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Opinion: Can California Make Do With the Water It Has?

With the city’s sewage water recycling system moving forward and the desalination plant in Carlsbad already pumping out drinkable water, the San Diego region has some of the most ambitious water projects in the state.

Those are part of a long-term strategy that San Diego water managers say will provide the region sufficient supplies through 2045.

Nevertheless, the San Diego County Water Authority earlier this month urged customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 15 percent following a similar statewide request by Gov. Gavin Newsom. It was more an act of solidarity than one of actual need.

Opinion: California Should Fund Local Drought Resilience Projects Like San Diego and Sacramento

On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded two earlier drought emergency declarations to cover 50 of the state’s 58 counties. In May, he directed state agencies to consider easing requirements for reservoir releases to conserve water upstream, and to make water transfers easier. Both are needed.

Notably, the governor’s emergency proclamation did not impose water conservation mandates. Instead, Newsom is leaving water conservation to each region — a smart and necessary approach that incentivizes regional investments in water supply.

Opinion: State Should Help Fund Local Water Resilience Projects

On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded two earlier drought emergency declarations to cover 50 of the state’s 58 counties. In May, he directed state agencies to consider easing requirements for reservoir releases to conserve water upstream, and to make water transfers easier. Both are needed.

Notably, the governor’s emergency proclamation did not impose water conservation mandates. Instead, Gov. Newsom is leaving water conservation to each region — a smart and necessary approach that incentivizes regional investments in water supply.

Emergency conservation orders address short-term water shortages, but don’t move us toward the long-term goal of drought resilience. That requires strategic investments in local drought-resilient water supply projects, costs mostly borne at the local level.

The state recently took a step in the right direction by approving $3.5 billion in budgeted funds for water projects, but the details of how that money will be used are still being worked out. It is important that funds are directed to local drought-resilience projects. That would go a long way toward accelerating the 21st-century water solutions we need.

Consider our two regions: Sacramento and San Diego. We both have dry summers, but our water supplies are very different.

San Diego’s water comes from locally developed and imported water sources. Sacramento’s supplies come from nearby rivers fed by snowmelt and groundwater. That’s why we’ve chosen to solve our water supply challenges very differently.

Hurtado Introduces Bill to Improve California’s Water Resilience

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) has introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 – legislation that could provide up to $785 million to restore the capacity of California’s critical water delivery infrastructure and repair aging roads and bridges.

San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Chair Jim Madaffer-primary-View from the Chair

Good News: Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Approved for Local Water Projects

I’m pleased to share some good news for our region. You will recall the Water Authority was recently awarded $15 million in state grants for several water supply projects throughout the county. Earlier this week, we also secured approval of more than $115 million for local water supply projects in San Diego County through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That brings the total to nearly $500 million since we successfully challenged in court MWD’s imposition of an illegal contract clause barring our region’s participation in MWD’s funding program. Unlike state grants, MWD’s program is funded by its member agencies, including the Water Authority, in the water rates and charges we pay to MWD.

Kudos to our member agencies for their strong applications and to MWD’s Board of Directors for approving them. It is an affirmation of our ongoing efforts to collaborate with MWD and to address shared challenges.

Local water projects, along with the Water Authority regional supplies, are key components of our region’s long-term supply reliability strategy. A few months ago, we worked with Fallbrook Public Utility District, the City of San Diego and the City of Oceanside to secure MWD program funding for their projects.

The two most recent successes are:

  • Up to $91.8 million was awarded to the East County Advanced Water Treatment Plant. It will meet up to 30% of East County’s drinking water demands (approx. 13,000 acre-feet of water per year) and eliminate the discharge of 15 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.
  • Up to $23.4 million was awarded to the Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility in the City of Escondido, which will provide up to 3,280 acre-feet per year of advanced treated recycled water to irrigate farmland.

Now that San Diego County agencies can compete for – and win – Local Resources Program funding, the Water Authority is taking actions in court to voluntarily dismiss certain related legal claims against MWD. We hope to soon have prompt resolution of our remaining litigation issues, and to work with the other MWD member agencies to create a strategic plan, a financing plan and a rate structure that are fair to ratepayers across Southern California.

View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.

Water Resilience Projects Receive Nearly $84 Million from DWR

The California Department of Water Resources has announced the latest funding awards for several water resilience projects throughout the state. A total of $83.9 million grant funding has been issued to communities in San Diego, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Sierra and Central Coast regions. The funding is aimed at supporting projects to address infrastructure needs, depleted groundwater levels, flood control issues, and other water issues of critical importance.

IRWM-SanDiego Wild Animal Park-Water Conservation

State Awards $15 Million for San Diego Regional Water Projects

The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water recycling and reuse to water conservation.

