TOPIC: Clean Water

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…)

Water, water not everywhere (especially not in the Southwest)

As trapped carbon dioxide raises temperatures around the world, water will become even more scarce in the already arid southwest, according to a report released yesterday by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, together with the Army Corps of Engineers.

While a story by Bettina Boxall in the Los Angeles Times says California as a whole will end the century receiving about as much water as it does today, though precipitation will be distributed differently. (more…)

No easy way out on water issues in California

After years of admonishment about wasting water, residents of perennially dry California are watching billions of gallons of the life giving liquid roll out to sea as a prodigious rainy season draws to a close.

With irrigation districts, water districts and enviros engaged in battles spreading out across the decades, Matt Weiser 0f the Sacramento Bee wades into the battle with a primer on efforts to boost water supplies in California and the substantial hurdles these projects must clear. (more…)

Will California reach down deeper for renewable energy sources?

Tidal Farm

Less than five months after California voters strongly rejected a Republican effort to neuter the state’s commitment to renewable energy, the California legislature doubled down yesterday, advancing a bill to the governor’s desk requiring a sharp increase in the use of renewable energy. (more…)

From Fukushima to Diablo Canyon, it’s a small world . . . with a lot of nuclear power plants

With an emergency back up cooling system inadvertently disabled, Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant was in a highly vulnerable condition for a year and a half, reports David R. Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle. In the event of an accident, the plant would have been unable to pump water to cool nuclear fuel rods — much the same problem as has struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan due to the earthquake and tsunami there.

The fault was corrected only after it was exposed during a drill. The incident, along with 13 others, is included in a report released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which reviewed plant inspections by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The report lauds the NRC for catching and correcting problems, but criticizes the agency for failing to examine and fix the underlying systems or procedures that contributed to specific problems. (more…)

California salmon situation finally spawning good news

Chinook salmon

California’s vanishing salmon are suddenly bouncing back. After four years of declining populations that have worried scientists, bankrupted fisherman and launched desperate conservation measures, a near record year is predicted for Chinook or King salmon, prompting regulators to prepare plans for opening the Pacific for the first real commercial and recreational salmon fishing season since 2007.

The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council released three conceptual options for the coming season yesterday, reports Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle. All three options allow for much more fishing than last year, predicated on estimates derived from the number of two-year-old salmon, known as ‘jacks,’ that returned to spawn a year ago. (more…)

Progress on “perc” won’t take cleaners . . . to the cleaners

A stringent California regulation phasing out the use of a toxic chemical by dry cleaners, has received crucial approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, reports Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times.

While the 1990 federal Clean Air Act urges the dry cleaning industry to reduce its dependence on perchloroethylene or perc, the act’s language is purely voluntary. But a regulation approved by the California Air Resources Board in 2007 added a deadline — the chemical’s phase out in dry cleaning is required by 2023. (more…)

Monday wakeup call: Fracking dangers demand immediate action and new attitude

Two different reportorial and editorial approaches to the fraught question of fracking — one from Abrahm Lustgarten in ProPublica and one from Ian Urbina in the New York Times — together make it clear that the use of hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas is already a major threat to the environment across the entire country.   The federal government must react decisively both to protect the potential of natural gas as a path away from foreign oil dependence and to reduce the risks of fracking to the water we drink and the air we breathe. (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…)

On that clean water thing, call me back in four years, OK?

In a strange but typical story, the EPA has announced an initiative to remove from drinking water such dangerous chemicals as perchlorate (a component of rocket fuel, explosives, and fireworks that causes birth defects).  But, as John Broder reports in the New York Times, deciding just how much perchlorate should be allowed in your water is going to take at least two more years, as the EPA

did not establish an actual limit on the amount of perchlorate allowable in drinking water, but set in motion a rulemaking process to set a standard.

The agency actually said it would be three or four years before the limit could be determined. (more…)