Peter Osterkamp hopes his generation of farmers isn't the last in the Imperial Valley. (Photo: Krissy Clark)
Clichés about water in California can seem more abundant than the water itself these days. But that doesn’t make the clichés any less true.
There’s that Mark Twain saw about how “whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’,” and the line about how water flows uphill toward money. And then there’s the time Twain fell into a California river and “came out all dusty.”
All those quips seemed fairly dead-on when I was down in the desert of southeastern California recently. I was reporting for two radio stories on how Imperial Valley farmers are facing the double wallop of an eleven-year drought (and counting) in the Colorado River basin, and the expected effects of climate change. Recent models suggest that Lake Mead — the giant reservoir that stores Colorado River water for Imperial farmers and much of the Southwest — has a 50% chance of drying up in the next 50 years. Talk about dusty. And because the Colorado is so over-allocated already, no water is left by the time the river reaches — make that attempts to reach — the Colorado delta in Mexico. More dust. Continue reading
UPDATE: Since this post was first published, the BLM has also given the nod to another major solar energy installation, the approximately 400-megawatt Ivanpah project, being developed in San Bernardino County by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy.
The federal Bureau of Land Management today issued its first approvals of major solar energy projects in California.
The Tessera project will use "SunCatchers" to concentrate solar power. (Image: Tessera Solar)
Tessera Energy’s 700-megawatt Ocotillo project, located in the Imperial Valley, about 100 miles east of San Diego, and a smaller photovoltaic (PV) project by San Ramon-based Chevron Corp., are both cleared to go forward.
The two projects set a precedent not just for California. On a call with reporters this morning, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called it a “historic day,” saying the two projects “bear the distinction of being the first large-scale solar energy projects ever approved for construction on our nation’s public lands.” Continue reading