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Droughts Exposed California’s Thirst for Groundwater. Now, the State Hopes to Refill its Aquifers

California’s Central Valley — one of the richest agricultural regions in the world — is sinking. During a recent intense drought, from 2012 to 2016, parts of the valley sank as much as 60 centimeters per year. “It isn’t like an earthquake; it doesn’t happen, boom,” says Claudia Faunt, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. But it is evidence of a slow-motion disaster, the result of the region’s insatiable thirst for groundwater.

Wave of Spring Storms Wipes Out Drought in All of Southern California

Spring storms that included five consecutive days of soaking rain last week knocked out drought conditions in Southern California, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Study: Warming Makes US West Megadrought Worst in Modern Age

A two-decade-long dry spell that has parched much of the western United States is turning into one of the deepest megadroughts in the region in more than 1,200 years, a new study found.

And about half of this historic drought can be blamed on man-made global warming, according to a study in Thursday’s journal Science.

Scientists looked at a nine-state area from Oregon and Wyoming down through California and New Mexico, plus a sliver of southwestern Montana and parts of northern Mexico. They used thousands of tree rings to compare a drought that started in 2000 and is still going — despite a wet 2019 — to four past megadroughts since the year 800.

Opinion: California Water Policies Inhibit Food Production by Valley Farmers

Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has created images Americans never expected to see in this country: Empty supermarket shelves and people lined up outside of markets waiting to enter to purchase food.

RMWD Implements Plan to Dissolve Some Untreated Water Delivery

In an effort to save costs and reduce the impacts of declining untreated water sales, the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) recently approved of implementing a three-phase strategy for converting from an untreated water system to treated, and in some cases, recycled water systems.

106,000 American Clean Energy Jobs Were Lost in March

The dramatic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have hit every sector of the U.S. economy hard, with renewable energy being no exception. Today, BW Research released an analysis of unemployment data that shows more than 106,000 clean energy workers lost their jobs in the month of March.

Those 106,000 job losses represent a 3% loss in employment across the clean energy industry. In 2019, the clean energy industry added more than 70,000 jobs for a 2.2% growth rate, one which outpaced the U.S. workforce as a whole. The renewable energy generation sector alone lost 16,500 jobs.

The analysis, coupled with forecasts from industry trade groups and companies, led BW Research to the conclusion that, if no actions are taken quickly to support the industry, up to 500,000 jobs could be lost — or almost 15% of the clean energy workforce.

Broken down by state, California experienced the largest number of layoffs, losing 19,900 jobs, which equates to more than 3.5% of its clean energy workforce.

San Diego Mayor Proposing Deep Cuts to Close $250M Revenue Gap During Pandemic

Plummeting tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to propose sharp spending cuts in response to a projected $250 million budget gap.

Opinion: For California’s Water, a Tale of Two Letters

Two weeks after the State of California rolled out its plan that spells the end of coordinated distribution of the state’s water resources from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California Democrats in Congress have finally spoken out, sort of.

Power Shutoff Bans Amid Pandemic May Require Cost Recovery for Utilities

More than 100 members of Congress, including 15 senators, are pressing the House and Senate leadership to include language in the next COVID-19 funding package prohibiting utilities from disconnecting customers who may not be able to pay their bills now or immediately after the crisis that has closed businesses and thrown millions out of work.

Pipeline 5 Upgrades in North San Diego County Halfway Complete

This week, crews are installing a carbon fiber lining inside Pipeline 5 in North San Diego County between Fallbrook and Escondido. The work is essential to maintain the 96-inch pipeline that delivers untreated water from Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County to the Lower Otay Water Treatment Plant in southern San Diego County.

The work began at the end of March when Pipeline 5 was shut down for the installation of two internal steel bulkheads. The bulkheads allow the rest of the pipeline to stay in service while work is performed in an isolated section.

“Ensuring that water supplies continue to be reliable for all of the region’s 3.3 million residents and businesses is our priority,” said Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance at the Water Authority. “We are performing this essential repair to one of our largest pipelines to make sure that there are no interruptions in service to our member agencies.”

The carbon fiber installation is anticipated to be complete by the end of next week. Carbon fiber is a highly effective solution to reinforce the stressed areas of the pipe and extend its lifespan.

Proactive asset management program detects issues before they arise

Pipeline 5 was built in 1982 and is a part of the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, which includes Pipelines 3, 4 and 5.

In August of last year, Water Authority staff detected a leak in nearby Pipeline 4 at Moosa Creek and inspected the other two pipelines at that location. During that inspection, Pipeline 5 showed signs of stress, where the operating pressure within the pipe exceeds 400 pounds per square inch. A failure of the large-diameter pipeline would cause significant damage to the environment and nearby pipelines.

The proactive and timely repair to Pipeline 5 is part of the asset management program, which is a key element of the Water Authority’s commitment to providing a safe and reliable water supply to San Diego County. Making preventative repairs to large-scale infrastructure ensures that regional water service will continue uninterrupted.

After installation of the carbon fiber is complete, a second shutdown to remove the isolation bulkheads is anticipated to take place in May, after which the pipeline will return to normal service.

Protecting the health of essential workers during COVID-19

To ensure safety and health, most Water Authority employees have been working from their homes since mid-March. For those employees who need to be at work sites, strict precautions are being taken by limiting the number of people present, maintaining physical distance, requiring all employees to wear protective gear and providing hand washing stations where possible.