After six years of drought and a few months of flooding, California’s decades-long political commitment to ideology of being either for the environment or against progress has endangered the state’s water supply system and is threatening public safety, environmental health and economic stability.
The State Water Resources Control Board announced today that it has extended the comment deadline to March 3 at noon for its draft resolution for a comprehensive response to climate change. A public hearing on the draft resolution has been moved to March 7. The State Water Board will hold a public hearing and consider adoption of the proposed resolution at its regularly scheduled meeting on March 7.
Jeffrey Mount, a leading expert on California water policy, remembers the last time a crisis at the Oroville Dam seemed likely to prompt reform. It was 1997 and the lake risked overflowing, while levees further downstream failed and several people died.
The frantic effort over the last few days to lower water levels at Oroville Dam after the structure’s two spillways became damaged is part of a larger drama playing out as California rapidly shifts from extreme drought to intense deluges.
Erosion damaged miles of beaches along the West Coast more severely than ever during the powerful El Niño event that hit the Pacific a year ago, and scientists warn that even heavier erosion could hit shorelines in coming years as sea levels rise and threaten coastal communities.
The Oroville Dam debacle is a wake-up call to California. If we heed the call, we may be able to avoid what could certainly be other disasters and wrong turns in the state water system as we head into an age typified by extreme weather events associated with climate change.
The critical document that determines how much space should be left in Lake Oroville for flood control during the rainy season hasn’t been updated since 1970, and it uses climatological data and runoff projections so old they don’t account for two of the biggest floods ever to strike the region. … Most recently, the issue of outdated dam manuals came up in the context of California’s five-year drought.
When operators of Oroville Dam suddenly ordered evacuations on Sunday, it focused a big spotlight on a crucial piece of California’s flood-control infrastructure – spillways. … Some of these dams are getting upgrades, albeit slowly.
Top scientists announced in January that last year was the hottest year on record — an announcement they’ve made three years in a row, with 2014, 2015 and now 2016 each being declared warmer than the previous year.
Researchers at Climate Central have put together a handy tool which lets you see just how bad summers will get by 2100, if global warming predictions are accurate and nothing is done to stop the upward trend.
But now comes the harder part for many Californians: In 2015, AB 32 will begin to cover companies that produce transportation fuels, including gasoline. That means oil companies will begin paying for the greenhouse gases their products emit, a cost the oil companies say they will pass on to consumers.
From the San Bernardino County Sun, in a commentary by Thomas Elias:
California ranchers are now among the first interest groups to realize that like it or not, global warming can no longer be denied with any semblance of accuracy. For very gradually, ranchers are seeing the grasslands they depend upon to feed their cattle begin to shrink and convert naturally to shrub land.
From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW):
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is hosting its third speaker series with a presentation on the effects of climate change on salmon and steelhead trout in the American River. The event will be held at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center in Rancho Cordova on July 17 at 7 p.m.
From the Environmental Defense Fund EDF Voices: People on the Planet blog, in a post by Rebecca Shaw:
Nobody escapes climate change, especially not farmers. The report released this week by a group of prominent and politically diverse business leaders and public officials stood out, in part, because of the alarming losses it forecasts for America’s agricultural industry.