Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Oh Decade: Old water policies limit choices for future

By Peter Gleick
Special to The Sacramento Bee (quite relevant in Southern California and beyond)

We live in a fragile time and place. Californians started out in 1850 grossly abusing our water resources and we've never stopped.

The difference now, however, is that we can no longer get away with it. The complex, archaic system that California cobbled together to satisfy our competing demands for limited water resources is coming apart at the seams. Physically. Ecologically. And politically.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we are faced with two stunningly different alternatives: disaster or reform. The bad news is that efforts at reform are moving too slowly now to rule out disaster.

It took a nine-year severe drought in Australia to transform how that country manages water. It took the collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa in the early 1990s to produce a new way of thinking about water rights, allocations and environmental protection. I hope we'll be smart enough to solve our problems before such extreme events occur, but the signs are not good.

Over the past decade, California's water system has been pushed to the edge of collapse. Why? There is plenty of blame to go around: new demands for water, growing populations in the hottest parts of the state, legal decisions to protect a weakened and abused environment, a natural drought made worse by human-caused climate change, an ineffective management system, a conflicted public and ideologically rigid politicians.

Ten years ago, we thought we could continue to increase the amount of water taken from our rivers and groundwater without hurting our natural system. Exports of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were boosted to record levels. We tapped the last drops of water from the Colorado River. And we dramatically increased our overdraft of groundwater.

Now we're paying the price and our ecosystems are collapsing. The plummeting populations of salmon, striped bass and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and other California waterways are just one indication of this collapse.

Ten years ago, scientists were already telling water managers that climate change would have serious consequences for the state's water resources, but nothing has been done to prepare.

Now as temperatures continue to rise, our snowpack is beginning to diminish. As sea-level rise accelerates, our coastal aquifers and wetlands are facing contamination and inundation. And whether or not it rains a lot this winter, the last decade saw seven dry years in a period when the average should have been only three.

Ten years ago, there was an open exchange of ideas under way in public forums and a willingness to use the tools of science and fact in dialogues involving farmers, environmentalists, scientists, water agencies and others. Today, that dialogue has broken down. Facts and science are inconvenient truths generally ignored by politicians, and communication about water issues is almost entirely strident, ideological ranting. All of this has led to a marked worsening of tensions among different entrenched interests.

None of these things will be easy to change. But there are solutions. A sustainable California water future is achievable. Getting there will require a completely different kind of thinking, dialogue and action than we see today.

No single answer will solve our problems. We hear over and over calls for simple 20th century solutions. Build more dams. Let the fish die. Stop growing cotton and rice. Prohibit suburbanites from watering lawns or washing cars. People like these kinds of answers for two reasons: They are simple, and they focus the responsibility on someone else.

But really fixing our water problems is going to require more difficult decisions, agreements and actions by each of us. On the practical side, we must start doing all of the following things: We must measure and monitor and report all water use – both surface and groundwater. We must use our water far more efficiently than we do today, in all sectors.

We must develop new, innovative sources of water supply, including massive groundwater recharge, the complete reuse of treated wastewater, local rainwater harvesting and environmentally and economically sound desalination of both seawater and brackish water. We must price water properly to encourage efficient use and appropriate allocation. And we must reform and enforce water rights allocations.

At the same time, there are several things we must stop doing.

A small number of agricultural lobbyists and their new allies in the right-wing media must stop vilifying and scapegoating the environment while exploiting the plight of the farmworker and local communities in the process. Some urban users and environmentalists must stop generalizing about the wastefulness of farmers. Part of what makes California great is the remarkable bounty produced by farmers on millions of acres of the most productive cropland in the world. Given the right signals and adequate water, California farmers can be the most innovative and efficient growers in the world.

Politicians must stop hiding behind party politics and narrow special interests and come together in the public interest. This means overcoming the tendency to adopt "simple fix" positions without being willing to listen to other ideas. When was the last time that a politician even pretended to have an open mind on a complex issue?

Part of our growing cynicism about politics is the result of the public perception that politicians seem unable or unwilling to be swayed by fact rather than by the priorities of their campaign contributors, paid lobbyists and party ideologues, who have no incentive to find solutions that work for interest groups beyond their own.

Do I think these things are going to happen? I'm normally an optimistic guy, but having watched the California Legislature botch its best opportunity in decades to fix our water system this year (and Congress botch its best opportunity to fix health care; and the world community botch its best opportunity to tackle the coming climate catastrophe), no, I don't.

But I know we can do better, and I would love to be proved wrong before we're forced to act by a crisis.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coastal Commission Wearies of Poseidon Ocean Desalination Plan; $530 Million in Public Subsidized Funding is Next Hurdle

By Joe Geever
Surfrider Foundation

Yesterday, after hours of deliberation the California Coastal Commission voted to reject a request by public-interest groups to revoke a permit for the largest desalination plant in the western Hemisphere in Carlsbad.

The groups had brought the revocation request after it was revealed that Poseidon Resources submitted incorrect environmental impact data – drastically underestimating the amount of marine life that would be killed by the plant. After the vote Commission staff disclosed new allegations of wrongdoing related to the plants greenhouse gas emissions.

One Commissioner, who voted against revoking the permit this time, commented that the repeated disclosure of misleading information from Poseidon was having a “cumulative effect.” “It’s like a rain of new problems,” according to Commissioner Burke – signaling what may be a sense of weariness by the Commission over the project’s proponent’s lack of accurate disclosures.

Taking away a developers permit after it has been granted is an extraordinary move and the Commission rarely takes this step. But members of the Commission expressed serious concern that Poseidon had withheld information from Commission staff on how much marine life would be killed in the ocean water intake.

When that information finally came at the last hour, it turned out to be erroneous and far underestimated the marine life mortality. According to Commissioner Sara Wan, “This is the clearest case for revocation I’ve seen in my many years on the Commission.” Other members, however, were not convinced that Poseidon had “intentionally” submitted false information and so voted not to revoke the permit.

In the end it remains unclear how the next revocation request may be viewed by the Commission. If Commissioner Burke’s observations reflect those of a majority of the Commissioners, Poseidon is setting what appears to be a pattern of misleading and erroneous information on the project that may sway some to believe these multiple misrepresentations were intentional and the project really does require a second look.

The project’s next hurdle is at the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, a panel that allocates tax-free bonds to fund projects with public benefits. Poseidon has similarly misrepresented the cost and financing, originally saying it would require no public financing and cost $270 million.

The company, however, is seeking $530 million in tax-exempt bonds (representing a $70 million taxpayer subsidy of the project) on top of $350 million ratepayer subsidy from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The committee, made up of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chaing and Governor Schwarzenegger, will meet to decide if Poseidon should receive these funds on January 14.


Joe Geever is the Southern California Coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans,waves and beaches.

