Chris Baron purchased a home on Mt. Helix in 2007. The house sat on a half-acre of land, so he would have a rather large canvas to work with when it came to landscaping. He had some native plants early on and eventually bought some fruit trees. He wanted to plant more trees, but watering was expensive. To make matters worse, the state was in the midst of the 2012-2017 drought. In order to increase his orchard, he would have to think creatively. With the help of a friend who had some experience, he stepped into the soggy realm of rainwater collection.
Archive for date: April 9th, 2019
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Michael Salazar, in his mid-fifties and on government disability, is the reluctant president of South Kern Mutual Water Company. The tiny nonprofit enterprise supplies drinking water from a single well tainted by toxic substances to 15 homes in an unincorporated community just outside this city’s southern boundary, where almond orchards unfurl toward the horizon. The outgoing president, Sherry Settlemoir, who lives across the street, stepped down at the beginning of 2018 because the duties of the troubled water company were overwhelming. She had to file regulatory paperwork and administrative reports, collect bills, do basic maintenance, and pay contractors. Besides, she has an ill father in Oklahoma to take care of.
Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) was recognized late last month as the medium-sized Agency of the Year by the WaterReuse Association of California. The award honors OMWD’s development of local and regional recycled water resources that conserve potable water, as well as its leadership and its outreach to legislators, regulators, and large irrigators. OMWD was previously recognized by the WaterReuse Association in 2005 as the small-sized Agency of the Year for having significantly expanded its recycled water distribution system. That system is currently generating 14 percent of the district’s demands with recycled water.
California is finishing one of its rainiest winters in decades, which leaves most of us pining for less water rather than more of it. But it wasn’t long ago the state was facing a devastating and persistent drought. Rain comes and goes, but this mostly arid state still has a growing population. There’s continual need for new water resources. That’s why we’re disappointed that Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, have reintroduced legislation designed to cripple a long-planned water project in the Mojave Desert. Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands.
When California’s historic drought mandated that residents take shorter showers, cut back on watering their lawns and give up washing their cars, folks in San Jose did their part to save water. At the start of the drought in 2014, then Gov. Jerry Brown set down a 20 percent reduction target (from 2013 levels) for urban water suppliers. San Jose Water Company hit the mark every year from 2015 to 2018. Further, the water company put in place a “critical water reduction plan” in order to meet a 30 percent water-use reduction goal set by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and residents nearly achieved that goal during 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The City of Santa Barbara declared an end to its drought emergency Tuesday. The city says the above-average rainfall this winter improved water supplies. Based on current water supply forecasts, the city believes it has enough supply to meet demands through 2021. On Tuesday, the City Council ended its Stage Three Drought Emergency, lifting drought water use regulations. The City Council first enacted the Stage Three Drought Emergency in 2015, requiring 25 percent water conservation initially. According to the city’s website, that conservation number eventually increased to 40 percent. Now that the drought emergency is over, that requirement will be lifted, however, the city will still enforce regulations against irrigation runoff and anyone who fails to repair a leak.
Lawmakers recently heard testimony about the needs of California’s water grid at a recent House Subcommittee meeting on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Several experts presented information about the current conditions of western water infrastructure and what will be required going forward. “One of the first priorities is to really think about groundwater as a more active part of this grid; manage it more intensively and actively. The second piece is fix what’s broken and expand capacity where it’s needed,” Director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Ellen Hanak told the committee.
Recent decades have brought the slow collapse of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its salmon runs. A half dozen species face extinction. Lacking natural flushing, the Delta now suffers outbreaks of toxic algae. The salmon fishing industry suffered a shutdown in 2008 and 2009, which cost thousands of jobs. Science points to a clear cause: inadequate flows caused by excessive diversions. In some years, 90 percent of the Tuolumne River is diverted, leaving only 10 percent for salmon and the Bay-Delta. Every Central Valley salmon river also suffers from over diversion in many years.
More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture. The California Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups had opposed earlier drafts of the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State, because they would have unnecessarily harmed farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to manage their land responsibly.
Let’s face it, the 2018-2019 water year has been awesome! The numbers tell the story. Sacramento is more than four inches above average for rainfall and Stockton is more than three inches above average for rainfall since October 1, 2018. Thanks to all the rainfall along with a very impressive snowpack, California is now completely drought free! The last time that happened was December 2011.