In early May, Bureau of Reclamation officials gathered the world’s top builders and bankers for a meeting at the Sheraton West hotel conference room in Lakewood, Colorado, a Denver suburb that abuts Rocky Mountain foothills. Reclamation faces a conundrum. The assets of the federal agency that operates many of the largest dams and canals in the American West are aging. Maintenance costs are rising. Rural water supply systems and other projects authorized by Congress decades ago are tens of billions of dollars away from completion.
Archive for date: May 25th, 2017
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Now that California has come through the worst of its recent five-year drought, it’s time to take stock of what went wrong and right. Moulton Niguel Water District, which serves 170,000 people in Orange County with water, wastewater and recycled water services, insists it didn’t just survive the drought, but thrived. The district saw per capita water use fall and saw an improvement in the water efficiency of its customers. Moulton Niguel changed its outreach strategy to use more electronic communication with customers and is now piloting a program that allows customers to monitor their usage through a mobile app.
Your water bill could be getting more expensive. The San Diego County Water Authority is considering a 3.7% rate hike. Maintaining a low-water yard does not take much work for Dutch Burman. “There’s not much land that needs to be irrigated,” he said, describing his front yard, which has mulch, drought-tolerant palm trees and a low-water irrigation system. During the drought, he scaled back on his water consumption. “My bill has gone down so dramatically because of the conserving,” he said. His last bill came out to about $225, thanking low-flow faucets, toilets and a washer.
An update on testing for contaminants in water at area schools is scheduled to be presented on Thursday to the City Council’s Environment Committee. The presence of contaminants has been a hot-button issue since elevated levels of lead, copper and bacteria were found in October in the water systems at three older campuses in the San Ysidro Unified School District. Earlier this year, lead was found in the water at Emerson-Bandini Elementary/San Diego Cooperative Charter, which share a campus in Southcrest, after a dog refused to drink from a bowl of water.
San Diego has some of the most expensive water in California – and in the country. A typical San Diego household pays about $80 a month for water. The national average is less than $40 a month, according to a recent survey by the American Water Works Association. Water in California is more expensive than elsewhere, but San Diego still has among the highest rates in the state, according to another recent survey. The most expensive water in the state is found in communities along the state’s Central Coast, like Santa Barbara.
Lessons learned during the multi-year California drought will help farmers and ranchers cope with the next one—and those lessons extended beyond the farm to the realms of policy and public perception, according to farmers who spoke at a water conference in Monterey. Four farmers from different parts of the Central Valley talked about impacts of the drought during a panel discussion at the Association of California Water Agencies event last week. Stanislaus County nut grower Jake Wenger said coping with water shortages during the drought required “ingenuity and creativity.”
It’s no secret that the past few years of the California drought forced homeowners to take certain steps to ensure they were able to save water and money. With the droughts declared over, the state’s homeowners associations (HOAs) are now telling residents that they have a limited amount of time to get their lawns back into pristine condition, or the repercussions may begin again.
Have you been searching for a particular tree or shrub this year and just can’t seem to find it anywhere? Local nurseries and growers are scrambling to keep up, but demand — especially for specific cultivars — has caused an extreme shortage of many sought-after plants. With most of the drought water restrictions now removed, people are rushing to replace the plants they lost in the drought.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 80 percent of the water used by people in California. “Roughly” because, unlike urban water districts, farm-water suppliers reveal little about how much of the state’s most precious resource goes into irrigation ditches and fields. That lack of basic public information from a behemoth water consumer was one reason the state passed a 2007 law requiring irrigation districts to start coughing up a modicum of so-called “farm-gate” data. The state form, to be filed with the Department of Water Resources, asks a bare handful of essential questions, on a single page.
When 36 people died in the nation’s deadliest fire since 2003, Oakland’s mayor promised full transparency about the infamous Ghost Ship inferno. Instead, city officials ran roughshod over the state Public Records Act, delaying release of documents for weeks until we threatened to sue. When the Sacramento Bee sought records about former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, the university stalled. And as the state Department of Water Resources spends $275 million to repair the Oroville Dam, it has refused to release the recommendations of an independent board of consultants.