See the full article

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

This article shocked me on how often people expect clean water and are exposed to water that does not pass basic safety tests. Perfect time for a quick reminder on how pure recycled water the goes through the Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) process: so pure that minerals needed to be added back in so it does not corrode pipes. The reverse osmosis step used kills all of the 'gender benders'/endocrine disruptors that people are rightly concerned about.

Full New York Time Article

quick excerpt:
"An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cycle of Insanity: the Real Story of the Water Cycle

About a year ago, the San Diego chapter began working with Surfrider’s California Policy Coordinator, Joe Geever, on a new program: Know Your H20. We wanted to raise awareness of how fresh water management issues create a lot of problems for our oceans and beaches.
One idea we had was to build a website, but because the content of the problem is so overwhelming, and somewhat boring, we decided to build a flash-animated website. The project grew over time, as more folks through-out our California chapters heard about it, and wanted to help.
Naturally, almost all of our CA chapters are faced with the same problem: water is delivered from over thousands of miles away using huge amounts of energy, and at a huge expense. The water is used (often only once,) sent to a waste-water treatment plant, and then dumped in the ocean. And now, we are spending billions of dollars to build ocean desalination factories to pump the water back out of the ocean that we just paid for and transported. To us, it seems like an insane cycle of wasted energy and water resources. We wanted to show people that by conserving, and planting climate appropriate plants that we could in fact use less water, and that by recycling it to drinking standards, we could re-use our water. Both of these solutions would mitigate our need for desal factories which use way more energy than transporting our water thousands of miles, and in the process, contribute to climate change.

Paul Jenkin, at our Ventura chapter, along with Joe, began working with us on the content. We presented the facts to the West LA/Malibu chapter, and they said, “we can help build that flash movie!” Then the South Orange County chapter agreed to help fund, as did Monterrey, and Newport Beach.
We began writing the script, creating story boards, and then our friends at Scripps Institute of Oceanography connected us to the actress, and environmentalist, Zuleikha Robinson from Lost, who agreed to narrate our film. We are still a few months from completion, but because the film is one of the few to offer actual solutions to our water issues, we believe it can have a great impact on our consumers, businesses and agencies.

Right now we need your help securing a grant for the film's website. We have applied for a grant from Free Range Studios, who had 400 applicants. To help them narrow down a winner, we need your vote! Can you go here, and give us all 3 of your votes? We just need to finish in the top 20, and right now, we are at around #23.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ocean Protection Council Is Holding an Informational Panel on Ocean Desalination

The Ocean Protection Council (OPC), after many requests from Surfrider Foundation and our partners in the environmental community, is holding an informational panel on ocean desalination. The meeting is right here in San Diego:

November 30, 2009
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Scripps Seaside Forum
8610 Kennel Way (formerly Discovery Way)
La Jolla, CA

It is our hope this panel presentation and public input will lead to an informed resolution from the OPC to several government agencies that will finally set standards on the best technology and location for ocean desalination. But maybe more importantly, the resolution can identify a set of alternatives to ocean desalination that restore our coast and ocean while meeting our demand for freshwater.

We want to emphasize that ocean desalination, if not done properly, will unnecessarily kill marine life in the seawater intakes and because of it's enormous energy demand will increase the state's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions — undermining the state's efforts to restore healthy marine life populations and reduce climate change and all the threats it creates to our coast and ocean.

Before we race into building massive ocean desalination facilities, we should fully implement water conservation programs that not only lower our demand, but eliminate polluted urban runoff — like our Ocean Friendly Gardens program.

We should also eliminate partially treated sewage discharges to the ocean and purify that water for re-use. Between Ventura and San Diego, we discharge approximately 1.3 billion gallons of water a day from our wastewater treatment plants. Recycling just a fraction of that water would eliminate the need for ocean desalination. And for those of us who care about our coast and ocean, water recycling eliminates a source of pollution and dramatically reduces the current energy demand of importing water to the region. Ocean desal increases both the energy demand "embedded" in water, increases the water we waste by discharging it to the ocean — and kills fish in the process.

Join us in telling the Ocean Protection Council that we want California to prioritize alternatives to our water supply portfolio that are consistent with our goals to restore and protect our coast and ocean. The current so-called "water crisis" is a call for water management reform — not expensive and environmentally damaging "band-aid" fixes like ocean desal that only make the problems we're trying to solve worse.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cape Coral FL reusing all of its wastewater in 2009 - good on ya!

Click Here for the story.

Nothing Cape Coral residents flushed this year went to waste.

The City of Cape Coral this year recycled all of its wastewater, Public Works Supervisor Chuck Pavlos said. The city has come close in the past, but this is the first year the city has reused all of its water.

The city five years ago launched a half-billion dollars worth of water and sewer treatment plant expansions. The facilities treat wastewater and pump it back through the city’s irrigation system.

The system is designed to reuse treated water instead of dumping it into nearby waterways. Beyond protecting the waterways, it assures the city has a reliable water sources all year.

“It’s a very good thing,” said state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Rhonda Haag. “We’re very proud of them. Their wastewater program is a model for other cities.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dr. Peter Gleick on Carlsbad desal

This guys seems to have it right in my opinion....

"Water Number: $350 million in public subsidies to a private group. Earlier this week, one of the subsidies demanded by Poseidon was granted. The Metropolitan Water Board approved a subsidy of up to $250 per acre foot per year for 25 years, which will make MWD customers pay more for water than they would otherwise have paid, with the profits going to a private company. Up to $350 million over 25 years.

This decision by MWD effectively proves two things: first, that desalination, as envisioned and designed by Poseidon, remains a premature and expensive choice for California. Second, that for all of Southern California's claims of improved efficiency, it is still easier for water agencies to spend $2 (or $3 or $4) to build a water-supply project than to spend $1 to get the same water through water-efficiency programs."

Read more:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

EPA tests porous pavement to combat contaminated rain runoff

Wouldn't it be great if we had porous pavement in every town and city in Southern California? Imagine how much cleaner our oceans would be!

Replacing all the old hard surfaces might cost some money, but replacing it would create a few jobs too. Wow - cleaner oceans, rivers and streams, and green jobs!

This is a study we will definitely keep our eyes on.

EPA tests porous pavement to combat contaminated rain runoff
Scientific American-10/30/09
By Larry Greenemeier

In an effort to prevent polluted parking lot rain runoff from contaminating surrounding soil and underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it has launched decade-long test of permeable materials to find one that can filter out impurities in rainwater before it flows to its final destination.

Pavement tends to collect grease, oil, antifreeze and other chemicals leaked from the cars that park there. When a heavy rain or snowstorm passes over this area it tends to wash these toxins toward the nearest porous surface. Sometimes this water rushes to a storm drain but other times storm drains are overwhelmed and runoff keeps flowing until it reaches the nearest patch of soil or body of water.

