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.
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.
As I wrote in a March 2016 Hydrowonk Post, the El Niño rains did not provide even drought relief across the western United States. Some areas have seen record rainfall. For example, Houston, Texas recorded the wettest April on record this year. A slow moving storm from April 15-18 dumped almost a foot of rain in some areas of greater Houston, more than 3 times the average rainfall for the entire month of April. The Pacific Northwest also received very plentiful rainfall. At the beginning of the water year (September 30, 2015), Washington State had 100% of its land mass covered in some form of drought according to the US Drought Monitor. As of this week, 96.71% of the state was drought-free. Unfortunately, not all areas in the west fared as well as the Pacific Northwest in terms of drought relief. Continue reading
California and Florida may be on opposite coasts, but they have more similarities than you may expect in relation to water supply challenges. While California and much of the Western Unites States remains in the grip of a long-term drought, the Southeastern United States has quietly and unfortunately also entered into drought. Southern states including Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana are experiencing drought conditions, in some cases severe. The most recent US Drought Monitor shows that while drought conditions in the Sunshine State have abated somewhat, approximately 27.1% of Florida is experiencing some level of drought. The drought conditions are at their worst near the population centers of Tallahassee in the north and Miami in the south. Just a month ago, close to 40% of the state was in some form of drought and extreme drought covered parts of Southeastern Florida west of Miami. Continue reading