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Daily Digest: Fears surface about mercury in Shasta Lake fish, Water agencies baffled by water use surge, Drought sends Reclamation back to the drawing board, Rural poor hit hardest as groundwater vanishes, and more …

In California water news today, Fears surface about mercury in Shasta Lake fish; Water agencies baffle conservationists with water use surge; Drought sends U.S. water agency back to the drawing board; California’s rural poor hit hardest as groundwater vanishes in long drought; App helps farmers with efficiency during the drought; Water prices rise as cities lose money in drought; Drought puts underwater pool repairman in high demand; Research to aid Californian drought response; and more …

In the news today …

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Posted this weekend on Maven’s Notebook …

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Fears surface about mercury in Shasta Lake fish: Shasta Lake provides water to Sacramento and the crop-rich San Joaquin Valley more than 300 miles to the south.  It’s California’s largest reservoir and considered a jewel by anglers — many unaware of the mercury in the lake and in the fish they catch.  Mercury, a legacy of the Gold Rush, has worked its way into the food chain of Shasta Lake, with levels beyond what is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, state tests have found. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Fears surface about mercury in Shasta Lake fish

Water agencies baffle conservationists with water use surge:They stuck out like skunks at a drought-resistant garden party.  While residential water consumers and suppliers throughout California won praise for slashing water consumption 29% recently, a handful of small water agencies caused bewilderment when they reported a surge in water use in May.  In Kern County, California City reported a puzzling 28% increase in consumption, while the Casitas Municipal Water District, in Ventura County, appeared to have boosted water use 26%. Likewise, the San Gabriel Valley city of El Monte reported a 10% increase in water use, while the San Joaquin Valley city of Reedley reported a 9% jump. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Water agencies baffle conservationists with water use surge

Drought sends U.S. water agency back to the drawing board:  “Drew Lessard stood on top of Folsom Dam and gazed at the Sierra Nevada, which in late spring usually gushes enough melting snow into the reservoir to provide water for a million people. But the mountains were bare, and the snowpack to date remains the lowest on measured record.  “If there’s no snowpack, there’s no water,” said Mr. Lessard, a regional manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that built and operates a vast network of 476 dams, 348 reservoirs and 8,116 miles of aqueducts across the Western United States. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Drought sends U.S. water agency back to the drawing board

California’s rural poor hit hardest as groundwater vanishes in long drought:  “Whenever her sons rush indoors after playing under the broiling desert sun, Guadalupe Rosales worries. They rarely heed her constant warning: Don’t drink the water. It’s not safe. The 8- and 10-year-olds stick their mouths under a kitchen faucet and gulp anyway.  There is arsenic in the groundwater feeding their community well at St. Anthony Trailer Park, 40 miles south of Palm Springs. In ordinary times, the concentration of naturally occurring arsenic is low, and the water safe to drink. But during California’s unrelenting drought, as municipalities join farmers in sucking larger quantities of water from the ground, the concentration of arsenic is becoming more potent. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  California’s rural poor hit hardest as groundwater vanishes in the long drought

Agencies step up effort to fight water hyacinth in the Delta:  “The hotter summer weather is again fostering the spread of water hyacinth in the Delta this year. State and local agencies are ramping up the fight against the invasive plant.  Fishermen are taking their boat out of the water at Buckley Cove in Stockton. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Agencies step up effort to fight water hyacinth in the Delta

App helps farmers with efficiency during the drought: As the drought continues and the weather heats up, California farmers are grappling with how to allocate dwindling water supplies.  Patrick Dosier, an independent agronomist and agriculture tech consultant, says smartphone or tablet apps can help with water efficiency.  “If you can think of your irrigation water supply as your savings account and checking account, you’re basically running at a deficit right now,” says Dosier. “An app can do the accounting for you, and help you to spend your limited resource more wisely.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  App helps farmers with efficiency during the drought

Water prices rise as cities lose money in drought: Saving water doesn’t always mean saving money in parched California.  Millions of Californians expecting relief on their water bills for taking conservation measures instead are finding higher rates and drought surcharges.  Water departments are increasing rates and adding fees because they’re losing money as their customers conserve. They say they still have to pay for fixed costs including repairing pipelines, customer service and enforcing water restrictions — and those costs aren’t decreasing. ... ”  Read more from ABC News here:  Water prices rise as cities lose money in drought

Drought puts underwater pool repairman in high demand:  “In water-starved California, pool repairman Kevin Wallace might be viewed as a hero in a scuba suit.  The 63-year-old Wallace dives underwater in some of the best pools in Southern California to fix rust spots, rebar, structural cracks and drains, using a secret concoction of plaster-based compounds, sterilizing agents and hardeners. The mixture seals within an hour.  The best part? No draining of the pool is required. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Drought puts California pool repairman who works underwater in high demand

Research to aid Californian drought response:  “The worsening drought in California has prompted US agencies to turn to Australian researchers to identify the most effective strategies Australian utilities and agencies used to survive the Millennium Drought.  Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) researchers based at UTS will evaluate the strategies used to cope with Australia’s devastating, decade-long drought to help inform policies being developed in California.  The research will be conducted in collaboration with US-based water efficiency experts at the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Pacific Institute. US partners funding the research include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Water Research Foundation. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Research to aid Californian drought response

Almond prices surge as sales boom collides with drought:The almond is having its moment.  Though criticized for being a water-thirsty crop grown mostly in California, almonds are more popular than ever. And spreads made from the tree nut are increasingly supplanting peanut butter in U.S. lunch boxes and pantries. Americans are eating about 2 pounds of almonds per person annually, double the amount they consumed just seven years ago. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here:  Almond prices surge as sales boom collides with drought

Yosemite Lakes Park residents fight water woes on their own:  “Cracked pipes and burst water mains cost the residents of Yosemite Lakes Park in Madera County over 40 million gallons of water each year. With no help coming from the county or state, the private community is finding ways to make repairs on a budget.  The deteriorating water system has damaged the community’s roads, leaving them cracked, broken and in need of repaving. Broken pipes have caused other problems. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Yosemite Lakes Park residents fight water woes on their own

Las Vegas completing “third straw” to Lake Mead:It took $817 million, two starts, more than six years and one worker’s life to drill a so-called “Third Straw” to make sure glittery casinos and sprawling suburbs of Las Vegas can keep getting drinking water from near the bottom of drought-stricken Lake Mead.  The pipeline, however, won’t drain the largest Colorado River reservoir any faster. It’s designed to ensure that Las Vegas can still get water if the lake surface drops below two existing supply intakes. ... ”  Read more from the Associated Press here:  Las Vegas completing ‘third straw’ to Lake Mead

Baja California turns to desalination:  “Far from the Colorado River, Baja California’s coastal regions are increasingly looking to alternative sources of supply — and desalination has become a favored option.  Set to launch operations in 2017, the state’s first utility-scale ocean desalination plant is under construction in Ensenada, where residents have been subject to water rationing. The $48 million plant, a reverse-osmosis facility, would supply 5.7 million gallons daily to residents of the port city, part of a sprawling Baja California municipality that includes the San Quintin export-oriented agricultural region and the wine-producing Valle de Guadalupe. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Baja California turns to desalination

Posted this weekend on Maven’s Notebook …

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

hard_working_on_computer_anim_150_clr_7364Maven’s Notebook
The diary of a confessed obsessive-compulsive California water news junkie

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