The EPA's first test site is its Edison, N.J., facility, where the agency has replaced a 3,995-square-meter section of parking lot with three different types of permeable pavement—interlocking concrete pavers, porous concrete and porous asphalt—and planted several rain gardens (pdf) with varying vegetation for the study. (Note: Interlocking concrete pavers are often called porous pavers, although the pavers themselves are not porous.)

Researchers will over time evaluate the effectiveness of each pavement type and the rain gardens in removing pollutants from stormwater, and how they help water filter back into the ground, according to the agency.

This long-term porous pavement research is part of the agency's Green Infrastructure Research Program and expected to let the EPA document the performance and capabilities of three porous pavement systems simultaneously at the same site, according to an EPA document describing the study.

Each of the monitored porous pavement parking rows has subsections lined with an impermeable geotextile fabric to collect the infiltrating water as well as sections that infiltrate into the underlying soil. Each impermeable section has a perforated pipe that drains the accumulated runoff through pipes under the roadway to a dedicated collection tank to the side of the lot.

Pollution runoff from hard surfaces remains a complicated problem, an EPA spokesman says. In urban areas, polluted runoff often flows from pavement into storm drains. "When heavy rain events occur, polluted water is often released into rivers, streams and oceans through events called combined sewer overflows," he says. "In rural areas, polluted runoff can flow off of paved areas directly into water bodies or onto land that may be used for farming."

Friday, October 30, 2009

City Eases Water Policies, State Discusses More Conservation


Mayor Jerry Sanders announced this week that the city will modify its water conservation plan for the winter. San Diego residents have conserved more than the city expected, and will not be asked to reduce watering to one day a week. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are discussing ways to improve California's water delivery system.

You can listen to the roundtable discussion with JW August, managing editor of 10News, Leslie Wolf Branscomb, editor of San Diego Uptown News, and Scott Lewis, chief executive officer of at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Happens Upstream Don't Stay Upstream

Nothing like a warm cup of Earl Grey with a splash of Barium, Arsenic and Lead while reviewing the Old Testament. I'm over sugar and milk - bring on the heavy metals.

Check out an article from the New York Times on how solving one environmental problem can create a major issue for water quality by clicking here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

California water war spreads to Congress

Via The Associated Press

The House approved a seemingly benign water recycling program Thursday for the San Francisco Bay area, but only after Republicans fought to broaden drought relief to California's farm belt.


Friday, October 16, 2009

How IPR can Enhance CEQA Compliance

WateReuse is sponsoring a workshop on how using IPR stands to help wastewater districts be compliant with CEQA requirements.

Email me if you are interested in learning more or going at


Monday, October 5, 2009

Council To Take On Water Conservation


By Katie Orr

October 5, 2009

SAN DIEGO — Water in San Diego is becoming more scarce and more expensive. The city council will begin to look at ways to deal with San Diego’s limited water supply at its meeting Monday.

Council President Ben Hueso called for a Water Action Day to solicit ideas from experts and the public on how to better conserve. Hueso says the city should always take conservation seriously, not just when there’s a drought.

“We need to put a policy in place that gets to sustainable conservation. Not just conservation when we have a crisis, but conservation that’s going to make water available in San Diego on a consistent basis,” he says.

Hueso says the city should look into tiered water rates that give people financial incentives to use less. He says San Diego should also find renewable sources of water that reduce the city’s dependence on the Colorado River and San Joaquin River Delta.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Consumers' cuts drying up revenue for districts

This was a particularly frustrating article - it showed on one hand what Surfrider's been preaching for years: that if we just conserve water, we can make a big impact on our demand and supply, and potentially won't need to build desal plants up and down our coastline. But, on the other hand, it also pointed out how water agencies seem to be retailers willing to keep selling us as much as we want to consume, and in fact, depend on us to consume as much as possible so they can keep 'growing.'

Some of the comments below the article were particularly poignant, so please read on past the article, and let us know what you think.

California's Water: A Vanishing Resource
Consumers' cuts drying up revenue for districts
By Mike Lee
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. September 13, 2009

Be careful what you ask for.

Since California's drought began three years ago, water districts have increasingly urged residents and businesses to reduce consumption. In San Diego County, most of those agencies ramped up their pleas in April and then introduced mandatory restrictions in July, with the overall goal of cutting usage by 8 percent to 10 percent.

Now, they're facing too much of a good thing.

Countywide water use has plummeted more than expected, slashing water districts' sales revenue. Several agencies have seen their sales drop about 20 percent from April through July compared with the same time a year ago.

Water managers attribute the high savings rates to several factors, including the mandates, rapidly rising water bills and recession-weary households trying to lower their expenses.

The districts might have to keep boosting prices, tap reserves and shrink operating expenses while still carrying out projects required by state and federal laws.

Some have decided to ease their conservation outreach efforts and relax irrigation rules — an awkward position because climate experts don't expect the drought to end soon.

In the short run, the districts could encounter a more pressing challenge if the forecast atmospheric phenomenon called El NiƱo brings better-than-average rainfall this winter and enables residents to further curb their outdoor water use. That would cut deeper into sales.

“We don't need to keep telling (customers) to do a better job,” said Bill Rucker, general manager for the Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos.

His agency's sales fell 20 percent in the April-to-July period compared with the same period in 2008. To make up for the downturn, the district will leave some positions vacant and roll back conservation education.

During a meeting of the region's top water managers in late August, “everyone was concerned about the lost revenues,” said Dennis Lamb of the Vallecitos district.

He said the decision-makers expressed support for allowing residents to continue watering their lawns and other landscaping a maximum of three days a week during the winter and spring, even though current regulations call for irrigation only once a week from November through May.

Lamb, Rucker and other water officials said it's too early to panic about the financial bottom line. The figures for countywide water consumption in August haven't been finalized, and the heat wave at the end of that month may have boosted usage closer to normal levels.

Kristen Crane, who oversees Poway's water conservation team, wonders whether residents downsized their consumption so quickly that they'll soon burn out and return to old habits.

“If they just shut their sprinklers off altogether, that was not our goal,” she said. “We don't know if it's a knee-jerk reaction or if it's sustainable.”

Poway's water use during the April-to-July period dropped 22 percent compared with the same time last year. Crane said usage has decreased about 30 percent since 2007.

“If the conservation levels continue at 30 percent, we would have to evaluate the impacts of that on our rates,” Crane said.

Bill Lampshire, a 20-year resident of Scripps Ranch, said he believes the recent surge in conservation will be long-lasting.

He has curtailed his water use by irrigating his roses with dishwater, letting his lawn die and pushing his family members to shorten their showers. The result: a year-over-year reduction of more than 40 percent.

Lampshire also is looking at installing artificial turf instead of reviving his lawn.

His neighbors seem to be conserving, too. Virtually every yard in his neighborhood has a brown lawn or drought-tolerant landscaping, including rocks and cactuses.

Lampshire doesn't extend much sympathy to water districts squeezed by falling revenue.

