The Water Haves and Have-nots in the Winter of 2017

In my last post, I wrote about how long-suffering California is having a good start to the water year as weather patterns have changed and so far, ample rainfall has fallen across the Golden State. A series of powerful storms this weekend and continuing this week has already caused flooding and widespread damage across parts of California. In Sacramento, Monday marked the first time in ten years that officials opened the Sacramento Weir to divert floodwaters to the Yolo Bypass and prevent further damage downstream. Strong winds also toppled the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree, a hollowed-out sequoia large enough for cars to drive through. Further “atmospheric river” storms are expected to hit across the state as the week continues.

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Is 2017 the year that California will “bust the drought?”

What a difference a year makes. In a series of posts that I authored in late 2015 and early 2016, I wrote about how the potential “Godzilla” El Niño had the possibility to wipe out at least some of the drought conditions, provided that the drought-relieving storms tracked in a direction that would hit California. Unfortunately for California, the “drought-busting” rains did not come to alleviate the drought. Instead, atmospheric conditions pushed storms largely to the north, providing a deluge to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. In fact, Seattle recorded the wettest period from October 1 to March 1 on record, receiving 38.22 inches of rain during that time. Parts of northern California received decent amounts of rainfall, but the majority of the Central Valley and southern California remained dry. However, since then, weather patterns have changed in a way that may favor a wetter winter for California. Continue reading

California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 4—Fairness

A lot has happened since Governor Brown issued his executive order on April 1, 2015 directing the State Board to impose mandatory conservation regulations. On water supply matters, a projected El Niño phenomenon failed to materialize in a way that provided significant water supply impacts for Southern California. 2016 was the Golden State’s hottest summer. And according to the Department of Water Resources, the state suffered a “snow drought” during Water Year 2016. Snow is important as a natural reservoir that provides a reliable flow of water as it melts during the spring and summer.

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The Use of Eminent Domain in California to Take Over Private Water Companies Part II: Changes in Citizen Sentiment Complicate the Process

In my last post, I wrote about how Apple Valley, a community in San Bernardino County began an eminent domain proceeding to take over Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company (AVR), a private water utility in the town. At the time of the passage of the resolutions of necessity in November 2015, the town’s citizens seemed ready and willing to embark on a protracted process to gain local control over the water system. A poll that the town conducted around the time of the resolutions of necessity determined that 70% of the population supported a takeover of the water system. The continued cost increases, drought surcharges and the desire for local control seemed to unite the citizens around the need for eminent domain proceedings. Continue reading