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IRWM - SD Wild Animal Park Biofiltration Wetland

Projects Create Wetlands, Improve Water Quality in San Diego Region

Since 2005, the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program has supported and funded water conservation, water quality and resource projects throughout San Diego County.

Program partners, including staff of the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, the California Department of Water Resources, and regional water industry leaders, met at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College Monday to celebrate 15 years of achievements.

The program facilitates collaboration on water resources planning and projects in the region by water retailers, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, the business community, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders.

Collaboration improves regional water quality

Projects supported and funded by the program, or IRWM, have increased long-term water supply reliability, improved water quality, created wetlands and increased local water supply sources. Funding for the IRWM projects is provided from several propositions approved by voters and administered through the California DWR.

“Since it started, the Water Authority has been a strong supporter of the IRWM, partnering with the City and County of San Diego to develop the program,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl, in a keynote address at the Monday meeting. “Bringing diverse stakeholders together through collaboration funds water reliability projects throughout the San Diego region.”

The collaboration has resulted in improved water supply reliability through the successful funding of conservation, water reuse, and other supply projects throughout the region, she said.

Another benefit of collaborating through the program is it brings traditionally underrepresented communities to the table to have projects funded.

Environmental health and safety, open space

The San Diego IRWM program has helped fund 25 projects in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities supporting the improvement of water reliability and water reliability in all parts of the region.

A project in Encanto to improve Chollas Creek was funded under the IRWM Program and sponsored by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovations Project.

The restoration of Chollas Creek was intended to improve environmental health and safety, surface water quality, and availability of green open space for Encanto, a disadvantaged urban community in San Diego.

IRWM Program - Chollas Creek - WNN

A project in Encanto to improve Chollas Creek was funded under the IRWM Program. Photo: Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovations Project

Wetlands, educational opportunities

Another project funded under the IRWM program, created wetlands to improve water quality at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The biofiltration wetland project, sponsored by the San Diego Zoo Global, has also served to educate thousands of students, teachers, and park visitors through various programs.

The IRWM continues to identify opportunities to fund projects to bring multiple benefits to the region.

The program is included in California’s draft Water Resilience Portfolio, released in January. Three state agencies created the portfolio, which proposes recommended actions to help California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure and other challenges.

Several state officials visited San Diego County on July 18, 2019 to assess the region’s water projects as part of their role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

Opinion: California’s Inner-Struggle for Common Sense on Water

As you have probably heard, initial 2020 water allocations have been announced by the Bureau of Reclamation for Central Valley Project contractors.

For agriculture, north-of-Delta is currently allocated 50 percent of their contract while south-of-Delta ag users will receive is 15 percent.

Friant Class 1 users initial allocation is 20 percent while Class 2 is zero. Wildlife refuges will receive 100% while the San Joaquin Restoration Program will receive just under 71,000 acre-feet of water.

Other allocations cover senior water right holders and municipal and industrial uses.

It’s critical to note that reservoir levels and snowpack are not great but are also nowhere near the terrible levels of 2014 and 2015.

February Ranked Among the Driest on Record Across California. Forecasters Hopeful for a ‘Miracle March’

After one of the driest Februaries on record across much of California, the first day of March brought a dash of rain and a dusting of fresh powder to the parched landscape.

The storm, which rolled into Los Angeles County on Sunday afternoon, dropped less than one-tenth of an inch of rain on the coast, while higher elevations saw between one-quarter and an inch of precipitation.

Snow Valley Mountain Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains reported a foot of snow from the system, while Frazier Park in Kern County received a 3-inch dusting, said John Dumas, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Water Sector Collaborates on National Water Reuse Action Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with federal partners, has released the National Water Reuse Action Plan: Collaborative Implementation, a collection of bold actions developed in collaboration with water sector organizations that will reshape the way communities around the nation manage water. The plan identifies 37 actions across 11 strategic themes to give communities tools to consider and adopt water reuse as part of an integrated water resources plan.

EPA announced its intent to facilitate the development of the National Water Reuse Action Plan one year ago on Feb. 27, 2019.

How Beef Eaters in Cities are Draining Rivers in the American West

It’s not exactly news that the rivers of the western U.S. are in trouble.

For decades, their water has been siphoned off by climate change-fueled heat and an ever-growing human demand for grassy front lawns and long showers. The biggest user of river water by far, though, is agriculture—and new research shows that across the western United States, a third of all consumed water goes to irrigate crops not for human consumption, but that are used to feed beef and dairy cattle. In the Colorado River basin, it’s over 50 percent.

The burgers, steaks, yogurt, and ice cream Americans eat in abundance, the new results show, is directly related to the overuse of river water—leaving the ecosystems and communities that depend on those rivers drastically stressed under even the best of circumstances.

Rain, Snow Kindle Hopes of ‘March Miracle’ in Parched California

It’s looking a lot more like winter in California’s parched mountains today.

Snow fell across the Sierra and in the mountains of Southern California on Sunday.

And, while the immediate forecast calls for a return of dry skies, the National Weather Service in Hanford says there is a possibility of rain on the Valley floor and snow in the mountains on Saturday.

The early March turnabout followed two months that set records for dryness in parts of the state.

Feds Ink Deal with Water District Tied to Bernhardt

The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate change.

At issue is irrigation water that flows through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Reclamation cast the agreement as a good deal: In return for a contract that lasts in perpetuity, Westlands pays off its debt for the Central Valley Project construction much faster. As of Sept. 30, 2018, Westlands owed about $480.7 million to the federal government.

Putting a Price on the Protective Power of Wetlands

In coastal communities prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, people typically turn to engineered solutions for protection: levees, sea walls and the like. But a natural buffer in the form of wetlands may be the more cost-effective solution, according to new research from the University of California San Diego.

In the most comprehensive study of its sort to date, UC San Diego economists show that U.S. counties with more wetlands experienced substantially less property damage from hurricanes and tropical storms over a recent 20-year period than those with fewer wetlands.

Pipeline Project: Completed or to be Continued?

A large water pipe repair effort may have gone bust, at least temporarily, at the project site near Rangeland and Highland Valley roads. The project is intended to install new pipe under the Santa Maria Creek to connect to an existing pipe after it broke last year.

The Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) awarded the contract to Capriati Construction Corp. of Henderson, Nev., with unanimous approval of the district’s board of directors on March 12, 2019. The contract bid was $348,915.