“If they are not earning enough money, well, shame on them. They have earned enough in the past,” Lampshire said.

Uncertainties such as how intent people are on long-term conservation, how long California will remain parched and how certain wildlife preservation efforts will affect water supplies leave district managers nervously monitoring their sales figures.

“When we are mandated to cut back 8 to 10 percent, ideally we cut back 8 to 10 percent,” said Bob Cook, general manager for the Lakeside Water District.

But Lakeside is exceeding expectations and is among the county leaders in conservation. Its water use was down 20 percent during the April-to-July period compared with the same time a year earlier.

“Our (customers) are at the forefront of this economic downturn, and I am certain that has something do with it,” Cook said. “I bet their electricity bills are down. I bet their gasoline bills are down, too.”

Water agencies' expenses typically are tied to state and federal quality standards, so the districts can't make significant budget cuts without threatening public health and risking fines.

In addition, as inventories shrink amid drought, retail water agencies statewide are having to pay more because wholesalers are spreading their fixed costs over fewer gallons.

The Lakeside district's leaders are weighing their options.

“In the short term, we are going to rely on reserves,” Cook said. “In the long term, nobody has come to a decision on that.”

San Diego, by far the largest retail water agency in the county, isn't hurting as badly as some of its neighbors, said utilities director Jim Barrett.

He said the city budgeted for a 15 percent sales reduction during the fiscal year that started in July. San Diego's actual savings was about 18 percent for the April-to-July period compared with the same time last year.

The city's sales estimate was driven by initial projections that water supplies could be cut by 15 percent or more in Southern California. That conservation target was lowered in April, but San Diego stuck to the original forecast.

Still, Barrett said, the district could relax its outdoor-watering protocol for November through May. One irrigation day per week “is probably a little bit too severe” amid the current conservation trend, he said.

At the Olivenhain Municipal Water District in Encinitas, officials plan to leave their three-day-a-week system in place at least through December.

The amount of water saved by the district's customers in July and August equaled the agency's target for the entire fiscal year, General Manager Kimberly Thorner said.

“We don't want to be reactionary to just a couple of months of reduced demand . . . but essentially, since we are already getting 23 percent reduction with three watering days, let's just keep it up,” Thorner said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

San Diego Council Steps In on Water After Mayor's Plan Falls Flat

Interesting article from the Voice of San Diego...

Sunday, July 19, 2009 | When the first reduction in San Diego's water supplies in two decades loomed earlier this year, a long list of people weighed in on Mayor Jerry Sanders' proposal to reduce citywide use.

Lobbyists lobbied. Economists critiqued. Concerned residents questioned.

One group was notably silent: The City Council.

That changed in early April after revealed misrepresentations that Water Department staff had made about the benefits of Sanders' proposal, which had based proposed cuts on residents' historic use. Very quickly, the council got a lot more interested in shaping a policy that had previously been entrusted to the Mayor's Office and Water Department staff to develop and market.

Then San Diego got a reprieve. The 20 percent supply cut the city had prepared for didn't manifest. Instead, the region is coping with an 8 percent reduction. But as the potential for cuts looms again next year, City Council President Ben Hueso is now prodding his colleagues to develop their own water-reduction strategy -- not rely on the mayor.

In a recent memo, he asked them to submit ideas for promoting water conservation and new supplies and has proposed a series of public meetings about water.

Click Here for the full article.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Microbiologist's view on water reclamation in SD

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | As a professor of Microbiology and a concerned citizen of San Diego, I am extremely concerned about the reports Councilor Lightner has had a change of mind concerning the City's water reclamation plan. We have a serious and growing water crisis in the San Diego region and this plan is incredibly important to our region's water security. I have looked at the plans in detail and I know that the water we will be getting from this proposal will be significantly cleaner than our current water sources.

Remember, our current water source is already sewage contaminated from the run-off of upstream cities and is not nearly as heavily treated and filtered as the reclaimed water will be. People may think that desalination is safer option, but the ocean is loaded with bacteria that needs to be removed. With desalination, you not only have to get rid of the bacteria and virus, as with reclamation, but you also have to deal with all the salt making the process much more expensive and energy intensive. And if energy prices take off again, desalination becomes even more expensive.

I am not arguing against desalination; we will probably need that too along with much tighter water restrictions and loads of xeriscaping. However, we cannot afford to miss out on any source of water, especially from the relatively cheap and clean source provided by reclamation. San Diego will need every possible source of water in the future given our continuing drought, population growth and climate change.

People are afraid of this plan because of the psychological "yuck" factor: there is no scientific reasoning behind this fear. I hope the City Council members and the mayor are able to see past the temporary political ramifications and see the larger picture for the citizens of San Diego. We have a crisis here and we need intelligent and brave leadership to secure this most precious resource for future San Diegans.

Dr. Scott T. Kelley is the Associate Professor of Microbiology at San Diego State University

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Re-Recycled Sewage Vote Fails

and it's a good thing! The IPR pilot project is still on track, although a little late. Thumbs up to Councilmember Kevin Faulconer for voting to honor the already issued contract.

From the Voice of San Diego...

The City Council voted 5-3 (on July 7th) to reject Councilwoman Sherri Lightner's request to revoke a $438,000 contract that's a key part of the city's examination of recycled sewage as a drinking-water source.

Lightner, Carl DeMaio and Tony Young voted in favor of revoking the contract; Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, Ben Hueso and Kevin Faulconer supported maintaining it.

Faulconer, who has opposed sewage recycling in previous votes, served as the swing vote. His spokesman said yesterday that Faulconer didn't support reneging on an already issued contract.

While some sewage recycling proponents worry that Lightner's request signals an end to their once solid majority on the council, Lightner said she does support the concept so long as it comes with "fiscal responsibility and public health protections."

Click Here
for the Voice of SD article.

CLICK HERE for a more in-depth story about the vote and water resue that I just came across from the SD Union-Tribune. Here's part of it...

"More than a decade after San Diego started looking at how to turn wastewater back into tap water, the proposal remains in a political quagmire and city officials have lost a major chance to win federal stimulus money for it.

The City Council took a small step yesterday to preserve the latest water-reuse effort, which supporters call reservoir augmentation and critics dub “toilet to tap.” The council kept a $420,000 contract to study one part of the plan.

But the overall project's future is increasingly tenuous. Before the City Council's makeup changed in December, the concept was backed by five of the eight council members. Now three are opposed, four are in favor and Sherri Lightner says she is unsure."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh La La! Sexy Water Recycling Embraced in San Diego!

According to a San Diego County Water Authority Study, Attitudes and Perceptions are Changing Concerning Water Recycling

• Respondents (85 percent) are largely aware that recycled water is already in use in San Diego County for irrigation and other non-drinking water purposes. Residents (89 percent either strongly favor or somewhat favor) support the use of recycled water for non-drinking purposes, and this finding is consistent with previous surveys.

