[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
56°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 24
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]
postal cover


| Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019
water plan - View of Oroville Dam’s main spillway (center) and emergency spillway (top), on Feb. 11, 2017. The large gully to the right of the main spillway was caused by water flowing through its damaged concrete surface. | Photo: William Croyle/California Department of Water Resources – California Department of Water Resources.
View of Oroville Dam’s main spillway (center) and emergency spillway (top), on Feb. 11, 2017. The large gully to the right of the main spillway was caused by water flowing through its damaged concrete surface. | Photo: William Croyle/California Department of Water Resources – California Department of Water Resources.

 

SACRAMENTO – Yo-yoing between heat waves, torrential rainfall and raging wildfires that burn through Thanksgiving, the explosive nature of California’s weather has been on full display over the last several years, and state water experts are calling for an update to water plans for extreme weather.

The state’s worst drought, one of its wettest winters and both the largest and most destructive wildfires all occurred this decade.

Unpredictability has long been a staple of the Golden State’s climate, but scientists warn that warming temperatures will likely lead to shorter, more intense rainy stretches – putting added strain on the state’s overworked water infrastructure.

Casting climate change as a direct threat to California’s water security, a panel of experts on Tuesday said the state must develop water plans for the “new normal” by modernizing water infrastructure before the next great disaster.

“The volatility just makes it harder to use our multipurpose reservoirs,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center. “When you’ve got higher, spikier runoff, that means you have higher flood risk at the same time you want to be saving water for drought.”

As is the case across the country, California’s major dams and reservoirs were built decades ago and designed to supply fewer people and protect against a smaller flood risk.

Facing runoff from a series of major winter storms, California narrowly escaped an unimaginable disaster in February 2017 when the spillway at the nation’s tallest dam disintegrated and sent nearly 200,000 Northern Californians scrambling. A break in the weather helped state officials eventually gain control of the situation, but it was a wakeup call and repairs ultimately cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.

The near catastrophe at Oroville Dam would have rivaled any disaster in state history, leaving millions homeless and without water from Northern California to Los Angeles.

A panel discusses the Public Policy Institute of California’s water plan in Sacramento on Nov. 5, 2019. | Photo: Nick Cahill / CNS.

A panel discusses the Public Policy Institute of California’s water plan in Sacramento on Nov. 5, 2019. | Photo: Nick Cahill / CNS.

Though the dam is once again in working condition, experts who participated in the PPIC’s water forum Tuesday said other repairs are needed to prepare California for the next big storm. The nonpartisan think tank suggests not just fixing old dams and sinking canals, but diversifying the water grid by creating ways to capture runoff during floods and use it to recharge aquifers.

The PPIC’s 20-page report explores how five effects of climate change – warming temperatures, shrinking snowpack, shorter and more intense rainy seasons, volatile precipitation and rising seas – will impact the state’s ability to get water to a growing population of 40 million.

No region has felt the sting of California’s changing climate more than sparsely populated Lake County, located on the outskirts of the state’s famous wine country.

The county that was once occupied by Pomo Native Americans, who hunted in the rolling foothills and fished in Clear Lake for centuries, has been in some official state of emergency for the last eight years. The estimated 65,000 county residents have lived through nearly every sort of natural disaster imaginable, says Lake County administrator Jan Coppinger.

“It started with the drought which of course brought on millions of dead trees and led to massive wildfires,” Coppinger told the crowd in downtown Sacramento. “Over 60% of our county has burned; we’ve lost thousands of homes and water systems even burned down.”

Storms that finally moved in from the Pacific Ocean in 2017 may have tamped down drought conditions in Lake County, but they also sent a rush of mud and debris through burn scars and into neighborhoods. The scenario was replayed this past winter as well.

“If you’ve lived in California over the 10 years, this has been your life,” said PPIC researcher Van Butsic of the alternating disasters.

While also prone to wildfires and earthquakes, floods are perhaps the largest hazard facing California’s Central Valley.

State, local and federal government water plans have largely been able to protect the agricultural heartland over the last 100 years, but the risk remains for the over 6 million people now living in the basin.

The last major flood to hit the region was in January 1997, when the San Joaquin River and its tributaries jumped their banks and levees after a series of atmospheric rivers hit California. The rivers breached levees and several reservoirs spilled over, flooding 250 square miles and over 20,000 homes in the valley.

Tim Ramirez, member of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, says not enough has been done to shield the valley from another major flood. He added the major flood infrastructure from 1997 remains in place while the region’s population has boomed.

“There’s not a lot that’s different from 22 years ago,” Ramirez contends. “When this event happens, we’re going to have all the same problems.”

In the short term, Ramirez recommends that state and local agencies update evacuation plans and warning systems before the next flood hits. In the long term, dedicating more land to send water from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries during floods could alleviate pressure on dams and levees.

The report, issued before the Legislature resumes in January, calls for the creation of new incentives to spur water districts into implementing flexible management systems and make it easier for them to do things like trade water.

“The state can encourage improved cooperation and alignment among local jurisdictions, which make most frontline management decisions and are often leading innovation,” the water plans states.

