Fearing a federal rollback of longstanding protections for air quality, clean water, endangered species and workers’ rights, California Democrats are pursuing legislation that would cement those environmental and labor regulations in state law.
Billions of dollars in flood projects have eased fears of levee breaks near California’s capital and some other cities, but state and federal workers are joining farmers with tractors in round-the-clock battles this week to stave off any chain-reaction failure of rural levees protecting farms and farm towns.
Modesto appears to have bought itself some time before it may have to release partially treated wastewater that poses a public health risk into the San Joaquin River. The city’s sewer system has been overwhelmed by the recent storms and rising river water, and it is reaching its capacity to store the wastewater.
As hundreds of frustrated residents returned home Thursday to begin cleaning up the damage from the worst South Bay flooding in decades, water district officials said they tried to warn city officials in the hours before Coyote Creek spilled into neighborhoods that potentially destructive flows would arrive within three to four hours.
For five long, drought-plagued winters, Mother Nature refused to refill Coyote Creek. Foliage filled its dry bed, and without regular rains, the vegetation remained in the creek rather than being flushed out to sea.
Over the past three months, a shockingly abundant rainy season has provided Northern California with much needed relief after an epic drought, but for small farms, the accompanying flooding and other headaches have proven there can be too much of a good thing.