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Audit: California Too Slow to Fix Contaminated Water Systems

The water that comes out of the tap for more than 900,000 Californians is unsafe to drink and the state isn’t acting fast enough to help clean it up, state auditors said in a report released Tuesday.

Thousands of water systems supply the state’s 39 million people, and about 5% of them have some type of contaminant, like nitrates or arsenic, in them, according to the audit. That means people can’t safely drink the water or use it to cook or bathe. Most of the 370 failing systems are in economically disadvantaged communities, many in the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland.

California’s Department of Water Resources Plans for Future Drought With Salinity Barrier Study

On Monday, California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a draft Environmental Impacts Report, which looked into the benefits and potential negative impacts of repeated use of a temporary drought salinity barrier in the delta.

This drought barrierCalifornia’s Department of Water Resources is in the West False River. It is a wall of earth that helps to keep salt water from the Bay Area from infiltrating into the freshwater delta system during times of severe drought.

Residents Complain San Diego Drinking Water Is ‘Stinky’ and ‘Smells Like Mold’

Earthy, musty smelling water coming out of faucets in some San Diego neighborhoods will be around for a couple more days — but city officials say it presents no safety issues.

Officials said the odd smell of the water comes from a naturally occurring organic compound called 2-methylisoborneol, or MIB — caused by algae blooms in reservoirs that tend to happen during hot weather.

Catalina Island Uses SoCal Edison Desalination Plant to Avoid Drought

If you take a boat ride to Catalina Island, you’ll notice it’s surrounded by the ocean.

“We’re about 4,000 people on a year-round basis, but we get up to a million visitors a year, and so of course that impacts a lot of our infrastructure because we have these visitors and thank God we do because we’re an entirely tourist-based community,” said Avalon Mayor Anni Marshall.

State Budget Proposes to Buy Water Rights From Farmers

State lawmakers are proposing to set aside $2 billion to buy up water rights and repurpose farmland to rebalance the water supply amidst the state’s second drought in the last decade.

Most of the money being proposed in the 2022-23 budget, $1.5 billion, will be used to buy land with senior water rights to secure surface water from state and federal water projects as drinking water for disadvantaged communities struggling with contaminated groundwater and enhance stream and river conditions for habitats. Senior water rights are those that predate the state’s regulation of water use in 1914, which often supersede other rights to water supply during dry years.

Crews Break Ground on $950M Water Purification Plant in East County

The East County Advanced Water Purification Program broke ground Wednesday, marking an important milestone for the project, which could purify up to 11.5 million gallons of water per day when it’s completed.

Program representatives, elected officials and water industry leaders gathered Wednesday at the future site of the treatment facility in Santee. The project was approved on May 19 by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority, which owns and operates the program, and is a collaborative partnership between four agencies: Padre Dam, the city of El Cajon, the county of San Diego and the Helix Water District.

Colorado River Named the Most Endangered in the U.S. by Conservation Group

The Colorado River is the epicenter of the nation’s water and climate crisis, according to an annual report from the conservation group American Rivers that ranked the waterway the country’s most endangered.

“The eyes of the world have been on the Colorado for a couple years now as the system has been quite literally crashing,” said Matt Rice, the group’s southwest regional director.

Pure Water Oceanside-Recycling-Local Supply

Pure Water Oceanside Provides New Local Supply of Drinking Water

Pure Water Oceanside is the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County, providing a new local supply. The facility was officially dedicated with a celebration Tuesday in Oceanside. Elected officials and water leaders throughout Southern California commemorated the milestone which coincided with World Water Day.

Pure Water Oceanside purifies recycled water to create a new local source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound.

“On this World Water Day, we celebrate the City of Oceanside’s contribution to managing our invaluable water resources with the opening of Pure Water Oceanside,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Today we made history by moving one step closer to achieving the goal of greater water independence for not only our city, residents and businesses, but also the region as a whole.”

20% of Oceanside’s drinking water supply

The $70 million project uses advanced technology, including ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to provide 3 million gallons per day or more than 20% of the City of Oceanside’s drinking water supply. The source of the recycled water to create the purified water is from the city’s own San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility.

