NEWS WORTH NOTING: Metropolitan Water District Board selects Gloria Gray as new chairwoman; New Research: Maximizing the carbon and biodiversity benefits of restoration along rivers and streams; Malibu prepares for climate change with new water treatment facility

Metropolitan Water District Board selects Gloria Gray as new chairwoman

From the Metropolitan Water District:

Gloria D. Gray, a Los Angeles County water official with extensive experience in state, regional and local water issues, was today elected chairwoman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Gray, who has represented West Basin Municipal Water District on the 38-member Metropolitan board since April 2009, will serve a two-year term beginning Jan. 1. She is the first African American to lead the board and only the second woman to do so in the district’s 90-year history. She succeeds outgoing Chairman Randy Record, who has led the board since May 2014.

“I am excited to help lead Metropolitan into the next era, as we work collaboratively to overcome challenges to our imported water supplies brought by climate change, invest in local resources and continue providing a reliable water supply to Southern California,” Gray said.

“I am committed to an open and transparent decision-making process,” she added.
Gray takes the helm of Metropolitan’s governing board at a time when the district is dealing with water supply and climate change challenges on both of its imported water sources from Northern California and the Colorado River. Her experience working on and supporting recycled water projects at West Basin will serve her well as Metropolitan explores investing in the largest recycled water project in the nation.

Gray currently chairs Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee. She was first elected to the West Basin board in 2006 and represents the cities of Inglewood, South Ladera Heights and Lennox, in addition to other areas. She has twice served as the president of that board.

She also served for four years on the Delta Stewardship Council, after being appointed by former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass in 2010, and on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors water quality community task force. She also represents West Basin on the Association of California Water Agencies Region 8, where she serves as the vice chairwoman, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Executive Committee.
Gray retired from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services as a Health Care Administrator. She also served on the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education.

With her election, Gray becomes the 19th chair in Metropolitan history. As the head of the agency’s board, Gray will represent district policies and programs at national, state and local levels. She also will preside over monthly meetings of the board and its executive committee. In addition, she will appoint all members of the district’s nine standing committees, as well as the leaders of any special committees or task forces.

New Research: Maximizing the carbon and biodiversity benefits of restoration along rivers and streams

Restoration can benefit both but information is needed to minimize conflicts

From Point Blue Conservation Service:

Restoring forests has become a world-wide strategy for simultaneously addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity conservation. In a new study, scientists at Point Blue Conservation Science assessed how successful restoration efforts in California’s Central Valley were at these two goals. Key among the findings was the conclusion that, in some cases, optimizing for carbon storage may come at the expense of biodiversity.

Forests store tremendous amounts of carbon in the trees and soil, and they can provide valuable habitat for wildlife. But reforestations designed to maximize carbon storage may not be as successful at conserving biodiversity. Researchers found that areas with the highest densities of trees had more carbon stored in trees (as expected), but that bird density and diversity were lower. So, decisions about planting density, thinning, burning, and other actions may increase one benefit at the expense of the other.

“Going into the study, we understood that restored forests of any sort are generally better for carbon storage and biodiversity than agricultural fields or cleared land. What we really wanted to know was how we can get the most benefit out of restoration projects that are being conducted,” says Dr. Kristen Dybala, Senior Research Ecologist at Point Blue, who led the study.

Researchers studied carbon storage and bird communities in the Cosumnes River Preserve, California USA to better understand how carbon and biodiversity relate to forest age, tree density, and canopy and understory cover. They conducted surveys in 4 study areas ranging in size from 70 – 370 acres. These included a remnant forest at least 80 years old, a 30-year old planted forest, a forest that is naturally regenerating after levee breaches 22 and 32 years ago, and an area currently undergoing restoration.

The study found that after 20 – 30 years, restored riparian forests were similar to the remnant forest, storing 170 – 285 more tons of carbon per acre in the trees than the youngest study area. They also stored twice as much soil carbon and provided habitat to 4 times as many birds. Even so, there was a lot of variability within these forests, suggesting that the carbon and biodiversity benefits of riparian forest restoration could be increased even further.

