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No Easy Path to Implementing California Groundwater Law

The state’s new groundwater management laws mean Californians no longer have unfettered use of underground water.

State law will require the creation of local agencies with sweeping powers to meter wells, tax and penalize anyone who overuses groundwater. If agencies aren’t created by next year, state regulators can take over. The wine region of Paso Robles is among the 21 groundwater basins the state has deemed critically overdrafted. That means more water is pumped out than can be replenished.

Consortium Wins Bid for Rosarito Desal Plant

Baja California’s state government has selected a bidder for the construction of a massive desalination plant in Rosarito Beach that eventually could supply water to San Diego County.

The winning bid, announced last week, came from a consortium of two foreign companies — Nuwater of Singapore and the French company Degremont — as well as a Mexican company, NSC Agua, which is a subsidiary of Cayman Islands-based Consolidated Water.

BLOG: Will Water Sector Help or Hurt on Climate Change?

California has been diligently trying to reduce use of fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 350, which requires 50 percent of the electricity from utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030.

But it’s not just energy utilities that can add more renewables to their portfolios – water suppliers can, as well, although they aren’t mandated to do so. It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and deliver drinking water, and to treat and dispose of wastewater. Some water travels hundreds of miles from source to tap.

RCWD Moves to Drought Stage 3c, Restoring Customers Efficient Water Budget

Rancho California Water District’s board of directors voted June 9 to move out of Stage 4a and into Stage 3c of the District’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

The move will restore residential, landscape, agricultural, and commercial customer’s efficient budgets to 100 percent and will continue to encourage customers to use water efficiently. The Board also voted to remove the drought penalty charges that were added to tier 4.

 

California Proposes Adopting New Permitting Program for Wetlands and Waters of the State

On June 17, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) published proposed amendments to the Ocean Plan and the water quality control plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries and Ocean Waters of California to adopt procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state that are not protected by the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

Drought Conditions Improve in West

In May, the West saw the biggest decreases in drought areas, while the Southeast saw the biggest increases, according to National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) climatologist Deborah Bathke.

A steady improvement in conditions in northern California and western Nevada led to a reduction of extreme (D3) and severe (D4) drought in these areas. “Extreme southeastern California and the northwestern parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico also saw changes for the better, with some removal of moderate drought conditions,” Bathke noted.

It’s Going to be a Long, Fiery Summer

Ample rainfall helped put a dent in California’s drought, but it also created more fuel for wildfires, officials said.

Fire departments are gearing up for a long summer with training exercises and are encouraging people to be fire safe. “With lots of rain this winter, the grass grew a lot, and we became a dry tinderbox,” Chief Mike Butler of the Dobbins/Oregon House Fire Protection District said.

Sacramento City Council Rejects Plan to Increase Watering Days

As temperatures race toward the triple digits, City Council members voted unanimously to reduce water conservation goals but maintain a twice-weekly watering restriction.

The Department of Utilities presented a plan to drop conservation goals from 28 percent over 2013 levels down to 10 percent and increase watering to three days a week but found little support from the council. Instead, the council embraced an alternative suggestion from Councilman Jeff Harris that would keep the city’s water shortage level at stage two –acknowledging ongoing drought conditions – but lower the conservation target to 20 percent.

Heat Wave Knocks Out Power to Thousands in Southern California

Thousands of Southern California residents were left without power Tuesday as a brutal heat wave continued to bake the region, utility company officials said.

Some 5,500 customers — including residences and businesses — scattered across Los Angeles were affected as of 2 p.m. Most would probably have power restored by the evening, Department of Water and Power officials said. Though the cause of the outages are being investigated, the heat wave that has sent temperatures skyrocketing into the triple digits and put record demand on the power grid — including because of increased use of air conditioners — was certainly a factor, said DWP spokeswoman Vonda Paige.

California Snowpack Won’t Recover From Drought For Years

The winter of 2015 capped four years of drought that resulted in an unprecedented water deficit in Sierra Nevada snowpack. Much of California’s water comes from snowmelt.

Researchers at UCLA say in a new study, that this winter’s strong El Niño didn’t make up for that deficit. They found that even if the state gets above-average precipitation, it will take until 2019 to recover. Scientists used NASA satellite and snow survey data to assess snowpack. This gave them a better and more accurate picture of snow in higher elevations.