Sunday is the end of the 2018-19 rainfall season in California, and you may have heard that the season’s precipitation totals were extraordinary. The figures show that the season was good — above normal — but not in the top 20% of wettest seasons. With the exception of a brief, early-June heat wave, Southern California has been relatively cool and moist with a thick marine layer through most of the month. The heat wave was more pronounced in Northern California, where the Bay Area experienced record heat, and those records will lift the state to warmer-than-average status for June 2019.
Archive for month: June, 2019
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Success has hardly gone to the heads of the San Diego rock band Switchfoot, as they showed Saturday at their 15th annual Bro-Am surf and music festival at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The musicians mingled with youngsters flown in from across the country by the nonprofit Challenged Athletes Foundation, and with guests and lifelong friends, including professional surfer Rob Machado, a co-sponsor of the event. “It’s the best day of the year,” said Chad Butler, the band’s drummer. “We grew up here. Music and surfing kept us out of trouble. We wanted to give something back to the community that we love.”
A Coastal Commission hearing on whether California American Water and others can appeal the Marina city denial of a key permit for the proposed desalination project is set for July 11 in San Luis Obispo. Cal Am, two members of the Coastal Commission and two local appellants are challenging the Marina city Planning Commission’s March 7 denial of a coastal development permit for the $329 million desal project, including seven slant source water wells and associated infrastructure proposed for the CEMEX sand mining plant, and segments of a source water pipeline to the desal plant and transmission main pipeline from the desal plant located inside both the city’s jurisdiction and the Coastal Zone under the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction.
The 2018-19 California water year will close with some good and some great news. June 30, 2019, marks the end of the California water year, which began July 1, 2018. The water year got off to a slow start, but then ramped up around January and February throughout California. In particular, the Sierra Nevada mountains saw a big increase in snow during February. The snowpack is an important part of the California water cycle, serving as our above ground savings account for water. During the warmer months, this snow melts providing water downstream to the rest of the state.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today adopted a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The new budget is up 5 percent from the current two-year budget, due largely to increasing costs for water supply, supply reliability and infrastructure improvements.
Following a public hearing, the Board also approved an increase in wholesale water rates for calendar year 2020. Although the Water Authority’s budget spans two fiscal years, the agency sets rates annually to more effectively manage changing conditions.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors celebrated the agency’s 75th anniversary during today’s Board meeting, which included 20 proclamations honoring the agency for its service to the region dating back to 1944.
Cities across the region joined the state Assembly and Senate, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and other state and local leaders to formally mark the occasion. The San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors even proclaimed today “San Diego County Water Authority Day” in honor of the agency’s legacy of water supply reliability.
75 years of service
“Starting with the historic first water deliveries in the 1940s, the Water Authority has partnered with our member agencies to build, operate and maintain the vital infrastructure that supports our region’s $231 billion economy and unparalleled quality of life,” said Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “Our collective investments have created extraordinary advances in water supply reliability that are sustained by the daily vigilance necessary to operate and maintain such a complex system.
“While today we celebrate the past, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies continue to focus on the future by fostering innovative solutions to ever-changing water resource challenges,” Madaffer said. “Together, we will supply the San Diego region with safe and reliable water supplies for generations to come.”
Forward thinking on water
The Water Authority’s current forward-thinking efforts include developing water storage capacity in Lake Mead to provide additional drought resilience for San Diego and the Southwest.
The agency also is working closely with the City of San Diego to assess a potential pumped storage project at San Vicente Reservoir that could help meet clean energy goals and benefit water ratepayers. In addition, the Water Authority is analyzing the costs and benefits of a regional water conveyance system that could help San Diego County and the entire Southwest to more effectively manage water resources.
During today’s ceremonies, water agency, civic and business leaders noted the Water Authority’s profound impact on the San Diego region and wider water issues over the past 75 years.
- “A reliable water supply is critical for San Diego’s regional economy and for maintaining a competitive business climate. The business community applauds the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies for their leadership, and for increasing the county’s water supply reliability with investments that keep our economy growing.” — Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.
