29 Dec Water and Power: How to store California’s water?
Future of water storage: In the Central Valley, farmers and water officials are debating the best way to store water. One long-standing proposal is to build a reservoir in the settlement of Sites, near the town of Maxwell. “When the Sacramento River is running high in the winter, flows would be diverted into two existing irrigation canals and a new, 13.5-mile pipeline system extending to the Antelope Valley.”
ON THE GROUND
Storm preparations: In Huntington Beach, officials are building a 5-by-20-foot sand berm to protect oceanfront properties from the coming El Niño. The Public Works Department is replacing flood-control station engines and installing emergency generators at 15 sites. Rains associated with El Niño could come as soon as mid-January.
Let it snow: The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has reached a new milestone: It’s higher than the average for this time of year. California’s mountains haven’t seen this much snow in two years. “We’ve got snowstorms on top of other snowstorms, which has helped accumulate snowpack,” said Eric Kurth, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
Slowly sinking: California is sinking. The drought has caused farmers and water agencies to rely on groundwater supplies. Pumping that water has caused the land to sink, leading to infrastructure problems and costly repairs. “It’s shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye,” said hydrogeologist James Borchers.
Creative solution: Could disposable diapers help California beat the drought? Two students in Anaheim are testing a theory that diapers could help soil retain moisture. “I’m hoping that other people will learn that there are other things that they can do in their gardens so that they don’t have to use so much water,” said 13-year-old Hayley Priest.
Bing it: What’s in your search history? If you’re like many users, you typed “drought” or“wildfire” into the search bar this year. When it came to drought queries, users were motivated by Gov. Jerry Brown, Starbucks and actor Tom Selleck, according to data from Bing. “Drought was a topic throughout the year, but there were four months that saw heavy search volume: April and May and then July and August,” said Bing’s Matthew Quinlan.
“The drought put the forests in tremendous peril, a situation that may cause long-term changes in ecosystems that could impact animal habitats and biodiversity.”
– Ecologist Greg Asner
The state Water Resources Control Board will meet on Jan. 5 in Sacramento.