Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Legislation, a Delta Smelt legal conflagration, and hydroelectricity

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73820 full

Friday's news asks whether you're absolutely certain you turned off the garden hose all the way this time.

  • California's House Democrats offered their version of a comprehensive drought package that would pay emergency relief to affected agricultural producers and fishing communities, fund emergency drought relief projects, and crack down on illegal water diversions for pot growing operations. (Lake County News)
  • California has more than 300 dams, but the drought may change our status as a hydroelectricity leader among U.S. states...and change our energy mix...and change our carbon footprint:
Swapping in natural gas for hydro means higher emissions and higher procurement costs for utilities, which would be reflected in electricity bills next year. During the drought of 2007-09, California utilities burned more natural gas to make up for hydropower shortages—a switch that the Pacific Institute says resulted in 13 million extra tons of CO2 emissions and some $1.7 billion in additional costs on energy bills. (National Geographic)
  • A range of climate scientists detail the spectrum of possibilities explaining the current record drought facing much of California; one says you can't rule out the importance of shrinking Arctic sea ice as an influence in global climate patterns. (Yale Climate Media Forum)
  • Even northern California is (talking about) getting on board with toilet-to-tap now; Alastair Bland calls it "The Drought-Proof Water Supply." (San Jose Inside)
  • Our own Sanden Totten reports on a new Scripps study that predicts fewer rainy days in California's future. (KPCC)

And now, a special mini-roundup about fish!

  • That little Delta smelt, a fish the length of your finger, is at the center of a court ruling again. This time, the Ninth Circuit court of appeals has ruled that federal District Court Judge Oliver Wanger shouldn't have overturned a plan to reduce flows and keep more water in the Delta. Reactions split along the usual political lines. (Reuters)
  • Hitchhikers with no thumbs: As the drought grows more severe, state and federal wildlife officials are considering more extreme solutions to help salmon. Next month, they may start trucking salmon to the Pacific. (Sac Bee)

#FollowFriday: Tweet o' the Day offers you a fun fact you'll never see on the side of a Dixie cup:

Seen any aquatic hitchhikers along the highway, headed west? Let us know in the comments.

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