Two of the San Diego County Water Authority’s smallest customers — avocado and citrus farming communities in North County tired of paying ever-rising water rates to urbanize San Diego — were prepared to leave quietly in search of cheaper water elsewhere.
Legislation that could block two small districts from getting cheaper water elsewhere hit a bump in the road in Sacramento.
And a controversial hire by a water district that supplies San Diego County with water is being eyed warily by some officials.
First, the good news. The massive snowpack from the winter storms has nourished the ailing Colorado River, a major source of water for San Diego and much of the Southwest.
The bounty is such that the federal government has eased water cuts in various states. (Those reductions didn’t affect San Diego, which over the years built adequate supplies through water purchases, infrastructure projects and recycling programs — at considerable cost.)
If you haven’t read MacKenzie Elmer’s piece about steep water rate increases projected by the San Diego County Water Authority, we recommend you correct that. You can click here and it will take you there but don’t forget to come back.
As Arizona’s population continues to swell by record numbers, cities and towns housing the transplants are looking for ways to increase their water supply.
That search has pitted the growing Town of Queen Creek against counties along the Colorado River. Cibola, Arizona in La Paz County sits near the border with California directly on the river. The population ranges from 250 to 350 people depending on the time of year according to La Paz County Supervisor Holly Irwin.
The powerful interests who vie for shares of the state’s ever-changing water supply — dubbed “water buffaloes” — are adept at fending off political and legal assaults by their rivals and the outcomes of their clashes are often stalemates.
That’s why it was surprising in June to see two game-changing decrees out of Washington, one from the new Biden administration and another from the Supreme Court, affecting two of the state’s most prominent water interests, Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District and the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.
In the final scene of “Chinatown,” the noir movie version of Los Angeles’s original water grab, anti-hero Jack Nicholson confronts the brutal triumph of the film’s “pillar of the establishment” villain. The cops don’t want to hear his story. They invoke the racist trope that the law of the jungle rules in the ethnic enclave where the scene occurs: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” The real life water wars continue, however, and it remains to be seen who will win the current power struggle at the Metropolitan Water District.
The most important thing to understand: If you’re reading this, you live in a desert. And you can live in this desert because politicians, scientists and engineers have moved mountains, almost literally, to bring you life-giving water.
The latest brawl in Water World plays out on this backdrop, and what comes out of your tap may well depend on the result. Will it come from recycled waste water? Desalination plants? A giant tunnel or two under the Delta? The answers will, in large part, depend on who’s chosen to lead the gargantuan Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people from Ventura County to the Mexican border.
When a bipartisan group of state legislators held a press conference last week to demand that Gov. Gavin Newsom declare a statewide drought emergency, they assembled at a withered farm field east of Fresno, complete with piles of dead trees in the background.
The choice was no accident. With California already experiencing drought-like conditions, Central Valley farmers and their elected representatives are the ones putting the most political pressure on Newsom to make it official.
The US Bureau of Reclamation last week warned water users to brace for a 500,000 acre-foot cut in water from the Colorado River as a historic drought continues to tighten its grip on the Southwest.
The cutback comes on top of a 200,000 acre-foot reduction Arizona water users agreed to last year in an effort to put off this day of reckoning. The Central Arizona Project provides more than a third of the state’s water. The reductions will mostly impact farmers.
The sparse snowpack this winter soaked into the ground during the hot, dry spring — producing little runoff.
Scientists have been predicting for years that the Colorado River would continue to deplete due to global warming and increased water demands, but according to new studies it’s looking worse than they thought.
That worries rancher Marsha Daughenbaugh, 68, of Steamboat Springs, who relies on the water from the Colorado River to grow feed for her cattle.