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.
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
We witnessed an amazing turn of events over the last week. At the time of publishing my Hydrowonk post last week, virtually every major poll had Hillary Clinton winning the presidency, some by a wide margin. Polls from major media groups, such as The Los Angeles Times for example, assumed that Clinton would win 352 electoral votes. Other polls projected that the Democrats had a very good chance of retaking the Senate. Instead, Donald Trump secured 290 electoral votes (at the time of publishing this post, Michigan still has not certified the final presidential results) by sweeping key swing states in the Midwest and flipping traditionally blue states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Harvard Business Review argues that relying on telephone calls to get accurate polling data is an outdated and inaccurate system now that most phones have caller ID, thus making it more likely that people will not pick up the phone for a pollster. Further, polls can tell you who a person may vote for, but it cannot guarantee that the person will make it to the polls on Election Day. But regardless of the causes for the very wrong polling data, Donald Trump now begins his transition as President-elect while retaining majorities in both the House and Senate. Continue reading
Last winter, California was supposed to bear the brunt of a “Godzilla El Niño” that would go a long way towards alleviating the drought here. Instead, a host of atmospheric conditions largely sent storms that most meteorologists predicted would hit California to the Pacific Northwest. As such, Northern California, Oregon and Washington experienced the majority of the storms while Southern California largely remained warm and dry. The winter storms helped to alleviate the drought in Oregon, but not completely erase it. According to the US Drought Monitor, extreme drought covered 67.29% of Oregon a year ago and 67.96% of Washington State. Currently, 32.78% of Oregon and 92.09% of Washington are drought free. Only 2.63% of Oregon’s land area has severe drought; Washington has none. During the winter of 2015-16, storms that many meteorologists initially believed would “bust the drought” in California eventually tracked to the Pacific Northwest. From December 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016, Seattle received more than 25 inches of rain – one of the soggiest winters on record. However, the lingering effects of the drought remain in both states. Low reservoirs, drought-affected forests and tough growing conditions have all presented challenges to the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading