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OPINION: Why A Water Board Plan Should Worry The Whole State

It’s not just the northern San Joaquin Valley that should be concerned about the state water board’s plan to redirect water away from farms and cities in a misguided bid to save fish. No matter where you live in California—and no matter your source of water—you should be worried. For now, the focus rests on regions along the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. From there, it moves to the Sacramento Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and from there, who knows where?

Monitoring Agricultural Water Use Remains Challenging Despite New Oversight Rules

A new program in California aimed at tracking agricultural water consumption is off to a bumpy start, highlighting the challenges of monitoring an industry that has historically enjoyed limited oversight. Agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the West, with many states using more than 70 percent of developed freshwater supplies for agriculture. So you would think state governments watch water consumption on farms carefully to look for conservation opportunities. In fact, some do not.

California Farms’ Water Use Still Unclear, Despite New Reporting Rules

A new program in California aimed at tracking agricultural water consumption is off to a bumpy start, highlighting the challenges of monitoring an industry that has historically enjoyed limited oversight. Agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the West, with many states using more than 70 percent of developed freshwater supplies for agriculture. So you would think state governments watch water consumption on farms carefully to look for conservation opportunities. In fact, some do not.

Attendees sign the "Brought To You By Water" symbolic beach ball, naming summer activities that rely on a safe and reliable water supply. Photo: Water Authority. Brought To You

First Day of Summer ‘Brought To You’ By New Water Authority Education Campaign

Dozens of partners from the San Diego region’s second largest industry, tourism, joined the San Diego County Water Authority for a special event aboard the USS Midway on the first day of summer, June 21, kicking off a new education and outreach campaign called ‘Brought To You By Water.’

The Water Authority program underscores the importance of water reliability to the region’s core industries, focusing on examples including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, and craft brewing.

Watch video of the Brought to You Be Water kickoff event.

The event also showcased the release of a new San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC) report highlighting the multi-billion-dollar economic impact of safe and reliable water supplies.

The EDC report underscores the importance of regional investments in clean, reliable water supplies to the San Diego region. It focused on more than $2.4 billion invested by the Water Authority in five major water reliability projects over the past two decades. Those projects generated $4.8 billion in total economic impact, supporting an average of 1,475 jobs annually over two decades and creating more than $1.8 billion in local wages and salaries. The report also found that access to safe and reliable water supplies supports $482 million in total regional sales of goods and services daily. “This figure is equivalent to the economic impact of nearly three Comic-Cons a day,” said Janice Brown, EDC board chairperson.

In addition, the report shows more than 2,800 people work in the water and wastewater sectors at the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. The water industry provides career opportunities across all levels of educational attainment, in everything from customer service to engineering.

The Water Authority’s yearlong Brought to You by Water educational program explains how San Diego’s thriving economy and quality of life are all made possible by the safe and reliable water supply provided by the Water Authority and its 24 retail member agencies.

San Diego’s $17.9 billion tourism industry took center stage at Thursday’s event on the popular USS Midway Museum, with representatives and displays from the San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, LEGOLAND California, Balboa Park, Living Coast Discovery Center, the USS Midway, and additional attractions.

Local visitor industry shows the significance of safe and reliable water supplies

San Diego County attracts 35 million visitors annually, including 17.3 million hotel nights a year, more than 100 major conventions, and 194,000 tourism jobs. “Think about the pools, think about all of the attractions, think about the great parks. Balboa Park would not be Balboa Park without the opportunity to use water,” said Joe Terzi, President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority.

In addition, the Water Authority is partnering with leaders in additional key economic sectors to showcase the significance of safe and reliable supplies to those industries. The outreach and education program includes a series of videos about the region’s iconic industries, which can be viewed and shared on social media, and a targeted advertising campaign.  To watch the videos, go to: b2ubyh2o.org 

Manufacturing: Nearly every one of the San Diego region’s groundbreaking 4,000 manufacturing facilities relies on water for washing, fabricating, cooling and other processes, which generate $23 billion in economic activity across 300 industries from world-famous guitars to Navy ships.

Craft Brewing: San Diego is justifiably proud of its $870 million a year craft brewing industry. But no one would enjoy a single pint wouldn’t be possible without safe and reliable water.

Coffee: Beer isn’t the only beverage making an impact in San Diego. The region is also home to a burgeoning coffee industry – another sector that values water as a core ingredient.

Agriculture: San Diego County’s farms produce nearly $2 billion annually in sales. Our region’s temperate climate and reliable water supplies support 5,500 local farms on more than 250,000 cultivated acres – plus numerous farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores stocked with our local bounty.

Brought To You By Water outreach and education program activities planned

The ‘Brought to You By Water’ beach ball will travel to public events and gather more signatures this summer. Photo: Charlie Neuman for Water Authority

The “Brought To You By Water” program will be covered on the Water Authority’s newly created Water News Network, a regional online hub for water news and information at WaterNewsNetwork.com

“Over the next year, the Water Authority and its member agencies will make a special effort to highlight how our safe and reliable water supplies are critical to our economy, and quality of life,” said Mark Muir, Water Authority board chairman.

The Water Authority will participate in regional events for industry sectors, along with street fairs, farmers markets and other opportunities to talk about water with residents in the coming months. These events will feature a highlight of today’s kickoff, a giant beach ball – eight feet in diameter – branded with the Brought to You by Water logo and signed by guests at the conclusion of today’s event.

For more information about Brought to You by Water, visit B2UbyH2O.org

 

 

Dozens Of Water Systems Consolidate In California’s Farming Heartland

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are stuck living with contaminated drinking water. When they open a tap to fill a cooking pot or take a shower, the water that gushes out is contaminated with nitrates, hexavalent chromium, arsenic and other nasties from polluted wells.

Hemp Legalization Poised To Transform Agriculture In Arid West

Amid all the excitement around marijuana legalization in America, another newly legal crop has received comparatively little attention: hemp. And yet hemp may prove to be even more transformative, especially in the West’s arid landscapes. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive. Whereas marijuana plants can produce both the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, hemp produces only the latter.