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Board Of Supervisors Divided Over SANDAG Transportation Proposal

A majority of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors rejected key parts of the San Diego Association of Governments’ new multibillion-dollar plan for regional transportation. The divided board voted 3-2 Tuesday for the county to oppose much of the new proposal, which would dramatically shift regional transportation priorities toward expanding public transit and away from building highways and roads. Supervisors Dianne Jacob, Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar voted for the measure, while Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher voted in opposition.

Few Details In Newsom’s Water Policy Directive

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change. The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities. The directive calls for the Natural Resources Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture to assess water demands and the impacts of climate change on California’s far-flung water system.

Dems Say Trump Agrees To $2 Trillion Infrastructure Tab

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package — but put off for later the difficult question of how to pay for it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was “good will in the meeting” — a marked departure from the last meeting between Trump, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which ended with Trump walking out in a huff. Schumer said the two sides agreed that infrastructure investments create jobs and make the United States more competitive economically with the rest of the world.

NEPA Looms Over Drought Plan Enthusiasm

Colorado River states cheered this month when President Trump signed swiftly passed legislation ratifying a drought plan for the waterway. But they could be in for a legal fight. Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it. At issue is whether it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman testified before Congress that the DCP is “designed to specifically fit within existing environmental compliance”

Hydropower Bill Would Sabotage California’s Clean Energy Mandate, Critics Say

The Don Pedro hydropower project, just west of Yosemite National Park, has been churning out carbon-free electricity for nearly a century. As the Tuolumne River flows from the Sierra Nevada to the Central Valley, it passes through Don Pedro Dam, spinning four turbine generators. None of the electricity is counted toward California’s push for more renewable energy on its power grid. A new bill advanced by state lawmakers last week would change that — and it’s being opposed by environmental groups, who say it would undermine the state’s landmark clean energy law by limiting the need to build solar farms and wind turbines.

How NASA Is Taking The Guesswork Out Of Measuring California’s Snowpack

To better measure the water in our snow, California is sending sharper eyes up into the sky. Two sensors peer out from a turboprop aircraft, soaring from Mammoth Yosemite Airport over the white Sierra Nevada – collecting data that tells us almost exactly how much water we’ll have this summer. Last week’s findings: 1.1 million acre-feet, or 350 billion gallons of water in the mountain snow of Yosemite’s Tuolumne River basin, which flows into Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and provides water to major Central Valley irrigation districts, San Francisco and several other Bay Area communities.

OPINION: To Address Climate Threat, California Must Lead The Way On Green Bonds

We celebrated Earth Day last week, but climate change threatens our quality of life and poses material risk to our communities every day. A recent article by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco points out that climate change also poses a real threat to our economy. Similarly, other reports identify tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure needs in California. They also say new infrastructure must be resilient, adaptable and responsive to the threat of climate change.

Water Authority Attorney Helping Protect Ratepayers

The San Diego County Water Authority annually delivers about 130 billion gallons of water to its member agencies, which in turn pump the water to ratepayers throughout the region. The movement of that much water  and the millions of dollars that propel it  brings with it certain legal implications. To handle its sometimes slippery legal matters, the independent agency calls on Mark J. Hattam, an attorney whose career started on a different track.


Inside California’s Fight Against Pollution

Mary Nichols, the woman who for more than 15 years has led the fight to improve California’s poor air quality, says she’s not a fan of a nickname she’s acquired: Queen of Green. “I actually hate the title,” Nichols told The Hill during a recent phone interview. “We live in what is intended to be a representative democracy, so queens are not our thing.” But Nichols, who has twice headed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and more recently has led the state in its battle against the Trump administration’s rollback of key car emissions regulations, has nevertheless become a reigning environmental figure.

Alfred and Audrey Vargas with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer after they were awarded first place in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair for designing a device that could treat wastewater and generate electricity. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego County Students Shape the Future of Water

On April 25, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors honored the latest group of water-related award winners from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair as part of the agency’s effort to inspire young people to pursue water industry careers.

This year’s middle school and high school science and engineering projects displayed a wide range of innovative ways to solve a variety of water issues people face today.

In the senior division, Alfred and Audrey Vargas won the first place award with the design of a new device to treat wastewater and generate electricity simultaneously using hydrogen fuel cell technology. The siblings, who attend Sweetwater High School, also won their division last year and continue their work in designing devices and systems that can potentially be used in developing countries where resources are scarce.

Alfred and Audrey Vargas combined their passion for science and engineering with an awareness of water issues to design a device that treats wastewater and generates electricity. Photo: Water Authority

Alfred and Audrey came back this year to win the senior division for the second time. Alfred is heading to UC Berkeley in the fall to study chemical engineering, and Audrey will continue developing their designs in her last two years of high school. Photo: Water Authority

Alfred and Audrey have been competing in science fairs since they were in middle school and have always been inspired by a drive to solve world water issues in affordable ways.

“As we’re looking for the next generation of water industry professionals, events like the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair are the perfect opportunity to connect with and support students who are already interested in relevant water issues,” said Water Authority principal public affairs representative Risa Baron, who helped select the winners. “These young thinkers and inventors can make huge strides in solving future water challenges around the world.”

Finding inspiration in the natural world

Cambridge School student Emily Tianshi won the second place award in the senior division. She looked beyond the ocean views at Torrey Pines State Park to see the intelligent ways that nature sustains itself and how those can be imitated.

Emily spent the past three years perfecting a design for a device that can capture moisture from the air like Torrey Pine needles do. Using 3-D printing technology to bring her project to life, Emily demonstrated that the naturally occurring ridges of Torrey Pine needles efficiently collect water, and she designed a model of a device that would mimic the shape of the needles.

Middle school students display stellar scientific knowledge and creativity

The winners of the junior division show off their awards with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. Photo: Water Authority

The winners of the junior division show off their awards with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. Photo: Water Authority

In the junior division, Brendan Cordaro and Max Shaffer from Saint John School in Encinitas teamed up to win first place with “The Water Maker,” a homemade device that transformed a miniature refrigerator into a means of collecting water from the air.

Oliver Trojanowski, who is also a middle school student at the Saint John School, won the second place award in the junior division. Oliver surveyed several sites in the region to test for water quality and determine toxicity levels in stormwater runoff.

Matthew Angulo from the Corfman School in El Centro earned the third place award in the junior division. He travelled over 100 miles to showcase his results from several tests of water samples from the Colorado River.

Welcoming the next generation of water professionals and leaders

More than 2,800 people across all levels of educational attainment work at the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to provide safe and reliable water supplies to the region.

The Water Authority and its member agencies are committed to fostering the next generation of industry professionals and leaders. Engineers, system operators, maintenance technicians, customer service representatives and utility workers are just some of the many careers available in the water industry.