It started with the desert lilies in December. Since then a wave of wildflower blooms has been crescendoing across Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert in a burst of color so vivid it can be seen from mountain tops thousands of feet above. Two years after steady rains followed by warm temperatures caused seeds dormant for decades under the desert floor to burst open and produce a spectacular display dubbed the “super bloom,” another winter soaking this year is expected to create possibly an even better show by Mother Nature.
Archive for date: March 8th, 2019
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Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017, eventually prompting the two-day evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents and a $1.1 billion emergency response and repair job.
As promised, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman on Friday wrote a letter of support to the Imperial Irrigation District, backing efforts to win substantial Farm Bill funds to restore the dwindling Salton Sea. But she stopped short of linking a pledge of funds to the seven-state Colorado River drought package that she is pushing to complete in two weeks. Instead, she said adopting the drought plan was the single biggest step to both preserving drinking water across the West and to preserving the Salton Sea.
A Bay Area News Group report this week laid out great news on the California water front: Less than 1 percent of the state — a remote area near the Oregon border — is in drought status, the best showing since 2011. What’s more, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — a crucial source of water — is at 161 percent of its historic average, and supplies at every major reservoir are in good condition or better. But local and state governments and residents need to continue the good habits and smart practices they established during the lengthy drought that led then-Gov. Jerry Brown to declare an emergency in 2014. Lawmakers need to fund more water storage facilities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected a $306 million reimbursement request from the California Department of Water Resources for work to restore Oroville Dam’s shattered main spillway. The state agency says it will appeal the decision, made earlier this week. The rejection comes as construction crews near completion of a two-year project to replace the spillway, which began to disintegrate during water releases in February 2017, and reinforce a severely eroded adjoining hillside that was meant to serve as an emergency spillway.
Years of drought have been nearly wiped out by an active storm track in California this winter and drought conditions have dramatically improved across the West, and this trend is expected to persist into the spring. A dominant weather pattern featuring a southward dip in the jet stream over the West has allowed a series of precipitation-rich storm systems to track through the region, especially over the last two months.