Too often, entrenched conflicts that pit water user against water user block efforts to secure a sustainable, equitable, and democratic water future in California. Striking a balance involves art and science, compassion and flexibility, and adherence to science and the law. Felicia Marcus is a public servant unknown to many Californians. But as she concludes her tenure as chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, we owe her a debt of gratitude for consistently reaching for that balance.
The strategy of turning to groundwater pumping will test the limits of Arizona’s regulatory system for its desert aquifers, which targets some areas for pumping restrictions and leaves others with looser rules or no regulation at all. In Pinal County, which falls under these groundwater rules, the return to a total reliance on wells reflects a major turning point and raises the possibility that this part of Arizona could again sink into a pattern of falling groundwater levels — just as it did decades ago, before the arrival of Colorado River water.
It’s all up to the Imperial Irrigation District. The fate of a seven-state plan to address dwindling Colorado River water supply now appears to rest squarely with the sprawling southeastern California water district. Its neighbor to the north, the Coachella Valley Water District, voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve interstate agreements that would conserve water for use by 40 million people and vast swaths of agricultural lands.
In a recent paper, Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, and co-authors argue that investments made over the years to fortify the city’s supply with additional imported water have not solved LA’s water shortages. … The paper asserts that LA could become water self-reliant by strategically investing in local supplies, and offers several concrete strategies for improving LA’s water security.
About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap water. Approximately 300 water systems in California currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a disgrace that demands immediate state action.
Once criticized for being a profligate user of water, fast-growing Phoenix has taken some major steps — including banking water in underground reservoirs, slashing per-capita use, and recycling wastewater — in anticipation of the day when the flow from the Colorado River ends.
A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District. That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan.
“As a new storm sweeping the state proved to be substantially less than a drought-buster, one of the largest water providers in the suburban Sacramento region ordered customers to reduce their water use by 25 percent.
“San Juan Water District’s board of directors adopted a Stage 3 water warning Wednesday night, putting some teeth into the voluntary conservation measures that have been in place for months.
From the San Francisco Chronicle Politics Blog, in a post by Carla Marinucci:
“[Gov. Jerry] Brown was asked at a San Francisco press conference about the bridge and other issues, including the drought, when he’ll declare for re-election and whether indicted state Sen. Ron Calderon should resign.”
“Fourteen months into a historic drought, with reservoirs running low and the Sierra snowpack 27 percent of normal, a growing number of Californians are wondering: Why isn’t everyone being forced to ration?
“Under intensifying pressure, leading Southern California water managers promised Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday that they will take more aggressive steps to encourage conservation after weeks of caution.
“With the Sierra snowpack meager and reservoir levels rapidly shrinking, Brown has implored Californians to cut use by as much as 20 percent.”
“Wednesday’s rain ended a record 52-day winter dry spell in Sacramento, and Thursday’s storm in the Sierra deepened the snowpack. Good thing, too, since it’s by no means certain that the city’s water-conservation campaign is going to work.”
“The California Department of Public Health announced Tuesday it would offer assistance to three area foothill water districts at risk of running out of water — two at Shaver Lake and one at Bass Lake.”
“After weeks of an epic dry spell, the cities of Sacramento and Folsom ordered residential and business customers alike to cut water consumption by at least 20 percent starting earlier this month. But even though the cities intend to police the operation of lawn sprinklers to some extent, any water used behind closed doors – no matter how big the customer – is essentially on the honor system.”
“As the winter progresses with no break from last year’s parched conditions, concern is mounting that California may be headed for a replay of the big drought of the late 1980s through the early 1990s, or even worse, 1977. …
“Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet issued an official drought proclamation but said Monday that he soon will.”