Lawmakers working both above and below the surface on California drought relief are making explicit progress this week. While insisting on secrecy for key deal-making, House of Representatives and Senate members are also publicly moving legislation.
As California slips into summer amid the worst drought in a generation, state residents, as a whole, have done relatively little to cut their water use, falling well short of the 20 percent target set in Gov. Jerry Brown’s emergency drought declaration in January.
Water flows into the American River were increased Tuesday, despite the ongoing drought, because state and federal officials are fighting to keep salinity from San Francisco Bay from intruding into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Workers evacuated rainbow trout on Tuesday from a hatchery on the American River as part of rescue efforts prompted by concerns that California’s drought will increase water temperatures and kill the fish.
Stanislaus County farmers and politicians will rally Thursday in opposition to a state effort to regulate water rights. Because of water shortages caused by the drought, California’s Water Resources Control Board next month will consider curtailing how much more can be diverted from the state’s rivers.
Arizona could be forced to cut water deliveries to its two largest cities unless states that tap the dwindling Colorado River find ways to reduce water consumption and deal with a crippling drought, officials of the state’s canal network said Tuesday.
“The Sacramento region as a whole has made strides to accommodate this year’s severe drought, cutting overall water use 18 percent compared with the past two years, according to the Regional Water Authority.”
“Redding is looking to transfer some of its water to the parched Bella Vista Water District. A proposal to provide up to 1,200 acre-feet over the summer makes its way to the Redding City Council Tuesday night.”
“The drought is forcing state officials to evacuate rainbow trout and steelhead fish from two hatcheries on the American River amid concern the water will become warm enough to kill the fish in coming weeks.”
“The drought is disrupting a variety of summer activities that help make up the state’s $85-billion outdoor recreation industry, the nation’s largest. Experts say it will deal a severe blow to rural communities that rely heavily on skiing, fishing and camping.”
“When Pat and Donna Downey of Denver arrived at their vacation rental house overlooking the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, they were greeted with a welcoming note from the property owner that urged them to conserve water.”
“As California faces its worst drought in decades, residents are being asked to make sacrifices to save water: take shorter showers, launder less and forgo the occasional flush. For some, though, the biggest hardship has been surrendering the vigor of a bright green lawn.”
“Residents were told they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes on the southern end of California’s Sierra Nevada range as firefighters stunted the growth of a wildfire, one of several wildland blazes making problems for western states.”
From The Modesto Bee, in a commentary by Paul Wenger:
“The severe drought of 2014 has unleashed a flood of responses, including calls for draconian legislative action to prevent things from ‘getting worse’ and wide-ranging discussions about a water bond intended to address some of our water infrastructure shortfalls, accompanied by the predictable studies from environmental organizations purporting to show that California can meet all its water needs through conservation alone.”
From The Modesto Bee, in a commentary by Jeff Jardine:
“DELUGE DEFINED – In February, I wrote about retired Bay Area meteorologist Leon Hunsaker and geologist (and Oakdale native) Claude W. Curran, who were summoned by the Tuolumne County Historical Society to settle the rainfall totals of 1862 once and for all.”
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“State Capitol lawns are turning brown in response to Governor Brown’s call for a 20 percent reduction in water use. Other landscape changes at the Capitol include replacing inefficient sprinkler heads with drip irrigation and adding mulch to flower beds and tree wells on the grounds of the oldest arboretum west of the Mississippi.”
From the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA):
“The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), authorized by emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103).