• Over one-half (53 percent) of respondents believe that it is possible to treat recycled water to make it is pure and safe for drinking, and over one third (35 percent) think that drinking water already contains recycled water. Among those who hold this belief, 22 percent feel this way because the water tastes or smells bad, and 18 percent learned about the use of recycled water through the media.

• Over three-fifths (63 percent) of the respondents either strongly favor or somewhat favor advanced treated recycled water as an addition to the supply of drinking water. Support for recycled water in all of its proposed or current uses is significantly stronger among those who know that it is presently being used in the County than it is among those without such knowledge. The interest in using recycled water for drinking purposes has increased substantially since 2005 when 28 percent either strongly favored or somewhat favored such use of recycled water.

• It is noteworthy that approximately 40 percent of those who were originally not strongly in favor of using recycled water for drinking purposes would find it acceptable if it received advanced treatment and upon learning about certain other safety provisions to be undertaken.

• More specifically, it is most interesting of all is that 30%-47% of those who are initially not
sure or somewhat opposed to the use of recycled water for drinking can be positively influenced.

2009 Public Opinion Poll Report Rea & Parker Research San Diego County Water Authority April, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Backing water-reuse preferred over desal in Singapore

"SMART money prefers backing water-reuse projects over desalination ones, says a study done jointly by Singapore and foreign consultants.

This is because it is cheaper to purify the outfall from water reclamation plants than to turn sea water into drinking water."

Makes sense to me and something that transfers well to California. Think about the massive amounts of energy that we use to move water around the state coupled with the amount of energy that wastewater treatment plants use to cleanse it to secondary or tertiary standards. Why throw all of the energy down the drain or ocean outfall? Take a few more steps and add it back to our water supply. After conservation (think irrigation) I believe IPR is most vital for the future water supply.

Click Here for the full story from te Straits Times in Singapore.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

H2NO: San Diego Going Dry

Catchy name for this in depth series from in San Diego about the current water 'situation'.

"California is teetering on the edge of the worst drought in the state’s history. The lack of rainfall and melting snowpack is causing reservoirs to shrink and rivers to run dry, and the water supply for millions of residents is being threatened. KPBS looks at the impacts of going dry."

CLICK HERE for the full story.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smarter Showering

It’s hot, it’s steamy, and you do it every day — shower, that is. But do you get wet in the most eco-friendly way? Umbra Fisk drops some nozzle knowledge that’ll make your shower greener, and keep your hard-earned money from going down the drain. is a great website from the Pacific Northwest that has a cult-like following. Umbra is their question answerer. Toss her any sort of environmental question and she will logical solutions. Her latest installment covers showering...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top 10 San Diego Water Users

San Diego News Network created a list of the top 10 water users in San Diego. The list includes Caltrans, UCSD, SDSU and SeaWorld. The City of San Diego is the largest single wholesale agency the Water Authority works with. The top 10 is beginning to change it's water usage and have come up with ways to conserve water. Click here for the rest of the list.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Desalination in Pendleton?

The San Diego County Water Authority, perhaps emboldened by the imprudence demonstrated the Regional Water Quality Control Board in permitting an atavistic approach to desalination, is exploring a desalination plant in Camp Pendleton. This would be the largest by volume of water produced and most expensive plants in the US by 3x.

This is a great time to start working with the County Water Authority to be sure that this massive project is progressive in approach. Come out to the June Know Your H20 meeting to speak with Toby Roy of the San Diego County Water Authority to be sure this is done right.

Check our Rob Davis of the Voice of San Diego's interview on the topic.

View more news videos at:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New San Diego Water Conservation Ordinance

As of June 1st the City of San Diego has enacted new rules and restrictions for water usage. There are new limitations on the amount of time and the days that San Diegans can water their lawns and plants. The City Council is asking that San Diegans only turn on outdoor water systems 3 times a week before 10am and after 6pm.

Homes with odd-numbered addresses will be permitted to water on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Homes with even-numbered addresses can water on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. Apartments, condos and businesses can water only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

They are also asking that when washing cars that you use a bucket, a hose with a nozzel that shuts of automatically, or that you go to a local car wash service. San Diegans are also being told not to water down their driveways, garages, or sidewalks. There will be penalties for not following the new measures.

These are all new steps that the city hopes to instill in everyone so that they become conscious and aware of their water usage.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heroes in a time of drought

Brook Sarson: 

Brook Sarson, a San Diego resident, is doing her part to decrease human impact on Earth's ever-decreasing water supply. Sarson has a 1,300 gallon rainwater tank in her backyard for her family's water needs and uses greywater from her laundry machine and shower to hydrate her enviable backyard garden. Sarson reports that she uses about twenty gallons a day per family member from her rainwater tank and since using the tank her water bills have been cut in half. In addition to cutting down on water usage and saving money, Sarson's garden has produced ten times more food since beginning her water-harvesting endeavors. She claims that not only is her backyard for her and her children, it is also a symbol of how things should be. For information on Brooke Sarson's water harvesting company, H2OME, email or call 619.964.4838

Tom Warner:

Tom Warner, a Talmadge resident, let his green lawn die when the unending drought and ever-increasing water bills forced him to stop watering grass. He states that, "unless you have a dog or children, you don't necessarily need a lawn". That is why Warner turned to rockscapes. He purchased Mediterranean and tropical drought-tolerant plants for $300 and collected rocks from his friend's yard for free and, voila, a low-hassle, low-cost, guilt-free front yard. Warner will turn off his irrigation from winter to spring. Then, Dockery suggests watering deep and allowing soil to dry up before the next sprinkling. Roots learn to search out water below the surface, he explains.

“Our kind of feeling about plants is push them a little bit,” agreed Marty Eberhardt, executive director of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College. “Try the low end and then give it a little bit more water instead of giving it so much everyday.” Eberhardt says low-flow toilet rebates have been around for years, but there’s been little emphasis on outdoor landscape - which consumes 50 to 70 percent of San Diego’s dwindling and largely imported water supply.

Warner leaves us with a personal mantra, "Where there is a rock, you don't have to water". 

Joe Randazzo

"It's the best move I've ever made," says Joe Randazzo of investing in AstroTurf to replace his natural-grass front lawn. Tired of the maintenance of a grass lawn and plagued by increasing water bills from watering, Randazzo decided to switch to the polyethelene synthetic grass. According to him, people don't even know the grass is synthetic! By installing the AstroTurf and landscaping simply with water-wise planters, Randazzo has cut costs by saying goodbye to gas for the lawnmower, the entire sprinkler system, fertilizer, and half of the water bill. Now, instead of caring for the lawn, his formerly least favorite chore, he now only waters the planters by hand every couple of weeks. 

