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Opinion: California’s Inner-Struggle for Common Sense on Water

As you have probably heard, initial 2020 water allocations have been announced by the Bureau of Reclamation for Central Valley Project contractors.

For agriculture, north-of-Delta is currently allocated 50 percent of their contract while south-of-Delta ag users will receive is 15 percent.

Friant Class 1 users initial allocation is 20 percent while Class 2 is zero. Wildlife refuges will receive 100% while the San Joaquin Restoration Program will receive just under 71,000 acre-feet of water.

Other allocations cover senior water right holders and municipal and industrial uses.

It’s critical to note that reservoir levels and snowpack are not great but are also nowhere near the terrible levels of 2014 and 2015.

February Ranked Among the Driest on Record Across California. Forecasters Hopeful for a ‘Miracle March’

After one of the driest Februaries on record across much of California, the first day of March brought a dash of rain and a dusting of fresh powder to the parched landscape.

The storm, which rolled into Los Angeles County on Sunday afternoon, dropped less than one-tenth of an inch of rain on the coast, while higher elevations saw between one-quarter and an inch of precipitation.

Snow Valley Mountain Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains reported a foot of snow from the system, while Frazier Park in Kern County received a 3-inch dusting, said John Dumas, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Water Sector Collaborates on National Water Reuse Action Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with federal partners, has released the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation, a collection of bold actions developed in collaboration with water sector organizations that will reshape the way communities around the nation manage water. The plan identifies 37 actions across 11 strategic themes to give communities tools to consider and adopt water reuse as part of an integrated water resources plan.

EPA announced its intent to facilitate the development of the National Water Reuse Action Plan one year ago on Feb. 27, 2019.

How Beef Eaters in Cities are Draining Rivers in the American West

It’s not exactly news that the rivers of the western U.S. are in trouble.

For decades, their water has been siphoned off by climate change-fueled heat and an ever-growing human demand for grassy front lawns and long showers. The biggest user of river water by far, though, is agriculture—and new research shows that across the western United States, a third of all consumed water goes to irrigate crops not for human consumption, but that are used to feed beef and dairy cattle. In the Colorado River basin, it’s over 50 percent.

The burgers, steaks, yogurt, and ice cream Americans eat in abundance, the new results show, is directly related to the overuse of river water—leaving the ecosystems and communities that depend on those rivers drastically stressed under even the best of circumstances.

Rain, Snow Kindle Hopes of ‘March Miracle’ in Parched California

It’s looking a lot more like winter in California’s parched mountains today.

Snow fell across the Sierra and in the mountains of Southern California on Sunday.

And, while the immediate forecast calls for a return of dry skies, the National Weather Service in Hanford says there is a possibility of rain on the Valley floor and snow in the mountains on Saturday.

The early March turnabout followed two months that set records for dryness in parts of the state.

Feds Ink Deal with Water District Tied to Bernhardt

The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate change.

At issue is irrigation water that flows through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Reclamation cast the agreement as a good deal: In return for a contract that lasts in perpetuity, Westlands pays off its debt for the Central Valley Project construction much faster. As of Sept. 30, 2018, Westlands owed about $480.7 million to the federal government.

Putting a Price on the Protective Power of Wetlands

In coastal communities prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, people typically turn to engineered solutions for protection: levees, sea walls and the like. But a natural buffer in the form of wetlands may be the more cost-effective solution, according to new research from the University of California San Diego.

In the most comprehensive study of its sort to date, UC San Diego economists show that U.S. counties with more wetlands experienced substantially less property damage from hurricanes and tropical storms over a recent 20-year period than those with fewer wetlands.

Pipeline Project: Completed or to be Continued?

A large water pipe repair effort may have gone bust, at least temporarily, at the project site near Rangeland and Highland Valley roads. The project is intended to install new pipe under the Santa Maria Creek to connect to an existing pipe after it broke last year.

The Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) awarded the contract to Capriati Construction Corp. of Henderson, Nev., with unanimous approval of the district’s board of directors on March 12, 2019. The contract bid was $348,915.