Monday is the new deadline for all parties to sign the drought contingency plan — the deal between seven states to share less water on the Colorado River. Arizona state lawmakers approved the deal ahead of a late January deadline but the federal government said it didn’t meet the mark. Meanwhile, some say the plan doesn’t go far enough to ensure Arizona has enough water for the future.
Archive for month: February, 2019
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It’s no surprise, but feet upon feet of Sierra snow across multiple storms in February translated to healthy snow water content for California. How healthy? Department of Water Resources officials observed more than double what they measured last month at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, recording 113 inches of snow depth with a snow water equivalent of 43.5 inches Thursday, according to a news release. A month ago at the February survey (Jan. 31), snow-water equivalent had reached 100 percent of the statewide average (17.3 inches) at the February survey.
The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is released weekly to indicate what areas throughout the United States are experiencing some level of the five-category drought. The USDM levels range from the lower end of Abnormally Dry to the highest level of drought, Exceptional Drought. During the recent five-year drought, which ended with the record-setting winter of 2016-17, Californians were faced with water shortages and much of the state ranked in the Extreme and Exceptional categories.
Back-to-back storms hammering California this winter have nearly washed drought off the California map. After the recent atmospheric river, only a lingering sliver of “moderate drought” conditions remains near the Oregon border. The federal Drought Monitor Map, one way to measure drought that’s mainly used in agriculture, shows two percent of the state with “moderate drought” conditions and 13 percent abnormally dry in its Feb. 28 report.
State and federal dignitaries praised retiring San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton today for decades of public service and her achievements in securing safe and reliable water supplies for the region. Stapleton announced her retirement from the Water Authority earlier this month, prompting several commendations during the Water Authority Board of Directors regular February meeting. California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a letter that she valued Stapleton’s expertise on water issues. “During your more than 40 years of public service, you have demonstrated a deep commitment to your profession and the region,” wrote Feinstein.
The Association of California Water Agencies recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District Feb. 27 with its “Most Effective Agency on Federal Issues” award. The award was presented to OMWD General Manager Kimberly Thorner at ACWA’s annual conference in Washington, DC. In 2018, OMWD engaged House and Senate committees as well as staff from the US Bureau of Reclamation and Government Accountability Office on the Title XVI program that facilitates water reclamation and reuse. The program has been an important funding mechanism for the development of recycled water infrastructure that ultimately increases the reliability of California’s increasingly taxed water supplies.
For the first time in a long time, the San Diego area is reaping the benefits of mother nature’s generosity. “We’ve had 9 inches of rain so far in February, it could be a record,” says Ron Mosher of the Sweetwater Authority. As a result, Sweetwater is sharing the wealth. All that water has been collecting in a series a lakes and reservoirs. “It’s been a blessing. We’re now transferring enough water to supply 130,000 people for six months,” says Mosher.
Frustrated by delays in agreeing to plans for coping with looming shortages on the Colorado River, the head of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California wants to move the deal forward by agreeing to shoulder additional supply cuts. If the proposal is approved by the Metropolitan board, California would join a multi-state drought contingency plan and the water district would ensure its access to reserves stored in Lake Mead.
Atmospheric river events in late January and in February have significantly increased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, key sources of water supply for the state and San Diego County. “We’re thrilled by the amount of precipitation – rain and snow – in San Diego County, the Sierra and the Rockies,” said Dana Friehauf, a resource manager with the San Diego County Water Authority. The statewide Sierra Nevada snowpack was 151 percent of normal at 104 reporting stations for February 27, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The Rockies have received significant snowfall, which will feed the Colorado River, a source of water supply for the Water Authority.
With a Monday deadline looming, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has offered to break an impasse on a seven-state Colorado River drought contingency package by contributing necessary water from its own reserves on behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District. It’s not help that IID is seeking, but Metropolitan general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said he had no choice.