Category Archives: Decision Making

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 The drought emergency he rescinded had been in place since April 25, 2014.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

Why Is the Salton Sea Over There?

Hydrowonk gratefully received an invitation to attend the Salton Sea Tour sponsored by the Water Education Foundation on March 16th, the day the Natural Resources Agency released a 10-Year Plan for habitat and dust suppression projects in the Salton Sea.  The tour was hosted by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, State Senator Ben Hueso and Resources Secretary John Laird.  After assembling at the Imperial County Airport, the entourage went to two venues.

Why Field Visits are Always a Good Idea

The first stop was the Red Hill Marina.  Presentations included the observation that, in 2004, the Salton Sea shoreline was where tents were installed for a brown bag lunch.  I looked west to find the Salton Sea shoreline miles away.  I was stunned at the decline in the Salton Sea elevation with the attendant increase in the amount of exposed playa laced with residues of toxic/unhealthful chemicals and organics.

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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

The Use of Eminent Domain to Take Over Private Water Companies in California Part I: The Case of Apple Valley’s Proceedings to Acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company

The use of eminent domain across the world can often be a contentious process regardless of what property is being taken. In China, the City of Beijing evicted an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes in the city to make way for the buildings and infrastructure needed for the Olympics. In some instances, the citizens were not justly compensated, and developers would take drastic steps to force unwilling residents to move from their properties. In the City of Kunming, an elderly 83 year-old woman refused to vacate her property after her neighborhood was slated for development. To drive her out, the developer leveled all of the properties around her home, cut electricity and dug a two meter deep mote around her house. Yikes. Continue reading