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West’s Biggest Reservoir Is Back on the Rise, Thanks to Conservation, Snow

LAS VEGAS—The largest reservoir in the Western U.S., Lake Mead, is rising again after more than a decade of decline, and at least some credit goes to the local National Hockey League team.

“Reality check!” Ryan Reaves, right wing for the Vegas Golden Knights, yells as he body-slams a man through a plate-glass window for excessive lawn watering in a television commercial. “Vegas is enforcing water waste big time.”

Ads like this began airing last year as part of a campaign by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to persuade the more than two million residents of this sprawling desert metropolis to use less water. Using a carrot-and-stick approach, including paying landowners to remove grass and fining for overuse, the agency said it has cut total Colorado River water consumption by 25% over the past two decades, even as the population it serves has grown around 50%.

Sweetwater Authority Displays Winning Photos at Board Reception

Ten South Bay area high school students will be honored for their winning photos at today’s Sweetwater Authority Governing Board meeting.

Nearly 100 students from Sweetwater’s service area entered its annual water photo contest, which challenges students to showcase the importance of water in everyday life through photography. Students submitted photos in two categories.

The public is invited to an Artists’ Reception on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. to see all the winning photos on display. The event is being held at the Authority’s Administrative Office on 505 Garrett Avenue in Chula Vista.

Advocating for Clean Water

As the nation’s water and wastewater treatment systems of pipes, pumps, and plants reach the end of their intended lifespan, investing in water infrastructure has dominated the utility landscape. In its most recent report card (2017), the American Society of Civil Engineers gave water infrastructure in the United States a D grade and the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a D+.

According to the US Water Alliance, 85 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild our water infrastructure, yet there remains a significant funding gap between the amount of federal funds available and how much utilities and municipalities will need to ensure public health and safety in the coming years.

Local Scientists Launch Weather Balloons to Study ‘Atmospheric River’

Local scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are closely watching a storm system as it moves into Southern California.

Scientists are releasing weather balloons every three hours to study the storm system, classified as an atmospheric river.

“An atmospheric river is just a large amount of moisture that’s associated with the system,” said program analyst Brian Kawzenuk. “An atmospheric river is sort of what it sounds like: it’s a river in the atmosphere.”

The weather balloons will collect a plethora of data including temperature, wind speed, direction and more, allowing scientists to map out a vertical profile of the atmosphere as the system approaches.

USDA Investing $1 Million in California Water Quality Improvements and Wildfire Mitigation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be investing more than $1 million in California this fiscal year for wildfire mitigation and improving water quality. The efforts are being made possible through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. The Partnership allows the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with farmers and landowners in implementing conservation and restoration projects on a substantial scale.

Driving Water Conservation

As California approaches what could be another drought, water utilities are eager to find new ways of curbing water demand. Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water conservation campaigns.

San Diego County Supervisors OK Urban Agriculture Program

County supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved an ordinance to establish urban agriculture incentive zones, under which a tax reduction is given to residents who set up a small farm on their property.

In exchange for a tax reduction, eligible landowners would enter into a contract with the county to dedicate their land for agricultural use for a minimum of five years.

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Installs Radiation Monitoring System

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has unveiled a monitoring system that collects readings of the radiation emitted by the used-up nuclear fuel that is housed in a newly constructed storage facility at the plant.

Three monitors feed information directly to the California Department of Public Health’s Radiologic Health Branch, which will post a monthly report on the data to the department’s website for the public to access. The readings will also be sent to California State Parks and the city of San Juan Capistrano.

Water Treatment Practices Effective Against COVID-19, WHO says

The World Health Organization has released a technical brief stating that current water treatment methods are expected to be effective against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The brief noted “[the] presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.” It also asserted “conventional, centralized water treatment methods which utilize filtration and disinfection should inactivate COVID-19 virus” and stated chlorination and UV treatment have been effective against other coronaviruses.

Opinion: A Week of Rain is Nice, but Does Virtually Nothing to Help L.A.’s Water Issues

Southern California’s March rain is a welcome relief, coming as it does after a mostly dry January and an absolutely desiccated February. Los Angeles, like much of the rest of the state, had been in drought and was getting by without severe conservation measures only because of reservoirs still brimming from the soaking winter of 2017 and a succession of moderately wet follow-ups.

We have a name for late winter storms that come at the end of mostly failed rainy seasons. We call them March Miracles. The granddaddy of them all came in 1991, when California was facing a desperate water shortage only to be hit by a late-March Sierra blizzard that packed a whole season’s worth of moisture into three days.