A bill that the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to support in March is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the state Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposed state legislation promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals. Senate Bill 772 by Sen. Steven Bradford of Gardena promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals.
Archive for date: May 15th, 2019
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All of us remember California’s recent five-year drought when residents were encouraged to cut back their water use, let their lawns go brown, and use barrels to collect precious rainwater. Now, well-funded, politically-connected interest groups are trying to block a new source of clean drinking water for Southern California. According to a recent report by the State Water Resources Control Board, more than one million Californians don’t have access to safe, reliable drinking water.
California’s Department of Water Resources came out with its latest prioritization of state groundwater basins and, tentatively, the Owens Valley basin is now low. Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three years ago.
As 2018 was winding down, one of California’s leading newspapers suggested, via a front-page, banner-headlined article, that the drought that had plagued the state for much of this decade may be returning. Just weeks later, that same newspaper was reporting that record-level midwinter storms were choking mountain passes with snow, rapidly filling reservoirs and causing serious local flooding. Neither was incorrect at the time, but their juxtaposition underscores the unpredictable nature of California’s water supply.
The battle over Shasta Dam is escalating. This week, California’s attorney general and several fishing and conservation groups filed separate lawsuits to stop a controversial project to elevate the dam and expand the state’s largest reservoir, near Redding. “This project is unlawful,” wrote Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement announcing the state’s lawsuit. “
A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150 million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking water fund. Newsom proposed the tax in his January budget to help communities clean contaminated water systems. His May budget revise also included a fee to address the statewide problem that affects one million Californians.
Californians proudly regard themselves as early adopters and trendsetters. So, of course, they’ll be the first to experience an aberrant weather pattern that is expected in the continental United States over the coming days. A jet stream sagging into the mid latitudes is forecast to drive into the Golden State some unseasonably late precipitation and a lot of it starting Wednesday and continuing into the weekend.
As California faces more frequent and severe droughts, agriculture, which relies on irrigation from surface water and groundwater, could become expensive and unsustainable. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource rain water stored in the soil and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Problems in wastewater systems can’t hide behind a smokescreen at the Vallecitos Water District. The district’s Systems Collection Department routinely performs “smoke testing” of its wastewater system. This technique can easily locate flows caused by broken or incorrectly installed sewer pipes, lateral connections, or missing/broken clean-out caps. The test is performed by introducing smoke, comprised primarily of steam, through a device similar to a fog generating machine, into the wastewater systems. Staff can see if smoke comes out of the system through any leaks or breaches.
Remember atmospheric rivers? Earlier this year, they hit California’s collective consciousness in a big way, as the state reeled from the catastrophic flooding, mudslides and pounding rain they brought with them. This week, much to the dismay of anyone eyeing a weekend outdoors, atmospheric rivers are back and forecast to pour cold water (and snow) on the Bay Area and other parts of California. As Daniel Swain, a climate researcher and the author of the Weather West blog, put it: “Enjoy the upcoming 10 days of ‘Mayuary.’”