Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Drilling for wells is red-hot, and there's more green for purple pipe

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82342 full

The Central Valley sends ravens with news (on this day after Game of Thrones), but it's news that sure sounds like strategies and tactics southern California has heard before.

  • One of our local water agencies invented the color for "purple pipe," so recycled water has a toehold in this region, but with around $1 billion in taxpayer money available now, the whole state's getting excited about it, writes Hudson Sangree. (Sac Bee)
  • Drilling business is booming with demand for wells. Rigs can't get a rest, according to the AP:
The figures prove it. In Fresno County, which leads the nation in agricultural production, officials issued 256 permits to dig new wells in the first three months of 2014, more than twice the number compared to the same time last year. That includes all types of water wells used for agriculture and homes. In Tulare County, the number of permits issued to dig farm wells alone has tripled to 245. In Kern County, farmers took out 63 new well permits in the first quarter of the year, more than quadrupling last year's number. (Associated Press)
  • Merced water officials are negotiating to lower levels in Lake McClure, which would help farmers get more water for irrigation and help close a budget gap at the irrigation district. (Merced Sun-Star)
  • Drought isn't stopping mosquitoes from hatching in the Central Valley, where swimming pools remain great breeding grounds for the little bloodsuckers. (Fresno Bee)
  • The Alameda County Water District may have to boost rates significantly this year, even after 12 years of rate hikes. In part that's because the Fremont-based district charges everyone the same amount of money for every unit of water used. They're looking at tiered pricing this time. (The Argus)

Once again, we're reminded that drought doesn't just mean water scarcity:

  • The Hetch Hetchy reservoir is holding just 53 percent of capacity, which not only means San Francisco has less water, but also that the city's public utility is generating less electricity. (NBC Bay Area)

And from the Department of Big Ideas:

  • A group of opponents to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, made up of south Delta residents and farmers, environmentalists and other friends of rivers are publishing comments they and others have made in opposition to the state's plan to dig twin tunnels to preserve habitat while moving water supplies in the region. The move's a protest against California government agencies' refusal to publish comments on the BDCP until after the resulting environmental impact report is out. (Friends of the River)
  • In a Capital Journal piece, George Skelton identifies one of the many objections to Tim Draper's Six Californias proposal: namely, that the existing water infrastructure would become an interstate hassle. (LA Times)
  • Some people aren't crazy about the fact that thanks to conservation and recycling, it appears to be business as usual in Las Vegas. On the Strip, Bellagio fountain is unaffected by drought, and restaurants in casinos still serve water even before anyone asks for it.
“Just because you have one good year of water every eight years doesn’t change the long-term trajectory of the river, which is distinctly downward,” said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist in Las Vegas with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve got a crisis at hand and a catastrophe in the making.” (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Should they shut down fountains at The Grove to remind people to conserve water? Let us know in the comments below.

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