There are certain drawbacks to having a synthetic front lawn, though. First of all, the artificial grass is made using petroleum, which is a finite resource like water.  Also, the instillation of a artificial lawn can be quite pricey, costing a homeowner up to $6,000 for a 20x30 yard. Furthermore, barbecues and other gas-operated machinery should be steered clear of. Lastly, the grass can get very hot so you must keep that in mind if you picture children playing on the lawn.

Randazzo doesn't play on his front lawn, though, and claims that the high cost of the lawn will pay for itself in the way of no water bills or maintenance fees. Randazzo points out that he certainly doesn't want to run out of water because, "without water, we run out of everything". This mentality should be shared by all of us on Earth because of the effects of wasteful water practices. 

Ken Muehleman

Like an child ready to play, Ken Muehleman is eager to share the area nearest to his heart: a 400-square-foot organic vegetable garden, smack alongside busy Catalina Boulevard. The electrical engineer harvests a bounty of greens from oregano to arugala, snow peas to swiss chard. “Gardening is the prime motivator,” said Ken gesturing to the crop of spring vegetables. “But the challenge is to do it in the most efficient way, to get the most while not wasting water.”

Here’s how he does it: soaker hoses and drip irrigation concentrate moisture where it’s needed most, laying newspaper and wood chips over the dirt reduces evaporation, and vetch groundcover enriches soil and saves water. Conserving, composting, even his worm bed are all part of being a global citizen, Ken figures, especially in a place that is warming and drying.

“They talk about people watering only two or three times a week. I find that very hard to take,” Ken gestures to his heart as he talks of the county mandates. “We like to see if we can water once a week and grow decent vegetables.”

Not a New Problem

Southern California has always had a problem with water- a problem getting the water from where it was to where the people that needed it lived. In San Diego, they solved the problem by building a dam, and building six miles of aqueduct to get it to the Mission Valley area. This happened in 1769. The problem is exactly the same today as it was then — getting the water to the people who need it.
Of course, the problem is compounded by the fact there are several million people who need the water, and that the water is now in very short supply. The bigger problem, though, is the fact that fully 90 percent of the water people need is not six miles away, but hundreds of miles away — in Northern California and in the Colorado River.
How did San Diego get into this fix? Click on the link below to read about the history of water supply issues in San Diego...

One Small Sip for Man and a Giant Gulp of Recycled Urine For Mankind

Wednesday, May 20th made history as the day that NASA astronauts took their first drink of water recycled from their urine, sweat, and water that is condensed when air is exhaled. Astronaut Michael Barratt claims that, "the taste is great". While the American side of the space station is drinking water made from urine, sweat, and exhaled air, the Russian side of the station is only producing water from the last of the three. 

The urine recycling system is used at outposts on the moon and on Mars. This innovative system will save NASA money on water transportation to space and will allow crews on the space station to consist of six people instead of three. How, you may ask, is drinkable water created from urine? Well, it's quite simple, actually. The new system takes the combined urine of the crew from the toilet, moves it to a big tank, where the water is boiled off, and the vapor collected. The rest of contaminants — the yucky brine in the urine — is thrown away, said Marybeth Edeen, the space station's national lab manager who was in charge of the system. The water vapor is mixed with water from air condensation, then it goes through filters, much like those put on home taps, Edeen said. When six crew members are at the space station, they can make about six gallons of urine in about six hours.

Edeen also points out that the drinking of recycled urine also occurs on Earth, although with more time between urine and the tap. In space the process only takes about one week. This system has already been used for quick water purification after the 2004 Asian tsunami. While this technology has only been embraced by those floating in space thus far, it is still a glimmer of hope for us Earthlings. With this kind of technology, waste water can be reused, reducing our impact on the world's natural water supply. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Irresponsible Fear-Mongering Advertisement from Rescue Rooter

I received this irresponsible fear-mongering from "Rescue Rooter" just the other day. I'm angered to see such an irresponsible advertising campaign. Tertiary reclaimed water is safe to drink and a great option. Please let "Rescue Rooter" know that you disapprove of this marketing strategy by boycotting their services.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Shout-Out On The Drought by Larry Himmel

a clever take on our water situation from CBS reporter Larry Himmel...

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
Squandered when we wash the car, wasted in the kitchen sink.
Too much agua on the lawn and in the garden too
We need to make some changes, and it's up to me and you.

You know it wasn't that long ago when folks used to say
To be healthy we had to drink at least eight glasses a day.
And we all carried gallon jugs, it became of trendy fashion.
It now appears that eight glasses will become our monthly ration.

There will be mandatory rationing until we change our ways.
Unless you're rich enough to water your grass with Perriers.
And the city will hand out fines, if our water use does increase.
You could be handcuffed and rubber hose-whipped by the water police.

Now I'm not being flippant, this comes from the heart.
We're all in this together, so let's just play it smart.
Water at a later hour for a shorter amount of time.
Sprinkle just three days a week and soon will all be fine.

Now I'm not suggesting that we take a backwards path.
And return to the days when folks only took a Saturday night bath.
Or limit your total hygiene to a toothbrush and a sponge
And turn America's Finest City into the city of the grunge.

Soon it will be mandatory to save every precious drop.
And change the way we live after the rationing will stop.
But I'll ask the city and county with all of my silly poems
If we live in the parched desert, why do we keeping building homes?

But let's all roll up our hoses and plant for xeroscape.
Wash the car after 6, until were out of our current scrape.
If we don't change our ways, soon we'll be a fruitless plain.
Heed the warning, turn off the tap and then let's pray for rain.

Click Here
for the video.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Does Rehoboth Beach DE Know It's H2O?

The City of Rehoboth Beach has to decide what to do with it's wastewater now that it has to stop dumping into the canal by 2011 and Surfrider enthusiastically supports LBA. LBA or spray irrigation is a universally accepted method for treating and reclaiming waste water into irrigation water for farmers, whereas an ocean outfall is a pipe leading out into the ocean which discharges treated effluent from a sewage treatment plant. Each year billions of gallons of fresh water are lost from effluent discharge into water bodies.

Please click the link below, sign the petition and send it to your friends and family.

From the action alert: "Spray irrigation will help Delaware agriculture, recharge groundwater aquifers, keep water in the watershed, not the ocean; create sustainable farming, maintain open space for farming & recreation, and is an economically proven and permissible technology. Spray irrigation helps replenish our diminishing ground water aquifers while an ocean outfall puts all waste water in the ocean and none goes to Delaware agriculture. An ocean outfall empties billions of gallons of freshwater into the ocean each year, which cannot be reclaimed or recycled into the ground water. With the population growth causing an increasing demand on Delaware's water supply and waste water capacity, we need a system which will be able to process more waste water while preserving precious fresh water for the future."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System Wins National Civil Engineering Award

From the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):

April 23, 2009: Turning Wastewater Into Drinking Water
Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System Wins National Civil Engineering Award

Reston, Va. – Orange County faced a serious challenge: how to continue providing water for its growing population and economy. In the past, water purchased from outside Southern California had been the answer. Realizing that the old solution wasn’t a sustainable answer, the Orange County Water and Sanitation District’s new Groundwater Replenishment System (GWR) provides a high quality, reliable water supply. In recognition of its success, the Groundwater Replenishment System has been honored with the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award. Presented this evening at the 10th annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., the OCEA award recognizes the project’s significant contributions to both the civil engineering profession and the local community.

