Despite being surrounded by water, Bay Area residents are
routinely told during dry years to take shorter showers, let
lawns brown and slow the rush of water from their taps. But as
climate change prolongs drought and challenges local water
supply, regional water managers are warning that none of those
actions will be enough. Many say the time has come to invest in
technically feasible, though politically and environmentally
complicated alternatives like purifying wastewater and sucking
salt out of seawater to bolster stores.
Annette Morales Roe learned how to waterski off the north shore
of the Salton Sea in the 1960s. … Her family stopped visiting
in the early 1970s, around the same time scientists began
warning that the Salton Sea would shrink and become
inhospitable to wildlife without a sustainable water source.
… Now, Roe is certain that she knows how to fix the
problem — and has the team to do it. As managing partner
and chief strategy officer of Online Land Planning LLC,
she is advocating for a plan that would reroute recycled water
that’s currently flowing into the Pacific Ocean to the Salton
Homes and businesses across central Sonoma County generated
more than 5 billion gallons of wastewater last year, enough to
fill more than 7,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That sewage
flowed into Santa Rosa’s regional treatment plant south of
Sebastopol, where it was cleaned up and nearly all of it put to
a second use. About 4 billion gallons of recycled water was
pumped north from the Llano Road treatment plant in a 41-mile
pipeline and up a steep slope into The Geysers geothermal
fields southeast of Cloverdale.
San Diego’s top brass offered on Thursday to pony up more than
$33 million to resolve a hotly disputed pipeline deal between
the city and East County concerning two large water recycling
projects. The move comes as the parties inch closer to what
could become a protracted legal battle, with serious
implications for the East County Advanced Water Purification
Project and the city’s massive $5 billion Pure Water sewage
Petaluma, one of the driest corners of Sonoma County during the
past two years of drought, is making a multimillion-dollar
advance into recycled water. Operator of a wastewater
treatment plant that serves about 65,000 people and treats
about 5 million gallons of effluent a day, Petaluma is seeking
grants for four projects with a total cost of $42
million. Six other North Bay agencies — including Sonoma
Water and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District — are
proposing a dozen projects totaling $41.2 million, bringing the
total to $83.2 million, as Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing water
reuse as an antidote to drought.
Steve Bray lives in Monrovia and is already doing what he can
to save water. He has installed Wi-Fi-connected sprinklers.
… The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
worries state’s historic drought will get worse. … The
district actually captures 100% of rainwater and is able to
store it in spreading basins. They use that water during dry
years to deliver it into the drinking water system, but it’s
Mayor Todd Gloria Thursday highlighted infrastructure funding
in his proposed $4.89 billion budget for the city’s 2023 fiscal
year, including major investments in water, sewer and
stormwater infrastructure…. A total of $349 million of the
$808.9 million capital improvements program is earmarked for
Phase 1 of Pure Water — the water recycling program touted by
the city as being able to supply nearly half of San Diego’s
drinking water by 2035 while cutting in half the amount of
treated sewage discharged into the ocean.
Construction recently began on a well designed to inject water
back into the groundwater basin beneath Long Beach. The
groundbreaking last week took place at the Water Replenishment
District’s advanced water treatment facility, on the
southeastern border of Long Beach, next to the San Gabriel
River. The plant further treats sewer effluent from the Los
Angeles County Sanitation District to create purified recycled
water. Recycled water already is used for irrigation and in
other wells to form a barrier against salt water so it won’t
get into the ground water basin.
The Water Replenishment District (WRD) of Southern California
celebrated the groundbreaking of its Inland Injection Well
Project at the WRD Leo J. Vander Lans Advanced Water Treatment
Facility in the City of Long Beach. When the WRD Inland
Injection Well Project is complete, it will yield up to 2
million gallons of purified recycled water per day from the WRD
Leo J. Vander Lans Advanced Water Treatment Facility (LVL AWTF)
and inject it into the groundwater aquifers for storage and
Throughout the state, water agencies are telling Californians
that they must seriously curtail lawn watering and other water
uses. We can probably scrape through another dry year, but were
drought to persist, its impacts would likely be widespread and
permanent. … It didn’t have to be this way. We could
have built more storage to capture water during wet years, we
could have encouraged more conservation, we could have more
efficiently captured and treated wastewater for re-use and we
could have embraced desalination. -Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters
Water reuse is a national solution that can be tailored to
address many local challenges. Faced with the worsening
impacts of drought and climate change, the City of Los
Angeles has committed to recycling 100 percent of its
water by 2035. Local recycling will protect the city’s
residents from water shortages caused by diminished rainfall,
natural disasters and competing demands on the Colorado
River. -Written by Craig Lichty, client director
and vice president for Black & Veatch and president of the
WateReuse Association; and Patricia Sinicropi, the
executive director of the WateReuse Association
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) recently
honored both The State of California, the Department of Parks
and Recreation, and the production company, The Industry, for
the production of “Sweet Land” held at the Los Angeles State
Historic Park in Chinatown for their creative,
first-of-its-kind use of recycled water. The State Parks and
Recreation and The Industry designed an immersive experience by
utilizing the Park’s recycled water irrigation system, instead
of potable water, to create a water spray feature that served
as a backdrop for the projected images at their outdoor stage.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman John Lee visited the
newly-completed Los Angeles Reservoir Ultraviolet Disinfection
Plant in Granada Hills on Monday, May 2, which the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power said will treat up to 650 million
gallons of water each day, more than enough to fill the Los
Angeles Memorial Coliseum twice. The new plant will be the last
stop in a complex water treatment processes. It is the second
ultraviolet facility in the network…
Neighborhoods across northern San Diego will be disrupted by
tunneling and pipeline construction this summer when work kicks
into high gear on Pure Water, the largest infrastructure
project in city history. With contracts totaling more than $1
billion recently awarded for eight of the 10 major projects
that make up Pure Water’s first phase, city officials say
nearly the entire project will be under construction starting
in late summer or early fall. Meanwhile, city officials are
preparing to make key decisions soon on the second phase of
Pure Water, which is slated for construction in the 2030s.