The San Diego County Water Authority submitted the funding request on behalf of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program, or IRWM. The San Diego IRWM Program began in 2005 as an effort by water agencies, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, business leaders, disadvantaged communities, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve water resources planning in the region.

The statewide IRWM Program is supported by bond funding from the California Department of Water Resources to fund competitive grants for projects that improve water resources management.

Collaboration with county agencies, nonprofits improves water supply and conservation

“These grants will provide much-needed funding for important local water supply projects and water-use efficiency measures, along with a disadvantaged community project in National City,” said Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “Regional collaboration by the Water Authority and a host of partners makes these projects possible. Once again, this shows how San Diego County is stronger together.”

Madaffer praised the San Diego IRWM Regional Water Management Group and the Regional Advisory Committee for their work over the past year to secure the $15,336,336 grant. Since 2008, the San Diego region has secured more than $111 million in funds for 74 high-priority water management projects through the IRWM process. The projects help to achieve goals established in the San Diego IRWM Program and the Water Authority’s Urban Water Management Plan.

The following regional water projects will receive funding in the current round:

  • Paradise Valley Creek Water Quality and Community Enhancement, City of National City, Flood Damage Reduction, $3,681,056
  • Pure Water Oceanside, City of Oceanside, Water Supply–Groundwater, $3,115,000
  • North County Recycled Water Project, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $2,820,000
  • North City Pure Water Facility Influent Pump Station and Conveyance Pipeline, City of San Diego, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $1,477,600
  • 2020 Regional Water-Use Efficiency Programs, San Diego County Water Authority, Water Conservation, $1,440,000
  • San Elijo Stormwater Capture & Reuse, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $1,195,000
  • Lower Santa Margarita River Indirect Potable Reuse Pilot Project, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $687,500

In addition, the grant allocates $920,180 to the Water Authority to administer the grant.

National City-IRWM Grants-Water Resilience

The Paradise Valley Creek Water Quality and Community Enhancement project in the City of National City is among water projects receiving state grant funds. Graphic: City of National City

Regional approach to create resilient and diverse water supply portfolio

“By working together for more than 12 years, the regional IRWM Program has created a legacy of collaboration by public agencies and nonprofit organizations in the region to increase the long-term reliability and resiliency of the San Diego region’s water supply and diversify our local supply,” said Mark Stadler, San Diego regional IRWM program administrator. “Investing in water reuse, water efficiency, and conservation projects are key parts of our success to ensure a regional approach to integrated watershed management.”

On November 4, 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. Proposition 1 authorized $510 million in IRWM funding. Funds are allocated to 12 hydrologic region-based funding areas.

The Proposition 1 IRWM Grant Program, administered by DWR, provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state, including:

  • Assisting water infrastructure systems adapt to climate change;
  • Providing incentives throughout each watershed to collaborate in managing the region’s water resources and setting regional priorities for water infrastructure; and
  • Improving regional water self-reliance, while reducing reliance on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Water is such a vital resource, that it is critical we continue to take action to ensure communities have access to clean water supplies, reliable flood protection and healthy ecosystems.” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth when announcing the San Diego regional grant on July 3. “These grants will support agencies and projects to continue local momentum in creating a more diverse water supply portfolio, strengthening partnerships and addressing climate change.”

UC Merced Researchers Working on Innovative Way to Desalinate Ag Water

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — A new project at UC Merced is focusing on irrigation water.
The work could have a significant impact on the crops that are grown throughout the Central Valley.

“We’re trying to take two problems and come up with one solution out of the two of them. We have an excess of drainage water which has excess salt in it, and we need cooling of agricultural greenhouses,” says assistant professor James Palko.

Desalination Emerges as a Possible Solution for Another Monterey County Water Challenge

On par with mission architecture or cattle ranching is another consequential relic of Spanish colonialism in California: the idea that water pumped from underground belongs to whoever owns the land above.

In the Central Valley, a major danger of unregulated pumping has been a drooping of the surface at a rate of one foot a year. Here, in the Salinas Valley, so much freshwater has been extracted that, in some aquifers, the natural flow from continent to ocean has reversed – seawater is pushing through gravel and sand into groundwater sources, threatening to spoil a critical household and agricultural supply.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Administration Seeks Input on Water Plan

As Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration attempt to establish a comprehensive and cohesive water policy for the state, officials are seeking public input on the draft water resilience portfolio released earlier this month. The document was issued in response to Newsom’s April 2019 executive order directing his administration to inventory and assess a wide range of water-related challenges and solutions. Completed jointly by the California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the draft offers more than 100 recommendations designed to help the state manage drought, floods, threatened fish populations and aging water-delivery infrastructure, among other threats.