Two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation introduced legislation Tuesday on a plan to address a shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva vowed to move identical bills quickly through the chambers. Bipartisan lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors. Arizona, California and Nevada in the lower basin and Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the river’s upper basin spent years crafting drought contingency plans. They aim to keep two key Colorado River reservoirs from falling so low that they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower.
Archive for date: April 2nd, 2019
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California received some good news on Tuesday for the state’s water supply: The Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above normal, at 162 percent of average. This amount of snow is thanks to the more than 30 “atmospheric rivers” that brought storms this winter and spring. Chris Orrock, with the California Department of Water Resources, says the cold storms have helped preserve the snow. “The snowpack is nice and cold. It’s a little different than 2017, where it was warmer winter … and [the snowpack] melted quicker,” Orrock said while reporting measurements at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe. His crew found 106.5 inches of snow at the spot. As it melts and ends up in reservoirs, the snowpack provides about 30 percent of the state’s water supply, and water managers use the snowpack-measurement data to plan releases from the state’s reservoirs.
An epic winter of rain and snow has refilled California’s reservoirs and pressed into service a spillway at the nation’s tallest dam Tuesday, a $1 billion structure that drained excess water for the first time since it crumbled two years ago and drove hundreds of thousands to flee the threat of catastrophic flooding. Water flowed down the spillway and into the Feather River as storms this week and melting snowpack are expected to swell the lake behind Oroville Dam in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, said Molly White, principal engineer with the California Department of Water Resources.
A series of storms this week in the Bay Area, including a weak ‘atmospheric river’ system Friday expected to bring widespread rain to the region, should allow San Francisco and San Jose to reach their annual rainfall totals. Since the start of the water year Oct. 1, San Francisco has received 23.27 inches of rain, just shy of its annual average of 23.65 inches. San Jose has received 14.82 inches (annual average is 14.90) and Oakland 18.57 inches (20.81 average).
Recent decades have brought the slow collapse of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its salmon runs. A half dozen species face extinction. Lacking natural flushing, the Delta now suffers outbreaks of toxic algae. The salmon fishing industry suffered a shutdown in 2008 and 2009 which cost thousands of jobs. Science points to a clear cause: inadequate flows caused by excessive diversions. In some years, 90 percent of the Tuolumne River is diverted, leaving only 10 percent for salmon and the Bay-Delta. Every Central Valley salmon river also suffers from over diversion in many years. Recent proposals from water users fall far short of what is needed by salmon and required by the law.
The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward toward its anticipated completion date after the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors approved the required environmental report.“The approval of the environmental report for this project brings us another step closer to producing a local water supply for East County and improving the reliability of the water service for our community,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam CEO/General Manager. “We are on track for the project to begin providing water to the East San Diego communities by 2025.”
The abundance of winter rain produced bigger, earlier blooms at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. Starting Thursday, an event will try to make the most of the 13 colors of ranunculus and area businesses. Organized by Visit Carlsbad, the third annual Petal to Plate runs through Sunday, April 14, partnering with area resorts, spas, restaurants and breweries. Guests are invited to tour the fields and taste the delights of spring back in town with participating bars and restaurants, including Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton Resort, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Barrel Republic and Park 101.
Bystanders were met with the rumble of rushing water as Oroville Dam’s gates released millions of gallons of water down a newly reconstructed concrete spillway on Tuesday for the first time since the structure failed two years ago. In February 2017, people who live downstream in Oroville watched in disbelief as millions of gallons of water eroded the main spillway of the nation’s tallest dam, sending a deluge of water cascading down a hillside and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate. That scenario was exactly what bystanders watching the first water flow from the newly rebuilt spillway hoped to avoid.
Frustrated by continual delays in refurbishing the Whittier Narrows Dam, U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano summoned the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to her office in Washington D.C. last week. Her tete-a-tete with Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite produced the same refrain the agency has been telling the 1 million people threatened by flooding if the eroding dam were to fail: The $500 million project will be completed in 2025 — at the soonest. Not satisfied, Napolitano, D-El Monte, who is 82, said she’s been working on getting the Army Corps to hasten the project for the last 12 years and wondered if she’d be alive by the time it gets finished.
California — without a doubt — has the most intricate and massive water storage and transfer system man has ever created. It is the largest, most productive, and most controversial water system in the world that harnesses nature using man’s ingenuity. At its northernmost reaches it captures the snow run-off of the Modoc Plateau — volcanic highlands in northeast California and southeast Oregon — that is drained by the Pit River, Snow blanketing the hills of the Modoc Plateau today will melt in the coming weeks and start a long journey in the form of water. The journey’s end for water — that makes it that far — are faucets and water taps in San Diego less than a mile from the border of Mexico.