Wade Crowfoot, California’s new secretary of Natural Resources, remembers the first time he saw the Salton Sea. He was in his early 30s, headed south to visit his cousin in El Centro, when he saw “this huge body of water next to this stunning, stark landscape, with great mountains to the west. It captivated me.” Jeff Geraci’s impressions of California’s largest inland water body are quite different. For 14 years, as the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s senior environmental scientist, he’s coordinated Salton Sea inspections. “The sea is a repository for sewage, industrial and slaughterhouse discharges and agricultural wastewater,” he wrote in an email, describing wading through rotting fish and partially dissolved bird carcasses, all while pesticide-tainted water still pours in.
Archive for date: May 17th, 2019
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A bill that could block a Los Angeles-based water supply company from pumping water out of a Mojave Desert aquifer passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, extending the yearslong fight over whether the environmental impact of groundwater extraction merits additional scrutiny. The entire State Senate will vote on S.B. 307 later in the legislative session and, if it passes, it will need to also be approved by the State Assembly and signed by the governor. The bill would impose additional environmental review requirements on Cadiz Inc.’s water project, which would pump 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater out of an aquifer and transport it across public lands to the Colorado River Aqueduct. Cadiz projects the project could make them $2.4 billion.
Federal officials are working urgently to strengthen the spillway at Prado Dam near Corona to prevent it from failing in a major flood, which could imperil hundreds of thousands of people living downstream in Orange County. After a May inspection determined the dam’s spillway could perform poorly in a major flood, the dam’s risk rating was changed from “moderate urgency” to “high urgency.” Dena O’Dell, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman, said Thursday, May 16, that the agency is taking immediate measures to reduce the risk that the spillway will fail. And she said the agency was preparing to launch a project in 2021 to bolster the spillway and raise it 20 feet.