“One of the key takeaways from our study is that there is a lot of room to continue measuring the results from restoration efforts so we can maximize the success of these projects,” Dr. Dybala adds. “As we think about ongoing forest restoration work along the Cosumnes river–as well as around the world–we need to be aware of the tradeoffs and do our best to plan for multiple benefits. These include carbon storage in soil and trees to reduce climate change; groundwater replenishment; habitat for a diverse array of wildlife species; and much more.”

The researchers also found that areas with more shrub cover tended to have higher bird density and diversity, and more soil carbon storage. So, planting more understory shrubs is likely a no-regrets strategy that could help maximize these benefits.

“Restoration of natural and working lands is an important global strategy for The Nature Conservancy to address climate change and conserve biodiversity,” says Dr. Rodd Kelsey, Lead Scientist for the Land Program at The Nature Conservancy (TNC). “Studies like this one help us do restoration projects better–to be more effective and efficient,” Kelsey added. TNC is the land owner and manager for the areas included in the study, which are all a part of the larger Cosumnes River Preserve, which has multiple landowners.

“We need to get better at measuring multiple things at once,” says Dybala. “It’s important for land managers and restoration practitioners to carefully articulate their restoration goals ahead of time, then monitor and assess along the way to make sure they’re on the right track.”

The article, “Optimizing carbon storage and biodiversity co-benefits in reforested riparian zones” was published on October 9th in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Ecology (DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.13272).

A short brief summarizing the publication can be found at: http://www.pointblue.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2018_pubbrief_COSU_BirdsCarbon.pdf

Malibu prepares for climate change with new water treatment facility

Treated water to be used for irrigation, saving high-quality drinking water for homes and businesses

From the City of Malibu:

The City of Malibu today officially opened and began operating its new Civic Center Water Treatment Facility. Paid for by core Civic Center businesses, the $60 million state-of-the-art facility will improve the quality of life and Malibu experience for residents and visitors by replacing outdated septic systems. Using innovative technology, the facility will capture and treat nearly 200,000 gallons of wastewater daily and convert the water for irrigation purposes.

The project supports local efforts to combat climate change by reducing the use of high-quality drinking water to green our public spaces, helping us prepare for the next inevitable drought. At full capacity, the treatment facility will save the Malibu community 70 million gallons of much-needed fresh water annually.

“For decades, the City of Malibu, its businesses and residents have been trailblazers and respected leaders committed to protecting our natural resources and promoting responsible environmental programs,” said Mayor Rick Mullen. “The new water treatment facility furthers our commitment to smart, environmentally sound water management practices while combatting the realities of climate change.”

The facility represents a responsible approach to managing the region’s most precious resource: water. The millions of gallons of clean, recycled water produced will irrigate popular community gathering areas and public spaces, including Legacy Park, Bluffs Park, Civic Center, and City Hall.

With the treatment facility fully operational, the City will now work to include additional Civic Center areas and begin incorporating select residential properties to add another 170,000 gallons of treated water to Malibu’s system. The City will maximize the reliability and efficiency of the water facility by linking Civic Center homeowners to the system in the coming years.

“Through the engagement and diligence of our community, we are on track to capitalize on our hard work and prepare for a more resilient and sustainable future for our City,” continued Mayor Mullen. “California’s new climate reality is one of extreme weather cycles, escalating quickly from severe drought to historic rainfall. Malibu’s new water treatment facility – the largest infrastructure project in our City’s history – is a prime example of regional efforts to manage climate change impacts.”

Like Malibu, forward thinking municipalities and public agencies throughout California are implementing local supply projects, including wastewater treatment, water recycling, stormwater capture and conservation, to diversify their water supply portfolios, reduce their reliance on imported water supplies and improve overall reliability in the face of climate change. Wastewater treated by the new Civic Center facility represents a meaningful way to help ease the impacts of future drought cycles.

To learn more about the new facility and the City of Malibu’s continued commitment to environmental sustainability, please visit www.MalibuCity.org/CCWTF.

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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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