Almost a thousand years ago, in the arid climate of the southwestern United States, the Chacoan culture flourished. Ancestors of southwest Native American tribes today, Chacoans built impressive multi-storied stone buildings with a far-reaching trade system selling colorful macaws for turquoise. But a desperate lack of water—a megadrought—caused the advanced civilization to seemingly vanish within a generation. Described in a comprehensive new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, scientists now understand the causes of the megadroughts common during the medieval period. With climate change, they predict more megadroughts in the future.
Archive for date: July 25th, 2019
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Carlsbad residents Melanie and Bob Buck were honored as the 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winners by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District during its July 24 board meeting. Melanie Buck worked to transform her landscape from large grassy areas and pine trees into a colorful, waterwise landscape design. The landscape now requires less than half of the water she once used. Visually stunning, the landscape also includes welcoming entertainment areas. Since installing the award-winning landscape, the Bucks have reduced their outdoor water use. They also benefit from far less expensive maintenance costs. Their home demonstrates the beauty of water-efficient landscapes with its vibrant colors and variety of textures using Bougainvillea, striking cactus, succulents, and California native plants and shrubs.
We are excited to announce ENR California’s 2019 Regional Best Projects winners! So far in ENR’s annual regional contest, ENR California’s judges have awarded 54 honors for the region. Thanks to the large number of entries, we divided the region into two: Northern California and Southern California, which includes Hawaii. Each year, ENR California assembles a group of judges, with varying specialties and expertise in the construction industry, to review, score and form a panel to determine Best Projects winners for the region. Judges independently review entries, score each on pre-specified criteria, and convene with fellow judges to compare impressions and scores. Together, the judges’ panels select honorees for Best Project and Merit awards. (Judges recuse themselves in cases of conflict of interest.)
Interim funding for the East County Advanced Water Purification Program has been approved by the San Diego County Sanitation District. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors board members are also the board members of the San Diego County Sanitation District, and on July 10 the county supervisors voted 5-0 to authorize the sanitation district’s $2,350,000 share for the final program development costs. The supervisors also authorized the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors to execute the East County Advanced Water Purification Interim Funding Agreement which also involves the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the Helix Water District, and the City of El Cajon, and the authorization of planning studies was found to be categorically exempt from California Environmental Act review although those studies themselves will likely include environmental review.
The San Joaquin River – the second longest river in California – was once home to one of the largest populations of spring-run Chinook salmon, a species of fish that is now classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to a collaborative multi-agency effort that includes the Department of Water Resources (DWR), spring-run Chinook salmon are successfully returning to the San Joaquin River for the first time in more than 65 years. At the end of May 2019, 23 adult spring-run Chinook returned, surviving their nearly 370-mile round trip journey to the Pacific Ocean as juvenile fish and the trip back to the San Joaquin River as adults to spawn – typically a two to five-year process.
The deal had been touted as a win for aggrieved L.A. ratepayers who had been hit with grossly inflated bills from the Department of Water and Power: A settlement of a class-action lawsuit that would provide refunds or credits for 100% of what they were wrongly charged, according to the utility. One of the attorneys who represented customers who sued the utility called the agreement a “home run.” It was eventually expected to return more than $67 million to ratepayers. Now a new set of attorneys have taken over the case after accusations that lawyers engineered the lawsuit and 2017 settlement to help the city.
The small South Coast Water District has taken key steps toward construction of a $110 million desalination plant, but the agency faces growing questions of whether it’s in over its head for the ambitious project to be built near Doheny State Beach. The project’s ocean-friendly technology has won praise from the same environmentalists fighting a desalter plant proposed by Poseidon Water for Huntington Beach, one of several things that distinguish the south county plant from the more controversial project to the north.
Another round of heat is heat for portions of the Southwest later this week into the weekend. Excessive Heat Watches are already in effect for the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys this weekend. Heat Advisories are in effect today (Thursday) for several interior areas of Central California and southward to the Cuyama Valley and mountains of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
After years of effort, water agencies across San Diego County and the state have helped to prevent an unprecedented tax on drinking water while ensuring funding for clean water initiatives in disadvantaged communities. On July 24, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that provides $130 million annually for the next 10 years to clean up polluted drinking water, mainly in the Central and Salinas valleys. Over the past three years, several proposals in Sacramento have proposed raising that money with a tax on residential water bills. Water industry groups, including the San Diego County Water Authority and several local retail agencies, were among the broad coalition of water, business and civic interests that opposed the tax.
What you flush and send down the drain once it is treated by the city is a valuable commodity for farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Just how much Manteca’s treated wastewater is worth to agricultural users served by the Delta Mendota Canal that are often at the mercy of fish flows diversions and drought that reduces their Central Valley Project allocations may be determined in the coming year.