A California water district is disputing claims made in lawsuit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra that it is violating state laws over a dam project. Westland Water District, which covers Fresno and Kings counties, was responding to the lawsuit filed over the Shasta Dam, the potential heightening of which the attorney general strongly opposes. In the lawsuit, Becerra claims the district is moving forward with the proposal to heighten the dam, which opponents claim will cause environmental damage to the protected McCloud River. Violations of the Public Resources Code are alleged.
Archive for date: June 3rd, 2019
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A controversial effort to broaden California’s definition of renewable energy has fizzled out. The proposal would have allowed electricity from a large dam in the Central Valley to count the same as solar and wind. Under a law signed last year by former Gov. Jerry Brown aimed at reducing smog and greenhouse gas emissions, utilities in California are required to produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Nearly one-fifth of the world’s population lives in a stressed water basin where the next climate change-driven incident could threaten access to an essential resource for agriculture, industry and life itself, according to a paper by University of California, Irvine researchers and others, published today in Nature Sustainability. The study’s authors analyzed trends in global water usage from 1980 to 2016, with a particular focus on so-called inflexible consumption, the curtailment of which would cause significant financial and societal hardship. Those uses include irrigating perennial crops, cooling thermal power plants, storing water in reservoirs, and quenching the thirst of livestock and humans.
It was late one night 40 years ago and Gov. Jerry Brown’s most important piece of legislation was in trouble. Brown wanted the Legislature to approve a 42-mile-long “peripheral canal” to carry water around the environmentally fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, thus closing the last major gap in the massive state water system that had been the proudest achievement of his father, ex-Gov. Pat Brown. The canal authorization bill, however, was stuck in the state Senate Finance Committee. Twelve of its 13 members were evenly divided and the 13th, a cantankerous Democrat from San Jose named Alfred Alquist, wasn’t even in attendance.
The headlines are a bit easier to write when the growth is significant. Last year we got to say things like residential solar grew nine and ten times over prior quarters, and that 74% of residential customers were interested in storage with their solar. This year, we’re projecting the market will at least double as the United States becomes the world’s largest grid-tied energy storage market and energy storage’s investment grade status continues to grow.
Recent rains and snow pack could force California’s Department of Water Resources to release Oroville Dam’s main spillway as early as next week. Currently, the 2019 snowpack for California is now the fifth largest on record dating back to 1950, according to DWR officials. As of Monday, the snowpack is slightly larger than the amount in 2017 when the state received more rain. However, the winter of 2018-19 has been uncharacteristically colder, resulting in a greater snowpack.
The San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for issues of water quality and supply. While there are countless studies that have highlighted these water challenges, there have been few investments made to begin to address the problem. We must do more. Our families and I are no strangers to this crisis. We depend on agricultural jobs, but at the same time rely on bottled water because our ground-water wells are contaminated. Today, more than 2,400 families are being impacted by dry wells and over a million Valley residents are exposed to toxic water.
While California was gripped by drought in 2014, Mark Arax began to notice something he couldn’t explain. Instead of shrinking for lack of water, some big farms were growing even bigger, expanding to hillsides, saltbush desert, and other lands where farmers usually feared to tread. They were planting thirsty almond trees as fast as they could. Arax, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, watched as journalists from the East Coast parachuted in to tell the story of California’s fruit basket turning into another Dust Bowl. And they found versions of that story to tell: Some farms were drying up, especially the smaller ones.
When did San Diego become so ugly? It’s a horrible question, but one that needs asking. How else might we stop the “Los Angelization” of our once beautiful “Camelot by the Bay?” Take a drive—any drive—or better still a walk or bike ride to see for yourself. It is not just the homeless—though the task of moving the tent cities and river bank and bridge encampments is part of the problem. Just last week, that became more obvious as the usually hidden homeless had to be hustled out of view for both the Padres home game and Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.
More rain is coming to the Sierra Nevada, adding to a bountiful spring that’s left the snowpack at twice its historical average for this time of year. The mountains are holding more snow than they were two years ago, when Northern California was coming off a historically wet winter that officially ended the drought. But the heavy spring runoff is frustrating some hikers, campers and rafters. And it’s left farmers in part of the Central Valley frustrated that they aren’t getting full allocations of irrigation water despite one of the wettest winters in years.