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Rising Temperatures are Taking a Worsening Toll on the Colorado River, Study Finds

Scientists have documented how climate change is sapping the Colorado River, and new research shows the river is so sensitive to warming that it could lose about one-fourth of its flow by 2050 as temperatures continue to climb. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey found that the loss of snowpack due to higher temperatures plays a major role in driving the trend of the river’s dwindling flow. They estimated that warmer temperatures were behind about half of the 16% decline in the river’s flow during the stretch of drought years from 2000-2017, a drop that has forced Western states to adopt plans to boost the Colorado’s water-starved reservoirs.

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

Two of the many happy Kids Fishing Day participants show off their catches. Photo: Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

“Kids don’t remember their best day in front of the television, but they remember the first day they caught a fish with a proud parent cheering them on,” said Haley.

Two hundred kids got to catch and take home a trout. Haley says kids as young as two years old participated with a little adult help, including volunteers from the Lakeside Optimist Club, who helped prepare the fishing rods for the kids. Bait choices included nightcrawlers, cheese, white power worms, and mealworms.

Lake Jennings home to trout, catfish, bass, bluegill and sunfish

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Operated by the Helix Water District, Lake Jennings stocks 20,000 pounds of trout annually on a biweekly schedule between November and April when water temperatures are cool enough for trout to survive and 10,000 pounds of catfish in the warmer summer months.

In addition, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish and bluegill, as well as channel and blue catfish live in Lake Jennings. Sign up for the Lake Jennings Fish Report online to see what fish are biting.

Recreational fishing is the second most popular leisure activity in the U.S., second only to running. While the majority of avid fishermen and women are over 45, approximately 11.25 million youth ages six to 17 participate in fishing in the U.S. annually

Crews loaded the 130,000 pound stainless steel cone onto a barge and finished assembling it above water before lowering it into the reservoir. Image: Water Authority

New Oxygenation System to Improve Reservoir Water Quality

The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department last week took a major step toward completing an innovative project to improve water quality in Lake Hodges. A newly installed oxygenation system, designed by city engineers, will introduce highly oxygenated water to the bottom of the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and harmful algae growth.

The increase of nutrients and algae in the water has been caused by human activities in the watershed upstream of the reservoir, including residential and commercial development, agriculture, and land clearing. Degraded water quality can restrict the ability to move water in and out of the reservoir.

“The ‘Speece cone’ is a fairly unique method for adding oxygen to a reservoir – there are only a few of them in the world,” said Jeff Pasek, project manager at the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. “This project derived from a planning study that was done about five years ago, which identified oxygenation using the ‘Speece cone’ as being the most cost-effective way of addressing the water quality problems in Hodges.”

Last week, the 130,000 pound cone – named after the inventor of the technology, Richard Speece – was lowered eighty feet to the bottom of the reservoir.

Streamlined operation for maximum efficiency

The precisely coordinated operation involved lifting the 20-foot tall stainless steel cone with a large crane, while simultaneously driving a barge out from underneath. Once the cone was lowered into the water, divers headed to the bottom of the reservoir to unhook the cone from the crane, check to make sure it settled in the correct spot, and fasten it down.

In order to build a solid foundation underwater, crews excavated approximately 11 feet of silt from the bottom of the reservoir and constructed a concrete base. Before submerging the cone, crews installed and tested a pump that will move water through the cone. A large diffuser pipe was then lowered and connected to the cone by divers. The diffuser will distribute the oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir.

Now underwater, the cone will distribute oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and prevent harmful algae growth. Image: Water Authority

Now underwater, the cone will distribute oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and prevent harmful algae growth. Photo: Water Authority

Local and regional benefits at Hodges Reservoir

Hodges Reservoir is owned and operated by the City of San Diego, and it serves the San Dieguito Water District and the Santa Fe Irrigation District. It is connected to the San Diego County Water Authority’s Olivenhain Reservoir as part of the Emergency & Carryover Storage Project, which is designed to ensure regional water reliability in case of emergencies or if the region is cut off from imported water supplies.

“There are multiple benefits to this project – first and foremost being the water quality improvements for Hodges Reservoir,” said Goldamer Herbon, a senior water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “Ancillary benefits include operational flexibility for regional supply benefits and preventing the accumulation of mercury, which can be harmful to people and wildlife that eat fish from the reservoir.”

The California State Department of Water Resources awarded the City of San Diego a $3.4 million grant funded by the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management program to complete the oxygenation project, which began in February 2019.

Is it Drought Yet? Dry October-November 2019

So far, October and November 2019 has been the driest (or almost the driest) beginning of any recorded water year with almost zero precipitation. (The 2020 water year began October 1, 2019 – so you might have missed a New Year’s party already.)

Should we worry about a drought yet?

After Wet Winter, Why is Tijuana Running Low on Water?

Water shutoffs aren’t uncommon in the growing cities of Tijuana and Rosarito. But they’re rarely announced beforehand, and they’re often isolated to certain neighborhoods after pipes or pumps fail.

