NEWS WORTH NOTING: Tree-ring study reveals historical drought record in SoCal; California Water Efficiency Partnership marks official launch and evolution; Seven California colleges earn $10,000 grants to research conservation technologies, programs

Tree-Ring Study Reveals Historical Drought Record in Southern California

From the Department of Water Resources:

As part of ongoing work to improve California’s preparedness for dry conditions and better adapt to climate change, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released results of a study examining Southern California tree-ring data, and the centuries-long story the tree-rings reveal.

The results indicate that short durations (two to three years) of dry conditions are common in Southern California. They also show that the recent 2012-16 drought was, for most of Southern California, the driest or second-driest five-year drought in the long-term record dating back to the 1400s. Duration is an important metric for local water managers who are assessing drought vulnerability because local impacts increase with the duration of dry conditions.

“The results of this study further confirm what we’ve long believed and said,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The norm for California’s climate is to move back and forth frequently between wet and dry conditions, and water conservation must be a way of life for all who enjoy living in or visiting our state.”

Today’s report provides local water managers a centuries-long record of precipitation and streamflow in Southern California’s primary local water resources, and the Colorado River. This recreated long-term record, which predates the period of recorded data, will help water managers better assess the future risk of dry conditions in their service areas and manage their water supplies in coming years.

The materials released today were prepared for DWR by University of Arizona (UA) researchers.  DWR commissioned UA to collect tree-ring samples using increment borers to extract the tree cores. The tree-ring samples allowed researchers to develop statistical correlations to reconstruct 600 years of streamflow and precipitation data for Southern California watersheds, identifying the number and length of large droughts that occurred before the modern historical period.

“Long-term data sets allow evaluation of periodic or cyclical patterns that may be less readily apparent in the shorter historical record,” said Dave Meko, a UA professor who led the study team. “We see patterns of wet/dry variability that occur at various frequencies in both the observed and reconstructed data sets.”

In May 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued Executive Order B-37-16, calling for strengthened local drought resilience. DWR was directed to require local agencies to develop contingency plans for drought conditions of at least 5 years, as well as plan for more frequent and severe drought conditions. Today’s report, together with a guidebook and accompanying data files, are designed to help local water managers meet this requirement.

California Water Efficiency Partnership Marks Official Launch and Evolution

Nearly 150 water conservation professionals, water industry leaders and elected officials came together March 7 in Sacramento to mark the official launch and evolution of the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP).

Over the past several years, the Partnership has been undergoing an organizational transformation, from implementing 25-year old best management practices on water conservation as the California Urban Water Conservation Council into a new entity focused on helping water providers meet emerging legislative and regulatory mandates for Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life.

“As urban water conservation challenges and requirements have evolved in California, so too has this organization successfully evolved,” said CalWEP Executive Director Mary Ann Dickinson. “We are building on a proud legacy of collaboration, expertise and leadership dedicated to addressing California’s unique challenges and opportunities but with a new focus and decision-making framework.”

During the event, Steven Moore, Vice Chair of the State Water Board, presented the Partnership with a resolution, which stated, “The State Water Board is pleased to commend the California Water Efficiency Partnership as it celebrates its launch and looks forward to working closely to advance water conservation and efficiency actions statewide.”

Bill Craven, Chief Consultant with the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, also read a resolution from the California Senate sponsored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan and Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, commending the Partnership for its vital role in working to advance water efficiency and conservation in California.

The launch comes after several major announcements by the Partnership over the past year, including the selection of Mary Ann Dickinson as the Partnership’s Executive Director. Dickinson served as Executive Director of the Partnership’s predecessor, the California Urban Water Conservation Council (Council), building the organization from the ground up. She left the Council in 2007 to establish the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a non-profit organization dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water in North America, and remains its CEO. In January, the Partnership announced that it would become a chapter of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, bringing together two of the country’s major organizations dedicated to improving and enhancing water efficiency in California and the United States.

Said Dickinson at the event, “All of this has been possible only with your support and trust in our commitment to advancing water efficiency in California and to helping you and your organization reach your goals. We are pleased to share this milestone with you—to celebrate how far we’ve come and get ready for the road ahead, and to officially launch the California Water Efficiency Partnership.”

The California Water Efficiency Partnership is an innovative leader, voice and expert on water efficiency in California that fosters collaboration among a wide variety of stakeholders. Learn more at

Seven California colleges earn $10,000 grants to research conservation technologies, programs through World Water Forum

From the Metropolitan Water District:

Seven California colleges and universities have been selected to receive grants to fund proposals to develop new water conservation and supply technologies in support of a more sustainable water future, as part of the 2018 Southern California World Water Forum.  From a project that contemplates using dew to irrigate urban gardens to another that will consider a new way to desalinate ocean water, the grant recipients propose and explore innovative ways to provide safe water to communities in California and around the world.

“Our California colleges and universities are fertile ground to develop the next generation of sustainable technologies,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the World Water Forum co-sponsors. “These ideas to help ensure water reliability not only in local communities, where they are greatly needed, but also across the globe.”

In addition to Metropolitan, the forum is co-sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Friends of the United Nations and Water For People.

The program awards grants of $10,000 to college teams to research, develop and communicate water-use efficiency or local supply technologies and strategies that can be employed cost-effectively in water-stressed regions, locally, regionally or internationally. Through the program, grant winners must design a project or prototype that will contribute to a more sustainable water future, including developing a business plan and providing evidence it could become fully sustainable.

This year’s recipients include Saddleback College researchers who will explore the possibility of using dew and fog to irrigate urban farms and landscapes by installing and studying a dew and fog catchment system at a Laguna Beach park.

Another proposal from University of California at Davis researchers will further develop and test a solar-powered water treatment system that could be used in rural, underserved communities. The system is hyper-localized – treating water either as it enters homes or as it leaves faucets – allowing for the particular contaminants of individual communities to be addressed.

The World Water Forum grant program was founded in 2006, following the United Nations declaration of the International Decade of Water to raise awareness about global water issues. Since then, World Water Forum has awarded $800,000 to 32 local colleges and universities on projects to advance a sustainable water future.

In addition to developing new water technologies, the grants foster Southern California’s future workforce in engineering, environmental science and water careers.

“World Water Forum inspires students by giving them a direct connection between their class work and the crucial job of ensuring a sustainable water source for the public,” said Benita Horn, who manages the program as part of Metropolitan’s education programs.

This year’s grant recipients also include:

• A San Diego State University project to find a lower cost and less energy-intensive approach to seawater desalination. Researchers will explore using low-grade waste heat to convert seawater to vapor and then condense it to form pure water.
• A Loma Linda University School of Public Health project to reduce contamination in community water wells in Chad.
• A University of California at Los Angeles study on the safety of using treated wastewater to irrigate urban parks, and the impact on antibiotic resistance genes.
• A University of California at Riverside effort to develop a more water-efficient scrubber that reduces ammonia emissions in dairy facilities.
• A University of Southern California project to implement a rainwater harvesting system that will capture, filter and store rainwater for a community in Guatemala.

The next round of World Water Forum grants will open in October 2018. More information is available on Metropolitan’s World Water Forum website.

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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.

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