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Water Authority Board Votes to Dismiss Certain Legal Claims Against MWD

After securing more than $350 million in “Water Stewardship Rate” benefits for the San Diego region, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today voted to dismiss certain related claims against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The Water Authority Board’s decision represents a major step toward resolving the litigation, which has been pending for more than 10 years. The suits challenged water rates and charges imposed by MWD on San Diego County agencies and their ratepayers from 2010-2018. The Water Authority’s Board action will allow the parties to avoid a trial scheduled for June 2020 and clear the way for judgment to be entered in the older cases.

Water Authority Board Honors Retiring Otay Water District GM Mark Watton

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday honored Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton for 37 years of public service in the water industry.

The Board issued a proclamation congratulating Watton on “his long and distinguished service to San Diego County upon his upcoming retirement from the Otay Water District” and commended him “for a lifetime of service that has improved the quality of life in our region.”

After 15 years leading the water agency that serves Southeastern San Diego County, and nearly four decades representing the water interests of the county and state, Watton plans to retire in late March. He first served on the Water Authority’s Board of Directors in 1985 and was Board Chair from 1995 through 1996.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 41 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

California’s Winter: Wet Times, Dry Times and Water Supplies

After a wet and snowy start, California’s winter has gone bust. The 2019-2020 water year started off with robust precipitation, after a series of storms in November and early December 2019.

But the new year has not been as bountiful. Dry conditions in January and February added little to the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

What Would It Take to Get More Farmers Fighting Climate Change?

As signs of a new drought loom over California farm country and a potential return of last spring’s catastrophic floods haunts the Midwestern corn belt, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is out with a new plan to ready US agriculture for the insults of climate change. Called the Agriculture Resilience Act, the bill would enlist growers to help slow global warming by using their soil to sponge up carbon dioxide. Agriculture is responsible for nearly 10 percent of our country’s carbon emissions. Pingree’s plan would establish a “national goal” of net zero greenhouse emissions from agriculture by no later than 2040.

Military May be Bound by State Laws on ‘Forever Chemicals’

The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals” that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.

‘Without Water We Can’t Grow Anything’: Can Small Farms Survive California’s Landmark Water Law?

Nikiko Masumoto began her farming career in the summer of 2011, just as California was entering its worst drought in recorded history. Masumoto is the fourth generation of her family to farm this land in Del Rey: 80 organic acres of stone fruit in eastern Fresno county in California’s fertile Central Valley, its most perfect peaches bound for the epicurean Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. For four years in a row, the farm survived only on the water it could draw from underground.

Opinion: Is RMWD Doing Right by Customers?

At this month’s board meeting, Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) approved “the Proposition 218 Notice for Untreated Water Pumping Rates.” Twenty-five years after the passage of Proposition 218, RMWD is finally admitting that its treated and untreated water systems are separate. As a result, RMWD calculated “(non)uniform pumping rates” for all water customers. The notice will be sent only to about 200 untreated water customers whose “pumping rates” RMWD proposes to increase. At the meeting, Matthew Prickett, among the largest water users, urged that the notice be delayed—not to avoid paying his fair share of such costs, but because the rates were not fairly calculated.

California Natural Resources Agency Lays Out Aggressive Salton Sea Mitigation Goals

The California Natural Resources Agency this week released its Salton Sea Management Program annual report, which trumpeted the first completed dust suppression project and set ambitious goals for upcoming mitigation efforts.

The report lays out an aggressive target of 3,800 acres on which the agency hopes to complete efforts to tamp down dust by the end of 2020 to catch up with its long-term benchmarks.

“We’re well-positioned and have identified a suite of projects that will help us accomplish that goal by the end of this year,” said Arturo Delgado, the agency’s assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy.

Water is Life. It’s Also a Battle. So What Does the Future Hold for California?

Water plays a lead role in the state’s political theater, with Democrats and Republicans polarized, farmers often fighting environmentalists and cities pitted against rural communities. Rivers are overallocated through sloppy water accounting. Groundwater has dwindled as farmers overdraw aquifers. Many communities lack safe drinking water. Native Americans want almost-extinct salmon runs revived. There is talk, too, of new water projects, including a massive new tunnel costing billions of dollars.