The drinking water in Paradise, California, where 85 people died last year in the nation’s worst wildfire in a century, is contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene, officials said. Officials said they believe the contamination happened after the November firestorm created a toxic combination of gases in burning homes that got sucked into the water pipes as residents and firefighters drew water heavily, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported Thursday. Officials say that may explain why benzene, which has been linked to anemia and leukemia, has been found in tests at various spots rather than from one source in Paradise, which was largely destroyed.
Archive for date: April 18th, 2019
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For six years, a coordinated campaign has fought to save the Colorado River, influencing policy decisions like a recent interstate drought plan. But you can’t find it on Google. The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. It is housed at the New Venture Fund, a tax-exempt charity based in Washington, D.C., that funnels money to dozens of advocacy campaigns on a variety of issues. There is no mention of the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign on the fund’s website, or anywhere in its tax filings. And those tax returns are opaque.
Just as a long-negotiated agreement for how California and six other Western states will deal with drought on the Colorado River was about to cross the finish line, the river’s biggest user put up a roadblock. The Imperial Irrigation District in southeast California filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a state court to block the plan until more analysis is done on the accord’s environmental impacts.
The discovery was as surprising as it was ominous. Weeks after the Camp Fire roared through Butte County last November, devouring entire towns, officials made an alarming find: The Paradise drinking water is now laced with benzene, a volatile compound linked to cancer. Water officials say they believe the extreme heat of the firestorm created a “toxic cocktail” of gases in burning homes that got sucked into the water pipes when the system depressurized from use by residents and firefighters.
Wyoming wants to modify the Fontenelle Dam so it can use an extra 80,000 acre feet of water from a tributary of the once-mighty Colorado River. At its headwaters, Denver Water hopes to expand a reservoir’s capacity by 77,000 acre-feet of water. And several hundred miles south, Utah is trying to build a pipeline that can funnel another 86,000 acre-feet out of the river. There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River.
In an effort to end Thousand Oaks’ near total reliance on imported water, public works staff is asking the City Council to commit $16.6 million over the next two years to build a groundwater treatment plant at the city’s publicly owned golf course. The Los Robles Greens Golf Course Groundwater Utilization Project which will be offset with an estimated $6 million in State Water Project (Prop. 1) grants is the single most expensive item on the city’s proposed $97-million 2019-21 capital improvement program budget, which outlines spending on public infrastructure over the next two fiscal years.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced the competitive sale this week of $299.6 million in California Department of Water Resources water system revenue bonds to refinance certain State Water Project capital improvements, including a portion of the costs of the Oroville Dam Spillways Response, Recovery and Restoration Project. “These funds will be used to finance the reconstruction of the Oroville dam spillways to help provide flood control and water supply throughout California,” said Treasurer Ma. The main spillway chute of Oroville Dam experienced damage in 2017 due to heavy rains during the wettest January and February in 110 years of Feather River hydrologic record.
As the month of April continues to chug along, the weather maps are looking more and more like the end of the wet season. Dry weather is starting to take hold. Thursday will likely be the warmest day of the week along the California coast, with highs reach the 70s in San Francisco and the 80s in Downtown Los Angeles. Across the interior, Friday could be even a touch warmer with temperatures approaching record levels in places like Merced and Fresno.