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.
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.
A reported federal investigation that’s stalled part of a California irrigation-drainage deal does not extend to the small San Luis Water District in western Fresno and Merced counties, a top district official said Wednesday.
A year ago, politicians and experts were predicting a near-permanent statewide drought, a “new normal” desert climate. The most vivid example of how wrong they were is that California’s majestic Oroville Dam is currently in danger of spillway failure in a season of record snow and rainfall.
The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications.
In the end, the much-maligned chloramines did their job. One year after the city of Stockton began treating the north side’s drinking water with the new chemical, levels of a cancer-causing byproduct have plummeted nearly 70 percent, on average, and are now well within federal standards.
Erin Brockovich parachuted into Stockton one year ago to condemn the city’s use of a common method to treat the drinking water. But sitting on a stage before a raucous crowd of 1,200, in the heart of a region deeply opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta tunnels, the celebrity activist won enthusiastic applause when she accepted a new challenge.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. … This year, agency officials were scheduled to take part in about 30 sessions on everything from drinking water and sanitation in rural Alaska to climate change adaptation.
Until Donald Trump won the presidency, prospects looked bleak for Cadiz, a California company that has struggled for years to secure federal permits to transform Mojave Desert groundwater into liquid gold. With the change of administration, a new day is dawning.