A new estimated cost for the Advanced Water Purification
project, a system of recapturing sewage and transforming it to
drinkable water for about 500,000 East County residents,
escalated to about $850 million, an increase of more than $300
million above the estimate three years ago. Allen Carlisle,
general manager of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District,
revealed the number at a public forum held April 24 in Santee,
saying the project should begin construction this summer.
Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to
transform wastewater from Southern California homes and
business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The
collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering
from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across
state lines by some of the West’s largest water
agencies. Southern California’s giant wholesaler,
Metropolitan Water District, claims a multi-billion-dollar
water recycling proposal will not only create a new local
source for its 19 million customers, but allow it to share part
of its Colorado River supply …
Momentum is building for a unique
interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern
California homes and business into relief for the stressed
Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a
river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being
shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) announced last month that nearly 60 percent of
the U.S. is experiencing some level of drought, including
severe conditions that threaten wildfires, heatwaves and low
precipitation. States along the Colorado River Basin have
entered into agreements to reduce their demands on the
dwindling river, including recycling local water to make up the
difference. This Water Week, we’re focused on a series of
remaining actions that will help unleash the full potential of
water recycling across the United States. -Written by Craig Lichty, client director
and vice president for Black & Veatch and president of the
WateReuse Association; and Patricia Sinicropi, the
executive director of the WateReuse Association.
Solvang will invest another $10 million into its wastewater
treatment plant, including tooling that could support future
wastewater recycling, after the council voted unanimously
Monday to support the least expensive of four potential
options. … During its goal planning sessions, the council
directed staff to explore the feasibility of producing and
delivering recycled water.
Valley Water is looking for ways to not only conserve but also
reclaim the precious crystal-clear liquid. In December, the
agency’s board of directors approved an agreement to work with
the city of Palo Alto to build an advanced water-purification
facility in Palo Alto. The 6.4-acre plant would be located at
the old Los Altos Regional Wastewater Plant at the eastern end
of San Antonio Road.
The Pacific Institute just released a new
assessment of a set of urban water strategies for
California that offers concrete solutions for saving water
through improved water-use efficiency measures, while boosting
local water supplies by expanding water reuse and capturing
more stormwater that falls on our urban areas. …
[E]fforts have led to a 30% drop in total urban water use
statewide – a remarkable improvement in efficiency! The
new study, however, shows that another 30% savings is possible
simply by bringing California homes, businesses and industries
up to current standards. -Written by Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley and
Amanda Bielawski, of the Pacific Institute.
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
Imported water from the Sierra
Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as
drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those
supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped
up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on
Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of
Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually
water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s,
Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it
derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.
This 2-day, 1-night tour offered participants the opportunity to
learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central
Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region
struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies that
have potential applications statewide.
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12
about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to
clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and
prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The
video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference
between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is
not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The
teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that
homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water
supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing
treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including
irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge
and industrial uses.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an
overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada.
It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history
of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las
Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and
today’s water supply challenges.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California
Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the history of wastewater
treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and
disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of
different treatment plants and their treatment processes.
In California, home to nearly 40 million people and a desert
climate in large parts of the state, efficient water use is
critical. In the face of such demand and a limited supply, water
recycling is increasingly common throughout the state. Major
water recycling plants are already operating or in development in
places like San Diego and Orange counties while a
multi-billion-dollar plant has been proposed in nearby Los
Wastewater management in California centers on the collection,
treatment, reuse and disposal of wastewater. This process is
conducted largely by public agencies, though there are also
private systems in places where a publicly owned treatment plant
is not feasible.
In California, wastewater treatment takes place through 100,000
miles of sanitary sewer lines and at more than 900 wastewater
treatment plants that manage the roughly 4 billion gallons of
wastewater generated in the state each day.
Gray water, also spelled as grey water, is water that already has
been used domestically, commercially and industrially. This
includes the leftover, untreated water generated from clothes
washers, bathtubs and bathroom sinks.
This water source is a common way to recycle water and stretch
urban water supplies. As part of this, gray water ‘harvesting’
(the collecting of gray water from sinks, showers, etc.) is
increasingly popular, especially as a way to flush toilets.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy
requirements associated with water use and the means by which
state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge
and improve the management of both resources.
When a drought occurs as it has this year, the response is
couched in the three Rs of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and
The reduction part is well-known. State and local officials are
urging people to use less water in everything they do, from
landscape irrigation to shorter showers. Spurred by California’s
difficulties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on June 4 declared a
statewide drought. On July 10, the governor and Sen. Dianne
Feinstein announced their support of the Safe, Clean, Reliable
Drinking Water Supply Act of 2008 – a $9.3 billion bond proposal
that would allocate $250 million for water recycling projects.
This issue of Western Water examines the continuing practice of
smart water use in the urban sector and its many facets, from
improved consumer appliances to improved agency planning to the
improvements in water recycling and desalination. Many in the
water community say conserving water is not merely a response to
drought conditions, but a permanent ethic in an era in which
every drop of water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted.
Water is the true wealth in a dry land – Wallace Stegner
One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt signed
legislation that changed the course of American history and
permanently altered the landscape of the western United States.
The West of today retains some of the vestiges of the land that
brought the explorers, entrepreneurs and dreamers hundreds of
years ago. Despite the surge in population, vast tracts of
wilderness remain – forests thick with evergreen trees and
seemingly unending open spaces where human inhabitants are few
and far between.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999
in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we
are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional
water development of the past has given way to a more
collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment
while stretching available water supplies.