Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Condolences, Congressional warnings, and conservation reminders

House Speaker John Boehner joined a trio of California GOP members in the Central Valley to push for certain environmental regulations to be set aside during the drought.
Sasha Khokha/KQED

Monday's news sends condolences to California Chrome for the Triple Crown, reminders to the Bay Area to save water, and warnings to Congress about its legislation. (Dear Chrome: Your owner is not your fault. We know you tried.)

  • The LA Times editorial board opines on the Congressional efforts to pass drought legislation. The board concludes that reconciling a House Republican sponsored bill that aims to undermine the Endangered Species Act with a Senate bill sponsored by Democrat Dianne Feinstein is a bad idea for California. It also makes arguments against the kind of bills it seems federal lawmakers like to work on during a drought time anyway. Dear Congress: 
Any progress California hopes to make in attaining sustainable solutions to its long-term water crisis requires a great deal of trust on the part of all factions that science and expertise, and not politics, will govern day-to-day decisions about how much water is needed to protect a salmon run, for example, and how much can be diverted to farms. Changing rules that by all appearances are working sends a signal that Congress rather than water experts may at any moment take charge of the state's competing water needs. (LA Times)


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Sole lead battery recycler still open in Southern California seeks to expand production 25 pct

Quemetco, in the City of Industry, recycles 600 tons a day of lead from batteries.
Molly Peterson/ KPCC

One of Southern California’s two lead battery recyclers has moved to expand its operations as a second company files paperwork with regulators aimed at helping it reopen. 

Only two lead battery recyclers have been operating west of the Mississippi in recent years.

Exide Technologies’ facility, in the city of Vernon, has been shuttered since mid March while it makes upgrades air regulators say are necessary to keeping the surrounding air free of lead and arsenic. The company has filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy code.

TIMELINE: Exide's troubled history with state regulators

Nearby in the City of Industry, Quemetco smelts 600 tons of lead a day at its plant. The company and regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District have confirmed that Quemetco has filed an application to expand its operations by 25%.


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California Drought News: Poll finds drought's a big deal, but not worth spending money on (huh?)

It's looking like another El Niño this year. The maps above show the ten-day average of sea surface height centered on May 2, 1997 (left), which was a big El Niño year, and May 3, 2014. Red and orange indicate where the water is warmer and above normal sea level. Blue-green show where sea level and temperatures are lower than average. Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.

Friday's news finds people to be mysterious and full of contradictions...but hopefully interested in one last drought news roundup before the weekend!

  • A new USC Dornsife/LA Times poll finds most people approve of most solutions to the drought — unless those solutions cost money. And only 16 percent of those surveyed find that the drought has affected them personally:
Despite widespread news coverage of the drought — one of the worst in recent decades — the state's major population centers have largely escaped severe mandatory rationing. Even agriculture, which as California's thirstiest sector is inevitably hit the hardest by drought, has partially compensated for reduced water delivery by pumping more groundwater. That has softened the drought's effect on many, apparently blunting the desire for drastic remedies and big spending on water projects.


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California Drought News: F-words inspired by the drought

This bear sits outside the California's Governor's office donated by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo by Brook Ward via Flickr Creative Commons

Today's dryku:
Lions, ki-yotes, bears
Coming down to hang with us
It's not the drought's fault

Today's drought news roundup categorizes stories by F-words. Not those F-words.


  • The drought is pushing water-saving techniques into all corners of the state. This article points out how a dairy farm has changed to conserve. I don't understand a good 40 percent of the vocabulary. What I do get is fascinating:
Wilbur also changed how he cools his cows waiting in the holding pen before milking. While he once doused them with a generous amount of water, he has shortened the time the sprinklers are on to a mere 30 seconds. Then the water stays off for four minutes. That allows time to dissipate about 80% of the moisture off the cows before the sprinkler system comes on again, he said. (Dairy Herd Management)


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California Drought News: Start your day off wrong with coffee and Bono

The sun shines on Joshua Tree National Park. Photo submitted by Nillie De Grakovac.
Nillie De Grakovac

Today's drought news tells us we're starting our day off wrong. First though, here's a little song to match today's reading:

VIDEO: U2 - In God's Country


  • Rick Paulus over at KCET is trying to make us feel bad about drinking coffee. He points out that 37 gallons of water go into making a single cup of joe. Also, there's the carbon footprint and other things that may make me give up my morning fix. What to do?
Tea with caffeine is a good alternative. On average, one cup of tea needs only 9 gallons of water to produce, and loose tea generates a carbon footprint of around 20 grams of CO2 per cup [vs. roughly 340 grams for a large latte]. (KCET)
  • Families in 24 of the counties hardest-hit by the drought are getting food assistance. It's part of the $687 million drought relief package Governor Brown signed back in March. The article contains good information about the program if you or someone you know needs to take part. (CBS Sacramento)


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