Opinion: Every Californian Holds the Key to Drought Response

All Californians play a role in preserving and enhancing our water supplies for a drought-resilient future. California again is in a familiar state of drought, although not all communities are affected equally. Some regions are in extreme water shortage; others are not. We must address these differences. That starts with all Californians understanding where their water comes from and what they can do to use it wisely.

Paper Records and Steel Vaults: Can California Water Rights Enter the Digital Age?

From an unremarkable office in Sacramento, Matthew Jay can pinpoint any moment in California history when somebody was granted the right to transfer water from any particular lake, river, stream or creek.

An analyst with the California State Water Resources Control Board, he is a custodian of millions of pieces of paper. Some are over a hundred years old and are crammed into towering filing cabinets and vaults. The room is so heavy that its floor needed to be reinforced.

Nestlé Doesn’t Have Valid Rights to Water it’s Been Bottling, California Officials Say

California water officials on Friday issued a draft order telling Nestlé to “cease and desist” taking much of the millions of gallons of water it pipes out of the San Bernardino National Forest to sell as Arrowhead brand bottled water.

The order, which must be approved by the California Water Resources Control Board, caps years of regulatory probes and a public outcry over the company’s water pipeline in the San Bernardino Mountains, where opponents argue that siphoning away water harms spring-fed Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it.

How a Water War on the Kings River Could Alter the Valley as We Know it

Though it doesn’t hold historical contentiousness like its counterpart along the Central Valley Project, the Kings River has its own tale to tell.

Serving as a lifeline of sorts for three of the central San Joaquin Valley’s five major counties, the Kings is filled with its own universe of water agencies run by engineers, lawyers, farmers, and politicos jockeying to manage the state’s most precious resource on one stream.

Opinion: A Greater Sense of Urgency Needed for Crises at the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea presents one of California’s most pressing ecological and environmental justice crises. The shrinking sea threatens habitat for millions of fish and birds, and as the sea’s shoreline recedes, a pollutant-laced dust spills into nearby communities and threatens the health of 650,000 people living nearby.

Wary of More Blackouts, California Board Votes to Keep 4 Aging Generators Operating

California, which imposed rolling blackouts during an oppressive heat wave on two days last month, on Tuesday extended the lives of four aging natural gas-powered generating plants it has been seeking to retire for a decade.



Panelists Set to Explain Laws Limiting Water Consumption

Panelists from several water districts will give updates on new laws affecting water consumption in California during an American Liberty Forum of Ramona event set for Saturday, June 27.

The free forum on Water Regulations Today and Tomorrow will be held at Ramona Mainstage, 626 Main St. Doors open at 11 a.m. and a video program starts at 11:30 a.m.

The focus will be on Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668.

SB 606 is in response to mandates that California achieve a 20 percent reduction in urban per capita water use by Dec. 31, 2020. Existing law requires each urban retail water supplier to develop urban water use targets and an interim urban water use target.

AB 1668 would require the state Water Resources Control Board to adopt long-term standards for the efficient use of water and would establish specified standards for per capita daily indoor residential water use.

Pandemic Could Complicate Efforts to Upgrade State Drinking Water Systems

An unprecedented and fledgling statewide effort to shore up hundreds of struggling drinking water systems could face intense pressure from the novel coronavirus pandemic as the program is rolled out in coming months.

For almost a year now, the California Water Resources Control Board has been working to craft the program, and on Tuesday it approved a policy designed to guide the spending of $1.3 billion over 10 years to save some 300 water systems that are failing or at-risk of failing.

RMWD Resurrects Idea for Sharing Water Facilities with Poway

The City of Poway’s water woes has prompted Ramona Municipal Water District representatives to resurrect a 7-year-old proposal to share water facilities for their mutual benefit.

In December 2012, RMWD General Manager David Barnum presented a three-phase vision for cooperating with Poway with the intent of reducing water costs and maximizing resources. The dormant but unforgotten plan was again floated by RMWD Board President Jim Robinson to the Poway City Council on Dec. 3, 2019.

Valley Center MWD Cool Valley Reservoir

Valley Center Reservoir Project ‘Exceptional’

The Valley Center Municipal Water District has been advised by the California State Water Resources Control Board that its Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Replacement Project was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s new AQUARIUS Program as an “Exceptional Project,” among only 10 identified as such nationwide.

Each year, EPA’s Aquarius Program recognizes one Drinking Water State Revolving Fund project from each of its 10 regions nationwide for “exceptional focus on sustainability, protection of public health” while demonstrating a high level of innovation.

The $4.2 million Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Project was nominated by the SWRCB, EPA’s state-level partner in the DWSRF Program in California.

Cool Valley Reservoir Project ‘Innovative’

Constructed in 1975 and with the original floating flexible reinforced “Hypalon” material installed in 1992, Cool Valley is Valley Center’s largest drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 57 million gallons, providing about 40% of the District’s total covered drinking water storage capacity. By 2015, the floating cover had reached its full life expectancy and started to experience failures, possibly placing the quality of the water in the reservoir at risk. 

At that point the decision was made to take the reservoir out of service and seek DWSRF financing to cover the estimated $4.2 million project cost, rather than make additional repairs to the existing liner. 

With interim adjustments to system operations and cooperation from Valley Center’s wholesale supplier, the San Diego County Water Authority, the system operated reliably with Cool Valley off-line.

‘Exceptional Project’ reduces bacteria and energy use

District engineering staff and consultants were successful in securing the 20-year loan at 1.6% interest. With the loan secured, the project was approved by the Valley Center Board in the FY 2015/2016 Budget.  The project took 12 months to complete and was back on line by mid-2017. The effort was overseen by Wally Grabbe, District Engineer and managed by Dennis Williams (retired), Deputy District Engineer. 

Projects nominated by the states must meet three major criteria, including providing Safe Drinking Water Compliance, Public Health Benefit and having Financial Integrity.  Additionally, each project must demonstrate leadership in dealing with emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure or innovative financing, affordability, water loss control, efficient water and/or energy use, creative approach to project planning and implementation, and/or creating water system partnerships.

In making the award, the SWRCB and EPA noted that the Valley Center Cool Valley Project will not only protect water quality from atmospheric vectors, but the new cover-liner will “prevent leakage from the reservoir, reduce bacteria by creating a barrier between the drinking water and the concrete liner… and reduce chemical and energy use.

During the same period of time, the Valley District designed and installed a 95kW Photovoltaic Solar Array and upgraded the Cool Valley Pump Station, all located on the Cool Valley Reservoir site.