Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada should be at its peak this time of year. But the water content for the snow is just 32-percent of average. Frank Gehrke with the California Department of Water Resources says the recent snow can be deceptive.
“It’s very unlikely that we’ll get anything after this. It’s certainly not the improvement that would have been needed to get anywhere close to reasonable conditions for water supply next spring and summer,” says Gehrke.
Snowmelt is carried through rivers and reservoirs and delivered south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through the state and federal water projects. DWR Director Mark Cowin says recent precipitation hasn’t ended the drought. But it will provide some temporary relief. He says the department will quadruple the amount of water it pumps south for at least a week.
“The adjustment will remain in effect as long as the rivers carrying storm water into the Delta continue to run relatively high," says Cowin.
Kate Poole, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the move violates the agencies’ obligation to protect threatened and endangered fish. She says there are reasons pumping levels should be low this time of year.
“By ignoring those requirements and ramping up pumping right now what the agencies are doing is pulling those salmon and steelhead off their migratory path and into the pumps where they die,” says Poole.The National Marine Fisheries Service says the change will still protect migrating steelhead and other fish. It says the adjustments are based on sound science.
A new study shows fire-fighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals is contaminating drinking water supplies around many of the nation's military bases, airports and industrial sites.
It has been a busy fire season across California. But there are fewer fires in the state’s 18 U.S. national forests so far this year, compared to 2015.
Update 8:00 p.m. Sunday: Crews are making "good progress" on the Cold Fire in Yolo County, now at 60% containment. In Monterey County, the Soberanes Fire remains at 45% containment with wind creating an additional challenge for firefighters.
The Soberanes Fire near Big Sur is burning in a rugged area that hasn't "seen fire in decades." The wildfire is 45 percent contained at 57,500 acres.
The number of acres burned by wildfires in the U.S. is about average for this time of year. But, in California, the 'new normal' includes larger and more frequent wildfires.