Posts Tagged: California

For California water supply, $150 million spent to not solve the problem

California salmon run

Four years and $150 million into a major study of plans to re-engineer elements of California’s main source of water, a National Science Foundation review found the multi-billion-dollar proposal confused, poorly defined and inadequately researched.  That’s the gist of a piece by Gosia Wozniacka of The Associated Press picked up by the Riverside Press Enterprise.

Power brokers managing California’s fresh water supplies have long sought more access to the state’s two major rivers — the Sacramento and the San Joaquin. But taking too much water from the rivers creates all sorts of problems: (more…)

Smart money may not be on smartmeters

Residents across much of California may soon win the chance to say ‘no thanks’ to the new generation of electric and gas meters pushed by the Department of Energy, according to a report by Gary Richards and Paul Rodgers of the San Jose Mercury-News.

The rollout of so-called ‘SmartMeters’ has become a public relations disaster for utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Just after the new electronic meters went in, customers in the San Joaquin Valley began howling about monthly bills arriving that were hundreds of dollars higher than usual. Then, word began spreading that the new meters were inundating homes around the clock with electromagnetic radiation as they transmitted usage and billing information to the utility wirelessly. (more…)

Fresh start for fresh water in California?

Water management must be completely reworked in California, with antique regulations jettisoned along with the usual way wildlife conservation is looked at in the state, say eight academic experts whose 500-page book on California’s water crisis was released this week. (more…)

Kwashiorkor in California: Epidemic of upbilling?

You’ve seen the starving and malnourished third world toddlers on TV, their distended bellies and plaintive cries  used by charities for decades.  But you might be surprised to learn that the condition, called kwashiorkor (a Ghanaian term for ‘weaning sickness,’) is suddenly rife among senior citizens seeking treatment at certain California hospitals. Either that, or a hospital chain is soon going to be charged with “upcoding” ailments to goose Medicare reimbursements. That’s the conclusion of an investigation by Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen Doig of CaliforniaWatch. (more…)

Nowhere to go but…nowhere: individual health insurance in California

As California insurance regulators await responses from major health insurers as to whether or not they’ll comply with a voluntary 60-day delay on their latest rate hike applications, holders of those policies are dumbfounded by the newest in a series of rapid-fire rate hikes and wondering how they can absorb the higher costs. (more…)

Reason to question California’s “reasonable use” standard on water resources

Small alterations to irrigation practices used by California farmers could remove the need for massive new dams and canals, better protect the environment and leave more drinking water for residential customers, according to a report expected to be released to state water regulators in California next week.  Bettina Boxall profiles that report in the Los Angeles Times.

The report, certain to spark controversy among those benefiting from the status quo, suggests regulators revisit the legalistic phrase “reasonable use” in the state’s constitution: (more…)

Red ink rules in California

Governor Jerry Brown has promised to pull back the curtain exposing the gory details in California’s fiscal chamber of horrors, but the real question is whether lobbyists, legislators and voters are willing to confront reality.

As Shane Goldmacher reports in the Los Angeles Times, every demographic is being asked to shoulder some of the pain. The initial budget plan, rolled out at a press conference this morning, calls for cuts to the salaries of state workers and depends on voter approval of an extension of temporary tax increases put in place by Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (more…)

California: In the black, in the red, in the Brown

Jerry Brown

The era of limits has returned, this time with a vengeance. Ominous fiscal clouds are forming a deluge of spending cuts that will touch every California resident, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Kevin Yamamura.

California may actually have to abandon its decades-long tradition of balancing its budget with accounting tricks.  And forget about “doing more with less” — in the near future, Californians should get to use “paying more for less.” (more…)

More water under the bridge in Delta smelt debate

Delta smelt

Call it science by court ruling. A federal district court judge ordered the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service back to the drawing board late Tuesday in the latest wrinkle of the endless legal fracas over California’s water supply.

As Mike Taugher reports in the Contra Costa Times and Bettina Boxell writes in the Los Angeles Times, the court decided that regulations established to protect dwindling stocks of a tiny fish classified as ‘threatened’ were arbitrary, capricious and not sufficiently justified by research.

Though only the size of a minnow, the Delta Smelt has proven a legal leviathan. Concerns about its potential extinction have forced the shutdown of the mighty Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pump stations, which send billions of gallons of water to irrigation districts — and obliterate the smelt in the process. (more…)

California’s public schools in downward spiral

Financially strapped for decades, California’s public schools are on the brink of total collapse, according to a story by Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury-News. With state tax revenue still in the toilet, an extension of federal aid through stimulus funds all but inconceivable, every accounting trick exhausted, and a tax increase virtually impossible, gargantuan cuts are almost guaranteed.

The state’s recently signed and record-late current year budget sprang a leak almost immediately after being signed. Officials now estimate that there’s about $6 billion in red ink in the ‘balanced budget,’ as various accounting gimmicks began unraveling and another $19.5 billion in the budget year starting July 1. With education amounting to about 40 percent of all state spending, deep cuts appear unavoidable. (more…)