independent City Auditor’s Office, which found that agency “mismanagement” led to a backlog of more than 25,000 broken meter cases. The city has 281,500 such devices. The audit report stated: “We found that PUD’s delayed response to box and lid maintenance issues resulted from a lack of management oversight and accountability; a variety of process inefficiencies; and inadequate strategic planning.”
An atmospheric phenomenon lingered along the West Coast over a recent four-year stretch, sending winter storms north and preventing precious rain and snow from reaching California. Dubbed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” the high-pressure system made the Golden State bone-dry and moved Gov. Jerry Brown to make an unprecedented order requiring nearly 40 million Californians to slash water use in their homes. As the persistent ridge returned each winter from 2012 through 2016, it pushed California into the driest and hottest drought on record. The state’s famed snowpack vanished, hundreds of thousands of acres in its agricultural heartland wilted and critical water-delivery systems were tested like never before.
Scientists from the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nev. are pleased to announce the release of a long-awaited update to a climate mapping tool called the California Climate Tracker. Originally launched in 2009, the California Climate Tracker was designed to support climate monitoring in California and allows users to generate maps and graphs of temperature and precipitation by region. The 2018 upgrade incorporates substantial improvements including a more user-friendly web interface, improved accuracy of information based on PRISM data, and access to climate maps and data that go back more than 120 years, to 1895.
Two maintenance pros representing San Diego brought home awards from the 2018 American Public Works Association’s National Roadeo Skills Competition in Kansas City, Missouri , in late August. The San Diego County Water Authority’s Bobby Bond Jr. placed second in the backhoe/mini-excavator event, while John Brown, also of the Water Authority, placed third in the skid steer competition. They are the only winners from west of the Rockies, and the only two winners from a single agency nationwide. A record number of 86 participants competed in three categories of competition: the backhoe/mini-excavator, skid steer, and mechanics.
Like rust slowly consuming the body of a car, drought has spread upstream on the Colorado River. The river’s Upper Basin – generally north of Lake Powell – has been largely insulated from the 19-year drought afflicting the giant watershed, thanks to the region’s relatively small water demand and heavy snows that bury Colorado’s 14,000ft peaks each winter. But this year, there was no salvation in the snowpack. Several major Colorado River tributaries – the Dolores, San Juan and Gunnison rivers – saw record-low snowpack this winter.