NEWS WORTH NOTING: PPIC: Priorities for California’s water; Metropolitan to study stormwater recharge potential in So Cal; IID Board issues letter of support for local emergency proclamation at Salton Sea

PPIC: Priorities for California’s water

From the Water Center at the Public Policy Institute of California:

Has California finally reached the point where we stop labeling especially wet or dry periods as “extreme” and instead start treating them as events to prepare for as a matter of course? After years of responding to severe drought, the state’s water management systems were pushed to the breaking point last year by heavy rains that flooded towns and farmland, damaged infrastructure, and caused landslides. Along with this came heat waves and massive wildfires that destroyed water systems and polluted supplies.

Leaders across the state have been taking steps to address the challenges that a more volatile climate brings to the water sector. Governor Newsom’s administration is planning to adapt all aspects of water management to the “new normal” with a water resilience portfolio.

This brief highlights top priorities for improving water management and preparing California’s water systems and natural environment for a changing climate.

Click here for more information and to download the brief.

Metropolitan to study stormwater recharge potential in So Cal

Pilot program expands Metropolitan’s look at local stormwater as a water supply

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is expanding its effort to learn more about the water supply potential of local stormwater capture with a new $7.5 million pilot program approved today by its board of directors.

By funding construction of new stormwater projects and installation of monitoring equipment on existing ones, the program will gather data on the amount of water produced by projects that capture local rainfall and stormwater runoff and use it to recharge groundwater basins in the region.

“This could mark the beginning of a host of new local supply opportunities for Metropolitan and our member agencies,” board Chairwoman Gloria Gray said. “Metropolitan is always exploring new, better and more efficient ways to maintain reliability for Southern California, so we are excited to find out just how much potential there is for stormwater capture.”

Information on the costs and volume of water produced by different types of projects, such as spreading basins and dry wells, will be collected over three years. The data will help guide future decisions on the possible funding of stormwater capture projects, explained Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.

“Before Metropolitan can consider investing in local recharge projects, we need a much better understanding of how much water they actually yield, and at what cost. There’s a lot of expectations out there, but we don’t know how much of the captured stormwater water can actually be pumped up and used,” he said.

The new pilot comes on the heels of a similar $5 million pilot program approved by the board in September that also aims to provide vital data on the most cost efficient and cost effective methods to capture and use stormwater runoff. That pilot focuses instead on direct-use projects, which capture stormwater in cisterns or underground collection systems and use it on-site for non-potable purposes like irrigation.

The programs could open a new door for Metropolitan’s investment in local resources and long-standing effort to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio. Metropolitan has since 1990 provided more than $500 million in incentives for the development of local supply projects – largely groundwater recovery and recycled water projects – through its Local Resource Program. But the program has never funded a local stormwater capture project, due in part to the lack of data on the volume of water actually produced by such projects.
Through the recharge pilot program, projects will measure how much stormwater they capture, demonstrate how the water recharges the groundwater basin and identify how much additional water the basin produces as a result of the recharge. Projects can be located at public and private, non-residential sites.

The pilot program will fund up to $1 million in costs for new projects, including construction, installation of monitoring equipment and production of monitoring reports. Existing projects will receive up to $500,000 for installation of monitoring equipment and production of monitoring reports.

The program will fund up to 10 new and retrofitted projects across Metropolitan’s service area and the region’s groundwater basins. Metropolitan will begin accepting applications March 1, with projects accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

IID Board issues letter of support for local emergency proclamation at Salton Sea

From the Imperial Irrigation District:

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously approved issuing a letter of support for the County of Imperial’s recent proclamation of a local emergency for air pollution at the Salton Sea.

In the letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Board President Erik Ortega states that the threat requires immediate action.

“The imminent threat to the health and safety of the communities in the Salton Sea region requires immediate action before the playa exposure gets ahead of the state’s ability to implement dust control and habitat projects in order to prevent the exacerbation of the regional public health and the collapse of the sea’s ecosystem,” Ortega wrote.

The county issued its emergency proclamation for air pollution at the Salton Sea on October 22, declaring that conditions are of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property caused by the receding shoreline of the Salton Sea which exposes harmful dust and air pollution into the air.

According to the county, the air pollution, which began accelerating on January 1, 2018, has not been reduced and is now an extreme peril to the safety of persons in the surrounding areas of the Salton Sea.

The gravity of the situation, IID’s letter adds, is “beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the County of Imperial, thus requiring immediate attention and additional resources from the State of California.”

For these reasons, IID stands in support of the county’s proclamation of a local emergency at the Salton Sea and urges the governor to proclaim a State of Emergency exists.

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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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