Earlier this month, however, Tijuana officials announced that it was planning wide-ranging shutoffs for the next two months, in an attempt to replenish a vital reservoir that is perilously low.

Can a New Approach to Managing California Reservoirs Save Water and Still Protect Against Floods?

Many of California’s watersheds are notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it can get from storms, but current flood management guidelines require reservoirs to dump water each winter to make space for flood flows that may not come. However, new tools and operating methods could lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water supply and flood protection capabilities.

Oroville Dam: Rebuilt Spillway Recognized for International Engineering Award

OROVILLE, Calif. — The American Society of Civil Engineers has recognized the Oroville Dam rebuild as one of 10 outstanding civil engineering projects.

Two runners-up and a winner will be chosen at the 2020 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement gala in Washington D.C. on March 13.

Water Reservoirs Below Average in Cascades

Coming off a summer of moderate drought with some crop losses, the five Cascade Mountain reservoirs serving irrigators in the Yakima Basin have less water than normal and the winter snowpack outlook is uncertain.

“We are in an El Nino neutral which would mean normal conditions and we would be fairly optimistic. No one has been calling for a dry or mild winter so we have no cause to think it will be,” said Chris Lynch, hydrologist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Yakima. However, he added, a warm water body off the Gulf of Alaska, reminiscent of one there prior to the drought of 2015, could result in more moderate temperatures and less snow.

Lake Jennings staff including Recreation Manager Kira Haley (front row, fifth from left) rely on their dedicated volunteers including Lori Stangel (front row, sixth from left). Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteer Opportunities at Water Agency Reservoirs in San Diego County

People around the world know the San Diego region for its beautiful setting along the Pacific Ocean. But visitors, and even many local residents, aren’t aware of the recreational activities available year-round at area reservoirs.

There are 24 reservoirs in San Diego County. Of these, there are 18 fishable lakes and some offer overnight camping. Popular activities also include boating, kayaking, hiking, and picnicking.

Lake Jennings Reservoir, east of El Cajon, is called a “hidden jewel.” Lake Jennings Recreation Manager Kira Haley admits she didn’t know much about the lake even though she grew up in nearby La Mesa.

“It’s a beautiful resource, and it’s so close to home,” said Haley.

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteers help Lake Jennings operations become self-sustaining

Haley arrived in December 2014 with the goal of making the Lake Jennings self-sustaining. Recent park upgrades and an aggressive outreach program have attracted new visitors. The Helix Water District considered closing the park due to financial losses. But in 2018, Lake Jennings Park made a profit for the first time.

Onsite volunteers make a significant contribution to park operations. Onsite volunteers live full-time at Lake Jennings in campers and trailers in exchange for campsite space and electricity. They perform key roles by staffing the information and registration kiosk, monitoring and maintaining the 97 campsites, answering questions, and responding on-call 24 hours. All volunteers receive training in first aid and evacuation procedures.

“We find the volunteers through word of mouth or regular campers who retire,” said Haley. “Some work other jobs and still volunteer 24 hours each week. Their backgrounds are varied. Some have been with us for many years.”

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Eight campsites are home to the volunteers, whether individuals or couples. Haley is currently recruiting new volunteers. The Helix Water District oversees the hiring process. Applications are now available on the Helix Water District website jobs page.

“It’s wonderful to live in a place like this in a natural open space situation,” said Haley. “There is a grocery store a mile away, but when you’re here, you feel like you’re in the wilderness. Everyone who comes out here is looking to have a great time. It makes for a wonderful work environment.”

Retired teacher puts her experience to work at Lake Jennings

Volunteer Lori Stangel arrived at Lake Jennings five years ago intending to stay six months, but is still a dedicated onsite volunteer host. Photo: Helix Water District

Intending to stay six months, Lori Stangel has worked as an onsite volunteer host for five years. Photo: Helix Water District

Retired kindergarten teacher Lori Stangel returned to her native San Diego after working in Arizona. She and her husband Chuck found a notice online about Lake Jennings volunteer opportunities and thought the six-month assignment would provide an ideal transition. Five years later, the Stangels are still living and working at Lake Jennings.

“I love nature, and I love being outdoors,” said Lori Stangel. “I love working with the public, and I work for the best staff and administration at Helix you can imagine. They make me feel welcome; it means a lot to me.”

Stangel puts her 30 years of experience as an educator into her volunteer role.

“I get to educate people and families about nature through the outdoors,” said Stangel. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for retired people, but also for young people. They can still go to school or work part-time. It’s a win-win. I’m here because I love it.”

As a Ms. California Senior America pageant competitor, Stangel also spreads the word about Lake Jennings as a valued environmental resource in her personal advocacy platform.

Additional San Diego County Water Authority member agency recreational facilities with volunteer opportunities include Santee Lakes, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, Olivenhain Municipal Water District.