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You can thank the drought for improved water quality at Southern California beaches
Water quality at Southern California beaches has shown marked improvement for the second year in a row in what experts say is a continuing byproduct of the severe drought that has cut polluted runoff into the Pacific Ocean. About 97% of Southern California beaches received an A or B grade for water quality during the busy summer months, according to the annual Beach Report Card released by Heal the Bay, an environmental group. That’s up three percentage points from last year’s report. In California as a whole, 95% of state beaches earned an A or B during the summer — the same as 2015. Heal the Bay uses bacteria counts at more than 450 beaches to formulate letter grades from A to F. High bacteria counts can be linked to such potential illnesses as stomach flu, ear infections and major skin rashes. The main reason for the increased water quality is a lack of rain runoff — a consequence of record-low rain levels in the Southland. The leading cause of water pollution at beaches is storm-drain runoff, flowing untreated to the coast and often contaminated with motor oil, pesticides, yard waste, animal waste and other pollutants. “This was the fifth year in a row of below-average rainfall in Southern California, and as a result, its beaches experienced less urban runoff, which likely led to the improvement of overall grades,” the report said. [Article]
by JASON SONG, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-27
 
How Fog Could Help Solve California’s Drought (And Make Delicious Vodka)
As Robert Redford’s character in All Is Lost proved, in dire situations, water can be teased out of thin air. In the movie, Redford collects condensation from a makeshift seawater desalination system he rigs up in his lifeboat. In California, it’s being harvested from the fog that rolls in off the Pacific. Images from a drought-stricken California shocked the rest of the country when they circulated last year: dry and cracked riverbeds, brown golf courses, shriveled crops. The drought that has plagued the state since 2011 is showing signs of easing up thanks to the relief brought by El Niño, but it’s far from over. As Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, told NPR, because California grows so much of the nation’s food, which requires vast amounts of water, it’s likely to continue suffering “chronic water scarcity.” Might there be a solution right beneath our noses? Or, rather, hanging above our heads? Fog, the atmospheric phenomenon that makes San Francisco such a picturesque—if damp—place to live, is essentially low-lying clouds made up of countless water droplets. A Canadian nonprofit called FogQuest is working with local researchers to test fog harvesting systems in key areas across the state. The Bay Area, now has several fog catchers designed to capture moisture from the ever-present mist. Erected in strategic locations, they are made up of large plastic mesh sheets that collect the water droplets in the air, which then drip down into a tank. In the past decade, FogQuest has installed fog catchers in such places as Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Chile’s Atacama Desert, parts of which get little more than a millimeter of rainfall per year. The contraptions require no electricity and collected an average of half a gallon per square yard of mesh in a Bay Area trial run. The water can be used for drinking, cooking, washing, gardening. In Chile, there is even a beer brewed with fog water. In California, it’s now being used to make artisanal vodka. [Article]
by CHANTAL MARTINEAU, Long Beach Press Telegram. 2016-05-27
 
It's Still Hard To Get Birth Control Pills In California Without A Prescription
It has been more than 18 months since California's governor signed a law that allows pharmacists to distribute most types of hormonal birth control methods without a prescription. That means that while women in the state still have to see a doctor to get an IUD, or a contraceptive implant, they should be able to simply walk into their local pharmacy and easily buy contraceptive pills, the patch or the vaginal ring — much like getting a flu shot, or buying over-the-counter medicine to fight a cold. But good luck finding a pharmacy that will actually dispense birth control that way. Calls to eight pharmacies around the San Francisco Bay Area — including large corporate locations and smaller, independent stores — yielded no pharmacies delivering these services. Most pharmacists said they still needed to undergo the state-mandated training and that their stores were in the process of figuring out what the service would look like. [Article]
by KELLY O'MARA, KQED - SanFrancisco. 2016-05-27
 
SoCal beach water quality's up, but LA County still has 3 of California's most polluted beaches
Water quality at Southern California beaches is improving, according to Heal The Bay. The environmental nonprofit released its 2016 Beach Report Card on Thursday, giving A to F scores to 456 beaches up and down the California coast. One thing that actually helps beach pollution: the drought. Less rain means less runoff, which means less pollution, Heal The Bay beach water quality scientist Leslie Griffin told KPCC. Nearly 40 percent of beaches get an F grade during wet weather. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2016-05-27
 
Two Tech-Savvy Non-Profits get Big Boost During Day One of Foster Care Hackathon
With the first day of the White House’s Foster Care Hackathon in the bag, two non-profits seem poised to make huge strides in expanding their reach. In the case of tech-heavy iFoster, the hackathon became a venue for repeated pledges to dramatically expand its program for providing foster youth with laptop computers. First came an announcement on White House stationary that two California-based philanthropies had pledged $250,000 toward providing all transition-age foster youth in California free laptop computers. The plan calls for distributing 10,000 computers to foster youth ages 16 to 21 over the next three years at an estimated cost of $5 million. [Article]
by DANIEL HEIMPEL / OPINION, Chronicle of Social Change. 2016-05-27
 
