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How A ‘Death Trap’ For Fish In California’s Water System Is Limiting The Pumping Of Supplies

Giant pumps hum inside a warehouse-like building, pushing water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into the California Aqueduct, where it travels more than 400 miles south to the taps of over half the state’s population.

But lately the powerful motors at the Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant have been running at reduced capacity, despite a second year of drought-busting snow and rain.

The reason: So many threatened fish have died at the plant’s intake reservoir and pumps that it has triggered federal protections and forced the state to pump less water.

Damage Found Inside Glen Canyon Dam Increases Water Risks On The Colorado River

Federal officials have discovered damage inside Glen Canyon Dam that could force limits on how much Colorado River water is released at low reservoir levels, raising risks the Southwest could face shortages that were previously unforeseen.

The damage was recently detected in four 8-foot-wide steel tubes — called the river outlet works — that allow water to pass through the dam in northern Arizona when Lake Powell reaches low levels. Dam managers spotted deterioration in the tubes after conducting an exercise last year that sent large flows from the dam into the Grand Canyon.

California is Moving to Outlaw Watering Some Grass That’s Purely Decorative

Outdoor watering accounts for roughly half of total water use in Southern California’s cities and suburbs, and a large portion of that water is sprayed from sprinklers to keep grass green.

Under a bill passed by state legislators this week, California will soon outlaw using drinking water for some of those vast expanses of grass — the purely decorative patches of green that are mowed but never walked on or used for recreation.

Diana Marcum, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Former Reporter for Los Angeles Times, Dies

Diana Marcum forged a career, and a life, by giving a voice to Californians whom many people didn’t take time to notice. Her favorite subjects were strivers and oddballs, the dispossessed and the people who dared to be delighted in the face of life’s struggles.

The veteran journalist chronicled drought and hunger and deep anxiety from the Central Valley, which she made her home for more than two decades. In even the darkest tales, she usually managed to deliver a ray of light.

Marcum, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, died Wednesday night, according to her friend Janet Sluis. Marcum had a glioblastoma removed from her brain in early July, but fell into a coma shortly after surgery at Fresno Community Regional Medical Center and never fully recovered. She was 60.

Colorado River Losing Vast Amounts of Water Due to Warming Climate, Study Finds

For much of the last 23 years, the Colorado River has been ravaged by unrelenting dryness, its reservoirs falling to their lowest levels since they were filled. New research shows that global warming is a major culprit, shrinking the river’s flow and robbing the region of a vast amount of water.

A team of scientists at UCLA estimated that from 2000 to 2021, rising temperatures led to the loss of about 32.5 million acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin, more than the entire storage capacity of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir.

As Drought Drives Prices Higher, Millions of Californians Struggle to Pay for Water

Several months ago, Rosario Rodriguez faced a financial dilemma that has become all too common for millions of drought-weary Californians — either pay the electric bill, which had skyrocketed to about $300 during a scorching summer in western Fresno County, or pay the $220 combined water, sewer and trash bill.

“Our water is expensive, even though we can’t drink it because it’s contaminated,” Rodriguez said in Spanish.

Opinion: Editorial: 50 Years Later, the Clean Water Act is Under Assault

President Richard Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act in 1972. But Congress overrode him on a bipartisan vote, and the landmark law to reverse the toxic degradation of U.S. rivers, lakes and streams took effect half a century ago today.

The law was inspired in part by the notorious 1969 Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio, in which the river itself, laden with oil and other industrial pollutants, went up in flames.

Opinion: The Feds Can Curb a Foolish California Water Giveaway

About 15 miles north of Fresno sits Millerton Lake, a reservoir created in the 1930s when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River. The dam provides irrigation water for fields and groves in much of the San Joaquin Valley, but it wiped out the Chinook salmon migration that had existed on the river for tens of thousands of years.

It also threatened the rights of landowners to divert naturally flowing San Joaquin River water for their fields. Instead of losing their rights, though, farmers who had land near the river agreed to trade their water to the federal dam project in exchange for “substitute water,” delivered to them from the Sacramento River.

Los Angeles is Running Out of Water, and Time. Are Leaders Willing to Act?

On a clear afternoon recently, Mayor Eric Garcetti looked down at the Hollywood Reservoir from 1,200 feet in the air.

“It’s as low as I can ever remember it being,” Garcetti said of the reservoir from the back seat of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power helicopter. “You can see the bathtub ring.”

As the Salton Sea Faces Ecological Collapse, Radical Plan to Save it With Ocean Water Dies

For as long as the Salton Sea has faced the threat of ecological collapse, some local residents and environmentalists have advocated a radical cure for the deteriorating lake: a large infusion of ocean water.

By moving desalinated seawater across the desert, they say, California could stop its largest lake from shrinking and growing saltier and could restore its once-thriving ecosystem. Without more water, they argue, the lake will continue to decline, and its retreating shorelines will expose growing stretches of dry lake bed that spew hazardous dust and greenhouse gases.