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Executive Summary for July 20th

In this weekly roundup, we analyze key water developments around the West, including how wildlife is enduring drought and wildfire, whether Los Angeles will add a tax to fund stormwater and a newly released environmental impact report for the Delta tunnels.

Published on July 20, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Tough Summer for Wildlife in the Southwest

Wildlife and trees along the Rio Grande will get some relief from extremely dry conditions with help from Audubon New Mexico. But nearby in Colorado, fish are becoming casualties of wildfire.

The nonprofit organization has worked directly with municipalities in New Mexico, including Belen, Los Lunas and Bernalillo, to buy millions of gallons of unused water stored in reservoirs that can be released this summer to help cottonwood trees, fish and other wildlife deal with extremely dry conditions, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Currently, 86 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions and 16 percent is in exceptional drought.

In Colorado, officials reported that debris and ash washed into the Animas River from the 416 Fire, which has been burning north of Durango, Colorado, since June 1, have killed thousands of fish.

“We’re seeing thousands of fish struggle for their last gasp of air on the river 10 to 15 miles north of Durango, likely down into New Mexico,” Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for the Southwest Region of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Gazette. “We can’t even get an exact number because the river is so dark and brown, and we can’t do much about it until the runoff flushes out.”

Taxes for Stormwater

Los Angeles County could double the amount of stormwater it’s able to catch if two-thirds of local voters in November pass a measure to add a tax that would fund stormwater capture.

Only those who live in the boundaries of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District would be impacted. But if those voters agree to the new measure, a tax on homes and businesses of 2.5 cents for every square foot of property that sheds water (including roofs and driveways) would be imposed.

SCPR reports that it could add about $83 a year to a property tax bill for a 6,000 square foot parcel and it’s expected to raise about $300 million annually.

WaterFix Comments Welcome

Have something to say about California’s proposed Delta tunnels project? Now’s a good time. The state just opened the comment period for a new draft of the environmental review document.

Officially known as the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), the document for the state’s two proposed tunnels, known as WaterFix, “analyzes several proposed changes designed to reduce the project’s footprint and costs, and minimize impacts on environmental resources in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta), including wetlands and other water resources,” according to the Department of Water Resources.

Some of the modifications addressed in the document include “realigning” the tunnels to avoid the town of Hood and municipal water wells, eliminating upgrades to Clifton Court Forebay and instead creating a new forebay in Byron, and changing to some construction and staging areas.

The state will be taking comments through September 17.

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