It’s been a big rain year for San Diego County, and that got a Midday Edition listener wondering about the impact on the county’s reservoirs. The listener wrote in with this question: Is SD (County) doing as much as can be done to keep the varying rain amounts in, direct the rain to reservoirs? Purpose of our reservoirs? Are any reservoirs used as sources for drinking water (to be purified)? Recreation, boating & fishing, I’m guessing are the main uses. To answer those questions, Midday Edition spoke to Dana Friehauf, resource manager with the San Diego County Water Authority and Jeff Pasek, watershed manager, city of San Diego Public Utilities Department.
Archive for date: March 4th, 2019
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February storms have left California flush with water, relieving concerns the state could quickly slip back into the drought conditions that plagued it for much of the last decade. Less than 3 percent of the state is now experiencing drought, down from nearly 84 percent just three months ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. At the same time, the state’s frozen reservoir of mountain snowpack is already 124 percent of average for the season.
Maureen A. Stapleton recently retired as general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority after 23 years in the position. Sandy Kerl, the agency’s deputy general manager, will serve as acting general manager while the Water Authority’s board of directors conducts a search for its next general manager. During Stapleton’s tenure leading the region’s water wholesale agency, she led a successful, multi-decade strategy to diversify and improve the reliability of San Diego County’s water supply, which now supports a $220 billion economy and the quality of life of 3.3 million people.
Think California should build a lot more dams to catch these deluges? Forget it. Yes, the next severe drought is inevitable. And after California dries out and becomes parched again, we’ll wish we’d saved more of the current torrents. Instead, the precious water is washing out to sea. There’s one dam being planned north of Sacramento in Colusa County that makes sense: Sites. There are also some dam expansion projects that could work. But California is already dammed to the brim. Every river worth damming has been. And some that weren’t worth it were dammed anyway.
Days after Imperial Irrigation District officials said there had been a breakthrough in their negotiations with federal officials to commit to the restoration of the Salton Sea in a mammoth Colorado River drought plan, a top federal official offered a different assessment. “California has already found a path that ensures that the Salton Sea is not impacted by the (drought contingency plan) and we hope to be able to find a path to work as partners with IID to approve the DCP as soon as possible, while we continue to be a strong partner on the Salton Sea,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said in a written statement.
The federal government initiated a comment period today for the seven states in the Colorado River Basin, after Arizona and California were unable to agree on a Southwest drought plan by a second “deadline” of March 4. The Department of Interior is now giving the governors of the seven states, including Nevada, 15 days to offer recommendations on how federal water managers should proceed if the states can’t agree to a drought plan that they have been negotiating for years.
The last day of January looked like a banner day for Arizona’s water planning. State lawmakers had passed legislation authorizing Arizona to enter into an important deal. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bills almost immediately. “Working together with a common goal in mind, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. And today proves it,” he pronounced.
This past December, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) reconnected electricity from Pacific Gas & Electric’s Table Mountain Substation to the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Plant in Oroville, a major step towards returning the plant to full operation. A fire in November 2012 destroyed the plant’s operating capacity, requiring closure of the facility and its disconnection from the state’s electrical grid.
The dam has spilled and last overflowed February-to-March 2011. It also overflowed in February 2005. However, despite a small El Nino pineapple express of rains this season, while Lake Hodges has filled more rapidly lately, it looks to continue standing tall and holding firm. The lake was at 68.1 percent capacity as of this week, according to the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department that has owned and operated the reservoir and dam since purchased in 1925. Hodges Reservoir was created with the building of Hodges Dam on San Dieguito Creek in 1918.
A historic water agreement was celebrated today on the grounds of the Sycuan Indian Reservation. While Sycuan’s new hotel is getting most of the public attention, a reliable water supply for the reservation is an even bigger achievement. Everyone involved in Monday morning’s commemoration of a water delivery agreement, reached last August between Sycuan and the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, noted it was 10 years in the making.