Author Archives: Jeff Simonetti

About Jeff Simonetti

Jeff Simonetti currently serves as a Vice President of the Kosmont Companies. He brings over 10 years of experience on real estate development and state and local government issues, specifically in the Inland Empire region of Southern California. He focuses on real estate development and advisory services as well as public/private financing and redevelopment strategies for private clients and municipalities. See more at www.kosmont.com.

Negotiations on the Colorado River Part I: Despite Low Drought Figures, Colorado River Basin States Must Remain Vigilant

What is missing from the map of the United States right now? Well in general, drought is missing. According to a recent US Drought Monitor, the contiguous United States had the lowest reading of overall drought in the 17 year history of the weekly service. For the week of May 2nd, only 4.98% of the contiguous US had some form of drought. According to the USA Today, the lowest prior reading for the US was 7.7% of the US in drought, set in July 2010. It also compares favorably to a record high of 65.5% of the US in some form of drought set in September 2012. Continue reading

With Full Reservoirs and a Deep Snowpack, Why did the Central Valley Project Initially Hesitate to Deliver 100% Entitlement to each Contractor?

Looking at the current reservoir conditions from the California Data Exchange Center, it is clear to see that the conditions in California are much different than from a year ago. Nine of the state’s major reservoirs that serve both the Central Valley and State Water Projects have over 100% of their historic averages for this date. The state’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville are at 96% and 84% full respectively. The San Francisco Chronicle published a series of before and after photos of reservoirs in the state to show the stunning change in hydrologic conditions in just one year. For example, in August 2016, the San Luis Reservoir outside of Los Banos was at 10% of capacity. Fast forward to today, and the reservoir is completely full. The much-improved hydrologic conditions prompted Governor Jerry Brown on April 7th to issue an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Kings, Tulare, Fresno and Tuolumne. The drought emergency he rescinded had been in place since April 25, 2014. Continue reading

President Trump’s Infrastructure Plans – A Potential Boon to California’s Aging Water Network Faces Challenges

The exceptional rain in California and over much of the western United States this winter was both an asset and a liability to the state. Clearly the precipitation as both rain and snow helped to “bust the drought” in California, and in a very short period of time. As the most recent US Drought Monitor statistics show, at the start of the water year (September 27, 2016), 100% of the state was in some form of drought. Further, 42.8% of the state had either extreme or exceptional drought. Fast forward to today and the severity of the drought has completely turned around. Currently (see map below) 76.54% of the state has no drought conditions, and only 1.06% of the state’s land mass has severe drought. No areas of extreme or exceptional drought remain. Further, reservoirs across the western US have been the recipients of above-average flows. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, the elevation of Lake Mead has increased from 1,075.23 feet in September 2016 to 1,087.08 feet as of April 10th. Finally, according to the California Data Exchange Center, 9 major California reservoirs in either the State Water Project or Central Valley Project systems currently have above 100% of average storage levels. Continue reading

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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