The California Drought has created a race to the top. Amid all the social, economic and environmental havoc, there is a quiet competition underway to see who will emerge as the leader in water innovation. Which community will be drought-resilient? Who will provide their community with reliable, inexpensive water, even during a crisis? There is no silver bullet to becoming drought-resilient, but direct potable reuse provides communities with considerable security in an uncertain hydrologic future.
Archive for date: April 13th, 2017
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Dramatic improvements are needed in ensuring access to clean water and sanitation worldwide, the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning that nearly two billion people currently use faecal-contaminated water. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year because they are forced to drink contaminated water, the WHO said, urging large investments to help provide universal access to safe drinking water.
A newly formed water and power company managed by a San Diego housing developer is negotiating behind the scenes with the City of Industry on the future of 2,500 acres of undeveloped rolling hills near the borders of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. The business-centric City of Industry has been aggressively trying to regain control of the historic Tres Hermanos Ranch in Diamond Bar and Chino Hills, one of the largest remaining pieces of vacant private land in the region. The city lost access to the land during the demise of local redevelopment agencies five years ago.
A new kind of water-capturing device could be a game-changer for some of the world’s driest places. It can pull water vapor out of the air at humidity as low as 20 percent — conditions that may be seen in the Sahara desert during its hottest months — and it can operate entirely off-grid, just using the ambient power of the sun. This means it could provide water for parts of the world likely to be most vulnerable to water shortages under future climate change, including areas afflicted by recurring drought.
California affirmed the human right to safe and affordable drinking water in 2012, when it became the first state in the country to legislatively declare that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water.” But five years later, still, 300 communities and a million Californians — that’s three times the entire population of Iceland, and more than the population of Flint, Michigan — lack this basic human right, as they are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year.
California Governor Jerry Brown officially declared the drought over last Friday, a dramatic conclusion to years of dry weather capped off by two winters of violent storms. Though drought damage will take years to undo, and another drought may even be around the corner, it was a remarkable turnaround. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it was the proverbial one in a hundred shot. “The odds of the state completely recovering from its extreme dryness within two years are estimated at less than one percent,” paleoclimatologist Eugene R. Wahl, told NOAA.
Last week Gov. Jerry Brown declared California’s five-year drought over while proposing new long-term water conservation measures that must be passed by the Legislature. All Californians can be relieved that the drought has finally passed. Unfortunately, the state’s arid climate and its history all but ensure that it will return, so continued conservation measures are not unwarranted. But Brown let pass a perfect opportunity to remind legislators and the public at large about the urgent need to build more water storage in the state.
Fresno City Council members voiced no objections Thursday to allowing residents to water their landscaping up to three days a week during the hot summer, and two days a week during the milder spring and fall months. A wet winter with ample rainfall is creating the relief for residents who want to keep their lawns green. The city’s stringent one-day-a-week winter watering schedule will come to an end on April 30.
Increases in California’s gas tax and vehicle fees approved last week are expected to raise $52.4 billion over 10 years for the state’s backlog of road and bridge repairs. It is, by any measurement, a significant amount of money — Gov. Jerry Brown dubbed the proposal “a hell of a good deal” — but only about half of what the state would ultimately like to put behind large-scale improvements in the Inland Empire and beyond if the federal government is willing.
Thanks to a historically wet winter, Central Valley farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta got some long-awaited good news this week from federal water managers. For the first time in more than a decade, they will receive their full allotment of groundwater from the Central Valley Project. It’s a remarkable turnaround from last year, when farmers got only a 5 percent allotment, or even earlier this year, when they got 65 percent.