To combat an increasingly hotter and drier atmosphere, state
officials are looking to fund new water projects that could
kickstart a recycled water system on the coast. With a
dwindling snowpack and fewer available resources, researchers
from the Department of Water Resources project that climate
change impact could reduce the state’s water supply by up to 10
percent by 2040. That’s about 6 million to 9 million acre-feet
of water supply. For comparison, the Shasta Reservoir holds 4.5
million acre-feet. To make up for losses, the state is
looking at financing major water projects. Last month Gov.
Gavin Newsom announced a slew of moves to increase water supply
and adapt to more extreme weather patterns caused by climate
change through 2040. One of the biggest ways it could do that
is through recycled water.
Coastal urban centers around the world are urgently looking for
new, sustainable water sources as their local supplies become
less reliable. In the U.S., the issue is especially pressing in
California, which is coping with a record-setting, multidecadal
drought. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently released a US$8
billion plan for coping with a shrinking water supply. Along
with water conservation, storage and recycling, it includes
desalination of more seawater. Ocean desalination, which turns
salt water into fresh, clean water, has an intuitive appeal as
a water supply strategy for coastal cities. The raw supply of
salt water is virtually unlimited and reliable.
Thirty-one years ago, supervisors in San Francisco passed a
landmark piece of legislation as a signal of the city’s
commitment to the environment and conserving water. Any
new buildings that were bigger than 40,000 square feet and
located in designated zones on the city’s west and east sides
would be required to have “purple pipes.” These pipes, which
are literally required to be the color purple, would be
installed to transport waste to a recycled water plant.
… Over the last three decades, San Francisco has seen
more than 70 structures go up with dual-plumbing systems that
separate potable from recycled water. … But there’s just
one problem. … San Francisco never built a recycled water
treatment plant for these buildings.
Scorching temperatures and reports of water scarcity are
grabbing headlines, as drought caused by climate change creates
long-term problems for farmers and communities in the United
States and around the world. … As frightening and as
insurmountable a challenge as chronic and growing water
shortages may seem, there are solutions at hand that can save
us from crisis. A small country in one of the driest
regions in the world is among those that have
developed policies and techniques to provide water in cities
and farms alike. That country is Israel. -Written by Seth M. Siegel, author of “Let There Be Water:
Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” and “Troubled
Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink.” He is currently the
Chief Sustainability Officer of N-Drip, a company which
developed water-saving technology for agricultural use.
Recycled water will soon be flowing into a pair of golf courses
in Seaside that will allow clean water to be pumped to
additional affordable housing in the largest city along the
Monterey coast. In the coming weeks, water will be pumped to
irrigate the Bayonet and Black Horse golf courses, both owned
by the city of Seaside, from advanced treated wastewater from
Monterey One Water’s Pure Water Monterey project. Treated water
for the golf courses will result in less water being pumped out
of the over-taxed Seaside Groundwater Basin.
In the parched Colorado River basin, water managers are turning
over every stone looking for ways to keep the taps flowing.
Now, they’re finding more water in some unusual places – shower
drains and toilet flushes. At a sprawling sewage treatment
plant in Carson, California, the occasional breeze delivers a
pungent whiff of a reminder of how used water becomes “reused.”
Here, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is
planting the seeds for a massive new facility, where a
multi-billion-dollar installation could help recycle wastewater
and keep drinking supply flowing for the agency’s 19 million
For a third time, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation
District (Regional San) has been recognized as a Utility of the
Future Today by a partnership of water sector organizations.
The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program was
launched in 2016 by a partnership of water sector
organizations, including the National Association of Clean
Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water
Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association. Input was
also provided from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The goal of the program is to guide utilities of all sizes
toward smarter, more efficient operations and resource
San Francisco Bay is sick this summer. A toxic algae bloom, the
biggest since 2004, is floating across the bay, visibly
changing the color of the water and killing off tens of
thousands of fish. The takeaway from this unprecedented bloom
is clear: The Bay Area needs to revolutionize its water
management. Algae blooms are fueled by two primary
ingredients. One is higher temperatures which, as the past
week’s record-breaking heat wave has shown, seems to
be a guarantee going forward. The other is excess nutrients,
principally nitrogen and phosphorus, which serve as a food
source for algae. -Written by Spreck Rosekrans, executive director of
the nonprofit Restore Hetch Hetchy.
The Coastside community is facing several problems today:
traffic congestion, a housing shortage and the impact of
droughts on our water supply. Of these three, only the future
prospect of annual water shortages due to the increasing
frequency of droughts is an existential threat to life here.
Housing without a reliable safe potable water supply is
uninhabitable. If we do not solve the water reserve problem
created by droughts, some homes here will have to be
abandoned. -Written by Jim Larimer, a former member of the
Pure Water Oceanside has been awarded a $9.9 million grant
following a recommendation by the office of U.S. Interior
Secretary Deb Haaland, it was announced Tuesday. The funding
will be awarded via the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART:
Title XVI WIIN Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects funding, a
statement from the city read. Oceanside is one of 25 applicants
named for this funding.
Water purification is a more palatable way to describe the
process of purifying and reusing wastewater, or all the water
that goes down our drains and yes…toilets, too. Currently, most
wastewater is treated to a certain level before being dumped in
the ocean. Water purification involves several additional steps
to get the water to drinkable quality. (More on that here). MWD
has partnered with the L.A. County Sanitation District, to
build what would be the nation’s largest wastewater recycling
facility. By 2032, Upadhyay says they’ll recycle enough water
to replace as much as 15% of the agency’s imported water
supply, though he said recycled water deliveries to some cities
could start as soon as 2027. Currently, recycled water offsets
about 9% of California’s water needs.
Growing impatient with the crop of political and legal
obstacles in its way, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District’s board of directors unanimously voted Aug. 15 to step
on the accelerator in carrying out the voter-supported effort
to buy out private water utility California American Water. The
$315,000 the board agreed to spend so an appraisal firm can
calculate the price value of Cal Am’s local assets is the last
step before the governmental agency decides whether to submit
an offer for the system. The degree of precision in
estimating the value of the system will depend on whether Cal
Am voluntarily lets the appraisal firm onto their property, a
decision Cal Am has not yet made according to its spokesperson
In 2019, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled what the city
calls “The Green New Deal.” This ambitious sustainability plan
stipulates many policy and infrastructural changes to prepare
the four-million-person city for climate change. To name a few,
the Deal includes: transitioning the power grid to 100%
renewable energy by 2045; modifying 100% of buildings to be net
zero carbon by 2050; increasing zero emission vehicles, and
electrifying all Metro and LADOT buses, to reach zero carbon
transportation by 2050. … One solution is to reduce the
city’s dependence on imported water by recycling 100% of its
wastewater by 2035.
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 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.
Grey water, also spelled as gray water, is water that already has
been used domestically, commercially and industrially. This
includes the leftover, untreated water generated from washing
machines, bathtubs and bathroom sinks.
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.