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Agency managers challenge the ‘tax con job’

Two water agency general managers in San Diego County have co-authored an opinion piece in the Escondido Times-Advocate that opposes a proposal in the state Legislature to add a “voluntary donation” to water bills. The new approach is designed to sidestep opposition to a water tax, which failed this summer to get necessary support in Sacramento.

“As proposed, the ‘Voluntary Donation’ will show up on your monthly water bill along with the normal charges, unless you take action to ‘Opt Out,’” said Greg Thomas, general manager of the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, and Gary Arant, general manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District.

“This will require agencies to reconfigure their bills and modify their billing system, change financial processing software/systems, administrative procedures, and customer service to accomplish this effort and then process and track customers wishing to ‘Opt out,’” they said. “This will necessarily translate into higher costs being passed on to ratepayers at a time when water affordability is already a critical issue in our state.”

Click here to read the full article.

Related story:

San Diego Coalition Remains Vigilant on Water Tax

Lake Mead Water Shortage Could Spell Trouble For Colorado

A new forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shows signs that water levels at Lake Mead, which supplies water to three southwestern states and northern Mexico, could drop so low by next year that it could eventually result in a demand for more water from the Colorado River and from the upper basin states, including Colorado, that rely on the big river. The ever-increasing shortages in those three southwestern states could eventually mean water shortages in Colorado, too.

Break From Heat And Humidity Should Last A While

The summer heat that wouldn’t relent is finally relenting, at least for most of San Diego County. “It’s going to be a pattern for late August that is a little unusual,” National Weather Service forecaster Mark Moede said. “It’s going to give us a break from the heat and humidity, with an onshore flow. And it’s going to be with us for awhile, at least through early next week.”

Chula Vista Joins Legal Battle Against Monsanto Over PCB Water Pollution

Chula Vista has joined the city of San Diego and a number of other West Coast cities in an attempt to force chemical giant Monsanto to pay tens of millions to clean up waterways polluted with a class of cancer-linked chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The city filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis-based corporation on Tuesday alleging it should help pay for costs associated with cleaning up PCB in its municipal stormwater system.

Metropolitan Board Welcomes Two New Directors Representing San Diego County Water Authority

Two new directors representing the San Diego County Water Authority have joined Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors. Longtime labor union leader Jerry Butkiewicz and Tim Smith, an engineer in the water industry for 28 years, succeed directors Keith Lewinger and Elsa Saxod, who served on the Metropolitan 38-member board for nine years and nearly two years, respectively. Butkiewicz will serve on the Communications and Legislation Committee and the Water Planning and Stewardship Committee. Smith was named to the Engineering and Operations Committee and the Finance and Insurance Committee.

Coral Aloe will protect your property from wildfire while it brightens your sustainable landscape. Photo: Don Graham/Flickr-Creative Commons license Firefighting plants

Call On These Five Firefighting Plants

Wildfire is a real and constant threat in San Diego County year-round, but particularly in the late summer and fall months. This is especially true in wildland interface areas where homes are right next to the backcountry. Landscape design, plant selection, and maintenance must be done in accordance with fire-safe guidelines. 

Wildfire is a real and consistent threat 

Plan your landscaping according to principles governing three different zones:  

Zone 1: Through smart design elements and plant selection, landscapes should resist ignition and provide 35 feet of actively maintained defensible space around structures and access areas. This maximizes fire prevention and allows access by crews to protect your property from fire, if necessary. 

Zone 2: Your landscape should reduce the chances of airborne embers from catching fire through a careful thinning of native vegetation for at least 65 additional feet — a total of 100 feet of defensible space.  

Zone 3: Many of San Diego County’s native plant communities including chaparral can survive and recover from infrequent wildfires. Some plants use fire as a signal to begin growth and start the germination process after a fire.  

When fires occur too frequently, the ability to survive is disrupted for even the most well-adapted plants. Invasive, non-native plant species have made fires more frequent, of longer duration, and hotter. It is critical to remove invasive plants in fire-prone areas.

Use plants that resist ignition 

Some native plants have the ability to prevent airborne plant embers. They have a high salt or water content and low volatile oil content in their leaves. For instance, agaves, aloes, crassulas, and other succulents store extra water in their fleshy leaves.  

Five firefighting plant choices include: 

  • Daylily hybrids 
  • Coral Aloe 
  • Indian Mallow
  • Bush Morning Glory 
  • California Sycamore trees 

Avoid plants that can fuel wildfires  

Messy, oily trees and shrubs, such as eucalyptus and junipers, do the opposite. They ignite quickly, burning hot and long, releasing embers into the air and contributing to the spread of wildfire. 

Preventative maintenance includes regularly removing dry grass, thatch, brush, weeds, litter, waste, and dead and dying vegetation. Trees should be properly pruned. Shrubs should be thinned, with dead branches and leaves routinely removed. Leave root structures intact to avoid erosion. Dead leaves and branches are especially flammable on evergreen shrubs and vines such as bougainvillea. Avoid planting these close to homes or other structures. 

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at