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California’s Water Wars Serve As a ‘Bellwether’ for Colorado River Negotiations

After three decades of water wars in Southern California, policy experts hope a new era in collaborative management will offer inspiration for the ongoing and complex negotiations over Colorado River allocations amid a historic and deepening drought.

Those lessons need to catapult us forward,” said Patricia Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, during the fall meeting for the Association of California Water Agencies in December. These states, these constituencies, these communities cannot afford for these discussions to crater. Failure is not an option.”

Drought is the Sleeper Weather Story You’ll Hear More About in 2021

Drought is an insidious climate threat — by the time it has a hold of a region, impacts on ecosystems and water supplies can be locked in. It may not grab extreme weather headlines like the disrupted polar vortex or record hurricane season, but drought during 2020 and heading into 2021 is a looming story likely to grow in importance.

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Desert Pipeline Tests Colorado River’s Future

West of Lake Powell, along the Utah-Arizona border, lies a sparsely populated territory of high desert, deeply scored canyons and barren mesas. Here, Utah officials want to build a 140-mile-long pipeline to bring precious Colorado River water west to the thriving town of St. George, in the state’s far southwestern corner.

New Discovery Could Lead to Cheaper and More Efficient Water Desalination

Removing salt from seawater to make it safe to drink means overcoming a number of scientific challenges, including optimizing the membrane used for the desalination process – and new research into these membranes promises to make the whole operation cheaper and more accessible in the future.

Work On Valley Water’s Largest Reservoir Moves Forward

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has been lowering the water level on the Anderson Dam since Oct. 1 to keep the region safe from potentially catastrophic flooding in the event of a major earthquake.

The Anderson Reservoir can hold up to 90,000 acre-feet of water and is now at three percent capacity, which is the lowest feasible level given the position of the existing outlet tunnel. At its current level, even a heavy rainy season would not pose dam failure and flooding risk; keeping some water in the reservoir helps preserve some wildlife habitat. Beyond immediate safety, one of the main reasons for lowering the water level is to allow for construction to begin on a major seismic retrofit project for the dam. The reservoir has been closed for recreational use since October and is expected to remain shuttered for the duration of the project.

Price Tag Nearly Doubles to $2.5 Billion for Huge New Dam Project in Santa Clara County

In a major and potentially fatal setback for plans to build the largest dam in the Bay Area in more than 20 years, the price tag to construct a new reservoir in southern Santa Clara County near Pacheco Pass has nearly doubled, from $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion.

Inside Clean Energy: The Energy Storage Boom Has Arrived

After years of build up, a giant battery storage project is online in Moss Landing, California, and a huge one is on the way in Florida.

Helix Water District: Join Us For Water Chats On Facebook Live On January 28

Water tanks are a common sight across the hillsides and neighborhoods in our region. Helix manages, maintains and operates 25 tanks across the 50 square miles of our district to provide our 277,000 customers with water to their faucets on demand. Water tanks vary in size, shape, location and function, and they are the focus of our next virtual event.

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any poppy. It's native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choiices for successful sustanable landscaping. Photo: Kimberly Rotter / Pixabay

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Treating every garden, no matter its size, as its own mini-watershed allows it to capture and retain water to nurture a diverse habitat of plants and helpful insects.

Watersmart living not only saves money, but it creates vibrant yards, reduces energy use, protects our natural resources, and reduces landscape maintenance. It may even improve property values. It also creates a shared sense of purpose about how we use our limited water supplies.

What elements do you need to consider when taking a watershed approach to your landscape?

Learn Four Key Principles of Sustainable Landscaping

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The formula for successful sustainable landscaping includes four key principles:

  • Healthy, Living Soils: Healthy, living soils rich in organic content feed a complex soil food web. The soil holds water like a sponge, and has nutrients for optimal plant health.
  • Climate Appropriate Plants: Many choices of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and display diverse colors, textures, and shaped with endless design options.
  • Rainwater as a Resource: Sustainable landscapes make the most of natural rainfall. Slowing the flow of water off rooftops and hard surfaces allow it to be captured and sink into the soil or be stored for later use.
  • High-Efficiency Irrigation: Your irrigation can maximize water-use efficiency through smart controllers to adjust water automatically to changing weather conditions, and high-performance distribution components to regulate pressure and tailor water delivery to the exact needs of your landscape plants.

The four principles of successful sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego.

The 3,000-square-foot garden can be viewed by the public. It includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. Specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate are also identified. Many are Southern California natives.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.