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Floating Solar Power: A New Frontier for Green-Leaning Water Utilities

Lakes and ponds used by water utilities have long been viewed with a single purpose: holding water. Now a handful of pioneering water utilities are looking at their aquatic real estate with a new purpose in mind: solar energy generation. Large-scale floating solar projects have been installed in Japan and China, as well as on ponds at California wineries. But solar energy has remained primarily a terrestrial endeavor because, in most cases, it is simpler and cheaper to mount photovoltaic (solar) panels on land.

Met Chief Updates Rincon Del Diablo Board

The Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District Wednesday hosted Jeff Kightlinger the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, an entity almost big enough to be a country in its own right, but whose boss is not above making presentations to the member agencies of the large supplier of much of the water we drink. In San Diego County, which has worked strenuously over the years to develop its own supply network, the water the Met sells doesn’t make up the lion’s share, but it’s still a vital share.

OPINION: A More Nuanced Message on Delta tunnels

Delta tunnels proponents really want you to read the latest blog post by fish experts Peter Moyle and James Hobbs. The project’s official Twitter account, @CAWaterFix, has tweeted links to the post six times over the past day. “Dr. Moyle & Dr. Hobbs explain why they are optimistic about #CAWaterFix from a fish perspective,” one tweet reads. The scientists do share some reasons for optimism, explaining their “qualified support” for the project.

Water Authority to Fund Conservation Work in Mexico

The Southern Nevada Water Authority plans to spend up to $7.5 million in Mexico over the next 10 years in exchange for more Colorado River water. Authority board members unanimously approved the payments Thursday as they gave their blessing to a sweeping water-sharing agreement the U.S. and Mexico are expected to sign next month. The new pact, known as Minute 323 to the Mexican Water Treaty of 1944, spells out how much Mexico would have to reduce its river use during a shortage on the Colorado and how much extra water the nation would get in a surplus.

OPINION: Water Commission’s the Wild Card in How Proposition 1 Money Will Be Spent

Now that there’s a list of projects vying for the $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 dedicated to water storage, you’d think the chances of the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County getting some of that cash would be clearer. Not so. There are few surprises in the list of projects seeking the money. Most are proposals that have been around for years, have been studied endlessly, and haven’t gotten built due to a lack of funding.

Sacramento County Starts Avalanche of Lawsuits Against Delta Tunnels Plan

Seeking to freeze a contentious $16 billion waterworks plan supported by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sacramento County sued the California Department of Water Resources on Thursday over its certification of the project’s “dizzying” and “shifting” environmental review. In a 69-page lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the county says the plan known as the “California WaterFix” will harm residents and the environment in myriad ways. According to the petition, a judge should throw out the environmental certification and halt one of the largest public works projects in state history.

BLOG: Recovering Runoff

Dumping billions of gallons on California every year, rain is the state’s way out of drought — if only all that water could be captured instead of washing into drains and out to sea. An ambitious new collaboration spanning five University of California campuses, including UC Santa Barbara, hopes to do exactly that. The research partnership of UCSB, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside and UC San Diego aims to revolutionize the collection and management of stormwater — and demonstrate its potential for addressing drought and flood risk. A $1.9 million UC Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) grant will help get it done.

Delta Tunnels Project Needs Water Agencies to Pay for It. Why Some Are Hesitating

If you live in Los Angeles, the cost of building the Delta tunnels might raise your water bill by as little as $2 a month or less – no more than a latte, to quote one of the project’s main cheerleaders in Southern California. But if you’re a farmer on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the increase could be hundreds of dollars per acre-foot of water. And you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses every year, for decades, for a resource that’s as indispensable to farming as soil itself.

Potential Energy Project Could Benefit Water Ratepayers

An exciting concept is emerging in San Diego County that could reduce pressure on water rates across the region and expand opportunities for renewable energy. The system under consideration is essentially an incredible “battery” that could store up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy. There’s still a lot of work to be done to determine whether this idea pencils out — but it’s important even at this early stage because it highlights how the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies are continually seeking ways to make the best use of the region’s water infrastructure.

OPINION: Long-Term Commitment to California’s Water Resources is Essential

Throughout the history of the West, the old adage remains true: “water is worth fighting for.” I believe our national parks are also worth fighting for. They are cherished places collectively known as “America’s best idea.” To protect both water and National Parks and in response to increasing threats to the California desert’s national parks, national monuments and groundwater supplies, I recently introduced Assembly Bill 1000 — the California Desert Protection Act.