“The story of Los Angeles is the story of water,” remarks Peter Massey, TreePeople’s project manager of Water Equity Programs, noting how California’s modern history is so deeply intertwined with water issues.
It’s an arcane system of water law that dates back to the birth of California — an era when 49ers used sluice boxes and water cannons to scour gold from Sierra Nevada foothills and when the state government promoted the extermination of Native people to make way for white settlers.
Today, this antiquated system of water rights still governs the use of the state’s supplies, but it is now drawing scrutiny like never before.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced more than $609 million in capitalization grants, through State Revolving Funds (SRFs), to California for water infrastructure improvements. The grants will supplement the state’s annual base SRF of $144 million. The capitalization grants mark the first significant distribution of water infrastructure investments to California following passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law allocates more than $50 billion toward water infrastructure.
This week marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1972 Clean Water Act, which, among other things, made it a legal requirement to clean up sewage to certain standards before dumping it into rivers or the ocean.
A key feature of California’s drinking water system is the large number of individual water systems. There are approximately 3,000 Community Water Systems (CWSs) in the state, meaning systems that serve a residential population year-round (the remaining 5,000 of the state’s 8,000 Public Water Systems are non-community systems serve places like schools, daycare, hospitals, campgrounds, or businesses that serve at least 25 people but have transient or non-residential populations).
California is in the grip of its fourth drought since 2000. To cope with worsening droughts, over the past few decades Californians have made impressive gains in water efficiency. Total water diversions in California for agriculture and cities – roughly 30 million acre feet per year for agriculture and 8 million acre feet per year for cities – have not increased even while California’s population has grown and irrigated farm acreage has increased. But conservation alone cannot guarantee Californians have an adequate supply of water.
On December 4, 2021, the San Diego County Water Authority will be taking the 74-year old 1st San Diego Aqueduct out of service until December 15, 2021. With the aqueduct being off the district loses water supply to approximately 85% of the District’s its area (see map).
Drought conditions have prompted the building of a 750-foot wide rock barrier to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The California Department of Water Resources constructed the temporary barrier with 110,000 cubic yards of rock off West False River in Contra Costa County. Principal engineer Jacob McQuirk said that without the barrier, saltwater would endanger freshwater supplies in the Delta and water exports to the south.
“Every tidal cycle, that saltwater slowly propagates into the interior Delta,” he said. “Really, the beneficial uses of the interior Delta, they include agricultural supply, also interior municipal supplies.”
Oceanside released an immersive 360-degree video and tour of the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility, and new home of Pure Water Oceanside which is set to go online in 2022.
The video was released as part of “Water Awareness Month” and is a step-by-step tour of the water purification process, with a unique 360-view of the facility.
By turning your phone, you can see a view of the plant from all directions while hearing a narration of the process.
California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.