The Colorado River is short on water. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at a slate of proposed water projects in the river’s Upper Basin states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The river and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people in the Southwest. For about the last 20 years, demand for water has outstripped the supply, causing its largest reservoirs to decline.
Archive for date: June 7th, 2019
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The season of toxic algae blooms is here. A helicopter crew spread copper sulfate over Lake Skinner near Temecula on Thursday, June 6, to combat a cyanobacteria bloom — also known as blue-green algae — that had been producing some cyanotoxins and unpleasant tastes and odors. The bloom doesn’t endanger water that will be delivered to customers, and swimming at the lake was already prohibited, but signs now warn visitors not to let pets drink the water or swim in the lake, to throw away fish guts and clean fillets with tap or bottled water before cooking, and not to use lake water for cooking, Metropolitan Water District spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch said.
The drive behind a massive water development project in southwestern Utah, the Lake Powell Pipeline, shows no signs of slowing even after the Colorado River Basin states signed a new agreement this spring that could potentially force more conservation or cutbacks. Despite the risk that the river resource is overcommitted and it is shrinking, four Upper Basin states — Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico — are pushing forward with dams, reservoir expansions and pipelines like the one at Lake Powell that will allow them to capture what they were promised under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. The Lower Basin states of Arizona, Nevada and California have been using that water downstream for nearly a century.
In a first-of-its-kind move, the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency agreed to pay up to $3 million to help recharge overstressed groundwater resources in Ventura County. The money will buy roughly 15,000 acre-feet of water, which started spilling out of Santa Felicia Dam at Lake Piru Monday. From there, the water rushes down creeks and the Santa Clara River past Fillmore and Santa Paula to Freeman Diversion off Los Angeles Avenue near Oxnard. Its destination: Spreading ponds near Oxnard and Camarillo. Then, the water will start slowly seeping into the ground and recharging the aquifer – relief sorely needed after a years-long drought, said Jeff Pratt, the county’s public works director.
The first California budget deal under Gov. Gavin Newsom is just days away. Newsom and legislative leaders must finalize their spending plan for the coming fiscal year this weekend for lawmakers to meet their June 15 constitutional budget deadline. Democrats had hoped to close out the joint Senate-Assembly budget conference committee by Friday — likely with a late night hearing — in hopes of a budget passing the full Legislature next Thursday, two days ahead of next Saturday’s deadline. But it now appears that talks between Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) aren’t gelling as fast as hoped.
A new study by a UC San Diego Assistant Professor says there is more plastic pollution in the deepest parts of the ocean than previously thought. Assistant Professor Anela Choy spent the last three years studying water samples off the Monterey Bay coast and found the highest concentration of micro-plastics at levels 200-600 meters below the surface. “It’s a great problem,” Choy says. “Tt’s pervasive and we’re just starting to understand the sources.” Choy worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to test water samples at varying depths. They also took readings of micro-plastics in the digestive systems of animals at different depths.
The San Diego County Water Authority authorized a contract with the Mission Resource Conservation District to administer the SDCWA’s WaterSmart Field Services Program. The May 23 CWA board action authorized CWA acting general manager Sandra Kerl to enter into a three-year contract with the Mission RCD which will pay $260,000 for administration of the WaterSmart Field Services Program through June 30, 2022. The authorization also includes an option for a two-year extension which can be ratified administratively rather than by CWA board approval. The WaterSmart Field Services Program includes residential surveys, landscape audits, irrigation checkups and follow-up irrigation controller visits.
No roadside marker notes its historic significance, but a rural hilltop just off state Route 76 near Fallbrook is where the story of modern San Diego County begins. A few feet underground is a gravity-flow pipeline delivering water from the Colorado River through Lake Skinner in Riverside County, then to San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside. South of the hilltop connection is where the San Diego County Water Authority takes ownership of the region’s historic Pipeline 1, along with four other major concrete and steel veins that send water coursing to cities and water agencies throughout the San Diego region.
Concerns by conservation and wildlife groups about the destruction of grebe nests at Lake Hodges because of fluctuating water levels has caught the attention of water managers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The issue was raised last week in a letter to the city of San Diego, owner of the water storage reservoir just south of Escondido. Recent changes in water levels at the reservoir have resulted in as many as 300 grebe eggs being destroyed because adult birds could not reach the nests after water levels suddenly dropped. Brian Caldwell lives adjacent to Lake Hodges and operates Lake Hodges Photo Tours. He was one of the first to sound the alarm about nests being destroyed.
Shorelines in South Bay San Diego will never be fully immune from the sewage and chemical pollution that flows north from Mexico over the border through canyons and the Tijuana River. However, beach closures triggered by contaminated stormwater and Tijuana’s leaky sewer system can be dramatically reduced — from more than a hundred days a year to perhaps a just few dozen. That was the message last week from President Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which released the most comprehensive blueprint to date for addressing water pollution that fouls shorelines in Imperial Beach more than a third of the year on average.