Homeless making Civic Center unsafe
At Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, an employee walking into work earlier this month stepped on a used hypodermic needle. On a different day, a work crew of plumbers making repairs outside the courthouse was attacked by rock-throwing residents of a nearby homeless encampment. Professionals entering the south side of the courthouse walk past a bush where homeless residents dump feces and urine from their bathroom buckets. Santa Ana’s Civic Center is home to a county courthouse, Santa Ana City Hall and library and a plaza of county buildings where the public comes to do everything from obtaining marriage licenses and paying property taxes to attending public meetings and court hearings. [Article]
by JENNIFER MUIR / OPINION, Orange County Register. 2016-05-27
 
PACE programs heat up San Diego’s economy
More than $300 million in local energy improvements, including water-efficiency projects and rooftop solar panels, have been funded through HERO, California First and Ygrene PACE since since the Spring of 2014. As many as 2,800 people have been employed. “Solar is now estimated to be a $1 billion industry in San Diego County,” said a county official. “The county expects to issue 9,000 solar permits during the current fiscal year. A significant number of those are expected to be PACE related.”1 “It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the job market. And it’s good for ratepayers tired of big, fat utility bills,” said Dianne Jacob, vice-chair of San Diego County Board of Supervisors. [Article]
by ROY L. HALES, Clean Technica. 2016-05-27
 
San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts Joins Fellow Healthcare Experts at HFMA Forum
SAN DIEGO & WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nationally known healthcare executive, educator, thought leader and consultant John M. “Jay” Shiver, MHA, LFACHE, FAAMA, will keynote the “Innovative Strategies for Successful Population Health Management” forum June 16 at AMN Healthcare. Hosted by the San Diego-Imperial Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association—in concert with Health Care Communicators of San Diego, HIMSS Southern California and the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders—the forum is designed to help healthcare finance executives navigate rough value-based reimbursement waters ahead. [Article]
by PRESS RELEASE, Business Wire. 2016-05-27
 
County’s smartphones at risk for break-ins, audit finds
"The noblest motive is the public good," is San Diego County's motto, but when it comes to keeping track of the county's smartphones, it might better be replaced by “watch your back," a newly released April report by chief of audits Juan R. Perez indicates. For starters, "None of the five departments sampled were maintaining a complete and accurate inventory of their mobile devices, because their inventory list excluded inactive mobile phones,” resulting in taxpayers footing monthly cell-phone bills for a raft of unused devices. [Article]
by MATT POTTER, San Diego Reader. 2016-05-27
 
County programs target, treat trauma
Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series of stories on trauma and how Imperial County Behavioral Health Services has been training its staff to understand it and provide treatment. Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly seen as the result of wartime trauma, something that occurs thousands of miles away to our men and women in the military. Many come home broken in body and spirit, sentenced to relive and try to recover from nightmarish experiences. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Imperial Valley Press. 2016-05-27
 
First Ever White House Foster Care & Technology Hackathon
Washington, DC - At the heart of the American story is the simple truth that all children should have a fair chance at success, no matter who they are or where they come from. Central to this promise of opportunity is the love and support of a family – which all children deserve, but not enough have. On any given day, there are over 400,000 children in our nation’s foster care system with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted. Every year, 23,000 of these youth will age out of the system never having found a permanent home. Young people who age out of foster care face a tough road: they are more likely to experience significant challenges with completing their education, obtaining a job, homelessness, maintaining financial security and staying out of the criminal justice system. [Article]
by PRESS RELEASE, Imperial Valley Press. 2016-05-27
 
Homeless shelter falls short of expectations
Just after 6 a.m., Steve Wade limps off a shuttle in Palm Springs, tightly gripping his cane. Wade has been homeless since February, when a fire burned down his apartment. He has survived by digging through dumpsters for cans and bottles. He eats out of the garbage if he has to. This day is no different. By late afternoon, the shuttle comes back for Wade, 53. He finds a seat among the other riders – all homeless – and they head north. The shuttle drives out of town, beyond the grocery stores and the middle-class homes. It zips past the windmills and across Interstate 10, eventually stopping in a no man’s land between Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. Welcome to Roy’s Desert Resource Center, the western Coachella Valley’s only homeless shelter. [Article]
by GABBY FERREIRA, Desert Sun. 2016-05-27
 
Judge to hear argument for dismissal of San Bernardino County corruption case
Another motion seeking dismissal of San Bernardino County’s Colonies public corruption case will be heard Friday in San Bernardino Superior Court, this time on grounds prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office did not save e-mails a defense attorney maintains were evidence. Defense attorney Stephen Larson, who is representing defendant Jeff Burum in the 5-year-old criminal case, filed a motion May 13 seeking dismissal. Burum, a Rancho Cucamonga developer, and three former top county officials were indicted in May 2011 in connection with the far-reaching public corruption case that originated a decade ago. Also charged in the case are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for erstwhile county Supervisor Gary Ovitt. All four defendants maintain their innocence. [Article]
by JOE NELSON, San Bernardino County Sun. 2016-05-27
 
