Tag Archive for: Water resilience

California’s Water Innovation: Technologies Driving Sustainability in the Golden State

Water is critical to California’s economic development, supporting environmental preservation as well as extensive agricultural, industrial, and recreational activities. The high demand for water, particularly in the hot summer months when prolonged droughts and water shortages are common, is fueling growing conflict between different user groups and regions over water availability.

‘Collaboration for the Sake of Success’ is Critical to Water Resilience

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on May 8, Westlands Water District, Metropolitan Water District, and Friant Water Authority agreed to improve collaborations on surface, groundwater, transfers, and exchanges of water from the San Joaquin Valley to Southern California.

Furthermore, a second MOU was signed between Metropolitan and Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley, a coalition that aims to advance water accessibility across the state. The MOU intends to identify, develop, and initiate water projects for the Central Valley to solidify water resilience.

Pismo Beach Enters Desal Study, Focus Still on Central Coast Blue

Pismo Beach joined a local desalination feasibility study, completing the San Luis Obispo County-wide bandwagon to identify long-term water supply sources.

The last to participate, the Pismo Beach City Council agreed on April 4 to support county efforts in the face of exiting two historic droughts and an uncharacteristically wet winter season, the flood control and water conservation district naming water resiliency as a high priority, and the Central Coast Blue project nearing realization.

WIFIA loan-desalination-intakes project-EPA-water supply

EPA Financing for Carlsbad Desalination Plant Saves Water Ratepayers up to $54 Million

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $170 million low-interest loan to reduce financing costs for environmental upgrades that enhance the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, who represents coastal communities including Carlsbad, helped secure the funds that will save ratepayers up to $54 million compared to alternate financing strategies.

“As we continue to confront increasingly frequent and intense droughts, today’s announcement is an exciting step in our efforts to provide sustainable, reliable water supplies for San Diego County,” said Rep. Mike Levin. “This low-interest federal loan will not only allow the Carlsbad Desalination Plant to improve its efficiency and environmental practices but will also save local water ratepayers tens of millions of dollars. I will never stop fighting to improve our region’s water security at the most affordable price for ratepayers.”

EPA financing reduces project costs, saves ratepayers

The loan, from the federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), will help Poseidon Resources (Channelside) LP continue to provide local, sustainable, drought-proof water to the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies while reducing costs of the current intake modification project.

“Saving ratepayers money while enhancing environmental protections is solid gold,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz. “The team effort between Poseidon, the Water Authority and Congressman Levin illustrates our commitment to find cost savings wherever we can while continuing to provide safe and reliable water supplies for our region.”

Desalination plant-Carlsbad-desalinated water-water supply-primary

The San Diego County Water Authority added desalinated seawater to its supply portfolio in 2015 with the start of commercial operations at the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

100 billion gallons of drinking water

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination plant in the nation, and it has produced more than 100 billion gallons of drinking water for San Diego County since operations began in December 2015.

“Since the beginning, Poseidon Resources’ mission has been to provide high-quality drinking water and a long-term sustainable solution for San Diego County while protecting ratepayers,” said Sachin Chawla, president of Poseidon Resources. “This infusion of low-interest capital and close partnerships with U.S. EPA and the Water Authority will further support modernizing Carlsbad’s Desalination Plant for future generations.”

Reverse osmosis

100 billion gallons-reverse osmosis-seawater desalination

Reverse osmosis is the heart of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. During this process, dissolved salt and other minerals are separated from the water, making it fit for consumption. This reverse osmosis building contains more than 2,000 pressure vessels housing more than 16,000 reverse osmosis membranes. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

New intake and discharge facilities

The new intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will ensure the plant continues to meet California’s stringent Ocean Plan standards for protecting marine life. Work started in January 2023 and the new facilities are anticipated to be operational by December 2024. Except for a planned plant outage required near the end of the project to connect the new facilities to the existing intake system, construction is not expected to impact water production.

Protecting marine habitats

“Diversifying and stretching precious water supplies is essential in the water scarce West,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Our WIFIA loan to Poseidon Resources in San Diego County will be used for both upgrading the drinking water desalination plant to help address water shortages, stretch precious water supplies, and protect critical marine habitats in the San Diego Bay.”

WIFIA program and water infrastructure

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.

The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 101 WIFIA loans that are providing $17 billion in credit assistance to help finance $37 billion for water infrastructure while creating 125,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $5 billion.

Visionary problem-solving

Solutions for Building Water Resilience in California

With the ever-changing climate and increasingly dry summers, California faces water challenges, despite this year’s bountiful snowpack. At the February meeting of the California Water Commission, Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute, explained how increasing water efficiency, water reuse, and stormwater capture is essential to building and enhancing California’s water resilience.

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District's award winning 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility celebrates its 20th anniversary in August 2023. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Recycled Water Pipeline Benefits Olivenhain Municipal Water District Customers

A new recycled water pipeline is being tapped by Olivenhain Municipal Water District customers for landscape irrigation.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District has successfully converted Westmont of Encinitas to recycled water for landscape irrigation. The assisted living facility is the first of many customers along the Manchester Avenue and South El Camino Real corridor to tap into the newly installed recycled water pipeline.

Additional customers along the corridor are working to convert their irrigation systems to accommodate the new recycled water supply, which will ultimately reduce demand for imported potable water by more than 27 million gallons every year. As the impact of California’s drought continues to be challenging, projects like this that help save potable water are even more urgent.

Drought-resilient supplies

“With the unprecedented drought situation we’re in, reducing our reliance on imported water is essential,” said OMWD Board Secretary Larry Watt. “Investing in drought-resilient supplies is a top priority and every new recycled water customer we connect to our distribution system decreases demand for imported water.”

North San Diego County Regional Recycled Water Project

The new pipeline is an element of the larger North San Diego County Regional Recycled Water Project — a collaborative effort among nine North County agencies that coordinate across jurisdictional boundaries. The recycled water being delivered through the new pipeline is produced at San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility in Cardiff.

State and federal grants

OMWD has aggressively sought grant funding for the pipeline project to make it cost-effective for ratepayers. The efforts have been successful, with OMWD achieving $1,350,000 from California’s Department of Water Resources for two separate segments of the pipeline. The pipeline is part of a suite of OMWD recycled water projects included in the North San Diego County Regional Recycled Water Project that was awarded $23.9 million in funds from the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program.

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is a public agency providing water, wastewater services, recycled water, hydroelectricity, and operation of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. Organized in 1959, OMWD currently serves approximately 87,000 customers over 48 square miles in northern San Diego County.

(Editor’s note: The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego County region.) 

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.