Posts

The Southwest is Running Out of Fresh Water. Could the Ocean Provide a Cure?

It’s a picture-perfect day in Southern California. The sun is beating down on this Carlsbad beach, where volleyballs hit the sand and surfers paddle out into the waves. Just steps from here, the salty water lapping the shore is being transformed.

This beach neighbors the largest desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere. The Carlsbad Desalination Plant uses a complex web of pipes, tanks and specialized filters to pull salt and impurities out of ocean water, turning it into part of the drinking supply for San Diego County.

Water managers are feeling the crunch of a supply-demand imbalance along the Colorado River. Fresh water reserves are shrinking as climate change squeezes the river that supplies 40 million people and fields of crops across seven states. Some have proposed desalination technology as a way to augment that supply, easing the strain on a river that supplies a growing population from Wyoming to Mexico. Experts say it could be part of the solution, but likely won’t make much of a dent in the region’s water crisis.

At the Carlsbad plant, former seawater poured into a cup from a freshwater spigot. Michelle Peters, technical and compliance manager for plant operator Poseidon Water, held it and took a drink.

“At 10 a.m, the morning surfers were swimming in it off the coast in the ocean here,” she said. “Now it’s high-quality drinking water, ready for consumption.”

County Reopens Part of Imperial Beach Shoreline for Water Contact

County officials lifted a water contact closure for beaches from the south end of Seacoast Drive through Carnation Avenue in Imperial Beach, they said Saturday. Testing confirmed that water quality along the Imperial Beach shoreline meets state health standards following recent sewage contamination, according to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality. The shoreline from the international border to the south end of Seacoast Drive, however, will remain closed. Sampling also must confirm that these areas are safe for water contact.

Waves Off Central Coast Contain Clues About Changing Climate. Is California Due for Drought?

The waves along the Central Coast can tell you a lot about our changing climate, and here’s why.

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s Waverider Buoy has measured wave heights and periods since June 1983 and directions since June 1996 and is one of the longest continuous-wave monitoring stations along the West Coast.

Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Coastal Data Information Program maintains an extensive network of buoys that monitor waves along the coastlines of the United States. You can view the historical wave data archive from Diablo Canyon and other stations at the CDIP database at cdip.ucsd.edu.

A new County of San Diego online resource can help you protect watershed by diverting it from the storm drain system. Photo: NIH.gov

San Diego County Website Helps Residents Protect Watershed

Because San Diego County gets so little natural rainfall, most residents must artificially irrigate their landscaping. Rainfall becomes a welcome sight when it occurs.

But rainfall turns into an unwelcome problem when it enters the storm drain system. After the first heavy rain in several months, stormwater runoff gathers pollutants building up on surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, sidewalks, and streets. This polluted water gets carried into street drains that dump out directly into the Pacific Ocean. Pollutants harm waterways and affect sea animals, plants, and the people who surf, swim, or dive in the ocean.

Residents may be contributing to this problem between rainstorms without realizing it. Your yard drainage system including French drains, weeping tiles, and sub-surface drains should not be used for non-stormwater water runoff.  They are intended only to prevent flooding by diverting rainwater from your property to the road or street.

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, runoff water may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Photo: Wikimedia

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, runoff water may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Photo: Wikimedia

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, or wash water runs off hardscapes or sidewalks, these non-stormwater activities may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system and cause the same negative effects as runoff from rainfall.

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC says new information is added monthly.

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC says new information is added monthly. Photo: SDCounty.gov

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC, says new information is added monthly. Photo: SDCounty.gov

Stormwater diversion tips

The website shares these tips to prevent non-stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants into our waterways.

  • Redirect sprinkler heads and hose down items such as patio furniture away from your yard drain.
  • Temporarily cover your yard drain with a bowl or mat when watering.
  • Use dry methods such as sweeping to clean your gutters, patio, and yard.

Your property should also integrate best practices to slow down and divert natural stormwater runoff after heavy rains. Three common methods include:

  • Detention: Protect against flooding by temporarily pooling runoff on your property, allowing pollutants to settle before being discharged to the storm drain system.
  • Infiltration: Divert stormwater runoff to areas where water can soak into the soil and benefit from natural filtering such as gravel, mulch, or grassy trenches.
  • Vegetated: Uses landscape plants and soil to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff through flow-thru planters, buffer strips, and vegetated swales.

Yard drains and diversion methods should regularly be cleared of debris so they operate properly and are ready for a storm event. It’s a good time to do it now while the sun is shining in San Diego.

Is it Safe to Swim in a Pool, Lake or the Ocean? Coronavirus Questions Answered

Summer always means water, whether it’s an ocean, lake, river, swimming pool or hot tub. But now that we’re worrying more about germs, it’s natural to wonder: Will this season’s swimming, surfing, floating and soaking be as safe as it used to be?

California Coastal Waters Rising in Acidity at Alarming Rate, Study Finds

Waters off the California coast are acidifying twice as fast as the global average, scientists found, threatening major fisheries and sounding the alarm that the ocean can absorb only so much more of the world’s carbon emissions.