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Salton Sea Management Program projects are moving ahead with new state funding. Photo: Water Authority

Electeds See Commitment, Momentum at Salton Sea

Momentum for Salton Sea restoration is growing quickly these days and the effort could amass $600 million in state funding by the end of 2018 – a huge increase from just a few months ago.

On June 5, California voters supported Proposition 68, the $4.1 billion water bond that specifically included $200 million for Salton Sea restoration. During a recent press conference, state Senator Ben Hueso, who represents portions of San Diego and Imperial counties, thanked voters for passing Proposition 68 and said the State of California is committed to funding restoration efforts at the sea.

Salton Sea phased restoration program receives $170 million

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, who represents parts of Riverside and Imperial counties, said $170 million of that funding is for the state to implement its phased restoration program, called the Salton Sea Management Program, and $30 million is for the Salton Sea Authority, which is working with the state on restoration. Of the $30 million portion, $10 million is destined for improving the New River, a main tributary that flows from Mexico into the Salton Sea.

Garcia also said that if other projects funded by Proposition 68 do not materialize, the Salton Sea could benefit from up to $200 million more. And he highlighted additional money that could help: In November, California voters will be asked to support another water bond that would provide an additional $200 million for the sea.

Garcia said it is realistic to think that by year’s end, the sea could have up to a total of almost $600 million in state funding to implement the management plan.

Hueso: Legislation introduced to create local authority

Hueso spoke about legislation he introduced to create a local authority to restore the sea and about public-private partnerships that could further advance Salton Sea restoration. “The area around the sea can be a very healthy place to live,” Hueso said. “That is our goal.”

Garcia said the first 10 years of the state’s management plan for the sea includes two focused goals — addressing public health and the ecological system. He is also working with legislation to advance the development of geothermal energy in California with the intent that geothermal development can be a piece of the restoration program at the Salton Sea.

“The ball is moving down the court,” Garcia said, adding: “The idea nothing is happening is not factual.”
Bruce Wilcox, assistant secretary of California Natural Resources in charge of Salton Sea policy, said with the passage of Prop. 68, he is more optimistic about the sea than he has been in years. He said Salton Sea Management Program projects are moving ahead and that in September there will be a new round of public meetings to share information and receive input on the program.

Regarding 11 proposals submitted to the state for importing water to the sea, Wilcox said a committee will be reviewing them to determine which ones will move forward to another phase of consideration. The proposals involve importing water from the Sea of Cortez to the Salton Sea, which state officials say could represent a long-term solution. While that process moves forward, the state remains focused on addressing the immediate air quality and habitat needs at the sea and surrounding communities.

Is the Cost of a Huntington Beach Desalination Plant Too High? As Vote Looms, Some Officials Say Yes

Water officials throughout drought-prone Southern California are eager to bolster supplies and diversify sources, but some say desalination in Huntington Beach isn’t the way to do it.

Concerns of those skeptics, particularly cost, will be front and center Wednesday, July 18, when new contract terms are considered for Poseidon Water’s proposal. Officials may want greater water security, but not necessarily at any price.

Santa Clara Valley Water a Step Closer to Building $1 Billion Dam at Pacheco Pass Reservoir

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is moving forward with plans to build a new Pacheco Pass reservoir in Santa Clara County, which the district describes as a “game-changer” to ease the impact of future droughts in the Bay Area.

If $485 million in state funds are approved this month, supporters they could raise the rest of the $969 million project budget from federal grants and increased water rates to build the largest reservoir constructed in the Bay Area in the past 20 years.

Officials Hope Oroville Dam Spillways Will Be In Use Nov. 1

Progress has been made at the Oroville Dam after several issues and infrastructure problems, the emergency and main spillways may be ready to use by Nov. 1.

The Department of Water Resources hopes to have them ready to use, if needed, by Nov. 1.

Interior Secretary Zinke to Visit California as GOP Steps Up Fight Over State’s Water

With little clout in Sacramento, Republicans are trying to use their power in Washington to reshape California’s water policies.

Less than two weeks after state regulators announced sweeping new water allocation limits, the GOP-controlled House is expected this week to pass spending legislation that would block federal funding for that allocation plan. It also includes measures that would bar legal challenges to major water infrastructure projects in the state.

L.A. County Votes to Put New Property Tax Before Voters to Clean Storm Water

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to place a property tax before voters in November to raise money for projects to capture and clean storm water.

The measure would allow the county to levy a tax of 2.5 cents per square foot of “impermeable space” on private property. Government buildings, public schools and nonprofit organizations would be exempt.

Stonepeak, Brookfield Weigh Desalination-Plant Sale

The owners of Carlsbad Desalination Plant in California have hired an adviser ahead of a potential sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, named after a former mayor, is owned by Orion Water Partners LLC, which is a joint venture comprising Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and Poseidon Water, an affiliate of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP. The plant could fetch more than $1 billion, including the assumption of debt, said the people, who asked not to be named. Representatives for Stonepeak and Brookfield declined to comment.

OPINION: We Must Take Action On The Nation’s Coming Water Supply Crisis

Most Americans take water for granted. It’s a resource that people assume will always be accessible, available, and consumable. For most people in this country, whether they’re at a public drinking fountain, a restaurant or at home, water is a commodity considered to be at our constant beck and call – but for how much longer? America’s water supply is in crisis and, if we don’t act now, we face an imperiled future. The news this week that California is facing record-shattering heat waves, and already on the verge of yet another drought, illustrates this point powerfully.

OPINION: 10 Signs Of California Water Progress

The extreme weather swings California has experienced recently, from a historic drought to record-breaking rain and snow, may become increasingly commonplace. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests we will see more of this weather “whiplash” in the years to come. Fortunately, California has been busy preparing for an uncertain future. That means making the most of every drop of rain or snow that falls, stretching our supplies through increased efficiency, capturing rainwater and recycling water rather than dumping it. Below are 10 examples of water progress that suggest California is well on its way to water resilience.