News worth noting: Paleoclimatologist says driest year in 500 years, legal analysis of drought proclamation, a primer on Drinking Water Reorganization, input sought for CEQA changes, and global warming trend continues

news worth notingThis could be the driest water year in 500 years, says UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram:  She thinks the news stories proclaiming it the driest year on record aren’t truly capturing the seriousness of the situation:  “This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years,” says Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary science and geography.  Ingram has an especially long-term perspective. As a paleoclimatologist — a scientist who studies changes in climate by teasing data out of rocks, sediments, shells, microfossils, trees and other sources — she’s accustomed to looking back over eons. And according to the width of old tree rings (which can record the coming and going of wet or waterless stretches), California hasn’t been so parched since 1580.  “These extremely dry years are very rare,” she says. ... ”  Read more from UC Berkeley here:  Why state’s water woes could be just beginning

A legal analysis of the Governor’s drought proclamation:  You’ve read the news stories and the blogger interpretations … how about from a legal point of view?  Attorney Aaron A. Ferguson with Somach Simmons and Dunn dives into it:  “In the midst of the driest year in recorded state history, on January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency due to drought conditions in California.  Under state law, a “State of Emergency” is a condition of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property caused by, among other forces, drought, which is beyond the control of any one local government and requires mutual aid forces.  (Gov. Code, § 8625(b).)  The Governor’s declaration provides more flexibility to state agencies when dealing with water transfers.  It also highlights the Governor’s interest in the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) exercising its regulatory authority with respect to curtailing water use consistent with the water rights priority system. … ”  Continue reading at Somach Simmons & Dunn here:  Governor Declares Drought State of Emergency and State Water Board Issues Curtailment Notice

A primer on the Drinking Water Program Reorganization:  The Legal Planet blog considers what the shake-up would mean for those who currently lack affordable access to safe drinking water:  “Last April, Jonathan Zasloff posted about California’s failure to spend $455 million in federal contributions to the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDW SRF).  The California Department of Public Health, which administers the Fund as part of its Drinking Water Program (DWP), had received a Notice of Noncompliance from the U.S. EPA regarding the Department’s failure “to make timely loans or grants using all available drinking water funds to eligible water systems for necessary projects.”  The notice identified the lack of “dedicated accounting and financial staff to track commitments, calculate balances, and plan expenditures” (leading, for example, to failure to take into account “at least $260 million in loan capacity” from loan repayment revenues) as one source of problem.  Although the DWP submitted, and the EPA accepted, a Corrective Action Plan, many doubt the plan has the power to address ongoing institutional shortcomings. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  California’s Proposed Drinking Water Program Reorganization: A Primer

Agencies seeking input for CEQA guidelines changes:  “On December 30, 2013, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the Natural Resources Agency (collectively “Agencies”) released the document “Possible Topics to be addressed in the 2014 CEQA Guidelines Update.”  The document summarizes the suggestions submitted by stakeholders in response to the Agencies’ solicitation for input on possible changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines.  The Agencies are now seeking input on the preliminary list of topics. ... ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here:  Agencies Seek Input on Preliminary Topics for 2014 CEQA Guidelines Update

Long-term global warming trend sustained in 2013: NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.  With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record have all occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.  NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report Tuesday on temperatures around the globe in 2013. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Long-term global warming trend sustained in 2013

Print Friendly, PDF & Email