The State Senate has announced a plan to ensure safe drinking water throughout California. The proposal would implement a Safe Drinking Water Fund as outlined under SB 200, authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel). Rather than relying on new revenues, the Senate’s proposal authorizes the continuous appropriation of $150 million annually from the General Fund, with the same level of protections in place that a new fee would provide to ensure the funds are used only to secure safe drinking water in the most vulnerable communities. “California’s drinking water challenges are too urgent to ignore,” Senate Leader Toni Atkins said.
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It’s been a winter for the ages in Tahoe, with barely an end in sight. In February, Squaw Valley recorded its all-time highest snowfall for a single month with 313 inches (read: almost 1 foot per day on average). The region rolled into a wonderfully average March, and then to a quintessentially warm and sunny spring. Summer looked to be on the horizon, with trails beginning to melt out in April. But then a flurry of mid-May storms arrived, and we’re heading into Memorial Day weekend with boot-deep powder on the slopes. Historically, the Tahoe region has seen active weather patterns through May, with 80 of the last 109 years recorded measuring more than a trace of snow in the area.
The California Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require additional environmental review for groundwater transfers that would affect desert areas, which would put a major roadblock in front of a controversial water project proposed in the Mojave Desert by Cadiz Inc. The company has been trying to pump 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater out of the desert’s aquifer and transport it to the Colorado River Aqueduct.
Blame it on the jet stream.The high-altitude river of fast-moving air running from the Pacific across the United States is one of the key factors playing into California’s unusually wet and snowy May. By late spring, the Pacific jet stream is typically rushing over the Northwest, but this year its trajectory never shifted to the north and remains over California, hurling storms from the Pacific Ocean onshore.
As the focus on infrastructure retakes center stage in Washington, we hope lawmakers don’t overlook a prime opportunity to invest in Western water and irrigation systems. Here in the West, our dams, irrigation systems, canals and other infrastructure much of it more than a century old are past due for modernization. This is low-hanging fruit for infrastructure repair and it’s a bipartisan political winner, too. The 2018 Farm Bill recognized this opportunity to help prepare producers and watersheds for drought in the West.
Growers of grapes, tree nuts, and cranberries got good news from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday morning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide up to $16 billion in aid to farmers impacted by the tariff battle with Chinainitiated by President Donald Trump. A statement from the USDA said that Trump authorized the aid, which is a $4 billion bump from last year. “The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” Perdue said.
These almost unlimited coastal access points are what made Kathy Biala move here five years ago. She’s taking me to one of her favorite walking spots on the shore, but before we reach the beach Biala wants to take me on a little detour. We drive past the wastewater treatment plant, then to the regional landfill, and finally to a sand mining plant — a post-apocalyptic looking moonscape where sand from Marina beaches gets packaged for places like Home Depot, golf courses, and concrete manufacturers. The state determined that it was causing some of the worst beach erosion in California.
The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. “The storms experienced in the Central Valley during the past week are unusual this late in the year, bringing the month’s precipitation to over twice its average,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant in a statement. “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.” This is the third increase of 2019 for the agricultural water service contractors.
An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature. Senate Bill 772, which was approved by a panel of lawmakers last week with no dissenting votes, would require California to build energy projects that can store large amounts of power for long periods of time. It’s a type of technology the state is likely to need as utility companies buy more and more energy from solar and wind farms, which generate electricity only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled registration of a dozen pesticides, from a class of chemicals known to harm bees.The cancellations are effective as of May 20 for 12 neonicotinoid-based products produced by Syngenta, Valent, and Bayer. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act requires pesticides sold or distributed in the U.S. to be registered by the EPA. Under a December settlement agreement linked to an Endangered Species Act challenge by environmental groups, the companies voluntarily agreed to petition EPA to cancel 12 out of 59 products containing the active ingredients clothianidin and thiamethoxam.