Southern California environment news and trends

Water policy wonks and earthquake engineers will be skipping out of the office this week

Aquafornia/Flickr

The water system through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta region has large metal screens in place at the Skinner facility to protect fish from being sucked through large pumps. A peripheral canal would move water round this system, but would have to be designed to minimize risks to fish as well.

We've got lots of what I call day-long nerdfests this week in LA on subjects near and dear to my heart, environmental risk management and water policy. I'm not going to be able to get to a darn one of them, but being at them is usually fascinating, if you want to know what's coming next. So, since you're probably like me, here's a quick roundup of what's happening locally among people who make choices about this stuff that most of us never think about.

  • What’s the proper gift for a law’s 40th anniversary? The Clean Water Act cares not for your rubies. But the California Water Environment Association’s getting ready to celebrate water laws with a day-long symposium tomorrow at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. The event reads like a who’s who of water policy in Los Angeles; UCLA’s Mark Gold, Baykeeper’s Liz Crosson, Fran Diamond from the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board, Mark Pestrella from LA County Public Works, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission’s Shelly Luce will be talking about coastal water pollution, beach closures, stormwater runoff, green infrastructure and low impact development, and the LA River.
  • More buildings than you might think in LA are vulnerable to a major earthquake. An engineers’ meeting will look at that risk. This Thursday, the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California meets with building owners, contractors, architecture firms, and government agencies for technical talk about risk. The federal and state Emergency Management Agencies will talk about what they’re doing. Engineers will be on hand to point out weaknesses in public and private buildings and how to address them. The US Geological Survey’s Dr. Lucy Jones will talk about how to use science in economic analysis and public preparation plans for when the big earthquake comes. (October’s shaping up to be earthquake month. Later next week nine million people will take part in the Great California Shakeout, the big practice drill for surviving and recovering from a major shaker.
  • A conference on California’s water this week at the Marriott in L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles will tackle tricky questions about the southern part of the state’s supplies. The Coro Foundation of Southern California’s “Surfacing the Solutions” conference is in its fourth year. This time around, it will focus on the peripheral canal project…which would send water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in northern California instead of through it. Southern California and Silicon Valley cities could get more supplies. Big central valley farmers could get better water to irrigate crops. The idea’s been kicking around for more than 30 years, and been studied for at least six of ‘em. But high cost estimates have stymied it. So have federal and state rules requiring water projects in California to consider and protect the ecosystem and fish in Delta waters. The program features discussions among supporters and opponents to the canal project from this debate…and the last one in 1982.
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