Why is Hydropower Relicensing So Complicated?

KQED NewsBy Molly SamuelJune 25, 2012 When most of the dams in California were built, there were few, if any, safety or environmental regulations governing how they operated. Now most hydropower projects, whether they’re owned by local agencies or power companies, need licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. (Federal projects don’t require FERC licenses.) Licenses Read More…

Debate over fire retardant toxicity rages in West

The Sacramento BeeJune 21, 2012Forest Service officials insist firefighting won't be hindered by new rules meant to prevent millions of gallons of retardant dropped onto scorched landscapes each year from poisoning streams and killing fish and plants.The agency rules that resulted from a lawsuit require drops to come no closer than 300 feet from streams and lakes except when human safety is at Read More…

Is hydroelectric power a ‘renewable’ energy source?

KQED NewsBy Craig MillerJune 20, 2012It’s a fair question and one that a reader posed during our recent series on “Water and Power” in California. Hydro has its virtues. It’s clean, once it’s built; producing hydropower creates no significant greenhouse gas or other emissions. And it’s certainly “renewable” as long as the water flows. But it’s not without its environmental Read More…

California’s selenium time bomb keeps ticking

Huffington PostBy Glen MartinJune 20, 2012Jon Stewart ran a typically risible segment last week about a distinctly unfunny story: the discovery of a two-headed trout in an Idaho watershed, the result of selenium contamination from phosphate mining operations by the J.R. Simplot Co. The bit reprises, in a far funnier way, an earlier New York Times piece on the issue by Leslie Kaufman. A Read More…

Rethinking hydropower

KQED NewsBy Molly SamuelJune 18, 2012Just so we all start on the same page: there are a lot of dams in California. People have been building dams here since the Gold Rush, and though the dam building boom of the first half of the 20th century is long-over, the dams are still here.This animation shows all the dams in California. To see a breakdown of which ones are connected to hydropower projects Read More…

Lots of fish, lots of toxins

The Yakima Herald-RepublicBy Phil FerolitoJune 18, 2012Yakama tribal member Alan Tahsequah spends each spring and summer along the banks of the Yakima and Columbia rivers, catching fish for his family."I have five kids, plus I keep some extra for friends," the 35-year-old said while fishing near the Parker Dam on the Yakima River one recent afternoon. Roughly 20 miles upriver in the Yakima Read More…

Nine-city study reveals what’s contaminating the Columbia River

The Daily NewsBy Natalie St. JohnJune 16, 2012The same products that help people feel attractive, healthy and clean could be poisoning the Columbia River.A recent study of treated sewage water from nine communities along the Columbia River revealed that the Longview-Kelso area flushes a unique mix of chemical compounds into the river, including epilepsy medication, nicotine by-products, Read More…

Hydropower with a shrinking snowpack

KQED NewsBy Craig MillerJune 17, 2012While much is uncertain about California’s warming climate, there is little doubt that it’s already changing the fundamentals of how most of us get our water. In fact, the Bureau of Reclamation has estimated that the Sierra snowpack could be reduced by half as soon as a decade from now.And that has some far-reaching implications that could even show up on Read More…

Redding considers settlement tied to spills into Sacramento River

The Record SearchlightBy Jenny EspinoJune 16, 2012Redding leaders are looking to settle fines, at a cost of more than $1 million, for releasing pollutants into the Sacramento River, mostly during torrential rains in March 2011.A proposal to pay a $225,000 fine and establish an $800,000 program to replace some older sewer lines goes to the City Council on Tuesday. State water regulators will Read More…

The water that fuels California’s power grid

KQED NewsBy Lauren SommerJune 12, 2012 We hear a lot about how green our energy is in California. Instead of using coal, the state runs on natural gas and increasingly, renewable power. But there’s a hidden cost to our energy supply: water use. In fact, every time you turn on a light, it’s like turning on your faucet. It’s been calculated that it takes 1.5 gallons of water to run a Read More…