You are now in California and the U.S. Media Coverage category.

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.

UC San Diego — A Leader in Climate Research — Under Pressure to Slash its Greenhouse Gases

Bigger wildfires. Stronger storms. Longer droughts.

For years, UC San Diego has been out front in forecasting the impact of climate change, earning the school international praise.

But the campus also is hearing a blunt, new message: Do more to help fix the problem. Start by slashing the 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide UCSD puts into the air each year. And act quickly.

The message comes from a UCSD faculty task force which is proposing changes that could affect everything from how the school generates energy and the courses it offers to how often faculty can travel and the foods students are offered in campus dining halls.

Vallecitos Water District Employee Leads By Example With WaterSmart Landscaping Makeover

Vallecitos Water District Development Services Coordinator Eileen Koonce transformed the front yard at her new home into a beautiful water-efficient design with help from the San Diego County Water Authority’s Landscape Makeover Program.

As a new homeowner, when Koonce received her first water bill, she decided to figure out a way to reduce her water bill and her water usage. She realized the thirsty lawn covering the front yard had to go.

“As an employee of the District, we are always talking to customers about how they can reduce water use in their landscape, and what better time to put that theme to use than in my own yard,” said Koonce.

San Diego Water Authority Dismisses Some Claims in Suit Against Metropolitan Water

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Friday applauded the dismissal of several legal claims stemming from lawsuits filed by the San Diego County Water Authority over water rates and charges, which could end a decade-long legal battle between the agencies.

The Water Authority voted Thursday to dismiss some claims in its lawsuits, which the Water Authority said would allow the parties to avoid a trial scheduled for June. The water authority filed several lawsuits regarding water rates and charges set by MWD and paid by water authority customers spanning from 2010 to 2018.

The resolution was at least partially brought on by the MWD Board of Directors’ approval of more than $350 million in “Water Stewardship Rate” benefits for the San Diego region late last year.

California’s Driest February and Coming Drought?

February has been amazingly dry in California, if anyone hasn’t noticed.  No precipitation at all in February, a dry forecast, about 51% of seasonal Sacramento Valley precipitation (a bit less for the San Joaquin and Tulare basins), and only about half (45-57%) of normal snowpack for this time of year.  Unless March is wet, this dry year seems likely to advance the onset of the fire season and threaten forest health this year.

Reservoir levels are still not bad for this time of year.  Many are fuller than average, perhaps reflecting some snowpack loss.  Some other reservoirs are a bit low.  This is inherent in the first year of a drought, low precipitation and snowpack, but mostly ok reservoirs.

Groundwater has recovered somewhat from the previous 2012-2016 drought, better in the north, but less in the state’s more overdraft-prone areas in the San Joaquin and Tulare basins.

Bureau of Reclamation Completes First Group of Congressionally-Mandated California Central Valley Project Contract Conversions

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation executed congressionally-mandated contract conversions last Friday, with Central Valley Project contractors pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. These contracts provide water to families, farms and communities in the respective California contractors’ service areas. Today’s contract conversions are the first group of more than 75 repayment contract conversions requested by CVP contractors.

“Completing these contracts is a big win-win for our contractors and the American public,” said Ernest Conant, California-Great Basin’s regional director. “The federal government will receive early payment of over $200 million, which Congress directed should be used for much-needed storage projects.”

Summers Are Starting Earlier, Finishing Later and Winter is in Retreat

Australia’s summers have lengthened by as much as a month or more in the past half century, exposing people to greater fire and heat extremes and placing ecosystems and farm crops at risk.

Researchers from The Australia Institute analysed data from 70 of the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather stations across southern and sub-tropical Australia, where the bulk of the population lives. They found in the past five years, summers were 50 per cent longer than they were in the mid-20th century.

California’s Winter: Wet Times, Dry Times and Water Supplies

After a wet and snowy start, California’s winter has gone bust. The 2019-2020 water year started off with robust precipitation, after a series of storms in November and early December 2019.

But the new year has not been as bountiful. Dry conditions in January and February added little to the Sierra Nevada snowpack.