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OPINION: Water Supplies Sufficient for 2019 and Beyond

A welcome rainstorm in mid-October provided the first significant relief from months of very hot and dry weather — and then the weather turned hot and dry once again. That cycle is a reminder of two important facts of life of San Diego County:

  • On average, we get about 10 inches of rain a year — far less than what we need to sustain our $220 billion economy and 3.3 million people.
  • With continued investments in water supply reliability and water-use efficiency, we can continue to thrive in this amazing place.

As we look toward the rainy season, it’s worth taking stock of why we have sufficient supplies for 2019 regardless of the weather.

In a First, California Abolishes Compton’s Water District Board After Years of Dirty-Water Allegations

State officials on Wednesday removed the elected board and general manager of a water district that for years has been accused of serving brown, smelly water to its customers in Compton. With a 22-page decree, the State Water Resources Control Board abolished Sativa Los Angeles County Water District’s five-member board of directors and ousted its manager. In their place, the state appointed the county’s Department of Public Works to temporarily run the district while officials seek to merge the small district, which delivers water to about 1,600 homes, with a larger provider.

Officials: Oroville Dam Spillway Will Be Ready For Rain

California water officials said Wednesday that the $1.1 billion spillway at the nation’s tallest dam will be in full working order if it’s needed this winter, nearly two years after it was damaged and thousands were forced to flee. Crews have finished pouring concrete on the main spillway at Oroville Dam, though it still needs to cure for a month and other work is necessary before it can be used, the California Department of Water Resources announced. Crews will also continue pouring concrete on an adjacent emergency spillway.

Battle Ahead in Colorado on Water Conserved for Lake Powell Storage

Colorado’s western slope water managers have doubled down on their position that they will oppose federal legislation creating a new regulated pool of water to boost the falling level of Lake Powell unless Colorado adopts a policy that the pool should be filled only on a voluntary basis. At a well-attended water meeting last week, Andy Mueller, the general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, said that without a new state policy putting limits on how water can be stored in the big reservoir, “You will find that our district, the Southwest District and hopefully others will be, frankly, opposing the federal legislation.”

San Diego Unified Taps Into National Lead Fears In Bond Campaign

The San Diego Unified School District argues that any amount of lead in school drinking water is damaging to children. At the same time, it has found lead in water at some schools, does not remove all of it and is allowing kids to drink it. The argument that lead is in the water and is hurting kids has become the main selling point for Measure YY, the district’s school bond campaign. Though the bond is expected to generate $3.5 billion, only $45 million – less than 2 percent – would go to remove lead from school district water, district documents show.

Water Talks Are On After Settlement Offer By San Diego

San Diego Water managers will meet with the Metropolitan Water District next week in a bid to end a long-running feud over water transfer costs. The San Diego County Water Authority made a surprise settlement offer a week ago. SDCWA Board Chair Jim Madaffer delivered a letter to MWD suggesting the two water agencies stop fighting over water fees. MWD’s initial reaction was cool, with the Los Angeles-based water wholesaler canceling a closed-door meeting on the issue that was originally scheduled for this week.

The Biggest Share of Colorado River Water in the West is up for Grabs

A public agency and a powerful farmer are gearing up for a high-stakes court battle to determine who owns the largest share of Colorado River water in the West, complicating the river’s future as seven western states scramble to avoid severe water shortages. There’s a long history of fighting over water in California’s Imperial Valley, which has a legal right to more than 1 trillion gallons of Colorado River water each year — twice as much as the rest of California, and as much as Arizona and Nevada combined.

Southern California To Face Enhanced Fire Danger Through Start Of November

Locally gusty winds, warm weather and no signs of needed rain returning will keep the fire danger elevated across Southern California through the start of November. November is expected to pick up where October ended with winds blowing over parts of Southern California. “While the peak of the Santa Ana wind event occurred on Wednesday morning, locally gusty winds can persist in the wind-prone areas of Southern California late this week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Maggie Samuhel.

The Precarious Plan for the Lake Powell Pipeline

Nearly a decade ago, Gabriel Lozada, a man with a wiry frame and waves of steel-gray hair who looks exactly like the mathematician he is, set out to answer what he thought was a relatively simple question: Could Utah’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline — a plan to ferry Colorado River water to southern Utah — live up to the state’s rosy forecasts of growth and prosperity? Or was it more likely to tank the economy of a small but lively retirement community in the southwestern Utah desert?

San Francisco Leaders Hate Trump Enough They Voted to Limit the City’s Water Rather Than do This

For months, San Francisco, a hotbed of anti-Donald Trump sentiment, has found itself in the awkward position of being aligned with his administration over California water policy. On Tuesday, the city’s leaders said the alliance was unbearable. In an 11-0 vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed in a resolution to support the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to leave more water in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to benefit struggling fish populations. The supervisors’ vote is subject to veto by Mayor London Breed, although the board could override the veto.