Sunday, January 26, 2014

California drought emergency begins to reverberate

It's time for another reminder that while Michigan just had the wettest year in its history and Detroit is in the midst of its snowiest January on record, California is having its driest year ever and its Governor declared a drought emergency.  The implications of that announcement are beginning to reverberate through the state, as shown by these stories from KPBS via Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2013 fourth warmest year) on Daily Kos.

First, KPBS gives its viewers the big picture in Brown: California Comes Back But Challenged By Drought.

Gov. Jerry Brown has delivered a dual message in his annual address to the Legislature - that a California resurgence is well underway but also is threatened by economic and environmental uncertainties.
Amy Quinton of Capital Public Radio reports on a possible federal response to the drought in California Congressmen Propose Drought Relief Legislation.
After declaring a drought last week, California Governor Jerry Brown only briefly mentioned the drought during his state of the state speech. But several Central Valley Congressmen are calling for more action through federal legislation.

The Republican-backed legislation would allow Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to continue to send water to the Central Valley as long as water is available.

Those pumps are sending minimal water to the valley now because of low reservoir levels and river flows, not environmental regulations that protect endangered fish.

The bill would also stop the restoration of the San Joaquin River until 2015.
This is not really helpful, but it does serve the representatives' constituents--at the expense of the environment and other water users.  Stay tuned.  I don't know if this will get past the Senate, let alone President Obama.

Follow over the jump for more news about the drought and people's responses to it.

Following the pattern of "if it moves, it leads, here's Wildfire Preparedness In San Diego After The Driest Year On Record.

San Diego's very dry weather has already produced a rash of unusual winter wildfires across the state. Cal Fire talks about the increased fire danger.
Of course, all the preparation for fires is because Record Dry Conditions Continue To Grip San Diego.
San Diego and all of California continue to be gripped by extremely dry conditions, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to declare a statewide drought emergency.

San Diego has received just 2.2 inches of rain since July 1; that's less than half of what it should be for this time of year, but twice as much as Los Angeles.

The last time San Diego felt a drop of precipitation was Dec. 19.

"And then it shut off completely, said Alex Tardy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service San Diego. "But what’s been amazing is it’s shut off statewide.
The response of San Diego to the drought is to prioritize drinking water over recreation, as seen in City Draining Lake Morena, County Says Stop.

There is a political flowing from an unusual source: Lake Morena, a small reservoir 50 miles east of San Diego in the tiny Lake Morena Village. The city of San Diego owns the reservoir, and has started draining it for drinking water. San Diego County is not pleased with this plan. KPBS reporter Claire Trageser visited the lake and brings us this report.
Read more details in City, County Politicians Squabbling Over Lake Morena Reservoir By Claire Trageser on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
In 1989, the city of San Diego began to drain water from one of its reservoirs, Lake Morena, which sits 50 miles east of the city in the tiny Lake Morena Village. Residents of the village were so outraged that the city was ruining their nearby lake that one woman wrote a protest song to the tune of "Summertime Blues," calling it "Lake Morena vs. S.D. City Ditty."

"Ya' know the eagles are your symbol and we gotta protect them," it went. "We can't let them suffer or go to extinction. The mosquitoes and the mud will drown them at first. And what about the odor — our health will be the worst."

Neither the song, the sentiment, or a lawsuit the residents filed did much good. The city drained the lake anyway.

Almost a quarter-century later, the city is siphoning the water again in an attempt to curtail water rates. The backcountry residents, who boat and fish on the lake and run businesses from the recreation, are just as unhappy. Their war of words wages as the lake shrinks daily.
Some things just don't change.

Finally, in what seems like the most trivial concern, KPBS reports on San Diego Gardening During Drought Conditions.

A winter without rain is becoming a challenge for San Diego gardeners. Nan Sterman of KPBS-TV's "A Growing Passion" has some advice to use less water but keep your plants growing.
The accompanying article by Marissa Cabrera, Maureen Cavanaugh, Peggy Pico, originally published January 23, 2014 at 11:13 a.m., updated January 23, 2014 at 11:13 a.m., has more.
Now that Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency, state and local officials are gearing up for the consequences of almost zero rainfall so far this winter. They're planning for water conservation measures, cut-backs to agriculture and increased fire danger.

But on a smaller scale, San Diego gardeners are trying to figure out what to do when the rainy season, isn't.

Our garden expert Nan Sterman, and host of KPBS show A Growing Passion, has been working through this dilemma.
Gardening goes on, even in the middle of a drought.  It's entertainment and never underestimate the power of entertainment.

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