California Water Outlook Encouraging

SACRAMENTO —

Continued releases of water from Folsom Resovoir and Nimbus Dam downstream is a sign that there might be adequete water supplies for growers and recreatonal water users in the spring and summer.  Rainfall in the northern Sierra is 180 percent of normal.  Snowfall is 200 percent of normal.

“That’s a great start considering winter is only about a week old,” said David Rizzardo, the snow survey chief with the Department of Water Resouirces.

Six of Nimbus Dam’s 18 gates are releasing water that in turn is being released at Folsom Reservoir upstream. Despite a series of wet winter strorms, the reservoir is only half full raising concerns by some that valuable water is being released.

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Massive snowfall in Sierra eases California’s three-year drought

Three years of drought in California could be over if the rest of the winter continues to see at least average snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.

The water content of the snow in the Sierra is as much as 263 percent of the average (Leavitt Meadows) for Dec. 27, according to remote sensor readers for the California Department of Water Resources.

Precipitation in the Truckee River basin is 203 percent of average and 211 percent in the Lake Tahoe basin, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The ski resort Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe reports about 250 inches of snow in parts of its property, including nine inches of snow added from Sunday’s storms, a spokeswoman says. At this time of the season, the resort has averaged about 130 inches of snow.

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State increases water allocation as rainy season storms continue

With California’s rainy season shaping up as an unusually wet one, thanks to recent storms, the California Department of Water Resources is easing up on the spigot.

The department has increased its early projected allocation to cities and farms from 25 percent to 50 percent of the requested water for 2011, pleasing water officials who have seen much lower estimates at this time in previous years.

The early estimates are purposely conservative, and are typically raised as the water outlook becomes clearer, the department said last week.

This year, the department originally estimated that it could deliver 5 percent of requested water, and on Friday increased that amount to 50 percent.

While the storms don’t mean the state’s three-year drought is over, they greatly ease concerns about the supply, water officials said.

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Probable Carcinogen Found in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities

In 25 of 35 U.S. cities where tap water supplies were tested for hexavalent chromium — deemed likely to cause cancer in humans in a U.S. EPA draft review this year — levels of the chemical exceeded the minimum set by the state of California to protect public health, according to a report released today by an environmental group.

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new findings mark a public flare-up in the behind-the-scenes battle over estimating the carcinogenicity of oral exposure to hexavalent chromium, also referred to as chromium-6. The draft EPA assessment released in September could pave the way for a national drinking-water standard for the chemical, best known for polluting groundwater in Hinkley, Calif., where activist Erin Brockovich won a multimillion-dollar settlement for locals and became a household name.

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California growers put forth water alternative

SALINAS, Calif. — A new water quality plan by the California Farm Bureau Federation offers an alternative to a state regulatory proposal that some growers have called punitive and costly.

At issue is the expiring conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements, up for a five-year renewal March 17. In California, the waiver shapes policy on the runoff of pesticides, fertilizers and fumigants from irrigated farming.

The federation submitted its plan Dec. 3 to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on behalf of the Ag Working Group. More than a dozen growers’ organizations from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz form the group. Supporters include two grower-shipper associations and Western Growers.

Growers took steps to advance water quality under the prior waiver, the state’s draft order says, but stricter verification is needed. Agriculture, it says, is responsible for 78% of nitrate pollution in groundwater — water that finds its way into hundreds of drinking wells in the region.

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Water Shortage Threatens Livelihood For Many In The Imperial Valley

Some experts say there is a fifty per cent chance that Lake Mead, the giant reservoir behind the Hoover dam, could dry up in the next few decades. That grim gamble is a sobering possibility for us here in San Diego since Lake Mead stores Colorado River water, a prime source of water for much of southern California.

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Perchlorate in drinking water more detrimental to infants than expected: study

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — Infants who drink water containing low levels of the chemical perchlorate face a greater health risk than previously believed, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers looked at ground drinking water slightly contaminated with perchlorate in several cities in Southern California, the Press Enterprise said Saturday.

The study shows that infants who drank water slightly contaminated with perchlorate had a 50-percent chance of developing poorly performing thyroid glands, the paper said, quoting Dr. Craig Steinmaus from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and lead author of the study.

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