High snowpack in the southern Rocky Mountains this winter will likely stave off a shortage declaration in the Colorado River watershed in 2020, relieving pressure on water managers attempting to navigate future scarcity. New data from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation models show a lessened risk of a key Colorado River reservoir dropping far enough to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration. Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin is at 138 percent of the long-term median, a level not seen in mid-March since 1997.
Archive for date: March 18th, 2019
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On March 6, the California State Water Resources Control Board announced it will soon issue orders to owners and operators of more than a thousand facilities in California requiring environmental investigation and sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known by the acronym PFAS. As “Item 10” in a four-hour meeting providing updates on state and federal programs addressing PFAS, Darrin Polhemus, Deputy Director of the State Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW), and Shahla Farahnak, Assistant Deputy Director of the Division of Water Quality (DWQ), unveiled an aggressive “Phased Investigation Plan.”
Spectacular landscapes are part of California’s natural identity. I recently led a group on a tour of the Salton Sea and it prompted me to think that we should consider the sea one of these treasures. There’s nothing in California like it. We visited during a rare rainstorm, so there were waves on the lake and dramatic gray skies. Nonetheless, the landscape was full of life. Waterfowl are making a comeback on the lake, and we saw plenty of Redhead ducks and Canvasbacks in places like Salt Creek.
Midwestern floodwaters have topped or breached multiple levees, damaged bridges and roads, destroyed one dam and damaged another and inundated at least 42 wastewater treatment plants as historic flooding continues to hit Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. At least two people are reported dead. Nine levees in total have been breached on both sides of the Missouri River, and “additional breaches are possible,” says Mike Glasch, deputy director of public affairs for the Army Corps’ Omaha District. “We are continuing to work with state and local agencies to monitor the levees,” he adds.
It’s done. The Colorado River Board of California voted 8-1-1 Monday to sign on to a multi-state drought contingency plan, which, somewhat ironically, might not be needed for two years because of an exceptionally wet winter. The process was fractious until the very end, with blistering rebukes from the river’s largest water user, and charges that state and federal laws were possibly being violated to cross the finish line.
The Helix Water District is holding its eighth annual Lake Jennings spring photo contest, seeking pictures of the scenic reservoir taken between now and the end of May. The 2019 contest theme is “Life at the Lake.” Photographs can be color or black and white, of flora, fauna or people at the lake, as well as boating, camping, landscape or picturesque views at the Lakeside reservoir. All images must be digital and there is a limit of three entries per person. Photos may not contain watermarks.
Winter storms have covered the Rocky Mountains with snow from Wyoming to northern New Mexico, leaving a bounty of runoff that should boost the levels of the Colorado River’s depleted reservoirs this spring and summer. The snow that fell during the past month has pushed the accumulated snowpack across the Upper Colorado River Basin to nearly 140 percent of average. Federal officials now estimate there could be enough snow to narrowly avert a declaration of a shortage at Lake Mead next year, which would hold off water cutbacks in the Southwest for another year.
AquaCycl, a San Diego-based wastewater treatment startup, took home the grand prize at the San Diego Angel Conference on March 15. A panel of angel investors that had vetted the finalists for months selected AquaCycl as the winner, for a $200,000 cash prize. The company was also voted in as the audience favorite. AquaCycl was co-founded in 2016 by CEO Orianna Bretschger, Vice President of R&D Sofia Babanova and Vice President of Hardware and Manufacturing Ryoji Naito. The company developed a technology that uses electricity-generating bacteria to speed up wastewater treatment rates, resulting in a more efficient, lower-cost option.