Bay Delta conservation plan loses support

On the heels of the withdrawal of support for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan by Westlands Water District, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority has voted to suspend continued funding for the plan. 

The authority, which serves 29 member agencies throughout the Bay-Delta, and other public water agencies that rely on water supplies pumped through the Delta, have invested almost $150 million and more than four years toward the plan’s development. It’s estimated it will cost another $100 million to complete the plan, according to the authority. 

According to the agencies, federal regulations have reduced California’s public water supplies by more than a third in the past three years and now the Department of the Interior is proposing even more regulatory restrictions.

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Ontario schools to receive recycled water for landscaping

An agreement with the Ontario-Montclair School District will allow two schools in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District to install an underground pipeline for recycled water for its landscaping needs. 

Ontario-Montclair staff received a request from the Inland Empire Utility Agency to allow the Chaffey district to use land on the Arroyo Elementary School site to install pipelines that will provide recycled water to the Dorothy Gibson and Valley View high school sites. 

“The recycled main service point of connection for the two (schools) is in a cul-de-sac on Corona Avenue so there is no way of making that connection unless they pass through the Arroyo school property,” said Craig Misso, OMSD’s director of facilities planning and operations. 

According to state Education Code, districts are authorized to use other agencies property if it is approved by their board. 

The agreement approved at OMSD’s Nov. 18 board meeting reads OMSD will “provide easement to CJUHSD for the construction, operation and maintenance of underground pipeline for the purpose of conveying recycled water and necessary fixtures and appurtenances …”

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Desalination still on back burner for Marin after votes

Not coming to a tap near you soon: desalinated water. 

Despite voters’ approval this month of Marin Municipal Water District incumbent candidates who supported studying desalination, and a ballot measure to allow that study to happen, the reality of taking bay water and de-salting it for domestic use in Marin remains murky. 

“What we said from the beginning of the campaign is that desalination is not on the table because of current demand patterns,” said David Behar, the water board president who won reelection. “That has not changed.”

In April the water board voted to suspend further investigation of a desalination plant until it can get a better handle on declining water demand. 

Water usage in the county continues to stay low: it has dropped 15 percent in the past two years. An extended rainy season, combined with conservation, have helped lessen the demand.

The struggling economy also means less office space is being used and fewer homes are occupied, which has led to a high number of water accounts that show zero water use.

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Oceanside hopes to produce more of its own water thru desalination

Plans to make Oceanside less dependent on costly imported water by expanding the city’s desalination program have taken on a new urgency as city officials warn of ongoing water-rate increases. 

A consultant hired by the city three years ago has completed a report recommending that Oceanside proceed with the next step toward expanding its desalination operations with a goal of providing up to half of the city’s water needs from local sources, said water utilities director Cari Dale. 

“The importance of local supplies is going to be thrust into the forefront,” Dale said. 

The City Council earlier this month put off making a decision on a proposal that would raise combined water and sewer rates for a typical homeowner from $96.30 a month to $104.14 starting in early 2011 and to $112.38 a month in July. The council will reconsider the increases Dec. 8. 

Meanwhile, water officials said more increases are likely to follow because the Metropolitan Water District is raising the price of the water it sells the San Diego Water Authority, the regional agency that in turn sells water to Oceanside and other cities and water agencies.

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La Niña this winter means dry weather

Last winter was a soaker. 

Now water managers worry about drier than usual weather across much of California through March. 

What gives? 

Last winter delivered a strong El Niño, the official designation for the climatic phenomenon typically associated with balmy temperatures and plenty of rain for many parts of the Golden State. This winter is on track to bring a strong La Niña – effectively the opposite phenomenon that can mean cooler, dry conditions, especially in Southern California.

It is the first time in more than three decades that a strong El Niño and strong La Niña occurred in back-to-back winters, according to climate data. The last time the robust “boy” and “girl” arrived in consecutive winters came in the mid-1970s, with an El Niño in 1972-73 and La Niña in 1973-74. The previous switch happened in the mid-1950s.

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Hinkley chromium clean-up could take more than a century

HINKLEY • The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will be deciding soon if an expansion to the treatment of the chromium 6 water plume in Hinkley will be put into place, but residents probably won’t see the results in their lifetimes.

Pacific Gas and Electric is proposing to expand its current operation of injecting the chromium 6 tainted water with ethanol to convert it to the less dangerous chromium 3. In a feasibility study done by the water board, the ethanol treatment would probably take about 150 years to restore chromium 6 levels to the naturally occurring levels of 3.1 parts per billion.

The feasibility study done by the water board shows that the removal of the chromium 6 tainted groundwater will take more than 100 years, even with the most effective treatment.

PG&E is currently injecting ethanol into the plume in order to convert the chromium 6 into chromium 3, which is much less toxic. The company pumps contaminated water out and sprays it onto alfalfa plants so that it will not be spread through the air. PG&E also injects clean water as part of the program to cleanse the groundwater.

The expanded program will include increased pumping and will occur over a larger area, said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive officer for the Lahontan water board.

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New reservoir to save water from escape to Mexico

Nearly a month after water filled the Warren H. Brock Reservoir near the Arizona-California border for the first time, the project’s builders got the news they wanted: It didn’t leak.

So, they pulled the plug and let all the water out.

Emptying the reservoir, dug out of the sand dunes about 25 miles west of Yuma, was as much a part of the final construction test as filling it and watching for leaks. This reservoir was built to be in motion: Get the water in, wait a few days, get the water out.

The $172 million project is an attempt to seal decades-old leaks in the Colorado River‘s water-delivery system by capturing the dribbles lost downstream to Mexico when farmers in Arizona and California don’t take water they ordered, usually because rain filled the need.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/11/28/state/n101810S80.DTL#ixzz16ipr6nxJ

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