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Wary of More Blackouts, California Board Votes to Keep 4 Aging Generators Operating

California, which imposed rolling blackouts during an oppressive heat wave on two days last month, on Tuesday extended the lives of four aging natural gas-powered generating plants it has been seeking to retire for a decade.



San Diego Water Managers Seek Better Rain Forecast Information

San Diego water managers are working with local researchers to understand how atmospheric rivers bring water to the region.

The moisture-laden storm systems bring rain to Southern California, but too much rain can be damaging.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers are working to better understand atmospheric rivers, or ARs, so they can predict when and where the weather systems will hit.

California to Let Gas Plants Stay Open as Time Runs Low for Climate Action

State officials threw a lifeline to four fossil fueled power plants along the Southern California coast, deciding the facilities are still needed to provide reliable electricity even as they contribute to the climate crisis.

Tuesday’s vote by the State Water Resources Control Board to let the gas plants keep operating past the end of this year followed brief rolling blackouts over two evenings last month, as a heat wave caused air conditioning demand to soar, and California found itself short on electricity supplies.

The Water Authority is Resurrecting its Pipe Dream – Again

After almost 80 years of suckling the proverbial teat that brings fresh water from the Colorado River and Sierra Nevadas to San Diego, the local water manager is hatching a plan to unlatch.

Delta on the Edge

In spring and summer, when the skies are warm and the shadows thin, California’s snowy Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades unleash billions of gallons of fresh water each day, a melted bounty that nourishes the state’s mightiest rivers before converging slowly on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Opinion: It’s Time to Re-Envision the California Water System

Recent years have brought a taste of extreme weather and the destructive power in nature that’s always just around the corner here in California. At the same time, numerous crises have highlighted our many vulnerabilities: drought, new groundwater restrictions, endless stumbling blocks in the way of system repairs and upgrades, regulatory restrictions to protect declining fish, and elusive voluntary agreements in lieu of  “unimpaired flow” standards for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from the state water board that would be ineffective and would cripple regional economies.

Buildings Reopening After Coronavirus May Face Tainted Water Systems

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered many buildings. As prospects for reopening rise, so too does the need to contend with water systems potentially contaminated during the shutdown. Stagnant water in pipes or tanks can breed microorganisms like Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Heavy metals like lead and copper also can build up, as can byproducts of chlorination by water utilities. Kerry Hamilton of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering says reopening will require the thorough flushing and maintenance of affected systems, and a good water management plan.

Tribes, Green Groups Sue Over Trump Rollback of Water Rights

The Environmental Protection Agency is being sued for the second time in a week over a rule that limits states’ ability to fight big projects such as pipelines, with tribes and environmental groups who fear damage to nearby waters taking the latest action in court.

The new suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of three different tribal groups and the Sierra Club, argues states and tribes have a right to place conditions on federal projects that could degrade waters within their borders or to reject them altogether.

Toxics Agency Overhaul Ordered by California Legislature

California’s beleaguered toxics oversight agency could at last get an overhaul under a bill heading to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In the final hours of the 2-year legislative session the Senate and Assembly on Monday approved AB 995, which would create an oversight board for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, among other actions.

Other bills did not make it to final votes and died. They include:

  • AB 326 would have allowed for month-to-month memberships, rather than longer-term leases or purchase, of electric vehicles to expand access to clean cars.
  • AB 3074 would have required buildings in certain hazard areas have a five-foot zone around structures that are ember-resistant and that intense fuel reduction methods be applied between five and 30 feet around a building. This bill passed but was contingent on the passage of a wildfire resilience bill, SB 1348, which died.
  • SB 668 would have expanded the number of water suppliers that must have emergency preparedness plans and update them every five years.

Tainted Valley Groundwater Could Stymie Banking Deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.