In the West, it’s always about the water

By Scot Kersgaard 9/28/10 11:07 AM

“We have to get serious about water,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes said during a debate Saturday.

When the Colorado Independent asked Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper on Friday what campaign issue was not getting enough coverage, his answer was “water.” 

And in The New York Times this morning, the water of the Colorado River Basin was one of the lead stories.

Quoting the NYT:

“A once unthinkable day is looming on the Colorado River.

“Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands.”

The good news for the Lower Basin states, apparently, is that Colorado and other Upper Basin states are not using their full allotment. Even so, Lake Powell is within inches of reaching an all-time low level, set in 1956.

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San Joaquin River Restoration getting some thumbs up

The Fresno Bee

Swept along by a drought-busting winter, the San Joaquin River restoration is getting good reviews at the end of its first year — even from one vocal farm critic.

The stormy season helped officials reconnect the long-dry river with the Pacific Ocean and ease fears of farmers who lost irrigation water for the restoration.

Some of the restoration water was recaptured and sent back to farms. Plus, farmers bought a bounty of cheap river water from excess snowmelt.

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Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning

LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, Nev. — A once-unthinkable day is looming on the Colorado River.

Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands.

For the first time, federal estimates issued in August indicate that Lake Mead, the heart of the lower Colorado basin’s water system — irrigating lettuce, onions and wheat in reclaimed corners of the Sonoran Desert, and lawns and golf courses from Las Vegas to Los Angeles — could drop below a crucial demarcation line of 1,075 feet.

If it does, that will set in motion a temporary distribution plan approved in 2007 by the seven states with claims to the river and by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada would be reduced.

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In Defense of Farming

By David Mas Masumoto

We’ve all heard it: The Valley needs to diversify the economy and stop being so dependent on agriculture. We need better-paying jobs, get people out of the fields, and stop the exploitation. The Valley must develop other resources and create another identity; we need to be something more than cows and critters, vines and cheap vino.

I hear the message: We’d be better off without farms and farmers.

I am defensive. We in the Valley already have a powerful economic identity called agriculture. Yet people seem to want to discard it, ignore it, and forget it.

Agriculture in our Valley is a multibillion dollar industry. When compared with the flash of the film industry or the sizzle of high technology, we don’t stand a chance. We aren’t sexy enough.

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California State Water Resources Control Board Unanimously Votes For “Clean Water At The ‘Bu”

Decision Marks Major Victory For The Surfrider Foundation’s Fight For Clean Water In Malibu

Yesterday, the California State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously 5-0 to support the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s decision to prohibit septic systems in the Malibu Civic Center area. This decision, requiring commercial facilities to be off septic systems by 2015 and residential sites by 2019 marks a major victory for the Surfrider Foundation and its coalition partners Heal The Bay, Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Malibu Surfing Association.

“Surfrider Foundation has been working on water quality issues in Malibu for over fifteen years,” said Nancy Hastings, Surfrider Foundation’s Southern California Field Coordinator. “We are thrilled with the State Water Resources Control Board’s vote to phase out existing septic systems, and prohibit new ones in Malibu’s Civic Center Area.

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Water from a Southern California/Sacramento Perspective

By Tom Philip

And now for something completely different–a look at your water problems from a Southern California perspective.

I work for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Up until three years ago, my paycheck had come from a Northern California newspaper. But I went over to The Wet Side. Now the Chronicle has asked me to share a different vantage point on our not-so-little water problems of the day.

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State water board to vote on proposal requiring Malibu to install its first central sewer system

Septic tanks and leach pits could soon be endangered commodities in Malibu.

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board is slated to vote in Sacramento on a proposal to require the coastal community to install its first central sewer system, cease permits for new septic setups and phase out hundreds of existing small-scale systems by 2019.

Chronic pollution in Malibu Creek and Lagoon and Surfrider Beach — and repeated failures by Malibu to address the problem — spurred the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board last November to propose the septic ban for a large area of central and eastern Malibu. The state board typically supports regional panels’ recommendations.

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