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‘Blob’ Of Warm Pacific Water Is Back — Could Be Trouble For Marine Life And Weather

An ominous warm patch similar to the notorious “blob ” that wreaked havoc along the California coast five years ago has been detected along the West Coast, raising fears among scientists that the fragile ocean ecosystem may be facing another calamity.

A large marine heat wave has warmed the northern Pacific Ocean and is threatening to disrupt sea life from Alaska to Southern California, marine biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

SFO’s Plastic Water Bottle Ban Draws Mixed Reactions On First Day

At San Francisco International Airport, there was water, water, everywhere, but not a Dasani to drink. The airport’s ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles at restaurants, cafes and vending machines took effect on Tuesday, though travelers still had plenty of options to quench their thirst. Fiji bottles were gone from the Skyline News and Gifts in Terminal 1. The airport bodega sold water in aluminum bottles. Travelers lugged empty canisters through security. They refilled them at the airport’s more than 100 “hydration stations,” the water dispensers mounted outside most bathrooms. The fountains had no lines early Tuesday morning.

New Maps Show How Little Is Left Of West Coast Estuaries

The most detailed study ever done of coastal estuaries concludes that nearly 750,000 acres of historic tidal wetlands along the West Coast, including enormous swaths of Bay Area habitat, have disappeared largely as a result of development. The cutting-edge survey led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined that 85% of vegetated tidal lands that once existed in California, Oregon and Washington has been diked, drained or cut off from the sea. The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One, documented dramatic decreases in wetland habitat around San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and nearly 450 other bays, lagoons, river deltas and coastal creek mouths throughout the West.

Is Hetch Hetchy Worth $100 billion?

Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley was dammed and flooded nearly 100 years ago, but the prospect of draining the reservoir continues to inspire romantic imaginings about unlocking a brand-new outdoor-recreation mecca in one of the country’s most popular national parks. If we could return Hetch Hetchy to a more natural state — of the variety that stirred John Muir’s soul a century ago — would we be clearing a path for the emergence of Yosemite Valley 2.0?

Opinion: Sites Reservoir Needed For Reliable Water Future

A flexible, reliable water supply is essential to California’s economy and to the job creation and job security goals of California’s working families. Reliability and flexibility in our water supply has become elusive in drought-prone California, thanks in large part to a changing climate and an obsolete water storage system that was designed to utilize a steady and massive Sierra snowpack. It’s well past time to make critical investments in water infrastructure — particularly water storage — to sustain us through future droughts and help us adapt to our new normal, one which includes extended droughts, diminished snowpack, warmer winter storms and a need for a more flexible water storage portfolio.

OPINION: All Californians Deserve Clean Drinking Water

For years a million Californians have watched tainted, dirty water flow from their taps. These residents, overwhelmingly poor, Hispanic and living in small Central Valley towns, drive long distances to load up on bottled water for everyday basics. It’s shameful that in a state this rich, people still have to share shower water and schools have to plug up their drinking fountains. Thanks to overdue political attention, legislative horse trading and a dose of budget legerdemain, that situation is finally changing. Gov. Gavin Newsom showcased the final step with a bill signing in the aptly named hamlet of Tombstone in Fresno County.

Massive SF Recycling Project To Save 30 million Gallons Of Drinking Water Per Year

Fifty feet below the platform of the Powell Street BART Station sits the starting point for one of the largest water recycling projects in San Francisco — one that’s transforming dirty groundwater into clean steam heat for hundreds of downtown buildings. In the process, it’s saving tens of millions of gallons of drinking water annually.

For decades, BART officials treated the naturally percolating groundwater that pools beneath the BART stop as a nuisance and a potential flooding risk. After seeping into an underground cistern, millions of gallons of water a month was pumped into the city’s sewer system.

When Will California Become Too Hot To Grow Wine Grapes?

We know that climate change is going to alter wine. In fact, we know that it already has. But we are still working toward a deeper understanding of what it will look like — and what can be done about it. The latest step toward that understanding is a study published Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the most detailed forecasts to date of extreme heat across the U.S. As The Chronicle’s environmental correspondent Kurtis Alexander reported, the study warns that most of the country will see more than double the number of days with a 100 degree heat index by 2050, unless something drastic is done.

OPINION: Coalition Of Agencies, Environmentalists Sees Future For Aging Dam

While California contemplates new dams for its thirsty future, it’s also thinking about taking out old ones. Along with advancing plans to demolish three dams atop the Klamath River, there’s a movement to rethink and possibly take out a water and power dam in the Mendocino County back country. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is walking away from the Potter Valley project and Scott Dam, built east of Ukiah in 1922. A new federal license will be costly and the utility has plenty to do working its way out of wildfire-caused bankruptcy. What’s coming next is intriguing: A coalition of local agencies and a dedicated fishing group, California Trout, are talking up a takeover of the dam.

High-Time Flooding Poses Big Problem for US, Federal Scientists Warn

The nation’s coasts were hit with increased tidal flooding over the past year, part of a costly and perilous trend that will only worsen as sea levels continue to rise, federal scientists warned Wednesday.