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Water Utility Hero of the Week, Dana Gutierrez, Otay Water District

This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Dana Gutierrez, Otay Water District Customer Service Representative II, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Can the Colorado River Keep on Running?

Maybe you’re brushing your teeth; perhaps you’re rinsing your dishes; you could be watering your plants. When you turn on your faucet in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, or California, there’s a good chance you’re drawing water from the Colorado River.

Poseidon Desalination Proposal for Huntington Beach May Face New Requirements

Poseidon Water could be headed back to the drawing board to better compensate for the marine life expected to be killed by its proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.

San Diego Public Agencies Win Communications Awards

Two public agencies in San Diego County were recently honored with communications awards by the California Public Information Officers, a statewide professional trade group of communicators from public sector agencies.

The City of San Marcos received CAPIO Epic Awards for its San Marcos Creek Project groundbreaking ceremony, held December 2019, as well as the project’s logo. The San Marcos Creek Project is a three-year, $104 million construction project to raise the roadways and bridges over San Marcos Creek.

“These awards are a testament to the importance we place on keeping our community informed and involved in key infrastructure projects,” said Tess Sangster, economic development director for the City of San Marcos. The city hired JPW Communications to execute communications activities for the San Marcos Creek project.

In addition, the San Diego County Water Authority was honored with an CAPIO Epic Award for its Water News Network website, launched in mid 2018. Judges lauded the website for keeping stakeholders in mind with design and original content and photos. The water authority said stories from the website are picked up by regional news media on a weekly basis, and the percentage of views generated through organic search has increased 454% since inception.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million across San Diego County,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

Water Bills Would Fundamentally Change Under Proposal Headed for CPUC

Some Bakersfield residents’ water bills will be fundamentally restructured, with big cost implications, if the California Public Utilities Commission votes Thursday to end an experiment that 12 years ago erased a financial incentive to sell people more water.

Under the proposal, California Water Service and other investor-owned utilities would no longer bill customers a surcharge covering the cost difference between expected and actual water usage.

The CPUC’s consumer-advocacy arm supports the proposal and estimates it would save ratepayers 10 percent to 15 percent, maybe more, on their water bills.

Drought and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, 2012–2016: Environmental Review and Lessons

Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had no less precipitation and was no longer than previous historical droughts (Figure 1), but came with record high temperatures (Figure 2) and low snowpack (Figure 3), which worsened many drought impacts. Water supplies for agriculture and urban users statewide struggled to meet water demands. Conservation and rationing, increased groundwater pumping and a diversified economy helped keep California’s economy robust in most sectors. The drought degraded environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as the region became saltier and warmer, invasive weeds spread, and iconic fishes like salmon and Delta smelt had strong declines.

Glen Canyon Dam May Release More Water to Cope with COVID Electricity Needs

Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River.

$5 Million in Federal Funding Granted for City’s Desalter

Progress continues on the city’s $66.3-million North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Facility, which has received nearly $5 million in federal funding.

The grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will be used for the desalter plant that will treat brackish groundwater from the nearby Pleasant Valley Groundwater Basin. The filtered water will account for 40% of the city’s overall water supply once the facility is finished. It will help Camarillo wean itself from the more expensive imported water it has relied on since its incorporation in 1964.

Questions Over Water Official Who Took Money from Interests Pushing Desal She’s Voting On

Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by a company and interest groups she took money from during past political campaigns.

State regulators have identified more than $6,000 in campaign contributions that Murray fundraised for her Anaheim city council campaigns in 2014 and 2015 and county supervisorial in 2018 from the project’s parent company, Poseidon Water, and two trade unions who voiced support for the project in recent years.