Southern California environment news and trends

MWD warns So Cal about H2O

Wet lately, right? Yeah. Tell me about it. Maybe not enough though. The Metropolitan Water District doesn't want you to get cocky. An MWD press release reminds you that the district - which serves Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Compton, Fullerton, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Torrance, not to mention Riverside and Orange County agencies - gets a decent amount of its water from the Delta. And the Delta water crisis ain't over.

According to the Met, 30 percent of its water supply comes from the Delta - and they're at a record low allocation for that, around 5 percent of the district's usual State Water Project allocation. The real "final answer" comes In April, when Metropolitan’s Board of Directors will decide the extent of mandatory conservation for the year, when much of the wet season is concluded and when the district has a better handle on available supplies for 2010. Until then - we're all just going to gut it out. Maybe do rain dances. Definitely throw some buckets back out in the yard.


EJ back on the EPA radar in Region 9

The new EPA administrator in Region 9, Jared Blumenfeld, gave reporters a roundtable conference call today. The words "environmental justice" certainly appeared on the EPA's website before Obama got elected, but they didn't seem to hold the kind of sway Blumenfeld said he intends they will now.

Jared Blumenfeld, back in the SF days. Courtesy

Blumenfeld's brand new on the job. While working for the Department of the Environment in San Francisco, Blumenfeld helped create the city's solar mapping project, "to promote greater public awareness about solar potential in San Francisco and to facilitate greater solar usage among commercial and residential building owners." It'll be interesting to see how his aspirations translate into practice on this larger and more diverse playing field.


Add another shelf to our trophy case

I'm really proud of my KPCC colleagues who won awards from the Radio Television News Association of Southern California this weekend. So I'm linking to their stories. At least, the ones I can find. Your guess is as good as mine about parts of our website.

In October, Patt Morrison went to the Governor's Global Climate Summit and talked to just about everyone. Seriously. I mean, they did it somewhat in order of importance, but they had a lot of great conversations.

Back in April, Susan Valot reported on a hockey exhibit in O.C. What makes that story special to me is that Susan is a hockey fanatic. To watch, yes, but to play, more - she missed the awards dinner because she was at a hockey tournament in Vegas winning a different trophy. So two shiny trophies in one night for hockey for Valot. Huzzah!


Mudslides, earthquakes, hazard and risk

My friend and colleague Amy Walters - an NPR producer - is coming home from Haiti now; another friend and colleague, Tamara Keith, is on her way. Fellow Angeleno Carrie Kahn has been in Port-au-Prince too, sleeping on lawns and the like.

This week I've had plenty of occasion to think about environmental hazards, and peoples' sense of risk. I grew up in a land of earthquakes - they call it Menlo Park. Our understanding of seismology and predicting earthquakes is, uh, evolving. New Orleans, of course: I lived there. We know what that's about, or we think we do. Hurricane prediction is a local specialty there. Los Angeles has something in common with the Crescent City, in that way. We've got our local environmental hazards; some of them are reasonably predictable; and local news, myself included, covers the bejezus out of them.


Native plant-ing with local groups and Ilsa

Susan Valot recently did a story on a group in Orange County dedicated to the cause of native plants. I'm glad she's helping pick up the slack. When she was in this chair, Ilsa Setziol more than covered natives and native planting; Ilsa remains to this day a native planting champion, a deep ecologist, a deep encyclopedia of southern California's ecology. I live on a native named street; Ilsa grows native plants.

She took me on a walk this past weekend in Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park after which, we went to the South Pasadena Nature Park where we ran across some lovely natives in the early-mid-Sunday-sun.

Mateo, her son, was skeptical of his mom's and my enthusiasm for the Toyon. He's a mananita berry eater, which Ilsa informed me IS related to blueberries.

Ilsa regularly offers information and stories about native gardening and hiking with little critters at her site, Rambling LA.