Despite Dry Monsoon Season, Reservoirs Still Full

This summer, the Valley saw only two days of rain — the lowest number of days ever on record.

As we head into fall, ABC15 spoke with Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources Tom Buschatzke about what impact the dry monsoon will have on the state’s reservoirs.

Autumn Arrives on North Coast With Hot, Dry Weather in Store, Low Reservoirs

Sun-baked mud is cracking along the bare margins of Lake Mendocino, the reservoir near Ukiah that helps sustain river flows for imperiled fish and supply water to 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin counties.

The shoreline is about 100 yards out, leaving the boat ramp near Coyote Valley Dam high and dry. No people were in or on the water Monday, and geese were feasting on whatever the lake bed gave up.

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.

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.

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.”

Risk of Colorado River Shortage is on the Rise, Could Hit Within 5 Years, Officials say

The risks of water shortages continue to grow along the Colorado River, which supplies about 40 million people from Wyoming to Arizona.

Federal water managers released projections Tuesday showing higher odds of shortages occurring within the next five years.

The Colorado River is in the 21st year of a severe drought that’s being compounded by hotter temperatures influenced by climate change, and the river’s flows have increasingly been insufficient to meet all the demands of cities and farms across the region.

Climate Change Likely to Keep Hammering Colorado River’s Biggest Reservoirs, Model Shows

The Colorado River’s largest reservoirs are expected to keep struggling over the next five years due to climate change, according to the federal agency that oversees them.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s new modeling projections, which include this year’s record-breaking heat and dryness in some parts of the southwestern watershed, show an increasing likelihood of an official shortage declaration before 2026.

If dry conditions like the Colorado River Basin has seen since 2000 persist, the agency’s model shows an almost 80% chance of seeing an official shortage declaration by 2025. The chance of seeing the reservoir drop to a critically low level is about 20% in that same time period.

Lakes Mead, Powell at Risk Again from Drought Despite Major Conservation Efforts

For the second time in two years, federal officials are warning that Lake Mead could drop in five to six years to levels low enough to possibly warrant major Central Arizona Project water cutbacks to Tucson and Phoenix.

These warnings were ratcheted up significantly compared to forecasts made earlier this year. That’s due to the severely hot and dry weather that struck most of the West during the summer, including the hottest two months on record in Tucson and Phoenix in August and July, respectively.

Extraordinary Heat, Rare Summer Snow Brought Unprecedented West Coast Firestorms

The West Coast had just experienced a record-shattering heat wave when news came last week of a rare late-summer snowstorm in Colorado. To those still sweltering in California, Oregon and Washington, it sounded like a dream come true. In fact, it was an omen of a greater disaster to come.

La Niña May Worsen Southwest Drought This Winter

Climate forecasters said Thursday that the world had entered La Niña, the opposite phase of the climate pattern that also brings El Niño and affects weather across the globe. Among other impacts, La Niña has the potential this winter to worsen what are already severe drought conditions in the American Southwest.