— By Nick Cahill

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Thursday, Jan 23, 2020
Agua Dulce Man Accused of Kidnapping Toddler Found Legally Insane
An Agua Dulce man accused of kidnapping a toddler at knifepoint was found not mentally fit to assist in his own legal defense by a judge Wednesday and committed to an institution.
Thursday, Jan 23, 2020
West Ranch Students Seeking Donations for Taal Volcano Victims
The recent eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines last January 12 has forced many Filipino to flee their homes and move to evacuation centers. Those most affected are villagers in the hard-hit province of Batangas.
Thursday, Jan 23, 2020
Engbrecht to Retire Sooner Than Expected
Having previously announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year, Vicki Engbrecht has moved up her retirement date as superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District to March 1.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]
postal cover
In an effort to increase the number of property owners participating in the County’s rental assistance programs, the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) has launched a new business model which provides an enhanced customer service experience for property owners.
County Launches New Business Model to Benefit Property Owners
An Agua Dulce man accused of kidnapping a toddler at knifepoint was found not mentally fit to assist in his own legal defense by a judge Wednesday and committed to an institution.
Agua Dulce Man Accused of Kidnapping Toddler Found Legally Insane
The Los Angeles County Development Authority is opening its wait list for senior public housing site applications at seven locations in L.A. County.
County to Open Waitlist for SCV’s Orchard Arms Senior Housing
California State University, Northridge psychology professor Que-Lam Huynh has been named an “emerging scholar” by leading education magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.
CSUN Professor Recognized as Emerging Scholar
College of the College dropped a 73-58 conference result to visiting Glendale College on Saturday night in the Cougar Cage.
Lady Cougars Drop Conference Game to Glendale 73-58
College of the Canyons notched its first conference win by way of a 79-69 final result at the Cougar Cage on Saturday.
Cougars Best Glendale in First Conference Win 79-69
The recent eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines last January 12 has forced many Filipino to flee their homes and move to evacuation centers. Those most affected are villagers in the hard-hit province of Batangas.
West Ranch Students Seeking Donations for Taal Volcano Victims
Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth will kick off this year’s SCV VegFest as the community heals and celebrates sustainability, healthy living and compassion.
May 16: SCV VegFest to Celebrate Sustainability, Compassion & Healthy Living
Having previously announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year, Vicki Engbrecht has moved up her retirement date as superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District to March 1.
Engbrecht to Retire Sooner Than Expected
On Friday, Jan. 17, Ray Leyva began his tenure as Interim Chief Probation Officer of the Los Angeles County Probation Department after being appointed to the position by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 7.
Ray Leyva Begins Tenure as County’s Interim Chief Probation Officer
Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s monthly media briefing on Wednesday took place at the Hall of Justice. It included lots of good news, as well as a glimpse at happier times in the life of a partner recently lost
Villanueva Discusses Promotions, Homeless Outreach at First 2020 Media Briefing
Santa Clarita is on its way to having a more accurate tally of its homeless population, according to community leaders and volunteers at Tuesday’s annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
Local Streets, Riverbeds Canvassed for Annual Homeless Count
Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley is requesting nominations from local, nonprofit organizations who would like to have their outstanding volunteer contributions recognized at Zonta’s Women In Service Recognition Luncheon event to be held Saturday, May 2, at Sand Canyon Country Club.
Zonta Club SCV Seeking ‘Women in Service’ Nominations
The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees is beginning the search for a new president of California State University, Northridge (CSUN) to succeed Dr. Dianne F. Harrison, who is retiring in June 2020.
CSU to Begin Search for New CSUN President
CHP officers are investigating a fatal crash that took place early Thursday on the southbound lanes of Highway 14, north of Sierra Highway.
Driver Killed in State Route 14 Crash
While Saugus High students continue to pick up the pieces and heal from the deadly campus shooting that took place Nov. 14, Kiki Egetoe picked up a paintbrush.
Saugus High Senior Gifts Portraits of Shooting Victims to Parents
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]
HH Jackson
Valencia-based AMS Fulfillment has acquired EchoData Group, an exceptional fulfillment services company located in Pennsylvania and Delaware that has been in operation for 36 years, AMS Fulfillment announced Tuesday.
AMS Fulfillment Acquires EchoData Group
Kaiser Permanente celebrated the grand opening of its new Target Clinic at the Target Santa Clarita East store, located at 19105 Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted last month by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Kaiser Opens Target Clinic in Canyon Country for Members, Non-Members
The city of Santa Clarita has released the list of productions shooting in the Santa Clarita Valley the week of January 20-26, 2020.
Film, TV Productions Shooting in SCV: ‘Betrayed,’ ‘Lone Star,’ ‘Off the Grid’
Realtors in the Santa Clarita Valley assisted 2,347 single-family home sales during 2019, an increase of 4.5 percent over the prior year, while prices hit new highs and the inventory plunged, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.
SCV Home Prices, Condo Prices Set Record Highs in 2019
The College of the Canyons "Canyons Promise" free tuition program for new students is now accepting applications for the 2020-21 school year.
COC’s Canyons Promise Program Now Accepting Applications
College of the Canyons and California State University, Northridge business accounting students are participating in the federal government’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, clinic, providing free tax preparation and filing for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers.
COC, CSUN Students to Provide Free Tax Preparation
%d bloggers like this: