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OPINION: ‘So What?’ Attitude At Root Of Water Wars

A sequence of events over that last week may explain why California is endlessly locked in water wars. Last Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board released a final plan for the San Joaquin River and the framework for an upcoming plan on the Sacramento River, which will require less water be diverted from those waterways and their tributaries. Four days later, the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California voted to spend $11 billion — the bulk of the $17 billion cost — to put two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Where Would Extra Water In River Come From?

The framework of a plan for the Sacramento River watershed released Friday by the state Water Resources Control Board calls for an increase in the amount of water running into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea, but it leaves the question of where that water would come from largely unanswered. It’s a good chunk of water. According to the framework, the target of letting 55 percent of “unimpeded flow” run downstream amounts to a reduction of 17 percent of the current average surface water supply available in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, plus the three rivers that run directly into the delta from the east.

San Diego Program Offering Money To Remove Lawns Is Back, With Changes

This week the San Diego County Water Authority launched it’s popular landscape transformation program. In partnership with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the program gives people a rebate to remove their lawns. Residents can get up to $2.75 per square foot of grass they replace with sustainable landscaping. The offer is good for lawns up to 1,500 square feet.  Joni German, a water resource specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority, said before ripping up lawns — residents first have to apply for the program.

Ramona Scenery Subject Of Photo Contest Winners

The San Diego County Water Authority hosted its annual photo contest in May, entitled “Brought to You by Water.”  The contest aimed to highlight the importance of safe and reliable water supplies, and water lovers from across the region put their photography skills to the test. The Water Authority received nearly 80 entries, which included everything from flowers and waterfalls to wildlife and children. The photographers used their images to describe ways in which water plays a vital role in their favorite activities and quality of life.

State Issues $500,000 Grant To Expand Air Monitoring Program Near Salton Sea

The Comite Civico del Valle, an organization providing services to disadvantaged communities in the Imperial Valley, has received a $500,000 grant from the California Air Resource Board to expand its air monitoring program. With the grant, the organization is planning to expand their network of air monitors to the eastern Coachella Valley by adding 15 new monitors, in an effort to span the entirety of the Salton Sea Air Basin, which includes the Coachella Valley and parts of Imperial County.

Gastelum Remains Barred From Committees Because Of Anti-Muslim Tweet

Hector Gastelum won’t apologize. The Otay Water District board member didn’t apologize in April 2017 after sending a controversial tweet that drew outrage from the Muslim community and resulted in the district barring him from serving on sub-committees. And he didn’t apologize Wednesday when asking the district to reconsider its decision. “The thing that I never heard was a statement from Director Gastelum that he understood the damage that those comments and those things did, particularly to the Muslim community, at the time,” said Otay Water board member Mitch Thompson.

City Water Department Resisted Oversight, Downplayed Smart Meter Problems

Shortly after Vic Bianes took over San Diego’s water department, he instructed his staff to hide information. Less than a month after he began leading the $1.1 billion Public Utilities Department in mid-October, Bianes emailed staffers who were preparing a presentation for one of the water department’s oversight bodies. Bianes said it’d be best to be “vague” and not give the Independent Rates Oversight Committee any specifics about how the department was handling ongoing customer service issues.

Balboa Park Sustainability Efforts Set World-Class Standards

Most visitors know San Diego’s Balboa Park for its world-class museums, gardens, and performing arts venues. Behind the scenes lives a learning laboratory of environmental best practices. Aaron L. Boyles, sustainability manager for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, describes an active, collaborative effort moving quickly to make Balboa Park the most sustainable urban park in the country. Conserving water is a critical component of this effort.