Please Note: The headlines below are the original headlines used in the publication cited at the time they are posted here, and do not reflect the stance of the Water Education Foundation, an impartial nonprofit that remains neutral.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to auction off its Potter Valley Project hydropower plant, which contains two reservoirs and dams, to a new operator. PG&E cited increasing operation costs, a competitive energy market and lower energy generation needs as reasons for its decision. Questions remain as to what extent Marin County water supplies will be affected by a potential change in ownership and operation of the 110-year-old hydropower plant more than 100 miles to the north.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two hot button topics: global climate change and statewide affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
This month’s second annual Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies “Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways” symposium will provide a good opportunity for women and girls to learn about a career in the field. Cuyamaca’s Center for Water Studies opened in the fall of 2018. A renovated complex with new classrooms, it also has a water quality analysis laboratory and a workshop, and offers related skills-based courses. Last year’s event drew nearly 200 participants. This year’s all-day conference starts at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
At Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Water District’s Planning & Stewardship Committee, officials said that with no Drought Contingency Plan in place (Arizona being the hold out), they are beginning to draw down their storage in Lake Mead. “If there is no Drought Contingency Plan, we don’t want to leave potentially half a million acre-feet or more locked up in Lake Mead if we go into shortage,” said General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.
In December, Frank Gehrke retired as chief snow surveyor for the California Department of Water Resources. He spent much of his 31 years with the department on skis and snowshoes, in remote corners of the Sierra Nevada, measuring the “frozen reservoir” that ultimately provides about a third of California’s water supply.
The long road to recovery in the town of Paradise starts with removing millions of tons of charred rubble left in the Camp Fire’s wake. But the question remains: Where will it all go? Disaster officials are scrambling to secure a place to sort and process the remnants of nearly 19,000 structures destroyed in the wildfire that began on Nov. 8 and killed 86 people. The mammoth undertaking has been slowed by staunch opposition in nearby communities eyed as potential sites for a temporary scrapyard, which would receive 250 to 400 truckloads of concrete and metal each day.
Happy New Year to all the friends, supporters, readers, and tour and workshop participants of the Water Education Foundation! As we turn the page on 2018, we are looking ahead to a few changes for 2019.
A storm will slide into Southern California with soaking rain by the weekend, putting burn-scar areas at a renewed risk for life-threatening flooding and mudslides. People living near or downhill of the Creek, La Tuna, Thomas, Woolsey and Whittier burn areas should make sure they stay up to date on the latest forecast and heed all evacuation issues that are ordered by local officials.
The paper, published in the Journal of Environmental Management, suggests that eliminating outdoor landscaping and lawns could reduce water waste by 30 percent. It recommends importing water only when Los Angeles is not in a drought, to build a surplus of water for dry years. The paper also argues that groundwater basins that catch stormwater could be used to recycle water. However, making these improvements would require the cooperation of more than 100 agencies.
Forecasters are not being paid. Weather models are not being maintained, launched or improved. The main impact has been on the current Global Forecast System, the premier weather model in the U.S., which is running poorly, and there’s no one on duty to fix it.
A device deployed to collect plastic litter floating in the Pacific Ocean has broken apart and will be hauled back to dry land for repairs. Boyan Slat, who launched the cleanup project, said the 2,000-foot long floating boom will be towed to Hawaii. If it can’t be repaired there, it will be loaded on a barge and returned to its home port of Alameda, Calif. The boom broke apart under constant wind and waves in the Pacific.
Los Angeles resident Cindy Baker claimed in her April 2018 federal class action lawsuit that the Switzerland-based company intentionally and recklessly concealed facts about the quality and purity of its Pure Life purified water. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips said in a seven-page order that Baker’s concerns about water quality and microplastics in Nestle water should be addressed by the Food and Drug Administration, not by the courts.
Jon Rosenfield: Last month the State Water Resources Control Board finally required increased flows from three San Joaquin River tributaries, as the first step in a process to update water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay estuary. The board opted for weaker environmental protections in order to reduce impacts to agribusiness and San Francisco, ignoring the potential for changed agricultural practices and investment in sustainable water use to ease or eliminate the impact of reduced water diversions.
The State Water Resources Control Board will accept public comments on the draft report on Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. The report analyzes options for the design, funding, and administration of a program as well as other options to improve water affordability. Comments are due Feb. 1.
A team of researchers concludes that the ongoing drought across the western U.S. rivals most past “megadroughts” dating as far back as 800 A.D. — and that the region is currently in a megadrought. Using tree ring data as a proxy for drought conditions, the researchers say the current drought ranks fourth worst among comparable 19-year periods of megadroughts of the past 1,200 years.
If you live on the West Coast, you may hear the term “atmospheric river” thrown around. These massive, fast-moving storm systems can transport more than 25 times the moisture as flows through the mouth of the Mississippi River.
At issue is the proper interpretation of the law’s central provision barring the discharge of “any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source” without a permit. The term navigable waters, broadly defined as “waters of the United States,” does not generally include groundwater.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West — and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.