The San Diego Water Board is asking 10 local agencies, including the city and county of San Diego, to curtail the flow of human fecal matter into the San Diego River. The problem has gotten worse over the last few years to the point it’s being compared with similar issues along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the state agency that monitors the region’s water quality, “While we’ve all known about the border issue — the Tijuana water shed — it was surprising to find out there was actually a lot of human waste present in the San Diego River water shed,” said David Gibson, San Diego Water Board Executive Officer.
Archive for date: June 12th, 2019
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It’s late May in Wyoming. It snowed last night, and more snow is predicted. That’s why it’s good that Big Piney Rancher Chad Espenscheid is behind the wheel of the truck. The roads are sloppy and Middle Piney Creek is running high. “Speaking of water,” he says, laughing. “Yeah, seems like it’s starting to flood,” I observe. “Yeah, it’s just wet.” That wetness is nerve-wracking for ranchers like Espenscheid. “It’s been a cold, long winter,” he says. “The cows and calves are really needing some sunshine about now. We got quite a bit of sickness going on around the valley.”
Water is so commonplace that we often take it for granted. But too much—or too little of it—makes headlines. Catastrophic flooding in the U.S. Midwest this spring has caused billions of dollars in damage and wreaked havoc with crops, after rain tipped off a mass melting of snow. Seven years of California drought so debilitating that it led to water rationing came to a close after a wet and snowy winter capped off several years of slow rebound and replenished the vital mountain snowpack.
Hundreds of people filled the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Building on June 5 to voice their opinion on a proposed aquifer exemption that would expand the area in Cat Canyon where oil companies can build injection wells. Some environmental activists and students pushed back on the proposal during the hearing, while some local ranchers and labor unions encouraged the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to move the exemption forward. DOGGR and other state agencies are considering recommending that the Environmental Protection Agency approve the expansion.
When delegates to the second International Irrigation Congress convened in Los Angeles in October 1893, pessimism about their mission was not supposed to be on the agenda. The gathering, after all, was meant to encourage reclamation of arid lands throughout the American West, using irrigation to transform an immense wasteland into an agriculturally productive cornucopia. Thus the reaction when John Wesley Powell rose and delivered his now-famous caveat about the limits of development in the region. “Gentlemen,” he told the delegates in the Grand Opera House, “there is not sufficient water to supply these lands.” The gentlemen responded by booing the esteemed explorer off the stage.
Someone recently asked me about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and how it will affect our community. I didn’t have an immediate answer for that, since I am still learning about it. But it seemed like a good opportunity to dive into the world of groundwater management and review the history that has led us to the SGMA. I would still refer technical questions of sustainable groundwater management to the very knowledgeable folks over at the Carpinteria Valley Water District.
East Bay Municipal Utility District directors voted 5-1 on Tuesday to approve a water rate increase totaling nearly 13 percent over the next two years. The board’s vote means that the water agency’s 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties will face a 6.5 percent rate hike on July 1 and another 6.25 percent hike on July 1, 2020. The rate hikes follow an increase of nearly 20 percent over the past two years.
An on-again, off-again effort by state regulators to better protect the Russian River and its tributaries against failing septic systems, livestock waste and other potential sources of bacterial contamination is in its final stages, with hopes that an action plan for the entire watershed will be approved this August and go into effect next year. The move, controversial and closely watched in years past, could impose stricter regulations and mandatory septic system upgrades on thousands of landowners with properties near the river or its connected waterways.
A report released today showed improvement in 2018 for the majority of 15 indicators used to measure San Diego County’s quality of life. The Equinox Project Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks several environmental and economic trends throughout the region. The analysis highlighted the San Diego County Water Authority for developing water solutions for San Diego and the Southwest using a “portfolio approach.” One of the initiatives under that approach includes efforts to store water in Lake Mead on the Colorado River, which would benefit both San Diego County residents and many other river users.
Last week, representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, International Boundary and Water Commission, and other federal offices gathered in Coronado to address one of the most pressing environmental issues in our region — solutions to the Tijuana sewage problem and the resulting contamination that regularly inundates San Diego County beaches. Since early 2018, the city of Coronado has played a significant role in advocating for funding for water quality improvement projects in the border zone, including Tijuana and points south.