NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR’s climate change science leadership highlighted in fourth assessment brochure; Legal action opposes federal approval of Southern California dam
Ever since Deputy Director Robert Potter testified on climate change to a Congressional subcommittee in 1988, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been a leading voice in addressing this threat to the state’s environment, water supply, and way of life. This week DWR released a summary highlighting its contributions to California’s 2018 Fourth California Climate Change Assessment, a collection of reports that give policymakers an overview of looming climate-related dangers to the state’s environment and infrastructure.
DWR’s three decades of inquiry on this topic have made the Department a frequent interpreter of coming climate impacts to the state. In participating in the assessment project, DWR not only evaluated and recommended the climate models used in many of the assessment’s scientific studies, it also worked directly on nine technical reports.
DWR’s contributions to the assessment profiled in the just-released summary include:
- climate model selection for studies specific to California
- two studies on local water suppliers’ needs for climate adaptation
- two studies about the impacts to the State Water Project (SWP)
Two key reports projected a high likelihood that climate change will reduce the performance of the SWP in delivering water by mid-century. Other studies on local water management pointed to the need for water shortage planning support for small water systems, which DWR has begun providing as part of the implementation of last year’s water conservation legislation (AB 1668 and SB 606).
DWR has long had a prominent role in studying the climate crisis to prepare for impacts to water resource management, while at the same time actively reducing the its own carbon footprint. As of 2015, DWR had already lowered its annual GHG emissions by one-half their 1990 levels, or more than one million metric tons, the equivalent of taking over 200,000 cars off the road.
First published in 2006, this joint effort by various California departments is the longest-running climate assessment of its kind.
Legal Action Opposes Federal Approval of Southern California Dam
From the Center for Biological Diversity:
Conservation groups today filed a motion with federal energy regulators to intervene in opposition to a controversial plan to build a new dam in Southern California’s Santa Ana Mountains. The project, located on the border of Orange and Riverside counties, would include a reservoir and hydropower project that will cut through roadless areas, inundate forests and threaten endangered species.
Today’s motion comes as the Nevada Hydro Corporation seeks Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval for the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS) project. LEAPS has been proposed several times over the past two decades as an energy-storage project focused on renewable energy generation, but regulators have rejected it repeatedly.
“This project would wreak havoc on Lake Elsinore, the Cleveland National Forest and surrounding communities,” said Ross Middlemiss, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Federal regulators should end this ill-conceived boondoggle once and for all.”
The LEAPS hydroelectric project calls for pumping water from Lake Elsinore to a new dam on the crest of the Cleveland National Forest at night and then releasing that water during the day to power turbines to generate electricity. The applicant, Nevada Hydro, also proposes more than 30 miles of transmission lines that would cut through roadless areas of Cleveland National Forest, Camp Pendleton Marine Base and rural communities.
“This is not a true renewable energy solution but a scheme to generate profit at the expense of wildlife habitat,” said Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitats League.
The new dam and reservoir would inundate more than 120 acres of oak woodlands and chaparral on the edge of the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness in the Cleveland National Forest. The hydropower project and powerlines would threaten a range of sensitive wildlife species, such as the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly and Stephens’ kangaroo rat.
The LEAPS project was also the subject of a grand jury investigation in 2009, which concluded that the project was “not economically viable” and was the result of loose contracting procedures by the local water district.
The motion to intervene in opposition to LEAPS was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Habitats League and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society. The city of Lake Elsinore and countless local citizens and community groups have also voiced opposition to the project.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Endangered Habitats League is a tax-exempt non-profit California corporation dedicated to the conservation of native ecosystems and to sustainable land use and transportation planning.
The San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society is the local chapter of the National Audubon Society for almost all of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties focused on the protection of natural habitat for birds and other wildlife, and public education about the environment.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.