NEWS WORTH NOTING: Report: The cost of alternative water supply and efficiency options; Preliminary study of citrus grown with Cawelo’s produced water shows organic elements not absorbed into fruit; Weekly water and climate update
Report: The Cost of Alternative Water Supply and Efficiency Options in California
Today the Pacific Institute released the first comprehensive analysis of the cost of alternative water supply and efficiency options in California, using methods developed in the field of energy economics to provide comparable cost estimates for several urban water management strategies.
California is reaching, and in many cases has exceeded, the physical, economic, ecological, and social limits of traditional supply options, yet until this point the cost of alternative water supply and efficiency options have been poorly understood due to limited and often confusing data on the relative costs of alternative water supplies.
The study finds that the cost of new supplies in California is highly varied. Large stormwater capture projects are among the least expensive of the water supplies examined, with a median cost of about $590 per acre-foot. By contrast, seawater desalination, with a median cost of $2,100 per acre-foot for large projects and $2,800 per acre-foot for smaller projects, is among the most expensive water supply options.
Generally, the cost of recycled water is in between that of stormwater capture and seawater desalination. Non-potable reuse – which treats water for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes – is typically less expensive than indirect potable reuse due to the lower treatment requirements; however, the cost of building or expanding a separate “purple pipe” distribution system to deliver non-potable water may be such that indirect potable reuse could be more cost effective.
Nonetheless, the study finds that urban water conservation and efficiency are the most cost-effective ways to meet current and future water needs. Indeed, many residential and non-residential measures have a “negative cost,” which means that they save the customer more money over their lifetime than they cost to implement.
Ultimately, California should prioritize cost effective and sustainable solutions to create an effective portfolio of water solutions. While the cost and availability of these options will vary according to local conditions, the report provides guidance that allows for a cost comparison of alternative water supply and efficiency options and an indication of how to prioritize local, state, and federal investments.
“There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to our water problems,” says report author Heather Cooley. “We need a diverse portfolio of sustainable solutions. But this doesn’t mean we can afford to do everything; we must do the most effective things first.”
The Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that creates and advances solutions to some of the world’s most pressing water challenges through interdisciplinary research and by partnering with a variety of stakeholders. Founded in 1987 and based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute envisions a world in which society, the economy, and the environment have the water they need to thrive now and in the future.
Preliminary study of citrus grown with Cawelo’s produced water shows organic elements not absorbed into fruit
Reaffirms Results from Initial Water Quality Analysis
From Cawelo Water District:
As part of an ongoing testing program, Cawelo Water District (Cawelo) today released the results from its citrus crop study in which a third-party environmental toxicologist concluded that organic elements found in produced water are not being absorbed into fruit. The citrus study verifies an initial water quality study that showed Cawelo’s produced water supply to be safe for agriculture irrigation.
Produced water is a water source that is naturally obtained from the ground during the oil and gas extraction process. Upon recovery, the water is filtered, treated, blended and subject to monthly water quality testing with results reported quarterly to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), the regulator charged with ensuring water quality and safety. Cawelo has a long history of complying with all water quality standards established by the Regional Board for produced water.
Certain stakeholders have raised questions regarding the safety of using produced water to irrigate crops. With a mandate to protect public health and ensure factual information is disseminated, Cawelo voluntarily initiated a program to extensively and systematically study produced water quality as well as commodities grown with produced water. Results of all tests are provided to the Regional Board and its recently established Food Safety Panel and made available to the public.
“Cawelo is working collaboratively with regulators to implement a science-based framework that ensures a safe, clean water supply for California agriculture, particularly as the Golden State grapples with a water shortage,” said David Ansolabehere, general manager of the Cawelo Water District. “Our latest round of testing shows that organic compounds found in produced water are not absorbed into citrus grown with this water supply.”
In April 2016, the third-party environmental toxicologist analyzed water quality samples of Cawelo’s produced water supply for more than 70 different constituents identified for testing by the Regional Board. In the initial results, the toxicologist found that organic compounds were within safe drinking water quality standards and concluded that Cawelo’s produced water is safe for irrigation.
For the most-recent citrus test, the expert toxicologist analyzed mandarins, oranges and lemons, using testing protocols established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The study compared crops irrigated with Cawelo’s produced water supply versus crops irrigated with water from other sources. After careful analysis, the toxicologist concluded that key organic elements are not being absorbed nor accumulated in edible fruit.
Cawelo is committed to studying this issue and will continue to test additional crops as they come into season to further verify these initial findings, as recommended by the third-party toxicologist.
“We continue to work through this process in close collaboration with the Regional Board,” added Ansolabehere. “As a public water agency, our most important charge is to provide high quality irrigation water for our customers, and engage in a decision-making process lead by sound science, an unbiased review of facts and thoughtful dialogue.”
In fact, Cawelo is now required by the Regional Board to test for more than 160 constituents. The Water District is systematically moving through the review process with the Regional Board on the first wave of expanded testing data, but notes that the vast majority of the 160 constituents have been non-detectable and below drinking water quality standards – an even higher standard than what is required of irrigation water. The expanded testing data, combined with the initial water quality study, is the most-current, factual and science-based information available to evaluate produced water quality. According to the State Water Resources Control Board, no studies to date have shown that irrigating food crops with produced water poses any threat to public health.
As California grapples with ongoing water shortages and drought, the Governor and state leaders have established water policies that mandate Californians reuse and recycle water whenever possible. Recycling produced water is providing farmers a much-needed additional source of water to irrigate crops and helping protect already depleted groundwater basins.
It is important to note and clarify, water generated from hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) is not used for agricultural purposes – a point that has been incorrectly reported in certain publications and promoted by opponents of oil production. Cawelo does not accept, use, or deliver water generated from hydraulic fracturing.
The Cawelo Water District, located just north of Bakersfield, CA, has been serving the community for more than 50 years. The district includes 45,000 acres in Kern County and provides irrigation water to approximately 34,000 acres of orchards, vineyards, and other crops. For more information, visit: www.cawelowd.org
Weekly Water and Climate Update: Hurricane Matthew effects devastate the Southwest
From the USDA:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.
Precipitation from Hurricane Matthew inundated the Southeast this past week with over 15 inches of rain across the coast and inland, as shown in this map from the Southeast Regional Climate Center. Devastation from high winds, storm surges, and severe flooding is widespread in the region, with North Carolina rivers near record levels and still rising along many of the larger rivers draining the eastern part of the state.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.