Arizona says it’s one step closer to figuring out how to divvy up water cuts as the supply from the Colorado River becomes more limited. Several Western states that rely on the river are working on drought plans. The federal government wants them done by the end of the year. While Arizona hasn’t said it would meet that deadline, a committee meeting on the issue announced Thursday it is making progress. The plan isn’t final, including how to fund it.
Archive for month: November, 2018
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As Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office, his controversial Delta tunnels plan is on the ropes. Most farmers who would get water from the tunnels still haven’t agreed to pay their share. Rather than support the tunnels, the Trump administration is trying to bend federal environmental laws to simply deliver more water through the existing Delta system to San Joaquin Valley farms and cities — and just rejected the project’s request for a big startup loan. Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, says he would like to see the project scaled down. Lawsuits challenging the project abound.
Southern California’s ski resorts got their first snowfall from Thursday’s storm, with some spots in the San Bernardino Mountains receiving up to 8 inches. More of the white stuff may be on the way Saturday evening. Snow Summit, with a peak elevation of 8,200 feet, received 4 to 8 inches of fresh snow from the recent storm, according to its website. The Big Bear Lake resort had opened for the season Nov. 16 with a base of man-made snow.
A scheduled shutdown of a pipeline supplying most of the water for Inland Valley cities has prompted officials to ask customers to limit their water use over a 10-day period. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is suspending water deliveries through its Rialto Pipeline from Monday, Dec. 3 to Wednesday, Dec. 12 to conduct scheduled maintenance on a portion of the pipeline, said Kirk Howie, chief administrative officer for Three Valleys Municipal Water District.
“We’ve been in denial for a long time,” a water official said about Borrego Springs residents coming to terms with a looming water shortage. Those desert folks aren’t alone. Denial about changes and limits in the natural world is running into harsh reality, whether it’s regarding water supply, wildfires or sea-level rise. A cold snap back East or rain in California doesn’t change any of that. While the politically charged debate over climate change rages at high levels, states and local communities are having to deal with its effects. Consensus on solutions is hard to find because, invariably, there are big economic and quality-of-life issues at stake.
Heavy rain and mountain snow is spreading across California and will bring the risk of flooding, mudslides and travel delays into Friday. Measurable rain is expected in the state’s largest cities, including in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. Mandatory evacuations have already been issued for people living near the Holy Fire burn scar due to the potential for flooding and mudslides, while those in Malibu near the Woolsey Fire burn scar have been put on alert for potential evacuation.
Imperial County Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt could rule as early as today on whether to grant an injunction that would stop Imperial Irrigation District from taking part in a plan to prevent shortages on the drought-plagued Colorado River. The plaintiff, local farmer Mike Abatti, says a previous ruling by Anderholt that favored Abatti over IID and its equitable distribution plan precludes the district from entering into any new contracts that have to do with water because water rights are tied to the land and are a property right of the agricultural user. That case is currently under appeal by IID.
The tiny, remote dot in northeastern San Diego County known as Borrego Springs and its several thousand residents face a daunting task: To survive, they need to ensure they use the same amount of water as the town has in its sole aquifer, which provides declining supplies. Officials expect to have 75 percent less water available by 2040, and they say the town must allow most of its 3,800 acres of citrus and other farms — which use 70 percent to 80 percent of all the community’s groundwater — to fallow. The narrowly defeated Proposition 3, the $8.8 billion state water bond, would have provided $35 million to fallow the farms, which would then become part of adjacent Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Now there’s talk of pursuing a new water bond or seeking help from the Legislature to fallow farms and retrain about 60 farm workers for other jobs.
After a three-year battle to keep their underground job site from flooding, the construction crew at Lake Mead is ready to let the water win. Sometime late next week, workers plan to shut off the pumps keeping the water out and allow it to fill the cavern they have carefully excavated more than 500 feet beneath the shore. The move will mark the latest milestone for the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s low-lake-level pumping station, a $650 million safety net for a community that draws 90 percent of its drinking water from Lake Mead.
A group of powerful Imperial Valley farmers and their irrigation district need to work together for the benefit of the region, according to Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt. He warned a fight between the two sides over rights to Colorado River water and the need to address a prolonged drought across the Southwest could spur action by Congress, or end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.