Lloyd Carter's blog

Fitch Ratings says a California appellate court ruling is likely to have limited impact on tiered-water pricing

28 April 2015

   A court ruling reinforcing the requirement that California water utilities link their tiered fees to the cost of providing water may reduce revenue and increase compliance costs slightly for a few but will likely have limited credit impact, Fitch Ratings says. Nearly all Fitch-rated water utilities in the state use tiered water rate pricing. Those that have sufficiently justified their tiered water pricing based on direct cost recovery of capital, conservation programs, higher treatment, and purchased water costs will see limited impacts. However, some may be required to re-examine their rate structures, undergo more rigorous analysis of cost of service, and provide greater rate transparency going forward.  READ MORE »

California Energy needs and Air Quality hurt by Drought

By Emma Bailey

editor's note: Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood is now accepting articles from anyone with something important to say about California Water issues.

On November 8, 2014, Lake Oroville, the second largest man-made lake in California, plunged to a record low: 26 percent of capacity. Boaters were forced to rappel from dock parking lots to their listing motorboats far below. Just 46 more feet lost and the lake would be rendered impotent, unable to produce power. If all the remaining water in the similarly starved reservoirs of Lake Shasta, Trinity Lake, and Folsom Lake was to be poured into Oroville Lake, it would still only be 80 percent full.

Prior to 2011, California drew 18 percent of its in-state electricity generation from 287 hydropower plants, from impoundments, run-of river and pumped storage facilities. A small fraction of its hydropower was (and is) imported from the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest's Hoover Dam. This energy source (learn more here) would have been a great alternative to traditional sources, such as coal or natural gas.  READ MORE »

Lawsuit Asserts Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Violates California Law

Restore Hetch Hetchy’s petition alleges reservoir’s diversion of water unreasonable; ‘Not One Drop of Water Need be Lost in Restoration’

OAKLAND, CA- April 21, 2015 - Restore Hetch Hetchy (RHH) today (April 21, 2015)filed a petition(1) in Superior Court in Tuolumne County asserting that the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park violates the water diversion mandates of the California Constitution. California’s Constitution(2) requires that the manner of diverting water out of streams and rivers must always be reasonable.

Restore Hetch Hetchy’s petition alleges that since there are many feasible alternatives for diverting the water downstream of Yosemite and allowing the Tuolumne River to flow through Hetch Hetchy Valley in a pristine state, theexisting reservoir violates the law. “Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park was once one of our nation’s most treasured landscapes. Its destruction, allowed a hundred years ago, is widely regarded as a mistake - a mistake that we don’t need to live with,” said Spreck Rosekrans, Executive Director of Restore Hetch Hetchy.  READ MORE »

Patrick Porgans Fact Sheet - Clean Water Act: California's Abysmal Progress Report

The significance of the article/fact sheet (attachments) below, compiled by Patrick Porgans, is that all levels of government have  expended, and continue to expend, billions of dollars on Clean and Safe Drinking Water Act(s) programs and, although it has had more than 40 years to get the job done, according to EPA the condition of the State's water has been getting worse.  Remember that a significant amount of the General Obligation bond funds, including Proposition 1, are used under the guise of clean and safe drinking water.

A little California water rights history

California Water Rights Law Reaches Milestone: 100 Years and Counting From the State Water Resources Control Board In the long and contentious history of water rights in California, one date stands out: Dec. 19, 1914, exactly 100 years ago.

That year brought order and structure to California’s previously often chaotic and litigious water rights landscape. It also marks a dividing line in the hierarchy of water rights – an appropriative right is either “Pre-1914” or “Post-1914.” To appropriative water right holders, which side of 1914 their right falls on makes a big difference in how the right is administered and the security of the right, especially in a drought situation. In the years before 1914, California water claims could be initiated simply by diverting and using the water, and battles over water rights were decided in courts, if not in more violent venues.  READ MORE »

Only 11 trillion gallons more needed to break California drought

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) — around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from California’s continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. The finding was part of a sobering update on the state’s drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Such data are giving scientists an unprecedented ability to identify key features of droughts, data that can be used to inform water management decisions. A team of scientists led by Jay Famiglietti of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to develop the first-ever calculation of this kind — the volume of water required to end an episode of drought. Earlier this year, at the peak of California’s current three-year drought, the team found that water storage in the state’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels. Data collected since the launch of GRACE in 2002 shows this deficit has increased steadily.  READ MORE »

Ocean upwelling off Pacific may be linked to global weather change

Petaluma, California, USA – An international team of scientists has shown that winds that cause coastal upwelling off the west coasts of North and South America and southern Africa have increased over the past 60 years, indicating a global pattern of change. The leader of the team, Dr. William J. Sydeman of the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research (www.faralloninstitute.org), said, “We were amazed by the consistency of the wind trends found across the globe. This pattern suggests we have found an important general trend in winds, a response to climate change that is likely to have significant impacts on fisheries production and, more generally, the health of these coastal ocean environments.” Co-author Dr. David Schoeman of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia commented, “This study is one of the first to statistically synthesize the literature on wind trends in these critical marine environments.” Drs. Schoeman and Sydeman were also contributing authors to the new chapter on ocean ecosystems (Chapter 30) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Schoeman notes, “In preparing sections on coastal upwelling ecosystems, it was evident we didn’t have a clear understanding of how upwelling-favorable winds are changing.”  READ MORE »

181 California dams not sending enough water downstream to protect fisheries

University of California, Davis

NEW TOOL IDENTIFIES HIGH-PRIORITY DAMS FOR FISH SURVIVAL

  Scientists have identified 181 California dams that may need to increase water flows to protect native fish downstream. The screening tool developed by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, to select “high-priority” dams may be particularly useful during drought years amid competing demands for water.

   “It is unpopular in many circles to talk about providing more water for fish during this drought, but to the extent we care about not driving native fish to extinction, we need a strategy to keep our rivers flowing below dams,” said lead author Ted Grantham, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis during the study and currently a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

   “The drought will have a major impact on the aquatic environment.” The study, published Oct. 15 in the journal BioScience, evaluated 753 large dams in California and screened them for evidence of altered water flows and damage to fish. About 25 percent, or 181, were identified as having flows that may be too low to sustain healthy fish populations.  READ MORE »

If drought goes on will migration out of California start?

   Some folks are predicting mass migration out of California if the drought continues.  The U.S. Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and several universities have predicted that the drought may go on for several more years and could last decades. Here is one such prediction (copy and paste into browser) from the Epoch Times website: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1030249-14-california-communities-now-on...

35-year Mega-Drought coming for San Joaquin Valley and the American Southwest?

   A new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the US Geological Survey researchers looked at the deep historical record (tree rings, etc.) and the latest climate change models to estimate the likelihood of major droughts in the Southwest over the next century. The results are as soothing as a thick wool sweater on a midsummer desert hike, according to Mother Jones Magazine.

   The researchers concluded that odds of a decadelong drought are "at least 80 percent." The chances of a "megadrought" one lasting 35 or more years, stands at somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent, depending on how severe climate change turns out to be. And the prospects for an "unprecedented 50-year megadrought" — one "worse than anything seen during the last 2000 years" — checks in at a nontrivial 5 to 10 percent.

    To learn more, go to this link: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/09/southwest-megadrought

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