Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Waiting on the world to change

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It’s like waiting for the next Old 97s album! Calibrating expectations for rain is complicated. Do not be alarmed if moisture falls from the sky tonight after 7 p.m.; downtown Los Angeles may get half of its rainfall in the next several days. But don’t expect miracles, either.

Wednesday’s news is full of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – the idea to spend $25 billion to shore up water supplies to central and southern California with tunnels, while investing in protections for the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay Delta.

  • In Sacramento yesterday, lawmakers got briefed by the state’s top water officials on the status of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which has extended the public comment period until June. (BDCP)
  • A poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council has found scant interest in the governor’s tunnel vision. Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted a survey in the first week of February. Only 10 percent of Californians support the preferred alternative, which would build twin tunnels to carry water around the ecologically sensitive Delta. Forty percent of voters prefer not to build new infrastructure to carry water from the Delta. Forty-five percent of people polled like an alternate version of a Bay Delta Plan – a smaller, cheaper tunnel to go along with shored-up local water supplies. (via release/NRDC)
  • Still, the state’s top water officials stand by the BDCP. Mark Cowin with the Department of Water Resources said, “The BDCP is the best and possibly only opportunity we have in a generation to invest in the Delta to help future Californians.” (Ventura County Star)
  • The office of California legislative analyst Mac Taylor looks at many of the components of the drought legislation announced last week, since they were already part of Governor Brown's January budget. And he's not super impressed. The LAO's report takes note of some of the larger elephants in the room, like that groundwater monitoring goals remain out of reach, and the plan sets no efficiency goals or mandates for agricultural users, who use 80% of the state's water. (Sacramento Bee/LAO)
  • In the Christian Science Monitor, Daniel B. Wood offers his smart take on why cities aren't in crisis mode: "Why do the cities look better than the farms? In brief, they're living off stored water, while farmers live off current allocations, which have all but disappeared." But since we're also waiting for the Oscars, let’s nominate the story for the award for first non sequitur (related to a Jack Nicholson movie) of the drought: USC professor and political commentator Sherry Bebitch Jeffe tells Wood, "California hasn’t come very far at all from the shenanigans chronicled in the movie ‘Chinatown.'" Chinatown was about as real as Frontier Horizon. Check out what Kim Stringfellow wrote in KCET’s Artbound column for more. (Christian Science Monitor)
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