Southern California environment news and trends

Pour one out for Lake Mead: or maybe, pour one into Lake Mead {UPDATED]

Lake Mead has once again set a record: in the wrong direction, though. (Yes, a few days ago now.) Levels are at an all time low. Oh, but don't worry: levels will rise 8 fee this winter.[eyeroll]

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the outlook is bleak:

"I'm worried," authority General Manager Pat Mulroy said. "We're trying everything we can to keep as much water in Mead as we can."

We checked this bucket earlier.

Now, as the NYT reports, it's not likely lifeguards will see the 1075 on the side of the pool:

But the operating plan also lays out a proposal to prevent Lake Mead from dropping below the trigger point. It allows water managers to send 40 percent more water than usual downstream to Lake Mead from Lake Powell in Utah, the river’s other big reservoir, which now contains about 50 percent more water than Lake Mead.

In that case, the shortage declaration would be avoided and Lake Mead’s levels restored to 1,100 feet or so.

Lake Powell, fed by rain and snowmelt that create the Colorado and tributaries, has risen more than 60 feet from a 2004 low because the upper basin states, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah, do not use their full allocations. The upper basin provides a minimum annual flow of 8.23 million acre feet to Arizona, Nevada and California. (An acre-foot of water is generally considered the amount two families of four use annually.)

In its August report the Bureau of Reclamation said the extra replenishment from Lake Powell was the likeliest outcome. Nonetheless, said Terry Fulp, the bureau’s deputy regional director for the Lower Colorado Region, it is the first time ever that the bureau has judged a critical shortage to be remotely possible in the near future.


Green picks: From eco-foodie fun to Prop 23 debates

Where to go, what to do, how to green. Our event picks for the coming week:

calirepflag events

Tonight: Preview “Rock the Boat,” a documentary about L.A. River kayakers — while enjoying drinks and snacks, then hear a panel about revitaliizing the river, featuring Joe Linton, our latest Everyday Hero, at the U.S. Green Building Council-Westside Branch kick off at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Cost: $10 for USGBC members; $15 for non-members.

Thu, 10/21: Environmental nonprofit Breathe L.A.’s next Green Salon event is a panel titled “Focus on Prop 23: Does the Latino community really need to choose between jobs and lung health?” Hear from Calif. Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes and representatives from environmental, social justice, and health groups at California Endowment, 1000 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles from 9 am to 10:30 am.


Morning greens: From CO2-spewing cars to CO2-storing trees

epalabel Morning greensGot an opinion about the new proposed vehicle fuel economy stickers we wrote about yesterday? Voice them at the Motor Vehicle Fuel Economy Label Public Hearing with the U.S. EPA. Streetsblog LA reports the L.A. meeting happens Thu., Oct. 21 from noon to 4 pm and 6 pm to 10 pm at Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, 711 S. Hope St., Los Angeles. You must email in advance for a chance to testify in person.

Drivers in the San Joaquin Valley could face higher car registration fees. “The San Joaquin Valley’s air quality regulators are proposing an annual surcharge of $10 to $24 on registration fees for the region’s 2.7 million cars and trucks beginning next year,” reports NY Times’ Green. The fees would help pay fines for exceeding federal ozone limits — fines that come to at least $29 million.

Pacific Coast forests store the most carbon, reports Ecotrope, citing new estimates from the U.S. Forest Service. “The wet, temperate conifer forest types growing along the Pacific Coast from northern California to southeast Alaska have … three times the carbon stored in drier forests in the Southwest, according to the forest service.”

However in the Southwest, Aspen trees are still struggling to recover. “The phenomenon known as sudden aspen decline, or SAD, appears to have stabilized,” reports NY Times, but “stable aspen climate could be lost in at least two-thirds of the tree’s habitat area in Colorado and southern Wyoming alone by 2060″ according to researchers.

Lake Mead’s hit a record low, dropping to 1,083.09 feet above sea level on Monday morning. “Lake Mead’s levels are still eight feet above the level at which a shortage is officially declared and limited rationing could go into effect for users in Nevada and Arizona,” reports NY Times’ Green.

Did Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff” convinced you to reduce and reuse? Inspire your kids to do the same. Annie Leonard’s teamed up with PBS KIDS to create Loop Scoops, a new web-based series on sustainability, reports MNN.

Lastly and eggily: Remember the gigantic egg recall? One of the two companies involved, Hillandale Farms, has been cleared by the FDA to sell eggs again. However, Wright County Egg and Quality Egg got another FDA warning. “Among other things, the company needs to seal out rodents and wild birds that may be tracking in salmonella,” reports NPR’s Shots.

Like what you read? Tweet and Facebook Pacific Swell.


This week in Prop 23 Campaign Finance News

On the yes side for Proposition 23, the slowdown in contributions is real. At the very least, there's not a continuing influx of big-ticket contributions of the kind that got this whole battle of the millions started. CVR Energy out of Sugar Land, Texas and Coffeyville, Kansas kicked in $150,000. Yet another independent in the oil industry. The independent petroleum refiners have paid handsomely to try to stop AB32. The oil giants continue to sit this one out.

The story on the no side is also more of the same, with more of an emphasis on more. MORE. Silicon Valley and Hollywood are representing for their perceived interests. Alan Horn, the president/CEO of Paramount. Actor and Mission-District native Benjamin Bratt. Jim Cameron (James F. Cameron to the state financing forms) kicked in his million against Prop 23 - Cameron's a longtime environmentalist, of course.


Everyday Heroes: Joe Linton, the L.A. River activist and kayaker

 Everyday Heroes: Joe Linton, the L.A. River activist and kayaker

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared only four miles of the Los Angeles River navigable — and thereby ineligible for protection under the Clean Water Act — a small group of environmentalists decided to prove the Corps wrong — by kayaking down the river. That trip helped get the EPA to declare the river “traditional navigable waterway” — a victory environmentalists celebrated — by kayaking down the river again.

Joe Linton, a long-time volunteer for the nonprofit Friends of the L.A. River, was one of the kayakers. Read this five-question interview to find out how the idea for the expedition came about — and what you can do to get in on the next trip.

What do you do?

Really, my work on the LA River has been to get people out to the river to see it. And I do that through leading tours and walks and through publicizing it by writing about it. I wrote the book [Down by the Los Angeles River: Friends of the Los Angeles River’s Official Guide] — and write the blog L.A. Creek Freak.