You are now in California and the U.S. Home Headline Media Coverage category.

Central Valley Water Districts Take Aim at Each Other’s Groundwater Plans

There is no tougher playground than California’s water world.

Just take a look at the zingers flying back and forth between water districts on one another’s groundwater sustainability plans posted on the Department of Water Resources’ website.

“It’s like a giant game of dodgeball,” said Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District.

Trial Underway in SF Could Remove Fluoride from Drinking Water

About 200 million Americans, nearly two-thirds of the population, drink water containing fluoride to fight tooth decay. That could be changed by a case now on trial in a San Francisco federal court.

Stimulus Funds Would Create Regional Jobs, Enhance Water Reliability

Water suppliers in San Diego County say future COVID-19 federal and state stimulus packages should include funding for shovel-ready projects that would create jobs in the region.

In a letter to members of California’s congressional delegation, a group of 13 agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority and 10 of its member agencies, and the cities of Del Mar, Oceanside and Poway, say the region’s water utilities have dozens of infrastructure projects that could be launched with an infusion of state and federal stimulus funding.

The Next Generation of Pumped Storage

The first slide of Daybreak Power’s first-ever presentation to potential investors quotes Paul Allen, the legendary co-founder of Microsoft, asking what he calls the most exciting question imaginable: “What should exist? … What do we need that we don’t have?”.

The answer I reached in the years leading up to co-founding Daybreak in 2018 is this: A bunch of big-honkin’ pumped storage hydropower projects, for the simple reason that we’re going to need a ton of cost-effective, proven, long-duration energy storage if we, as a society, are to have any hope of integrating high levels of intermittent wind and solar power, and thereby slash greenhouse gas emissions to put the brakes on catastrophic climate change.

Plus, we can create a lot of jobs and maybe make some money on it!

Joyce Patry, a former MBA classmate, and I founded Daybreak in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, as an early-stage developer of these massive infrastructure projects.

Despite extremely limited resources, we pulled together some engineering and cost-configuration studies that had previously been conducted on potential pumped storage sites at US Bureau of Reclamation dams around the West. In late 2018 we filed a FERC preliminary permit application for the 1540MW Next Generation Pumped Storage project near Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, and followed that up with a July 2019 application for the 2210MW Navajo Energy Storage Station near Glen Canyon Dam/Lake Powell on the border of Utah and Arizona.

How Your Poop is Being Used in the Fight Against COVID-19

Scientist have found an unexpected ally in the fight against COVID-19 — a tool so powerful, it might help zero in on coronavirus outbreaks before they happen.

It’s your poop.

The science of sewer surveillance, also called wastewater epidemiology, is being harnessed by the largest university in the county to help stay on top of COVID-19 cases among students.

And while San Diego is not actively using feces to try and predict COVID-19 hot spots, the city is participating in several studies to better understand this potential monitoring technique.

PFAS Forecasted to Drive US $12.1 Billion In Water Utilities’ Spend Over Next Decade

Mounting public concerns and new state regulations in the U.S. are compelling water & wastewater utilities to address health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of pervasive chemicals found in drinking water and wastewater biproducts.

Lake Powell Pipeline Will ‘Make the River Angry,’ Southern Paiutes Warn as Feds Release Analysis

Any potential alignment of the Lake Powell pipeline would pass through lands that hold spiritual and cultural significance to Southern Paiutes, who fear the project would jeopardize their culture and upset the balance of nature.

The Western View: Cease-Fire Ahead in the Water Wars?

It’s been a year of surprises, one thing after another – a pandemic that shut down the world, a murder hornet that suddenly appeared in the north woods, rioting in the streets, and even a giant meteor just missed the earth. But there is one more startling event that not many people know about. That is: The State and the feds are actually talking to each other about our water. They’ve been figuring out how to balance the needs of fish versus farmers and settle how they will handle water deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California.

More Than $16 Million Provided to Nine Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects Around the US

The Bureau of Reclamation is providing more than $16 million to nine congressionally authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse projects. This funding, part of the WaterSMART Program, is for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities.

