Posts

Rains Helped, But Drought is Part of ‘New Normal’

Far from being rescued from drought by recent storms, the state needs to prepare for a “new normal” of restricted water supplies, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said Tuesday, Oct. 26.

To do that, Crowfoot said California must accelerate conservation efforts to deal with current drought conditions and continue to build on long-term water-management strategies, such as the $5.2 billion Water and Drought Resilience Package announced in September by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Crowfoot made his case to the executive committee of the Metropolitan Water District, which manages Southern California’s water imports from the Colorado River and Northern California.

State Launches Salton Sea Restoration Effort

California is poised to begin the first major restoration project at the Salton Sea. The state is investing more than $200 million in a project that will create flooded ponds and other habitats on the exposed lakebed at the southern edge of the lake. “We’ll complete the work over the next two-and-a-half years, I believe completing the project in 2023,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. The Salton Sea has been shrinking rapidly and exposing a dusty lakebed since the Imperial Irrigation District stopped feeding the state’s largest lake mitigation water in 2018.

Tired of Waiting on Salton Sea Fixes, Desert Shores Residents Take a Stand

These days, the house where Donna and John Winters planned to retire in the Southern California desert reflects in a stagnant pool of blood red water, their dream home becoming something of a nightmare.

Meet the Man Who Told Trump Climate Change is Real

Wade Crowfoot, a California Cabinet secretary, didn’t plan on confronting President Trump on extreme heat and wildfires. Then Trump dismissed climate change.

“It’ll just start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump said during a Monday meeting with California officials who were briefing him on the state’s catastrophic wildfires.

Crowfoot, in a response that went viral, responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”

CA Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot on the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio

Water is central to nearly everything we value in California. Healthy communities, economies, farms, ecosystems and cultural traditions depend on steady supplies of safe water. Those values are increasingly at risk as California confronts more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, overdrafted groundwater basins, aging infrastructure and other challenges magnified by climate change.

Water Portfolio to be Finalized ‘in Coming Weeks’

During a meeting of the State Board of Food and Agriculture on Tuesday, Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the administration is continuing to advance the Water Resilience Portfolio and plans to complete the policy document soon. … The plan has stalled since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of California.

Opinion: California Parties, Trump Administration Must Work Together on Grand Water Plan

It shouldn’t have come to this.

California has seen wars over water waged across time eternal it seems. Grand deals negotiated by the likes of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have been hailed as long-dreamed-for solutions to the complicated battles waged by the competing interests of agriculture, environmentalists and thirsty urban areas, only to fail to live up to their hype.

In recent months, however, it seemed that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration was breaking the logjam, working on a compromise that would help realign the state’s water paradigm to something all sides could accept.

“I’m trying to put together a peace plan in the delta,” Wade Crowfoot, Newsom’s secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, is quoted in a column this week by the Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton. “I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but there’s beginning to be a sea change in many of these water users. They’re just tired of fighting.”

Portfolio Tour July 2019

California Agencies Release Draft Water Resilience Portfolio

Three California state agencies today released a draft water resilience portfolio intended to help the state manage more extreme droughts and floods, aging infrastructure, declining fish populations and other challenges.

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture developed the draft to fulfill Governor Gavin Newsom’s April 29, 2019 executive order calling for a portfolio of actions to ensure the state’s long-term water resilience and ecosystem health.

“The portfolio approach to water supply reliability is a significant advance in how our most precious resource is managed statewide, in line with our long-term strategy in San Diego County,” said Sandra L. Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “As we review the details of the new plan, we will continue collaborating with the state agencies and other partners to turn this vision into a reality that benefits our region.”

Water Portfolio Tour July 2019

State and Water Authority officials before aerial and ground tour of regional water infrastructure on July 18, 2019. Photo: Water Authority

State agency leaders tour water infrastructure in San Diego County

Several state officials visited San Diego County on July 18, 2019 to assess the region’s water projects as part of their role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Gibson, State Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and State Water Resources Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel got a first-hand look at investments to diversify the region’s water supply, including the San Vicente Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

“San Diego is a great example of the challenges and complexities of managing water supply, as we look to supercharge water resiliency in California,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair, Calif. State Water Resources Control Board, after the July tour of water infrastructure.

Newsom’s order directed his administration to “identify and assess a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment.”

Draft Water Resilience Portfolio encourages ‘collaboration within and across regions’

“This draft portfolio has been shaped to provide tools to local and regional entities to continue building resilience and to encourage collaboration within and across regions,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot in a news release from the three agencies. “At the same time, state government needs to invest in projects of statewide scale and importance and tackle challenges beyond the scope of any region. Taken together, the proposed actions aim to improve our capacity to prepare for disruptions, withstand and recover from shocks, and adapt from these experiences.”

The draft release comes after several months of public input, and listening sessions, including comments from the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.

Draft Water Resilience Portfolio outlines more than 100 integrated actionable recommendations in four broad areas:

  • Maintain and diversify water supplies

    State government will continue to help regions reduce reliance on any one water source and diversify supplies to enable flexibility amidst changing conditions. Diversification will look different in each region based on available water resources, but the combined effect will strengthen resilience and reduce pressure on river systems.

