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Struggling for Sustainability on the Colorado River

My personal connections to the Colorado River run long and deep.

I grew up in San Diego during a time when virtually all of that city’s water supply came from the Colorado River. Given that two-thirds of the human body mass is comprised of water, I carried some 15 gallons of Colorado River water around in those days, connecting me physically to the river.

Microsoft’s Latest Environmental Pledge Tackles Water Scarcity

Microsoft plans to address dwindling water resources in its latest environmental pledge. Microsoft made a new commitment to replenish even more water than it uses for its global operations by 2030, making the company “water positive.”

A Clear Warning About the Colorado River

For the West this summer, the news about water was grim. In some parts of California, it didn’t rain for over 100 days. In western Colorado, the ground was so dry that runoff at first evaporated into the air. And in New Mexico and Nevada, the rains never came.

Bill Hasencamp is the manager of California’s Metropolitan Water District, which provides treated water to 19 million people. What was most unfortunate, he said, was that, “the upper Colorado Basin had a 100% snowpack, yet runoff was only 54% of normal.” In 2018, a variation happened — light snow and little runoff, which doesn’t bode well for the future.

Santa Cruz County Drinking Water Takes a Hit After Wildfire

When wildfire strikes water, infrastructure that’s made out of plastic is particularly at risk of contamination. If pipes and tanks lose pressure, or get hot, chemicals can leach into the water supply. The CZU Lightning Complex Fire badly damaged seven and a half miles of water supply lines made of polyethylene, a plastic, in northern Santa Cruz County.

Pure Water Oceanside Recycling Project Gets $69 Million EPA Loan

The Pure Water Oceanside project is getting a $69 million loan from the U.S. EPA that will finance nearly half of the project’s construction cost.

EPA officials announced the loan at an event today in Oceanside attended by federal, regional and local officials.

The innovative water reuse project will purify recycled water to create a new source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and sustainable. It also will benefit the environment by reducing discharges into the Pacific Ocean. Construction and operation of the plant is expected to create 622 jobs.

Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County. The project will provide more than 32% of the City of Oceanside’s water supply, or 3 to 5 million gallons per day.

Experts Say Drought, Wildfire Risk to Persist Across Much of US This Fall

As historic wildfires continue to burn across California, Oregon and other Western states, government climate experts say much of the U.S. is likely to see persistent drought conditions and fire risk alongside continued above-average temperatures through the fall.

During a briefing Thursday, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that while wetter conditions are expected to bring some drought relief to parts of the Pacific Northwest and New England in the months ahead, drought conditions are likely to persist or even worsen in Central and Southern California and across the Southwest.

Oceanside’s Plan to Recycle Water Gets a Boost From the EPA

Oceanside’s major water reclamation project is getting a financial injection from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is loaning Oceanside nearly $70 million to help finance the city’s water reuse plans. The San Diego County city currently imports most of its water from the Sacramento Bay-Delta and the Colorado River.

The federal loan for the $158 million project will ultimately help Oceanside generate three to five million gallons of drinking water a day.

Pure Water Oceanside-US EPA loan-Water Recycling

Pure Water Oceanside Recycling Project Gets $69 Million EPA Loan

The Pure Water Oceanside project is getting a $69 million loan from the U.S. EPA that will finance nearly half of the project’s construction cost.

EPA officials announced the loan at an event today in Oceanside attended by federal, regional and local officials.

The innovative water reuse project will purify recycled water to create a new source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and sustainable. It also will benefit the environment by reducing discharges into the Pacific Ocean. Construction and operation of the plant is expected to create 622 jobs.

Scheduled to be completed in 2022, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County. The project will provide more than 32% of the City of Oceanside’s water supply, or 3 to 5 million gallons per day.

Sustainability, drought-proof water supply

“The City of Oceanside is proud to be a leader in sustainability and water reliability,” said Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss. “Pure Water Oceanside marks the next big step for our City as the project will safeguard against drought, reduce our dependence on imported water, and create an exceptionally pure drinking water supply.”

“I appreciate the U.S. EPA in their funding support as it is a critical aspect for Oceanside’s ability to continue to improve our local water supplies while minimizing our impact to our ratepayers,” said Weiss.

Loan supports infrastructure investments

“At the City of Oceanside, we are focused not only on today, but also are committed to planning for tomorrow to ensure future generations will have access to high-quality drinking water,” said Oceanside Water Utilities Director Cari Dale. “This loan will be instrumental in moving our Pure Water Oceanside project forward to completion and aligns with our long-term goal to have 50% of our city’s water supply be locally sourced by 2030.”

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to help finance the Pure Water Oceanside Project comes at a critical time, as the federal government, EPA, and water industry work to offset the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19.

The Pure Water Oceanside project is estimated to cost $158 million, and the WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that cost, according to the EPA. The remaining project funds will come from a combination of grants, water system revenue backed obligations, and system funds.

“EPA’s support for this project illustrates two agency priorities as we work to meet 21st century water demands — reusing the water that we have and revamping our nation’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With WIFIA’s support, Pure Water Oceanside will be a landmark project as EPA looks to foster additional innovative water reuse strategies and infrastructure investments across the country.”

Pure Water Oceanside-EPA Loan-Water Recycling

“I am proud and excited for the City of Oceanside and everyone who has worked so hard on the Pure Water Oceanside project,” said Congressman Mike Levin, who represents north San Diego County. “Now more than ever, it’s critically important that we diversify our water supply. Thanks to Pure Water Oceanside, the City of Oceanside, and this EPA loan, we are one step closer to achieving that independence. This is an extraordinary milestone and will make a huge difference for countless families in North County.”

National Water Reuse Action Plan

The water reuse benefits of the project highlight commitments made under the National Water Reuse Action Plan—a collaborative effort and the first initiative of its magnitude aimed at strengthening the sustainability, security and resilience of our nation’s water resources. The Action Plan frames the business case that water reuse is a viable and growing means of supporting our economy and improving the availability of freshwater for farmers, industry, communities, and ecosystems.

“By improving water infrastructure, we are improving the quality of life and public health in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is happy to support the Pure Water Oceanside Project in ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water for decades to come.”

A Housing Developer and a Powerful Water Utility, are Caught in a Fight: How much Water is There?

Five wells punch the scorching Nevada desert.

Water in this area is locked underneath the ground. It flows silently and invisibly as part of an aquifer stretching roughly 50,000 square-miles. Much of this water collected here thousands of years ago when lakes covered most of Nevada. Now wells are summoning it for human use. The problem is there’s not enough to go around.

At the center of this tension are the five wells.

A housing developer, Coyote Springs Investment, owns four wells, planted to one day pump water for a sprawling new community in the desert, filling the highway stretch about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The remaining well belongs to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Meet the Man Who Told Trump Climate Change is Real

Wade Crowfoot, a California Cabinet secretary, didn’t plan on confronting President Trump on extreme heat and wildfires. Then Trump dismissed climate change.

“It’ll just start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump said during a Monday meeting with California officials who were briefing him on the state’s catastrophic wildfires.

Crowfoot, in a response that went viral, responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”