Senate Approves $2.8B Plan to Boost Conservation, Parks

The Senate has approved a bipartisan bill that would spend nearly $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands, a measure supporters say would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century.

Cooper's Hawk chick-Pipeline 5-May 2020-habitat

Cooper’s Hawk Chick Gets Special Handling near Pipeline 5 Project

A Cooper’s hawk chick and its nest received special attention after being discovered recently near a San Diego County Water Authority construction project.

Environmental surveyors spotted the nest on March 27 south of Gopher Canyon Road during the Pipeline 5 repair project in Moosa Canyon in North San Diego County.

Water Resources staff worked with construction and right-of-way staff to minimize and monitor work activities in the nest area.

Conservation strategy protects wildlife, environment

Limiting disturbance to the Cooper’s hawk chick and nest is part of the Water Authority’s commitments to its Natural Communities Conservation Plan and Habitat Conservation Plan, or NCCP/HCP.

The NCCP/HCP plan, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game in December 2011, provides goals, guidelines, and specifications that comprise the Water Authority’s Conservation Strategy for biological resources within its San Diego County Service Area and a portion of southwestern Riverside County.

When the repair work was completed, Water Resource staff contacted the nonprofit group Bloom Research Inc. and biologists with Bio-Studies Inc., who are studying raptors in Southern California.

“I met with biologist Dustin Janeke May 25th at the nest location and the single chick was retrieved by climbing approximately 35 feet up the nest tree and carefully placing it in a travel bag and bringing the chick down,” said Summer Adleberg, Water Authority environmental biologist.

Cooper’s hawk chick data check

Cooper's Hawk Chick-WNN-May 25, 2020, conservation, wildlife

Biologist Dustin Janeke, with Bio-Studies, Inc. of Escondido, is banding the Cooper’s hawk chick on May 25. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority


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The timing of banding is important. The Cooper’s hawk chick’s band is big enough to allow its leg to grow to full adult size. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Adleberg said biologists collected data from the chick, including approximate age, size, sex and overall health, and they attached a USGS band to the bird’s right ankle. The band has a unique eight digit code that is entered into a federal bird banding database.

In general, bird banding allows scientists to study the Cooper’s hawk migration, behavior, survival rate, reproductive success and population growth.

If this bird is ever encountered again in the future, the band number will provide information as to exactly where and when this bird was banded. Pete Bloom, of Bloom Research Inc. is studying the natal dispersal behavior of raptors throughout Southern California. Biologist Janeke with Bio-Studies is a permit-authorized volunteer assisting Bloom’s research projects.

The ‘chick check-up’ showed the Cooper’s hawk was a male estimated to be 2-3 weeks old, weighed about two ounces, and it had started developing tail and wing feathers, with a wing about 2 inches long.

When the data collection was completed, the chick was returned to its nest. Adleberg said the chick was expected to stay in the nest for another 2 to 3 weeks before it fledged and moved out on its own.

Water Authority Environmental Biologist Summer Adleberg-Cooper's Hawk Chick-WNN

Following data collection, Water Authority Environmental Biologist Summer Adleberg takes the Cooper’s hawk chick back to its nest. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Chair Jim Madaffer-primary-View from the Chair

Jim Madaffer: Supporting Protections for Ratepayers and Property Owners

I hope this finds you safe and healthy despite the challenging circumstances that we face as a region, state and nation.

While our hearts are heavy, we continue working on several critical issues at the Water Authority this month, and I would like to share three of them with you briefly.

  1. The Water Authority’s Board of Directors on May 28 voted to support a comprehensive evaluation of the impacts of detachment proposals by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water districts to ensure that ratepayers and property owners in those districts and the rest of the county are protected from potential impacts and given a meaningful opportunity to engage in the process. That evaluation – under development by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO – should cover financial, water supply reliability, governmental, and environmental impacts, and it should ensure that the public and all affected agencies across the region can weigh in, according to the Water Authority Board resolution. I encourage you to read the entire resolution at
  2. Our Board has set a public hearing on 2021 rates and charges on June 25. As you know, this has been a very rough stretch financially for almost every business and agency – and water utilities are no exception. Staff has proposed a strategy that would raise the rates we charge our member agencies by about 6 percent next year. That recommendation is the result of cost-cutting, using our Rate Stabilization Fund and other measures. It’s a thoughtful and careful proposal, and I’m expecting our Board will have robust discussion before voting on this issue that affects us all.
  3. On the financial front, we are also doing our part to attract more state and federal economic stimulus funds for a long list of shovel-ready water projects. The Water Authority has coordinated a letter from several water agencies asking Congress for COVID-19 financial relief for public water utilities and ratepayers. At the same time, I am pleased to announce that several regional water supply projects in San Diego County are on track to receive a total of more than $15 million in state grant funds, pending a final decision this summer. The money would help local agencies advance conservation, environmental enhancements, water purification and other initiatives.

As always, I will continue to update you on these critical issues and others in the weeks ahead.

View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.

San Diego Region on Track to Receive $15 Million for Water Projects

Several regional water supply projects in San Diego County are on track to receive more than $15 million from the California Department of Water Resources, pending a final decision on the grants this summer.