  • Protect and enhance natural ecosystems

    State leadership is essential to restore the environmental health of key river systems to sustain fish and wildlife. This requires effective standard-setting, continued investments, and more adaptive, holistic environmental management.

  • Build connections

    State actions and investment will improve physical infrastructure to store, move, and share water more flexibly and integrate water management through shared use of science, data, and technology.

  • Be prepared

    Each region must prepare for new threats, including more extreme droughts and floods and hotter temperatures. State investments and guidance will enable preparation, protective actions, and adaptive management to weather these stresses.

Major Reser

Federal, state, and local governments have built separate systems of dams, reservoirs, and conveyance facilities to move water to cities and farms and provide flood protection. This map, from the draft Water Resilience Portfolio, shows the largest such facilities. Graphic: State of California

To develop the portfolio, state agencies conducted an inventory and assessment of key aspects of California water, soliciting broad input from tribes, agencies, individuals, groups, and leaders across the state.

“From Northern California to the Central Valley and the South, Californians from cities, farms, and other sectors are working together to develop innovative solutions to the climate-related water challenges that the state is already experiencing and that are expected to worsen,” said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld. “This draft portfolio is an important step toward building resilience to ensure the long-term health of our water supplies and ecosystems.”

Public comments on draft portfolio

The public will be able to submit written feedback on the draft portfolio through February 7. A final water resilience portfolio will be released soon after that.

“State agencies are only one set of water decision-makers in California,” California Secretary for Food and Agriculture Karen Ross said. “Continuing to improve our water systems relies on collaboration across all groups of water users and all stakeholders. Accordingly, feedback on this draft will be important to refining and finalizing our portfolio.”

Top 3 WNN stories of 2019 - Water News Network

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Conservation

Colorful art created by elementary school students communicated the importance of saving water. This was the most viewed story of 2019.  

January 2019
(L to R) 2019 poster contest winners Madeleine Inawen, Claire Zhang, Kate Hu, Alanis Huang, and Weiyi Xu with their winning artwork. Photo: City of San Diego

Creative Kids Educate Region About Water Conservation

January 13, 2019

Eighteen talented San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach elementary school students used their artistic skills to communicate the importance of water conservation in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department 18th annual Kids Poster Contest. Winning entries in the contest are featured in the 2019 Water Conservation Calendar, which debuts this month.

“The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is proud to sponsor the yearly Kids Poster Contest,” said Brian Hojnacki, a supervising management analyst for city utilities. “It allows us to involve first to sixth graders through art while learning and thinking about water conservation in our region. It’s a win-win for us all.”

The theme “How Am I A Water Conservation Hero?” asked students to imagine themselves saving water from being wasted. They could draw, paint, color, cut and paste original artwork depicting one important message about water conservation.

1st Place – Madeleine Irawan, Black Mountain Middle School

 

Sustainability

People living in the San Diego region continue to take advantage of rebate opportunities that encourage sustainability. A program that provided incentives to remove grass and replace it with sustainable landscaping proved popular in the spring. The Water News Network story about the rebates was also popular and the second-most read story of 2019.

Top 3 stories of 2019 - WNN
There are new enhanced rebates for removing turf and replacing it with sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority

 

Cash Rebates Increase for Grass Removal in San Diego Region

April 8, 2019

Removing grass can generate rebates of at least $2 per square foot for San Diego residents under new enhanced incentives that started this month.

As of April 1, the Metropolitan Water District is offering $2 per square foot for every square foot of grass removed from yards and replaced with sustainable landscaping.

“San Diego County homeowners and businesses know that sustainable landscapes are key to water reliability in our region,” said Joni German, who manages the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program. “With the help of local landscape architects and designers, our WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program gives them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. WaterSmart landscapes are an upgrade, not a compromise.”

Infrastructure

The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $245 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility.

California officials toured some of that infrastructure in July as they worked to prepare a water resilience portfolio for the state. Our reporting on the July 18 water portfolio tour was the third most read story of 2019 on the Water News Network.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

During the water portfolio tour, state officials got a first-hand look at infrastructure, including the San Vicente Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego’s Water Portfolio Approach ‘Model for California’

July 18, 2019

State officials Thursday toured San Diego County water infrastructure to get a first-hand look at the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification.

California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Gibson, State Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and State Water Resources Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel were here to assess the region’s water projects as part of their new role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

“San Diego has been a leader in the water portfolio approach,” said Wade Crowfoot. “We have to make the investments to build regional water resilience as part of the Governor’s order to develop a portfolio to manage water in California.”

Jim Madaffer tweet on water portfolio tour July 2019
San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer tweeted during the water portfolio tour.

Opinion: California Rejects Federal Water Proposal, Lays Out its Vision for Protecting Endangered Species and Meeting State Water Needs

California’s water policy can be complex, and—let’s be honest—often polarizing.

Water decisions frequently get distilled into unhelpful narratives of fish versus farms, north versus south, or urban versus rural. Climate change-driven droughts and flooding threats, as well as our divided political climate, compound these challenges.

We must rise above these historic conflicts by finding ways to protect our environment and build water security for communities and agriculture. We need to embrace decisions that benefit our entire state. Simply put, we have to become much more innovative, collaborative and adaptive.