SanVicente-sun-PRIMARY-June-2020-WNN

Stimulus Funds Would Create Regional Jobs, Enhance Water Reliability

Water suppliers in San Diego County say future COVID-19 federal and state stimulus packages should include funding for shovel-ready projects that would create jobs in the region.

In a letter to members of California’s congressional delegation, a group of 13 agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority and 10 of its member agencies, and the cities of Del Mar, Oceanside and Poway, say the region’s water utilities have dozens of infrastructure projects that could be launched with an infusion of state and federal stimulus funding.

“As the water suppliers throughout San Diego County, across the state, and around the nation are confronting the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several actions that the federal government could take to provide some much-needed relief,” according to the letter dated May 31.

From replacing valves in pipelines to building water purification facilities, to developing a major pumped hydropower energy storage project for the region, the funding boost would advance efforts to enhance water reliability and increase jobs across San Diego County.

Financial stress, economic fallout from pandemic

The letter requests the following action items be supported as Congress discusses additional legislative relief packages:

  • Allow for use of federal funds to backfill for lost revenue: The largest issues that water suppliers are currently facing are the immediate budgetary impacts and the ongoing effects of lost revenues. Allowing water systems to use federal funds to fill the gap being created by lost revenue would provide significant assistance to prevent layoffs or furloughs, minimize project deferrals or delays, and help avoid other associated impacts that may have a lingering negative effect on regional economies. An analysis produced last month by the Association of American Metropolitan Water Agencies and the American Water Works Association estimated that drinking water utilities throughout the county are facing an annualized revenue loss of approximately $13.9 billion as a result of the pandemic – a sum equal to nearly 17% of the sector’s annual revenue.  We strongly encourage Congress to set aside robust funding for water utilities to help offset these fiscal losses. Otherwise, ratepayers will face escalating costs and reduced economic activity related to delayed capital investments, which will only further hinder the nation’s, state’s, and region’s economic recovery. 
  • Extend the Emergency Payroll Tax Credit to Public Entities: The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” required public employers to provide paid sick and family leave, yet the law excludes these same employers from receiving payroll tax credits made available to private employers. Extending this tax credit to local governments would help cover the costs associated with these programs.
  • Restore advance refunding for tax-exempt bonds: This action would allow flexibility for local government entities to access billions of dollars to reallocate and spend on other projects and priorities, which would be much needed during this time.
  • Aid to low-income ratepayers: COVID-19 response legislation should also include a separate component to ensure that low-income customers are able to afford to keep up with their utility bills throughout the pandemic. Without federal assistance targeted at these customers, some low-income households will fall even further behind on their bills, making it that much more difficult for them to catch up with their payments once the crisis ends.

San Vicente Energy Storage Facility

Pumped Energy Storage-WNN-June 2020-graphic

Pumped energy storage facilities are part of an integrated and sustainable energy system that includes the production, storage and distribution of clean energy.

Regional energy project needs regulatory path

One of those shovel-ready projects does not require any state investment or financial assistance to generate economic stimulus. But it needs a regulatory path forward, which could come in the form of state legislation or decisions by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Water Authority and the City of San Diego have been working on the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility project for several years. All equity and debt financing would be provided by a private investor.

Generating renewable energy and jobs

The project would create a small upper reservoir above the existing San Vicente Reservoir, along with a tunnel system and an underground powerhouse to connect the two water bodies. The powerhouse would contain up to four reversible pump turbines.

During off-peak periods – when power is inexpensive and renewable supplies from wind and solar facilities exceed demand – turbines would pump water to the upper reservoir where it would act as a battery of stored energy. During peak energy use, the system would create clean energy as water from the upper reservoir flows downhill through the turbines.

“Our developer estimates the project could generate more than 50,000 hours of preconstruction work, followed by more than 1,000 jobs during a four-year construction period,” said Gary Bousquet, with the San Diego County Water Authority. “When it’s completed, the facility could store huge volumes of renewable energy and then use that energy when renewables are not available, such as nighttime.”

Bousquet said the project, when completed, would also generate additional revenue to offset water agency costs and help stabilize water rates.