Drought-proof water supply

“Pure Water Oceanside exemplifies our commitment to innovative projects that improve the lives of the citizens who call our great city home,” said City of Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez. “Not only will the project safeguard against ongoing drought concerns, but it will also improve the quality and quantity of our local aquifer and reduce our reliance on imported water, ensuring clean and reliable water is available for future generations.”

Pure Water Oceanside-Recycling-Potable Reuse-Water Supply

The $70 million project uses advanced technology, including ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to provide 3 million gallons per day or more than 20% of the City of Oceanside’s drinking water supply. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Pure Water Oceanside addresses a variety of challenges faced by the city. Before the project went online, Oceanside imported most of its water from the Sacramento Bay Delta and the Colorado River, hundreds of miles away. This imported water is subject to rising costs out of the city’s control, requires an enormous amount of energy to transport and is vulnerable to natural disasters and earthquakes. Pure Water Oceanside addresses these challenges by diversifying the city’s water supply and reducing its reliance on imported water.

The launching of Pure Water Oceanside coincides with a larger movement for the region as a whole to create sustainable water supplies in San Diego County. In addition to Pure Water Oceanside, two other water reuse projects are planned for the region: the East County Advanced Water Purification Program and Pure Water San Diego.

(Editor’s note: The City of Oceanside, City of San Diego, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and the Helix Water District are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

State Unveils Long-Awaited Standard for Drinking Water Contaminant

California today proposed a long-awaited standard for a cancer-causing contaminant in drinking water that would require costly treatment in many cities throughout the state.

Traces of hexavalent chromium are widely found in the drinking water of millions of Californians, with some of the contamination naturally occurring and some from industries that work with the heavy metal.

The proposed standard is a major step in a decades-long effort to curtail the water contaminant made infamous by the movie Erin Brockovich, based on residents of rural Hinkley, California who won more than $300 million from Pacific Gas & Electric for contamination of their drinking water.

Farley visits one of the new hydration stations in San Marcos. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Wags and Water

New Hydration Stations in San Marcos Save Water, Promote Sustainability

The City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District partnered on a new project with funding from the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to encourage water conservation and reduce the use of plastic.

Five hydration stations have been installed in San Marcos parks to encourage the use of refilling reusable bottles during outdoor activities instead of using purchased bottled water. Both the City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District are committed to reducing single-use plastics.

The new hydration stations help conserve water and avoid the production of single use plastic bottles. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The new hydration stations help conserve water and avoid the production of single-use plastic bottles. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The hydration station project received $25,000 in grant funding from the Water Authority and MWD to cover the purchase and installation of the stations and educational signage informing the public about the benefits of tap water over bottled water. The signage also offers several additional steps people can take to conserve water.

New stations encourage reusable water bottle use

“Adding hydration stations throughout the community has been a longtime goal for Vallecitos and is a step in the right direction to increase access to clean drinking water and reduce single-use plastic waste for environmental sustainability,” said Vallecitos board member Mike Sannella. Sannella accepted a proclamation from the City of San Marcos commemorating the partnership, making this project possible.

(L to R): Vallecitos Water District Board President Mike Sannella, San Marcos City Councilmember Randy Walton, Mayor Rebecca Jones, Councilmembers Maria Nunez, Ed Musgrove, and Sharon Jenkins, and Vallecitos Water District Board Jim Pennock. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Hydration stations

(L to R): Vallecitos Water District Board President Mike Sannella, San Marcos City Councilmember Randy Walton, Mayor Rebecca Jones, Councilmembers Maria Nunez, Ed Musgrove, Sharon Jenkins, and Vallecitos Water District Board Jim Pennock. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Each of the five new hydration stations features a quick-fill mechanism to encourage reusable water bottle use, a regular water fountain spout, and a dog bowl. Vallecitos worked with the City of San Marcos’ Public Works Department to install hydration stations at Mission Sports Field Park, Woodland Park, Bradley Park, Connors Park, and Buelow Park.

Bottled water is a wasteful convenience. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle holding 16 ounces of drinking water. All plastic drinking bottles are made from new plastic material, so there is no recovery due to recycling.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)