CA Lawmakers Want to Secure SoCal's Water Supply Amid Drought With New Bond - NBC Southern California

Coverage of one of California's most severe dry spells on record and its dramatic turnaround

CA Lawmakers Want to Secure SoCal's Water Supply Amid Drought With New Bond

A federal appeals court on Thursday afternoon upheld a decision to limit water distribution from NorCal to SoCal



    Court Decision Limits SoCal Water Aid

    A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday to restrict water deliveries from the Delta smelt in Northern California, putting more pressure on local water authorities to rethink water conservation efforts. Patrick Healy reports from Santa Monica for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 14, 2014. (Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014)

    In the midst of California’s historic drought -- as well as litigation regarding a tiny fish -- lawmakers are putting their heads together to secure SoCal’s water supply.

    A federal appeals court on Thursday afternoon upheld a decision to limit the distribution of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.

    The vast river delta provides more than 20 million domestic and agricultural consumers in Central and Southern California with about 70 percent of its supply.

    Snow Arrives in Big Bear

    [LA] Snow Arrives in Big Bear
    The strong system that has pounded Southern California for the last few days is bringing a plethora of snow to Big Bear and other mountain areas. Hotel officials are relieved that natural snow is hitting the mountains that have been starved due to the state drought. Crystal Eggers reports for Today in LA on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
    (Published Saturday, March 1, 2014)

    But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services opined that continued operations would threaten a population of smelt, small fish that live in the delta.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council came to the fish’s aid. Thursday’s decision not only helped the fish, but it also pointed to a bigger problem: California’s old standbys for water can no longer be counted on.

    “Protections are necessary for the health and well-being of the delta,” said Steve Fleischli, NRDC’s senior attorney and director of its water program. “It’s really important California think more seriously about sustainable water management.”

    Rain Makes Small Dent in Drought

    [LA] Rain Makes Small Dent in Drought
    The heavy rains of the past week are not enough to pull California out of dought, but captured runoff will provide long-lasting benefits reducing the drought's impact.. Patrick Healy reports from the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds in Montebello for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 3, 2014.
    (Published Monday, March 3, 2014)

    Coincidentally, an assembly met Friday afternoon in Monterey Park to discuss a water bond that would affect the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County Basin.

    Although there’s no nexus between Thursday’s decision and the proposed bond, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, said lawmakers are trying to focus on “local situations,” such as groundwater cleanup, maintaining aquifers in communities and focusing on recycling, to prepare for future water scarcity.

    El Nino Could Return: Forecasters

    [LA] El Nino Could Return: Forecasters
    Global weather experts announced Thursday that warming water patterns in the Pacific Ocean indicate a 50-50 chance that El Niño could make a comeback and provide much-needed moisture to drought-stricken California. Patrick Healy spoke with JPL climate scientists in Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, March 6, 2014)

    The bond (AB 1331), which was introduced by Rendon, will cost $8 billion. And in November, voters could be asked to approve it.

    The bond includes:

    • $1 billion for improving drinking water quality
    • $1.5 billion for protecting rivers and watersheds
    • $2 billion for regional water management to improve water delivery and reduce the impact of climate change on water supplies
    • $1 billion for protecting the California Delta
    • $2.5 billion for water storage

    Delta Tunnel Proposal at Center of Water Battle Between California's North and South

    [LA] Congressman Opposes Delta Tunnel Proposal for Delivering Water to Southland
    Experts agree the weak link in the system that delivers water from wetter Northern California to the drier Southern half is the fragile Bay Delta. Governor Brown's proposal to divert Sacramento River water south through new tunnels to go beneath the Delta is backed by Southern California water agencies, but faces renewed opposition from veteran elected official John Garamendi, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, now a Congressman representing the Delta region. Patrick Healy reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday March 7, 2014.
    (Published Saturday, March 8, 2014)

    “The timing is right, I think, in light of the drought condition,” said Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, with regard to the bond.

    Also on the table is the governor’s plan for the delta, which calls for new tunnels to tap water.

    Backers of the governor’s plan said the tunnels are still viable even after Thursday’s delta smelt court ruling. But defenders of the delta and its occupants have posited alternate options.

    “There’s no question California can do a lot more to use water more efficiently,” Fleischli said, noting that roughly $6 billion could be saved if one pipe was built instead of two, for example.

    California voters, however, have not passed a water bond since 2006.

    A similar $11 billion water bond was proposed in 2009, but it was kept off the ballot because lawmakers thought voters would likely vote it down.

    AB 1331, titled “The Clean and Safe Drinking Water Act of 2014,” as currently proposed, repeals the 2009 bond.

    The next hearing for the new bond will be in Modesto on April 16.

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