- “It is a pleasure to celebrate the San Diego County Water Authority’s 75th anniversary. We share a common history and a common vision for water supply reliability that has been essential to the economic vitality and prosperity to all San Diegans. We look forward to strengthening our relationship to meet the future needs of San Diegans.” — Gloria D. Gray, chair, Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors
- “Farming is a foundational piece of our regional economy and quality of life – but it doesn’t happen without a reliable water supply. Our farmers are constantly innovating to use water more efficiently by adopting new technology and planting more-efficient crops.” — Eric Larson, executive director, San Diego County Farm Bureau
- “On behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, I salute the San Diego County Water Authority on its 75th anniversary. Our two agencies are partners in the nation’s largest agriculture to urban transfer and in the process, we have forged a durable alliance at the Salton Sea. It is a relationship that the IID highly values.” — Erik Ortega, president, Imperial County Irrigation District Board of Directors
- “By combining a diversified set of water supply sources with greatly enhanced storage capacity, we are developing a more robust safety net for San Diego County.” — Jerry Sanders, president and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
On June 9, 1944, San Diego voters approved the Water Authority’s formation under the County Water Authority Act. Imported water arrived three years later to slake the thirst of a growing population just weeks before local supplies would have run out.
The modern era of the Water Authority started during deep, drought-induced water supply cuts in the early 1990s. Since then, Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have deployed one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation to improve regional water supply reliability.
At the same time, the agencies have aggressively helped to reduce per capita water use so that the total regional water use today is well below 1990 levels despite significant growth in the population and economy.
75th anniversary milestones
The Water Authority reached several major milestones over the past two decades. They include:
- In 2003, Olivenhain Dam was the first major new dam built in San Diego in more than 50 years. At 318 feet, it was the tallest roller-compacted concrete dam at the time.
- In 2008, the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant north of San Marcos began operations. It was the largest submerged membrane water treatment plant in the world when it was commissioned.
- In 2011, the San Vicente Tunnel and Pipeline Project – an 11-mile long, 12-foot diameter tunnel with an 8-1/2-foot diameter pipeline – created a link from the City of San Diego’s San Vicente Reservoir to the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, greatly improving the Water Authority’s ability to distribute water and store water in the reservoir.
San Vicente Dam raise
- In 2012, the Lake Hodges Hydropower Facility started serving the dual purposes of connecting the lake to the Water Authority’s aqueduct system and generating 40 megawatts of clean, on-demand electricity.
- In 2014, the San Vicente Dam Raise Project, the tallest dam-raise project in U.S. history, expanded the reservoir’s capacity by more than 157,000 acre-feet.
- In 2015, the $1 billion Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, distribution pipeline and related facilities started commercial operations as the largest seawater desalination project in North America.
- The Water Authority’s Asset Management Program, which includes a multi-year project to reline 82 miles of large-diameter prestressed concrete cylinder pipelines with new steel liners, helps to prevent pipeline failure and extend their lifespans by 75 years or more at significantly less cost than traditional pipeline replacement programs.
The Water Authority’s innovative efforts have been recognized nationally and internationally.
In 2017, for instance, the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized the Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project for winning ASCE’s top international engineering award.
The same year, Water Authority was honored by the Association of California Water Agencies – the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies – for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project. And in 2016, the Water Authority received a top national award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies for its commitment to improving the region’s water supply reliability in a manner that balances economic, social and environmental needs.
The San Diego County Water Authority officially celebrated it 75th year at a board meeting Thursday, while also approving a record $1.7 billion, two-year budget. On June 9, 1944, San Diego voters approved the Water Authority’s formation. Three years later, water from the Colorado River began arriving to support the growing post-war population of San Diego. “It is a pleasure to celebrate the San Diego County Water Authority’s 75th anniversary. We share a common history and a common vision for water-supply reliability that has been essential to the economic vitality and prosperity to all San Diegans.
In a recent ruling, Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer awarded an injunction against the City of San Diego after the City Council, last year, voted to exclude non-union contractors from bidding on the Pure Water project. In his ruling, Judge John S. Meyer, rightfully stated that the City’s action “is puzzling because it appears to be an attempt to amend or repeal SDMC 11.4401 (Prop A), et seq., which is precluded under the Ordinance. ‘This Ordinance shall not be amended or repealed except by a majority vote of the voters of the City of San Diego.”
In 2012, former California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Human Right to Water Act, recognizing that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” At least 1 million Californians are still waiting to exercise that right, according to Brown’s successor, Governor Gavin Newsom, who has called the state’s water crisis a “moral disgrace and a medical emergency.”
The Lower Colorado River Basin does not avoid a shortage in 2020 despite the plentiful snowpack on the Rocky Mountains this past winter. Why? Well, the new Drought Contingency Plan defines different “tiers” of shortage. The Lower Basin will not drop into a Tier One shortage next year because Lake Mead will almost certainly remain above 1,075 feet in elevation. At the same time, Mead will likely remain under 1,090 feet. That triggers a Tier Zero shortage.