California officials pressed Congress yesterday to step up federal efforts to address the rapidly growing public health crisis at the Salton Sea. Located near the Mexico border, the sea is California’s largest lake, covering more than 300 square miles. But the Salton is rapidly drying up due to reduced agricultural runoff, drought, heat and a 2003 water transfer that let San Diego take its water.
While health and safety of our water supply remains our top priority, reliable water service is an enabling force for economic growth and improves the quality of life for families. According to a recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Value of Water, the United States needs to invest $109 billion per year in water infrastructure over the next 20 years to close the water infrastructure gap.
In a congressional hearing Thursday that starkly illuminated partisan divides, California Democrats called on the federal government to provide greater assistance in remedying environmental and public health crises at the Salton Sea. All but one GOP members were absent, and the one who did attend criticized the organizers for holding the hearing.
In 2014, residents of Horsham Township, near Philadelphia, learned that their water had been contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals linked to an array of health problems, including learning delays in children and cancer. Those residents include Frank and Lisa Penna, who allege in a lawsuit that their water was among the contaminated supplies.
The plan to fix subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal and restore water deliveries to farmers in southern Tulare County and Kern County got over a major hump last week. On Sept. 18, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the Friant-Kern Canal, released final environmental documents for its plan to repair a 33-mile stretch of canal between Lindsay and McFarland. The final environmental impact report represents a significant milestone in beginning work to restore flows to the lower third of the 153-mile long canal running along the Valley’s east side.
Beginning Wednesday, Front Range water providers will release water stored in Homestake Reservoir in an effort to test how they could get water downstream to the state line in the event of a Colorado River Compact call. Aurora Water, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works will each release 600 acre-feet from Homestake Reservoir, which is near the town Red Cliff, for a total of 1,800 acre-feet that will flow down Homestake Creek to the Eagle River and the Colorado River.
Over the last week the city of Chico has received several calls from nearby residents informing staff members of dead fish floating in Teichert Ponds near Highway 99 in Chico. The Park and Natural Resource Manager for Chico and Butte County Linda Herman confirmed the dead fish being reported are on the back side of the pond near the fresh water area, saying the fish have succumbed to lack of oxygen in the water due to a thick layer of ash that has formed atop many parts of the pond.
Microsoft plans to address dwindling water resources in its latest environmental pledge. Microsoft made a new commitment to replenish even more water than it uses for its global operations by 2030, making the company “water positive.”
California’s water managers have had their hands full keeping our water systems safe and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. But their work on addressing the fiscal consequences of the deep economic recession is just beginning. Three lessons from the Great Recession of 2007-09 could guide more effective policy responses today.
While Patricia Wood celebrates a top award in landscaping presented by her local water providers, there are probably more than a few disappointed gophers that are not singing her praises. Wood and a team of landscapers spent 2018 and 2019 transforming her 3,850-square-foot lawn, located along a cul-de-sac near Valhalla High School in Rancho San Diego, into drought-tolerant landscaping.