Rep. Jeff Denham named to the Subcommittee on Water and Power

Rep. Jeff Denham today expands his influence over the House debate on water issues and his ability to address California’s water crisis by joining the Subcommittee on Water and Power in the House Committee on Natural Resources.  With a seat on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well, Rep. Denham now has jurisdiction over many programs including the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Reclamation.

The unemployment rates are consistently above the national average in the Central Valley. As a long time farmer in the area, Rep. Denham understands the immediacy of the water crisis and will remain committed to bringing water back to the Central Valley in order for farmers to grow crops and put people back to work.

Read more…

Don Curlee: Agriculture, urban goals are similar in California

The powerful Westlands Water District recently withdrew its support for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, action that might light a fire under other water organizations in the state.

The bold action by Westlands indicates that it is no longer willing to put up with unwanted and unmerited federal interference in the conscientious efforts by water interests in California to make the best use of water.

Westlands’ concerns regarding political interference by the Department of the Interior and its creation of further water restrictions without scientific basis are well-justified. Among other questionable activities, this department has been criticized recently by federal and state legislators for holding secret meetings on its planning process and for manipulating science to support its drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the loss of 12,000 jobs.

Read more…

Water: Upbeat first assessment of year’s supplies



The rainy season isn’t over yet, but California farmers already have reasons to be optimistic about the 2011 harvest.

A torrent of early winter storms and higher-than-expected water left from 2010 prompted federal regulators Tuesday to issue an upbeat first assessment of the year’s water supplies.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the sprawling network of pipes and pumps that bring water to Central Valley farmlands and some urban customers in the Bay Area, expects to deliver as much as 100 percent of the water supplies requested.

“The new year starts with an encouraging water supply forecast, thanks to the precipitation delivered by Mother Nature,” David Hayes, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/18/BARH1HARF6.DTL#ixzz1Bh1HaBxh

California water wars focus on Salton Sea, Colorado River pact

HOLTVILLE, Calif.

The evaporating Salton Sea is the flashpoint for the latest dispute in California’s water wars, testing an uneasy alliance of farmers and city dwellers to wean the state from reliance on Colorado River water.

California officials agreed in 2003 to stop taking more than its share from the Colorado, ensuring that Arizona and Nevada don’t get shortchanged. The plan’s centerpiece called for shifting enough water from the agricultural Imperial Valley to serve nearly 600,000 San Diego area homes.

The huge farm-to-city water transfer threatened California’s largest lake . More than 200 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea survives on water that seeps through the soil of Imperial Valley farms.

For seven years, the solution has been to pump enough water into the Salton Sea to offset what was lost to San Diego. The 350-square-mile lake is evaporating at a rate of roughly 450 million gallons a year, but the thinking was to prevent the San Diego transfer from hastening its demise.

Read more…

New Report Targets Unreasonable Water Use in California

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson will present a highly anticipated report to the State Water Resources Control Board on January 19 suggesting that a particularly contentious area of California water law, the California Constitution’s “Reasonable and Beneficial Use Doctrine,” be applied more broadly.

In his report, Wilson recommends that the State Board employ this doctrine to promote agricultural water use efficiency. The doctrine states a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use,” according to the Planning and Conservation League Insider (http://www.pcl.org).

A small percentage of increased agricultural water use efficiency adds up to significant water savings in California, according to Wilson. The report recommends that the State Board convene a “Reasonable Use Summit” to develop specific actions to improve efficiency and create a “Reasonable Use Unit” within the Division of Water Rights.

Read more…

Cold water cracks aging water pipes in downtown Sacramento

Two downtown office buildings were closed and hundreds of workers were sent home Wednesday because a nearly 100-year-old water main cracked in the cold weather.

It was at least the 15th broken water main that the city Department of Utilities has responded to in downtown Sacramento in the past week, department spokeswoman Jessica Hess said.

Stretches of cold like the one the city has experienced over the past week put a strain on aging pipes in the downtown and midtown areas, Hess said.

“It’s pretty typical that we have a week or so where we’ve got an increased number of main breaks,” she said.

“It’s just the age of the pipes combined with the type of material and the cold that led to this.”

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/13/3320505/pipes.html#ixzz1B26YSP1Z

———————–

Comment: So much for “global warming,” just as the state government begins imposing AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The state government is more out of touch than usual.

Expert urges agriculture water use changes

An expert says small changes in agricultural irrigation practices could eliminate wasteful water use.

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson says in a report being presented to the State Water Resources Control Board next week that California should crack down and aggressively enforce the state’s ban on wasteful water use.

The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that Wilson proposes broader enforcement of the state Constitution’s “reasonable use” doctrine rather than current case-by-case enforcement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/01/11/state/n054733S81.DTL#ixzz1AkUIlw4h

Heavy Sierra snowfall translates to happy skiers, replenished reservoirs

TRUCKEE – For weeks, the storms kept coming, one after another.

Now that the sky has cleared, Sierra Nevada residents are digging out to discover one of the most majestic and impressive debuts by winter in recent memory.

