Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Drought news from KPBS in California

Since I'm on the topic of water and having a second snow day in a row, along with seeing video after video about the cold from WXYZ and WOOD-TV and headlines like Dangerously low temperatures break Michigan records, cited in 6 deaths, burning me out on writing about the local weather conditions, I'm going to stay on the subject while shifting my focus to someplace warmer--California.  Here are six stories from KPBS about the state's driest year ever and subsequent drought in reverse chronological order, beginning with California Water Resource Director Expects Governor To Declare Drought by Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.
The director of the California Department of Water Resources said that he believes Gov. Jerry Brown likely will declare a drought. Mark Cowin made the comments to the state Board of Food and Agriculture on Tuesday.
Cowin also added that a proclamation would likely come on Feb. 1, which is the date of the next snow survey. A drought proclamation would make it easier to relax water quality standards and streamline water transfers.
This has been a long time coming, as KPBS: California Lawmakers Call For Drought Emergency Declaration by Susan Murphy was posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013.
With reservoirs depleting and forecasters predicting another dry winter, California lawmakers are calling on President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency and federal disaster in the state.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) sent a letter Monday urging the governor to take immediate action. Dozens of other California lawmakers sent a separate letter that called for the same declaration.

Costa and Feinstein stressed that low storage levels will leave the state with fewer options to adapt to next year’s dry conditions and that drought declarations in previous years have helped ease the pain.
As I wrote in San Diego election news from KPBS, "Water scarcity is indeed a big issue in California, one I'm glad I don't have to deal with anymore.  I'd rather watch it from afar."

The state's bishops aren't waiting for temporal relief.  Instead, they're asking for divine intervention, as the Associated Press via KPBS reported in Catholic bishops pray to relieve dry California.  I won't reproduce any of the text, as it's AP, but the headline alone gets the important information across.

Follow over the jump for more drought stories from KPBS during December 2013.

First, a lighter take on the problem with Ski Resorts Race To Produce Artificial Snow During California Dry Spell by Susan Murphy on Monday, December 30, 2013.
December usually delivers Southern California a few good soaking winter storms, but a persistent ridge of high pressure has kept the region warm and dry.

The summer-like conditions are expected to linger for at least the next 10 days, said Joe Dandrea, meteorologist with the National Weather Service San Diego.

"Usually these ridges, once they get entrenched, they can be six to eight weeks sometimes," Dandrea said. "And I think we’ve reached that limit, so it would be time for this to break down and allow a different weather regime to kind of take over.
As I've noted many times before, Americans will not tolerate having their entertainment interrupted.

Next, an update to the story I covered in San Diego prepared for dry 2014 and More from KPBS on water: Water Rates At Root Of San Diego's Case Against Metropolitan Water District by Deb Welsh, originally published December 17, 2013 at 1:13 p.m., updated December 18, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
The latest development in a long-standing feud between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is playing out in a San Francisco court beginning Tuesday.

The San Diego County Water Authority argues the Metropolitan Water District is overcharging for water transported from the Imperial irrigation District. MWD argues if it changed the price structure for delivering the water through its pipe lines, it would impact other water agencies in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino unfairly.

KPBS Morning Edition anchor Deb Welsh spoke with the County Water Authority's assistant general manager Dennis Cushman about why CWA is investing in expensive alternative sources of water, such as desalination, that would not rely on importing water through MWD pipelines.
Finally, here's a story only tangentially related to the current drought, but directly related to decades of water depletion, and one that demonstrates that everything is connected to everything else, even water to geology to public transportation: Sinking Central Valley An Issue For High-Speed Rail And Canal System by Amy Quinton of Capital Public Radio on Monday, November 25, 2013.
Large groundwater withdrawals are causing land in California's Central Valley to sink. It's become so serious that it’s threatening flood control and water deliveries. The proposed high-speed rail system will also have deal with the changing terrain.

Chase Hurley is general manager of the San Luis Canal Company in Dos Palos. He points to a small dam near the river in western Madera County. It’s likely the most important structure for the irrigation company because it guides water from the river into its canal system.

“That dam, and this canal are sinking roughly 6 inches a year," Hurley said. "So when that happens the dams not going to be high enough to physically gravitational push that down the canal.”
I may have confronted DOOM more directly with this entry, but I'm feeling much warmer already.  Funny how that works.

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