After years of drought and the recent devastating wildfires, Californians have been frequently reminded of water’s key role in everything from subduing the tragic blazes to its continuous uses for key agriculture, residential and commercial needs across the state. In the past, California has battled shortages and water challenges by rationing. But Israel has shown there may be a better long-term solution. Like California, Israel has an arid climate. Unlike the Golden State, Israel has solved its water shortage by commissioning a series of privately built and operated seawater desalination plants.
Archive for date: December 20th, 2018
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Snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains provides roughly 75 percent of California’s agricultural water, and 60 percent of Southern California’s water resources. Warm winters can cause snow droughts in the Sierra Nevada, both by nudging precipitation in the direction of rainfall rather than snowfall, and by melting snow sooner. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, uses historical records and modeling to understand how the Sierra Nevada snowpack may respond to rising temperatures. Based on the new study, this figure shows how the snowpack could fare in the Sierra Nevada with a 1°C (1.8°F) increase in average winter air temperature.
There’s a chance that a Pacific storm will blow ashore on Christmas Eve and drop 0.10” to 0.25” of rain on parts of San Diego County by the end of Christmas Day, says the National Weather Service. And that system might be followed by a second storm a couple of days later. “The models don’t agree on the Christmas forecast,” said Phil Gonsalves, a weather service forecaster. “One says rain. The other says it will be dry. We’re going with the wetter model, at the moment. “The storm wouldn’t be nearly as strong as the last couple we’ve had.”
Since 2015, San Diego’s Water Department has refunded water customers more than $8.3 million, according to new data obtained by NBC 7 Responds and media partner Voice of San Diego. The bulk of the $8.3 million refund total was paid to the U.S. Navy, which received $4.7 million in October 2017 for years of water overcharges at the Naval base facilities in Point Loma. A spokesperson for the city confirmed the refund was issued in late 2017 after it was discovered that water passing through the Navy’s water meter, tied to the Point Loma facility account, was delivered to water customers across the city. This resulted in the Navy paying for water it did not use.
San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is responding quickly to recent reports on the possibility of the city’s water lines being made out of lead. Last week, as reported by NBC 7, San Diego’s Water Department had informed California’s Water Board that it couldn’t identify the materials used to make two-thirds of its service lines. The city’s disclosure differed from statements it had made to NBC 7 and media partner Voice of San Diego last year. At that time, a senior water department chemist said there were no lead pipes in the city’s distribution system.
In recent months, the city and San Diego Gas & Electric have tussled over the future of energy in San Diego. Now, they’re in a multimillion-dollar dispute over the largest local water project in modern history. The city is working on a $1.4 billion water recycling project, known as a Pure Water. A new water treatment plant will eventually purify enough sewage to provide a third of the city’s drinking water. To build the plant and connect it to the rest of the city’s water system, the city must move some of SDG&E’s equipment.
Among the changes ahead when Democrats take control of the House in January, add this one: The switch will upend the balance of power in California’s water wars. In the two years since Republicans’ 2016 election triumphs, party members from the Central Valley led by the current House majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, have gotten several water bills for their area through Congress. Those included the first significant California-specific policy in decades, as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, also called the WIIN Act.
As stakeholders labor to nail down effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times ahead. The latest sobering assessment landed the day after Thanksgiving, when U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment concluded that Earth’s climate is changing rapidly compared to the pace of natural variations that have occurred throughout its history, with greenhouse gas emissions largely the cause.
As early as 2020, hydrologists forecast that the level of Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Colorado River, could drop low enough to trigger the first water shortages in its downstream states of Arizona, Nevada and California. The three states in the river’s Lower Basin have long feared shortages. But the continued decline of Lake Mead reflects a reality they can no longer ignore: Demand for the river’s water, which supports 40 million people from Wyoming to California, has long outpaced the supply.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is leaning toward spending billions of dollars to rebuild three aging gas-fired power plants, even as California aims to eliminate fossil fuels, a goal endorsed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Consultants hired by the utility say the city should invest those ratepayer dollars in continuing to burn natural gas at the Scattergood, Harbor and Haynes power plants along the coast. The utility’s staff agrees, saying that batteries charged with solar or wind power aren’t yet cheap or reliable enough to replace the gas plants, which are critical to keeping the lights on.