With a surface level at 227 feet below sea level and shoreline temperatures often rising past 120 degrees, the Salton Sea could be mistaken for the headwaters of the River Styx. Sometimes, concentrations of salt in the brackish lake, formed by a not-quite-natural overflow of the nearby Colorado River a century ago, asphyxiate resident tilapia fish by the thousands. Currently California's largest lake--larger, even, than Tahoe--the Salton Sea itself may soon dry up, leaving a dust-filled crater.
"Life in the Slow Lane" is the headline of a piece in The Economist that provides a very interesting analysis of the lack of infrastructure spending in the United States.
Because the story is in The Economist, it comes at the topic from a European perspective. No doubt this will trouble conservatives because, well … I'm not sure why conservatives fear comparisons with other prosperous, industrialized, democratic societies. Anyway, I think the story is worth reading.
California is on the verge of "five major, protracted water crises" and must change its system of governance to address the urgent situation, according to "Managing California's Water," a comprehensive examination of the subject recently produced by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The report recommends creating a Department of Water Management that is headed by an appointed director whose term overlaps different governors' administrations. This department, which could have cabinet-level status, would house a "public trust advocate" to ensure water is put toward reasonable uses and, for the first time, would have significant groundwater oversight.
An environmental impact report for a 560-housing unit specific plan in the Riverside County city of Beaumont has been upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The court approved the city's use of a baseline for examining water usage that was favorable to the developer, accepted the city's determination that loss of farmland could not be mitigated, and upheld the city's statement of overriding consideration for approving a project with significant environmental impacts.
I was trying to figure out a way to summarize the 2009-2010 session of the California Legislature when I found a summary upon which I could not improve.
In its September 3 edition of "Framing the Issues," the affordable housing advocacy group California Housing Law Project nailed the situation. Under the headline "No Budget … No Money … No Legacy … Failed Policy," was this:
A unanimous California Supreme Court has upheld a trial court's decision to reject a challenge to a Proposition 218 election for a storm drainage fee, thus reversing a decision by First District Court of Appeal.
The state high court ruled the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District maintained the requisite level of voting secrecy in accordance with the 1996 "Right to Vote on Taxes Initiative," which requires voter approval for certain local fees.
News from around the state: Sonoma County drops plans to take more water from the Russian River, angering cities; CSU Monterey Bay agrees to mitigate some of its off-campus impacts; Lake County may get a fourth Indian casino.
The San Bernardino Local Agency Formation Commission may proceed with the proposed consolidation of two water districts, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court rejected the argument of one district that the proposed consolidation is not subject to the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Government Reorganization Act and that the consolidation is actually a dissolution.
The state's system for regulating water quality is failing, according to the Little Hoover Commission. In a recent report, the investigative panel concluded the current system managed by the State Water Resources Control Board and nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards lacks transparency, consistency and accountability, and that the system does not demonstrably improve water quality.
Cities, counties and public water agencies have broad discretion over the way they conduct water supply assessments for development projects that rely on groundwater, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled.