A historic achievement for San Diego County passed mostly under the radar this summer when the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved wholesale rates for 2019. The rate increases were among the lowest in 15 years — but that’s just part of the story. The critical long-term accomplishment highlighted by the rate-setting process was that the Water Authority’s independent water supplies from the Colorado River are now both less expensive and more reliable than supplies from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That’s a goal the region’s water officials started working towards two decades ago, and one that will bear fruit for decades to come.
Archive for date: September 24th, 2018
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At 550 feet, Seven Oaks Dam is the tallest in Southern California. Completed 19 years ago in the San Bernardino Mountains, the dam prevents severe storms from flooding communities along the Santa Ana River, protecting millions of residents in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
It’s been one year since the City of Riverside and Western Municipal Water District (WMWD) executed a Regional Water Partnership deal that allowing WMWD to purchase surplus Riverside groundwater supplies that are part of the City’s Court-adjudicated water right in the San Bernardino Basin Area. In its first calendar year, the partnership has resulted in a $2.6 million savings for Western and $4.5 million in revenue for the City. It has also brought an additional 2.4 billion gallons of local groundwater to WMWD’s customers, which is enough annual water supply for about 15,000 single-family homes. The deal will also help keep water rates as low as possible in the years to come for both agencies.
Olive harvest season is getting started in California and farmers are concerned this could be one of the worst in recent memory. California leads the nation in olive oil production, but now there may be a shortage. It’s a significant setback for a growing industry just two years removed from its largest crop.
Construction is currently underway to raise the height of the Shasta Dam by 18 and a half feet, a project that has been decades in the making. The stage of pre-construction is expected to take place in the next few months. Geologists have already begun drilling for core samples on and around the dam to determine the engineering needs for construction. “The cores provide concrete-strict data that contractors would then use for determining how to anchor the new 18 and a half feet onto the existing surface,” said Jon Bader, manager for the Bureau of Reclamation in Northern California.
Plans to build a new plant at Camp Pendleton to make ocean water drinkable are on hold, in part due to falling demand for water, thanks to state-urged conservation efforts. The San Diego County Water Authority had spent $5.4 million on the now-abandoned plan, though it says technical studies it’s already done could be used in the future.
The California Water Commission recently allocated $2.7 billion from Proposition 1 bonds for eight water storage projects. Proposition 1 was passed in 2014 to fund a range of projects, including the “public purposes” of water storage projects, such as for ecosystem support, flood risk reduction, water quality, recreation and emergency response. Among its many funding provisions, both surface and underground water storage projects were eligible, nonstorage projects were not eligible and Proposition 1 could fund no more than 50 percent of storage project costs. Proposition 1’s storage provisions were driven by the still common notion that expanding surface storage is the major way to end water problems.
We must do more to protect the future of California’s water, but that doesn’t mean just pumping in more money without making sure the investments will have widespread benefits for the public. Proposition 3 – the $8.9 billion bond on the Nov. 6 ballot – fails that test. Voters should say “no.” The measure promises money for quite a few local agencies, nonprofits, private water companies and others, which is great for them. It’s not clear, however, that these are the projects that California needs most right now, or that they couldn’t get the money elsewhere.
The lush plains east of Yosemite National Park offer a window into a bygone California — a place where sage grouse welcome the arrival of spring with theatrical mating rituals and cattle graze on verdant pastures. For nearly a century, these lands have been made green thanks to annual flooding by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, helping maintain cattle forage and keeping alive a culture of ranching in southern Mono County. But those days may have come to an end in August.