Money for the projects has been recommended by DWR, which will make the awards after a public comment period.

In San Diego County, the grant funds would support local agencies to advance conservation, environmental enhancements, water purification and other initiatives.

Rethinking (Waste)water and Conservation

When it comes to water conservation in cities that depend on wastewater reuse, even the best intentions can have unintended consequences. That’s the main message to be gleaned from new findings from a team of water economists and engineers led by Kurt Schwabe, a professor of environmental economics and policy and the associate dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside.

California’s Largest Water Suppliers Must Report Usage

California’s largest water suppliers will have to report their monthly use and conservation efforts under a measure approved Tuesday by state regulators.

COVID-19: Water Use When We Stay Home

Now that most of us are at home more, you may be wondering “how much more water am I using?” The good news is, it’s probably less than you think. This is because the activities that use the most water  – such as outdoor irrigation, showering and doing laundry – happen at the same weekly frequency regardless if you and the family are spending your days at home or not.

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COVID-19: Water Use When We Stay Home

Now that most of us are at home more, you may be wondering “how much more water am I using?” The good news is, it’s probably less than you think. This is because the activities that use the most water  – such as outdoor irrigation, showering and doing laundry – happen at the same weekly frequency regardless if you and the family are spending your days at home or not.

Your water use will increase only slightly

Unlike our use of electricity, which we use continuously as we light our rooms, run our computers or stream shows, our use of water is more intermittent. This means that although we are home the entire time, using water may be limited to bathroom visits, washing our hands, cleaning dishes or doing laundry. This is good news for your water bill.

What about all the handwashing?

Surprisingly, washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds does not use that much water. If you have faucet aerators or a newer faucet, each 20-second hand wash with the water running uses less than half of a gallon. Even still, faucets are responsible for 18% of the typical indoor water consumption. It takes 24 extra handwashing events per day over a 60 day billing cycle to increase your bill by one unit, which equals 748 gallons and costs you $4.98. You can use less water if you shut the faucet off while you soap up your hands, but you don’t have to. Public health is more important than water conservation. Wash your hands and stay safe.

What about additional toilet flushing?

Since you are at home and not at work, you are flushing your toilets more, this is where you may see a slight increase in your indoor use. After all, toilets make up an average of 20% of the typical indoor water consumption. The good news – it takes a lot of flushes to really increase your bill.  The most common toilets in everyone’s homes use 1.6 gallons per flush, while newer toilets use 1.1 gallons per flush or less. It will take 467 flushes of al 1.6 gallon per flush toilet to use one unit of water. Note that older toilets can use 4-6 gallons per flush, and that changes the picture dramatically.

Do not flush ‘flushable’ wipes

It’s also important to note that you should not use your toilet as a garbage can. Do not flush “flushable” wipes, paper towels or disinfecting wipes down the toilet. These items wreak havoc on sewer systems. The last thing any of us need at this time is a backed up sewer.

What about the dishes from extra cooking and snacking?

You may be creating more dishes due to extra cooking and snacking, but fortunately, dishwashing does not use much water either. If you want to use less water, use the dishwasher. Dishwashers recirculate water and are highly efficient, only using 4-5 gallons per load.

Showering and laundry at home

The good news is that even though you and your family are home all day, you’re most likely not showering any more than you typically would. Showers are a larger portion of our indoor consumption, around 21 percent. The same is true for your laundry, which can be around 22 percent of indoor water use. But, not dressing for work each day may reduce your weekly laundry, offsetting increased us of water for other needs.

Our home’s ‘other half’

The big piece that is missing is what we use on our landscapes, and thankfully, this should not change. Outdoor watering is responsible for half of Helix Water District customers’ total use. So, while we may be concerned that being home will increase our indoor use, the largest potential for savings is still outdoors. An irrigation controller has more to do with the typical home’s water consumption than our indoor behaviors. If you have not been outside lately, the soil is still wet and most of us can leave our irrigation controllers in the off position for the time being.

This article was written by Helix Water District Conservation Technician Vince Dambrose, whom is currently working from home to keep his coworkers safe and healthy so that the district can keep your water flowing.

Water Agency to Sell 360 Acres in El Monte Valley

Nearly 340 acres of open space in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley is going to be put up for sale and interested parties are already raising their hands.

The five-member board of the Helix Water District unanimously voted earlier this month to sell the land along Ashwood Street and Willow Road, a lot it is splitting into three separate parcels. It purchased the land between 1926 and 1953.

Most of the property, more than 230 acres, is zoned for agricultural use, an additional eight acres are leased to the River Valley Equestrian Center and the third parcel contains a bit more than 100 acres of land zoned for either agriculture or sand extraction.

Largest US Dam Removal Stirs Debate Over Coveted West Water

KLAMATH, Calif.  — California’s second-largest river has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks.

With so many demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the American West’s increasingly precious water resources, and who has claim to them.

Now, plans to demolish four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath’s lower reaches — the largest such demolition project in U.S. history — have placed those competing interests in stark relief. Tribes, farmers, homeowners and conservationists all have a stake in the dams’ fate.