California has pioneered some of the toughest state environmental legislation to address environmental issues. For example, laws focused attention on “instream uses” of water to benefit fish and wildlife, recreation, water quality and aesthetics. Among water-related issues, in general, are climate change, toxic waste disposal, pollution and loss of wildlife and habitat.
Also, the California Legislature was the first in the country to protect rare plants and animals through passage of the California Endangered Species Act in 1970.
Organisms that photosynthesize but lack the formal water circulation structure of land plants are placed in the broad category of “algae.” These can grow in either freshwater or saltwater environments, existing as single cells (often congregating in colonies) or multicellular organisms such as giant kelp.
Excess salinity poses a growing threat to food production, drinking water quality and public health. Salts increase the cost of urban drinking water and wastewater treatment, which are paid for by residents and businesses. Increasing salinity is likely the largest long-term chronic water quality impairment to surface and groundwater in the Central Valley.
This year was supposed to be different. With Northern California’s reservoirs finally brimming and cities liberated from stringent conservation rules, farmers were expecting more water for their crops. The worst of the drought seemed over. Or maybe not.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.
This issue of Western Water examines that process. Much of the information is drawn from discussions that occurred at the November 2005 Selenium Summit sponsored by the Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources. At that summit, a variety of experts presented findings and the latest activities from areas where selenium is of primary interest.