The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a La Niña watch earlier this month, meaning that conditions are favorable for development of a La Niña in the next six months.
Archive for date: July 23rd, 2020
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Chula Vista, Calif. – On Wednesday, July 22, the Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. The Authority received the award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience.
During my nearly two years as chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors, I have seen firsthand the regional benefits of decisions made by our predecessors to secure water supply reliability. I cannot count the number of times I have been thankful for all the board members, regional stakeholders, staff and supporters in decades past who wrestled with challenges and made tough decisions to invest in big ideas and projects. From water supplies and water storage to pipelines and water treatment, these decisions have resulted in water supply security for our region.
While the prudent plans of the past benefit current and future generations, we must continually grapple with the uncertainties of the future given the decades-long lead time for major infrastructure projects. One of my mantras as Board chair has been to focus not just on today, but the next 25, 50, and even 75 years. We know that new infrastructure investments will be necessary, and they take time to plan and build. The challenge is how best to balance the costs, benefits, and uncertainties.
Regional Conveyance System
That’s why more than a year ago, our Board authorized a technical feasibility study to look at whether building our own conveyance system to transport our locally controlled regional water supplies from the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement (Imperial Valley) could be cost-competitive with other options. The initial findings, released in June, confirm that is the case and offer a preview of what would be needed to build a conveyance system for meeting the region’s long-term water needs.
In coming months, the Board will decide whether to move the study to the next phase. This next phase will look in-depth on financing and costs – and more importantly mutually beneficial partnerships designed to reduce costs of improving regional water management. These partnerships might include joint ventures with Water Authority member agencies, the Imperial Irrigation District, Mexico, agriculture, the State of California through its Salton Sea Management Plan, tribal governments, renewable energy developers, public-private partnerships and more.
Currently, Water Authority staff is reviewing a second independent analysis of the June study, sponsored by some of the Water Authority’s member agencies. It is vitally important that we take the time to digest new information and different perspectives, and perhaps incorporate their suggestions in the next phase of our study, especially as we look toward a project of this size and magnitude that will be paid for over many generations.
Even after reviewing the voluminous data, I expect that there will be a variety of opinions about how to proceed. We all recognize that it is inherently difficult to forecast both costs and benefits over several decades for this project or any other, which is why we have taken measured steps. Should the study move to the next stage, the process will include many future off-ramps for the Board in case better alternatives emerge.
At every stage, our Board should be committed to a thoughtful, fulsome assessment, never shying away from the need to cooperatively, collectively and civilly engage on these important questions with real benefits – and perhaps consequences – for our children and grandchildren. This is fundamental to the civic process, and critical to charting our region’s course as we have been doing for more than 75 years at the Water Authority.
View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.
New fish-friendly seawater intake pumps recently commissioned at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant are among the most environmentally advanced intake pumps in the world.
The three intake pumps, manufactured by Indar, are part of a broader effort to ensure the long-term health of the marine environment near the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which sits on the shores of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
The City of Oceanside received an Award of Excellence during the WateReuse Association virtual conference in June 2020. Oceanside received the Recycled Water Agency of the Year for small systems, which recognizes an agency that has developed recycled water, on a significant level, as an alternative water source within their service area, regionally, or statewide.
The state’s Department of Water Resources has a grant program for Integrated Regional Water Management projects, and the most recent award of grants includes $687,500 to the Fallbrook Public Utility District for an indirect potable reuse pilot project.
DWR officially awarded $15 million in grant funds to the San Diego County Water Authority, July 8. The SDCWA will use $1,440,000 for regional water use efficiency programs, and $920,180 will be used by the CWA to administer the grants.
Almost certainly you’ve seen headlines about wastewater treatment plants around North America joining the fight against COVID-19 by testing wastewater in an effort to predict viral hotspots. Our industry is well positioned to be a key player in the fight through this kind of routine testing during the pandemic.
Researchers have confirmed that the COVID-19 virus can be detected in the untreated waste of positive patients, and numerous treatment facilities across the U.S. are taking advantage of that and working to help track the spread of the outbreak.
The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health announced Wednesday it has extended the existing water contact closure area at the Tijuana Slough shoreline north to include the Imperial Beach shoreline. Sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River has been entering the Tijuana Estuary, and observations indicate contamination of ocean water now extends from the International Border north to the Imperial Beach shoreline, DEH officials said.
How much warming will greenhouse gas emissions cause in the coming years? It’s one of the most fundamental questions about climate change — and also one of the trickiest to answer.
Now, a major study claims to have narrowed down the range of possible estimates.
It presents both good and bad news. The worst-case climate scenarios may be somewhat less likely than previous studies suggested. But the best-case climate scenarios — those assuming the least amount of warming — are almost certainly not going to happen.
It’s “the most important climate science paper that’s come out in several years,” according to climate scientist Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University, who was not involved with the study.
U.S. dam safety frameworks have helped to prevent major calamities, but the May collapse of the 95-year-old Edenville Dam in Michigan illustrates that key failure risks remain—often involving many causes, according to a study of dam safety risk assessments by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.