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After a Rush to Build Costly Water Treatment Plants, They’re Now Sitting Unused

Over a decade ago, Southern California water officials rushed to build or expand treatment plants so they could keep up with the demand for drinkable water. That cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now demand for water has fallen dramatically. The treatment plants sit largely unused during parts of the year and officials are fighting over how to pay for some of them.

There are two kinds of water: treated water, which has been cleaned up for drinking; and raw water, which comes from a river or reservoir and is not yet fit for human consumption.

Despite Drought, California Almond Acreage Rose 6 Percent in 2015

The increase came despite removals of about 45,000 acres of trees in 2015 — much of which occurred after harvest — and continues a trend in which acreage has doubled in the last 20 years, according to government and industry statistics.



Congress is about to wipe out decades of progress in sustainable water use

As California enters its fifth year of official drought — and its ninth dry year in the past 10 — the elements of a modern, sustainable water system are finally taking shape. The state is improving water efficiency in agriculture and urban areas, expanding wastewater treatment and reuse, figuring out how to capture more storm water, and starting to monitor and manage badly over-drafted groundwater basins.

In Washington D.C., however, special interests are still pushing ineffective and inequitable water strategies. Nowhere is this tension between new water strategies and outmoded federal thinking more apparent than in the California drought legislation currently before Congress.

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Seeking to Drain Hetch Hetchy and Restore Valley

A Tuolumne County judge has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to drain San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the linchpin of a system that supplies drinking water to 2.5 million people in the Bay Area.

In a ruling delivered Thursday, Superior Court Judge Kevin Seibert sided with San Francisco officials who have objected to emptying the reservoir, situated in Yosemite National Park, and restoring the valley it now occupies. Restore Hetch Hetchy, the group that sued to shut down Hetch Hetchy, had argued that the dam and reservoir violate Article X, Section 2 of the California Constitution.

SoCal is Probably Going to Have a Very Bad Fire Season

Southern California didn’t get the El Niño rains that other parts of the state did this year, and is still very much mired in a drought that’s dragged on for years. Now, fire officials with the US Forest Service are bracing for the effect that persistent dryness will have on this year’s summer wildfire season. The federal government will put out its official wildfire outlook in three days, but they’ve already said things aren’t looking so great for the region, says the Daily News.


Water Wasters in L.A. Will Soon Face Heavier Fines, Audits

As regulators mull softening the state’s drought restrictions amid outcry from some Northern California water districts, water wasters in Los Angeles will soon face stiffer fines and water audits under a plan approved this week by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Under the city’s amended water conservation plan, which will take effect Tuesday, the Department of Water and Power will be able to fine residents between $1,000 and $40,000 a month for what it deems “unreasonable use” of water when the city is in an elevated phase of its emergency drought plan.

Spring Storms Help Snowpack As California Drought Persists

There was no change in drought conditions last week in California and Nevada, but spring storms added snow to the northern Sierra Nevada.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released April 28 shows that slightly more than 4 percent of California, in the northwest part of the state, is not in drought. But, unlike the previous update, which showed extreme and exceptional drought had eased in the state, there were no changes in this week’s report (which has a cutoff day of Tuesday).

Diamond Valley Lake Ramp Reopening in May

Wednesday, April 28, was a happy time at Diamond Valley Lake as news spread that rising water levels will enable private boat launching to resume May 18.


The lake’s massive concrete launch ramp, which has a vertical rise similar to an 11-story building, closed a year ago because of low water levels caused by the drought. MWD officials drew the lake down 115 feet below its high-water mark to supply customers during the water shortage. That left the ramp dry.

OPINION: Delta Islands Purchase is to Restore Wetlands, Not Capture Water

There is talk that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is purchasing four islands and tracts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to construct a reservoir project to divert more water from the estuary. It’s not true, and events will prove so in the days and weeks ahead.

 But the prevalence of this opinion, which even finds its way into newspaper pages such as this one, gets to the heart of a far more troubling issue. Too much of our discourse about the Delta is based on fear rather than reality.