“Sufficient water sources are not guaranteed,” said ASCE President D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE, “especially not in Southern California. The Groundwater Replenishment System is a safe, reliable option for meeting the increasing water demands of north and central Orange County, and it is an excellent example of how civil engineering can contribute to a community’s economic success, improve residents’ quality of life and protect public safety.”

The projected water demand in central and north Orange County for the year 2020 is 600,000 acre-feet (which is enough water for 1.3 million families annually) compared to current consumption of about 500,000 acre-feet per year (which is enough water for one million families annually). These projections indicate that demand will far outweigh supply. This imbalance will become even more pronounced in a drought. Included as a case study for raising the Drinking Water grade in the ASCE 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the GWR system to meets growing demands and reduces reliance on water imported from other sources.

The GWR system takes water through an advanced purification process. This purified water is of a higher quality than required by all state and federal drinking water standards and is similar to distilled water. The system uses the latest water treatment technologies, and its structures have been designed to accommodate solar power, providing a reliable, drought-proof source of pure water for the county, reducing saltwater intrusion into the groundwater basin and lowering the amount of wastewater discharged to the ocean. Water from the system will be between 35 and 75 percent cheaper than water produced by seawater desalination, and the purification process will consume about half the energy.

The GWR System provides a new drought-proof water source for northern and central Orange County, will reduce reliance on imported water, and will save additional funds in the future by improving the quality of the water in the Orange County groundwater basin. This water quality improvement takes place when the new purified water, low in minerals, mixes with existing groundwater, lowering the average mineral content. Lowering the amount of minerals in the water, or reducing water hardness will decrease maintenance costs for residents and businesses by extending the life of water heaters, boilers, cooling towers and plumbing fixtures.

The contenders for the 2009 OCEA Award included the I-35W St. Anthony’s Falls Bridge Project in Minneapolis; the H. Clay Whaley, Sr. Memorial Water Plant in St. Cloud, Fla.; the Lake Brazos Labyrinth Weir in Waco, Texas; the Montagua Bridge in LaGarrucha, Guatemala; and the Elk Creek Tunnel Bridge located between Elkton and Drain, Ore.

Established in 1960, the OCEA program recognizes projects on the basis of their contribution to the well-being of people and communities, resourcefulness in planning and design challenges, and innovation in materials and techniques. Previous winners have included the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project on the Washington, D.C. beltway, the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit in San Francisco, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse relocation in North Carolina and the Saluda Dam Remediation project in Columbia, S.C.

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 146,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit For more information on the awards program, please contact Anthony Reed at or (703) 295-6413. ###

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poseidon as puppet master?

"Ben Hueso—City Council president, California Coastal Commission member and state Assembly candidate—really, really wants there to be a desalination plant in Carlsbad. Whenever he’s been asked about the prospect of Connecticut-based Poseidon Resources constructing a plant to turn seawater into potable water, he’s expressed his strong support for the project. He supports it so much that he’s even willing to let the company write salutary letters that he then sends under his own name.

Poseidon’s proposed plant would take in 304 million gallons a day of seawater and provide 50 million gallons a day of drinking water to the San Diego region. As threats of water rationing hang over the region like the storm clouds we wish would come, the company has received renewed support from elected officials—from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Chris Kehoe to the Carlsbad City Council. And Hueso.

The documents, obtained by CityBeat under California’s public-records law, show that on at least two occasions, Poseidon vice president Scott Maloni sent e-mail to Hueso’s chief of staff, Alonso Gonzalez—himself a candidate for City Council—drafts of letters Maloni wanted Hueso to send to the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Both letters emphasized Hueso’s position as a Coastal Commissioner, and both asked the water board to vote to approve the desal plant. In both cases, Hueso sent the letters unedited."

That's an excerpt from a recent San Diego City Beat article. Click Here for the full story.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries

Hot off the wire from UCSD/Scripps! April 20, 2009

Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries

Scripps researchers find that currently scheduled water deliveries from the Colorado River are unlikely to be met if human-caused climate change reduces runoff in the region.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography/ University of California, San Diego

The Colorado River system supplies water to tens of millions of people and millions of acres of farmland, and has never experienced a delivery shortage. But if human-caused climate change continues to make the region drier, scheduled deliveries will be missed 60-90 percent of the time by the middle of this century, according to a pair of climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

"All water-use planning is based on the idea that the next 100 years will be like the last 100," said Scripps research marine physicist Tim Barnett, a co-author of the report. "We considered the question: Can the river deliver water at the levels currently scheduled if the climate changes as we expect it to. The answer is no."

Even under conservative climate change scenarios, Barnett and Scripps climate researcher David Pierce found that reductions in the runoff that feeds the Colorado River mean that it could short the Southwest of a half-billion cubic meters (400,000 acre feet) of water per year 40 percent of the time by 2025. (An acre foot of water is typically considered adequate to meet the annual water needs of two households.) By the later part of this century, those numbers double.

The paper, "Sustainable water deliveries from the Colorado River in a changing climate," appears in the April 20 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis follows a 2008 study in which Barnett and Pierce found that Lake Mead, the reservoir on the Colorado River created by Hoover Dam, stood a 50-percent chance of going dry in the next 20 years if the climate changed and no effort was made to preserve a minimum amount of water in the reservoir. The new study assumes instead that enough water would be retained in the reservoir to supply the city of Las Vegas, and examines what delivery cuts would be required to maintain that level.

"People have talked for at least 30 years about the Colorado being oversubscribed but no one ever put a date on it or an amount. That's what we've done," said Barnett. "Without numbers like this, it's pretty hard for resource managers to know what to do."

Barnett and Pierce also point out that lakes Mead and Powell were built during and calibrated to the 20th century, which was one of the wettest in the last 1,200 years. Tree ring records show that typical Colorado River flows are substantially lower, yet 20th Century values are used in most long-term planning of the River. If the Colorado River flow reverts to its long-term average indicated by the tree rings, then currently scheduled water deliveries are even less sustainable.

Barnett and Pierce show that the biggest effects of human-induced climate change will probably be seen during dry, low-delivery years. In most years, delivery shortfalls will be small enough to be manageable through conservation and water transfers, they estimate. But during dry years there is an increasing chance of substantial shortages.

"Fortunately, we can avoid such big shortfalls if the river's users agree on a way to reduce their average water use," said Pierce. "If we could do that, the system could stay sustainable further into the future than we estimate currently, even if the climate changes."
# # #

Scripps Institution of Oceanography:

Scripps News:

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at UC San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.

