As the Trump administration moves toward a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing legislation that would exempt its work from environmental reviews. That includes potential impacts on what has emerged as a major sticking point in the drought negotiations: Southern California’s Salton Sea, a public health and ecological disaster. Draft legislation obtained by E&E News would authorize the Interior secretary to implement the drought plan “notwithstanding any other provision of law” and “without delay.”
Archive for date: March 14th, 2019
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Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water across the Golden State.
By the beginning of May, areas of La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Heights will undergo a pipeline replacement project — in piecemeal segments — to replace or rehabilitate more than seven collective miles of underground sewer lines. Arterial streets east of La Jolla Shores Drive, portions of Torrey Pines Road, some of La Jolla Scenic Drive North, and other smaller streets are slated for work.
On February 21, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the City of Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power, and the Bureau of Sanitation would embark on an $8 billion plan to recycle 100% of its wastewater by 2035. This ambitious sixteen-year plan will involve recycling over 200 million gallons a day of wastewater into around 195,000 acre feet of potable water a year. This new source of water represents about one-third of the City’s annual consumption. It will allow to City to reduce its dependence on expensive water from the Southern California Metropolitan Water District that is pumped in from the Bay Delta in Northern California via the energy intensive California Aqueduct.
Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced, and that’s leaving large swaths of lakebed exposed to the elements. “You got the Salton Sea probably a mile out there. Along the shoreline. You see the playa here,” said Bruce Wilcox, California Resources Agency Assistant Secretary of Salton Sea Policy.
San Diego County Water Authority crews successfully completed the first of three coordinated shutdowns of the First Aqueduct in early March to launch a major renovation of dozens of structures on two pipelines, including the historic Pipeline 1 that first delivered imported water to the region in 1947. The series of shutdowns was carefully planned for nearly four years to minimize impacts on the community and retail water agencies during retrofits of Pipelines 1 and 2, which comprise the First Aqueduct.
Thanks to a wet winter across the state, the entirety of California is free of drought for the first time since 2011, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s Thursday update. Don’t confuse that with former Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 2017 announcement that the statewide drought had officially ended. The drought officially began with Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency in January 2014.
A major Southern California water agency is trying to push the state through a final hurdle in joining a larger plan to preserve a key river in the U.S. West that serves 40 million people. Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands. But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the federal government.
It’s official: California is 100% drought-free. For the first time since 2011, the state shows no areas suffering from prolonged drought and illustrates almost entirely normal conditions, according to a map released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Former Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in 2017 that lifted the drought emergency in most of the state, leaving some breathing a sigh of relief. But he cautioned Californians to keep saving water as some parts of the state were still suffering from extreme drought.
Dale Cox isn’t your typical prophet of the apocalypse. But in his work at the U.S. Geological Survey, the bald, bearded, and technically-precise project manager spends an inordinate amount of time on catastrophe. Since 2006, Cox has worked with the interdisciplinary Science Application for Risk Reduction division in an effort to model hypothetical but entirely feasible disasters—and sell local governments on prevention methods.