Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea in Southern California on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here. The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club designed to both inform the public and garner the opinions and experiences of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.
Archive for month: March, 2019
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Seven states that rely on a major waterway in the U.S. West have finished a yearslong effort to create a plan to protect the Colorado River amid a prolonged drought, the federal government declared Tuesday. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman commended Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for reaching a consensus on the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Now the states are seeking approval from Congress to implement it.
Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal. The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation, which has been compounded by years of drought and the worsening effects of climate change.
A low-pressure storm system is expected to reach San Diego County Tuesday, bringing light rain and a chance of thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service. The system is expected to move inland across Southern California Tuesday evening and could begin dropping rain late Tuesday evening, forecasters said. Coastal and inland-valley areas could get up to a quarter-inch of rain through Thursday night, while around four-tenths of an inch could fall in the mountains and around two-tenths of an inch is forecast for the deserts, according to the NWS.
It could be called the Washington Avenue shuffle. Three times now, Escondido has proposed building a large recycled water treatment plant on lots along Washington Avenue, first near its eastern terminus, the second time in the middle of the city, and now near the western end of the street. The first try was on city-owned land near where the street ends at El Norte Parkway, property surrounded on three sides by newer housing whose residents screamed bloody murder. That location was rejected by the City Council in 2016.
A very wet winter across California recently pulled the state out of drought for the first time in years, and it’s also been a boon for the Sierra snowpack, now at a staggering 156 percent above normal as of Wednesday. The latest figures show a marked improvement over this time last year, when the statewide average for the snowpack was about 40 percent of normal, according to the National Weather Service’s Hanford office. In fact, as the weather service noted in a tweet, the snowpack has reached 150 percent just eleven times in March since measurements began in 1950 — and only twice this century. The last time was in 2017.
The water is saved, for now. Seven Western states have agreed on a plan to manage the Colorado River amid a 19-year drought, voluntarily cutting their water use to prevent the federal government from imposing a mandatory squeeze on the supply. State water officials signed the deal on Tuesday after years of negotiations, forestalling what would have been the first federally enforced restrictions on the river’s lower basin. But any victory may be short-lived. Climate change promises to make the American West increasingly hot and dry, putting further pressure on the Colorado and the 40 million people who depend on its water.
The past week has been lovely for enjoying California’s outdoor splendor, with warm temperatures and clear, blue skies ushering in a welcome change from such a wet, dreary winter. Bring on spring! But while the Golden State might be through with winter, winter is not through with the Golden State. Forecasts are calling for precipitation, widespread and light — save for scattered cloudbursts — and cooler conditions starting Wednesday. A second round of unsettled weather, perhaps a little weaker and quicker, is coming late Friday into Saturday.
Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River. The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, Area Director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says, the flow out of the dam is being increased. “Warm weather has hastened the snowmelt runoff season for us,” Jackson said. Flood releases don’t usually start until April, so the extra water is good news for Valley growers, with extra irrigation water available.
After an extended break from storms, a new storm from the Pacific will eye California and much of the Southwest during the middle to latter part of this week. While far from some of the blockbuster storms of this past winter, this storm will bring enough rain and snow to slow travel and hinder outdoor activities.