UCSD News on the Web:
Scripps Contacts: Robert Monroe or Mario Aguilera 858-534-3624;

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The San Vicente Dam Raise project starts soon along with new wetlands in the TJ River Valley approved

Info from the latest SDCWA Emergency Storage Project email...

Getting Ready for Construction on San Vicente Dam Raise
San Vicente Dam
Good news for San Diego County: construction starts soon on the San Vicente Dam Raise, the last major component of the Emergency Storage Project.

The San Vicente Dam Raise project will increase the height of the existing dam by 117 feet. This will more than double the reservoir's water storage capacity. Construction is expected to begin before summer.

Lake Hodges Cofferdam Gets the Job Done
Lake Hodges Cofferdam
How do you build an inlet-outlet structure and its connecting
tunnel on the bottom of a reservoir? You use a cofferdam! The Lake Hodges Projects contractor installed a temporary cofferdam to keep the reservoir water out of the construction area. This spring, the cofferdam will be dismantled and removed - it accomplished its job.

A Closer Look at Pipe Installation
San Vicente Pipe InstallationPipe installation for the San Vicente Pipeline is well under way in the western portion of the tunnel. To date, crews have placed about 180 pipe segments in the tunnel, almost two miles long. The contractor anticipates completing pipe installation for the five miles between the West and Central shafts this spring.

Testing Equipment in the New San Vicente Pumping Facilities
Surge Control TankWith construction largely complete, over the next several months each piece of equipment in the pump station and surge control tank will undergo extensive testing to help ensure it works properly when needed. The pumping facilities will deliver water from San Vicente Reservoir to the San Vicente Pipeline and ultimately to San Diego County residents during an emergency.

Wetlands Creation in Tijuana River Valley Approved
As part of the Water Authority's commitment to protecting the environment while providing a safe, reliable water supply to the San Diego region, the board of directors certified and approved the final environmental document for the Tijuana River Valley Wetlands Mitigation Project in December 2008.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sales of Bottled New York Tap Water Embarrass Non-Mad Citizens

The Los Angeles Times points out that a lot of idiots in New York are paying $1.50 a bottle for city tap water. To our surprise, there is no law against Craig Zucker -- who started his flim-flam career selling $1 golf shots with a million-dollar prize for a hole in one -- bottling local water as "Tap'd NY" and re-selling it.
Zucker claims that he filters the water before bottling, so it will be less poisonous than the free water with which generations of citizens were hydrated before the world went mad, but other than that there's no advantage to his product except convenience. The company does encourage buyers to refill their Tap'd bottles from public sources, which is like liquor companies telling us to drink responsibly. People like author Elizabeth Royte have been trying to get New York to reduce bottled water use by installing more public drinking fountains, but the whole air-and-water-should-be-free thing is kind of out of date, and we doubt the cash-strapped city will spend money to discourage consumerism.
There are only two things that can arrest this mortifying fad: common sense -- which left us some time ago -- and the New Depression, which will probably revive the use of public fountains, and re-accustom citizens to tap water when it is served at soup kitchens.

Article from The Village Voice in NYC, check them out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reducing Polluted Runoff Is a Much Better Strategy Than Accepting and Trying to Treat Ever Increasing Amounts of Runoff

"Instead of engineering the stormwater system to deal with increasingly large amounts of stormwater, these low impact development approaches utilize technologies that aim to reduce the amount of stormwater that even enters the system. This is achieved through processes that encourage enhanced infiltration and evaporation processes. Simple approaches such as green roofs, increased tree cover, disconnecting downspouts, and adding more green space can go a long way to reducing the amount of stormwater that enters sewers. [don't forget storm drain systems] And in some circumstances, these technologies can realize significant cost savings for municipalities and building owners." - quote by Subcommittee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

Click Here for the full story from

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking News - Obama Backhands Toilet to Tap Delegates

15 March 2009, Washington DC.

In February, President Obama issued an official backhander to Toilet to Tap Agitators. This slap came in the form of Title IV of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via a $1 billion allocation to Water Resources, with at least $126 million going to reclamation and reuse projects.

See below for the page of the bill that describes the allocation, and CLICK HERE if you 1) Like to Read Bills, 2) Suffer from Insomnia.

For an additional amount for ‘‘Water and Related Resources’’, $1,000,000,000: Provided, That of the amount appropriated under this heading, not less than $126,000,000 shall be used for water reclamation and reuse projects authorized under title XVI of Public Law 102–575: Provided further, That funds provided in this Act shall be used for elements of projects, programs or activities that can be completed within these funding amounts and not create budgetary obligations in future fiscal years: Provided further, That $50,000,000 of the funds provided under this heading may be transferred to the Department of the Interior for programs, projects and activities authorized by the Central Utah Project Completion Act (titles II–V of Public Law 102–575): Provided further, That $50,000,000 of the funds provided under this heading may be used for programs, projects, and activities authorized by the California Bay-Delta Restoration Act (Public Law 108–361): Provided further, That not less than $60,000,000 of the funds provided under this heading shall be used for rural water projects and shall be expended primarily on water intake and treatment facilities of such projects: Provided further, That not less than $10,000,000 of the funds provided under this heading shall be used for a bureau-wide inspection of canals program in urbanized areas: Provided further, That the costs of extraordinary maintenance and replacement activities carried out with funds provided in this Act shall be repaid pursuant to existing authority, except the length of repayment period shall be as determined by the Commissioner, but in no case shall the repayment period exceed 50 years and the repayment shall include interest, at a rate determined by the Secretary of the Treasury as of the beginning of the fiscal year in which the work is commenced, on the basis of average market yields on outstanding marketable obligations of the United States with the remaining periods of maturity comparable to the applicable reimbursement period of the project adjusted to the nearest one-eighth of 1 percent on the unamortized balance of any portion of the loan: Provided further, That for projects that are being completed with funds appropriated in this Act that would otherwise be expired for obligation, expired funds appropriated in this Act may be used to pay the cost of associated supervision, inspection, overhead, engineering and design on those projects and on subsequent claims, if any: Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior shall submit a quarterly report to the Committees on Appropriations of the
House of Representatives and the Senate detailing the allocation, obligation and expenditures of these funds, beginning not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act: Provided further, That the Secretary shall have unlimited reprogramming authority for these funds provided under this heading.

Extra! Extra! Read all About it! Parched Disney Visitors Slurp Sewer Water!

Visitors to Disneyland likely don't know that when they sip from Disney water fountains that the great tasting aqua treat was once streaming through a public sewer. Not to worry though. That sewer water is actually substantially cleaner and more carefully filtered than the water consumed in the average American household. Moreover, the new system providing Disney's water could be the most viable means of drought proofing a state that faces some potentially serious water issues in the coming years.

Read the Article!