“The snow is just wonderful,” said Elizabeth Carmel, a professional photographer and co-owner of the Carmel Gallery in Truckee. “To have all that we’ve had at this time of year, it’s definitely a winter to treasure.”

From Sequoia and Yosemite national parks to Lake Tahoe, the mountain range is draped in a shimmering blanket of snow up to 18 feet deep in some places. The bounty of moisture is expected to yield lush wildflower blooms, healthier forests and fuller-than-normal reservoirs this year.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/10/3311858/heavy-sierra-snowfall-translates.html#ixzz1AgTJUKjz

The continuing fight for Sacramento Delta water

1,300 miles of ancient, earthen levees protect and encircle the Sacramento Delta.  Some say this leaves the area, and its crucial water supply vulnerable to an earthquake. Others opine that the levees are sturdy enough. That something seemingly as simple as agreement over the safety of levees can’t be reached is a telling indication of how politically contentious the Delta is. It’s been this way for decades too.

It’s all about the water, and who will control it and where will it go. Delta residents and environmentalists have somewhat overlapping interests. They want most of the water to stay in the Delta so the wildlife, fish, and birds will be protected and the area remains a natural resource. In opposition to them, but hardly allies, are farming interests in the Central Valley and the Los Angeles / San Diego water-devouring monsters to the South.  Everyone wants that water, and more than a few of the players are politically connected with major financial resources. Add to that a multiplicity of federal, state, and local agencies with regulatory power over the Delta and you get a rather complicated game indeed, and one which is played using brass knuckles. The politics of water in California has always been a barely disguised street fight.

Read more…

Klamath River cleanup wins federal approval

The federal government has approved a state plan that calls for significant reductions in pollution from agricultural runoff and dam operations on the Klamath River, setting the stage for a long-awaited cleanup of one of California’s major salmon rivers.

The new water quality standards are intended to help restore a river once home to bountiful salmon runs but more recently known as a polluted, water-starved battleground for farmers, tribes and salmon fishermen.

Read more…

California seeks to slash chromium-6 in tap water

California, often an environmental trendsetter, is proposing a strict public health goal to reduce chromium-6, a probable carcinogen, in tap water following a recent report about its prevalence in 31 U.S. cities.

The state, which proposed an initial goal in late 2009, issued a draft version last week of a much stricter voluntary standard for the chemical that was made famous in the 2000 Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich. It’s now seeking public comment before finalizing its goal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, in tap water. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health reported strong evidence that the chemical caused cancer in laboratory animals when consumed in drinking water.

Read more…

California’s Delta Water Blues

“Complaints are everywhere heard that the public good is disregarded in the conflict of rival parties.”
— James Madison, The Federalist, No. 10

Gilbert Cosio stands with his feet spread, one foot higher than the other, astride a sloping, 100-year-old levee surrounding Bouldin Island, 40 miles due south of Sacramento, Calif. We’re here to take a look at improvements that Cosio, a civil engineer, has made to this levee, part of a serpentine network of flood control infrastructure that was imposed piecemeal over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries on the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The levee was originally made from dirt that Chinese “coolies” dredged from the swamp to carve out cheap farmland for California’s new white settlers. Today, it and the hundreds of Delta levees like it must do more: They must — as they’ve been doing since the 1850s — keep the water out of the farms, many of which have fallen below sea level because of soil subsidence. But they must also keep San Francisco Bay, contiguous to the Delta’s western edge, from flowing into the Delta. The miles of levees surrounding Delta land also confine the estuary itself, creating a quasi-natural reservoir for freshwater that’s pumped to 28 million people and billions of dollars of croplands, from Silicon Valley to San Diego. And the levees don’t just protect farms and the estuary; they keep cities and suburbs and crucial infrastructure dry.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

Proposed rules seek to clear agricultural pollutants from waterways; study says Central Coast water most toxic in state

Aiming to clean up some of the most toxic water in California, regional water quality officials are considering new rules to control polluting runoff from agricultural fields.

Growers say the regulations are too burdensome, and countered last week with a proposal to have an industry-backed coalition tackle water quality problems.

Environmentalists say neither plan does enough to protect water supplies.

After more than two years in development, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board will consider adopting the new regulations in March.

Executive Officer Roger Briggs said board staff sought to create a plan that would be practical and hold people accountable.

Read more…

SunPower Solar Systems Planned for Two California Water Agencies

SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced that it is building solar power systems for the Fallbrook Public Utilities District (FPUD) in San Diego County and the San Juan Water District (SJWD) in Placer County. Both systems are using high efficiency SunPower technology to maximize solar power generated on site, and are expected to be operational in the first half of 2011.  

The purchase of the system for FPUD will be financed using low-interest Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) available as a result of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). At the 8-acre site, SunPower is designing and building a 1.1-megawatt ground-mounted solar power system using SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels on the market, with SunPower™ T20 Trackers. The trackers rotate the panels to follow the sun, increasing energy capture by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.

Read more…

Previous Older Entries