The Lost California Boomtown of Agua Mansa
The citizens of Agua Mansa had been huddled in the town church all night. It had been raining for 15 days straight, and the river that was their lifeblood, the Santa Ana, had become a raging torrent. On January 23, 1862, those lucky enough to catch a few moments of sleep, on a pew or the hard chapel floor, awoke to an apocalyptic scene. According to San Bernardino chronicler Juan Caballería y Collell: "When morning dawned it showed a scene of desolation. The village of Agua Mansa was completely washed away, and where flowers bloomed and trees had been planted, a waste of muddy, turbulent water met the gaze." All that was left of this thriving town, once the largest settlement between New Mexico and the Pacific Coast, was the church, the homestead of the Jensen family, and the cemetery, which stood on a cliff overlooking the chapel. Agua Mansa’s sister city, La Placita, situated on the opposite bank of the Santa Ana, had been equally decimated. In one night, the hard work of the past 20-odd years had been swept away. [Article]
by HADLEY MEARES, San Bernardino County Sun. 2016-05-27
 
Waterwise: Matheny Tract to connect to Tulare’s system next week
Matheny Tract residents will start receiving water from the Tulare system starting next week, Tim Doyle said Wednesday. Water will start flowing to the 300-plus home enclave south of Tulare on Tuesday, said Doyle, Tulare’s Water Utility Manager. Water service to Matheny Tract comes after a lengthy legal wrangling and delayed construction that included the installation of water meters at the tract homes. [Article]
by LUIS HERNANDEZ, Visalia Times-Delta. 2016-05-27
 
Merced city manager issues challenge to county officials, who accept
Merced City Manager Steve Carrigan has turned up the heat on county officials, issuing a letter that accuses them of “standing in the way” of a $420 million development that would benefit the city and the county. The letter, published Wednesday on the Sun-Star’s website and on Friday’s opinion page, urges county CEO Jim Brown and supervisors to break the deadlock on how to divvy up tax revenue. Carrigan wrote that Merced County is blocking development of the Bellevue Corridor near UC Merced. The $420 million project would bring 1,000 apartments, research and development campuses and retail centers to what is now grassland, Carrigan said. [Article]
by BRIANNA CALIX, Merced Sun-Star. 2016-05-27
 
Kings County won't appeal California high-speed rail ruling
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. Kings County officials have opted not to appeal a judge's ruling against Central Valley landowners in their ongoing lawsuit against California's high-speed rail project, clearing another legal hurdle to the bullet train. The county's attorney, Colleen Carlson, said Thursday that county supervisors voted 4-0 this week against appealing a Sacramento County Superior Court judge's March ruling that found the $64 billion system does not violate promises made to the voters who approved it, allowing planning and financing to proceed. Judge Michael Kenny said the 2008 ballot initiative specified only that the state could issue bonds to construct a high-speed rail system and did not prevent modifications to the plan voters were given. But he agreed with Central Valley landowners and the county that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has not proven the rail system will be financially viable or can meet the travel times voters were promised. [Article]
by JULIET WILLIAMS/ ASSOCIATED PRESS, Fresno Bee. 2016-05-27
 
Merced County supervisors waiting to pursue mediator for revenue sharing
The Merced County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to pursue mediation on a revenue-sharing agreement with the city of Merced after it hears from County Counsel James Fincher at the June 7 meeting. The city of Merced formally requested that the two parties pursue the mediation process in a letter to the Board of Supervisors in early May. But board members agreed to wait to make a decision because Fincher was not present at Tuesday’s regular board meeting. [Article]
by BRIANNA CALIX, Hanford Sentinel. 2016-05-27
 
County gets $1.6 million for waterline
Tuolumne County administration and emergency services staff have received $1.6 million in funding from the State Water Resources Control Board for extending a Tuolumne Utilities District pipeline to the rural Quartz-Stent area south of Jamestown. Earlier this month, TUD staff said county officials were tracking 30 wells that are either in a state of failure due to drought or show signs of arsenic and/or nitrate contamination. According to TUD, 20 households had documented dry wells and 10 wells had arsenic and/or nitrate contamination. [Article]
by GUY MCCARTHY, Sonora Union Democrat. 2016-05-27
 
CRA Director Bev Shane Retiring
Sonora, CA — Capping off a 35-year career, Tuolumne County’s Community Resources Agency Director will retire this coming January. Bev Shane alerted the Board of Supervisors, and county staff, of her decision late yesterday. Shane started as a county planner, and eventually moved up to the ladder to Planning Director, Community Development Director and finally Community Resources Agency (CRA) Director. The CRA, which was created in 2011, and the position oversees both Public Works and Community Development. [Article]
by B.J. HANSEN, My Mother Lode. 2016-05-27
 
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