ACWA’s eNews is a weekly roundup of California water news and events.
Michael L. Connor, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is scheduled to address ACWA’s annual Washington, D.C., conference later this month.
Connor has led the Bureau since 2009 and has worked there in various capacities for more than two decades. During his tenure he has led Reclamation’s efforts to promote the sustainable use of water to address current and future challenges associated with water supply and power generation in the West.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded nearly $153 million in grants for integrated regional water management projects around the state, the department announced Wednesday.
Several ACWA member agencies, such as San Diego County Water Authority, Coachella Valley Water District and Merced Irrigation District, are among the grantees. The funding is made possible through Proposition 84, which authorized the Legislature to appropriate $1 billion for integrated regional water management (IRWM).
Beginning Tuesday more than 700 electronic highway signs in California are carrying a new drought-related message:
HELP SAVE WATER
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is using the Changeable Message Signs to get the word out as part of a broader effort supporting the Save the Our Water program and governor’s call for water conservation.
The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee and the Assembly Health Committee have scheduled a joint hearing Feb. 18 on the impact of the 2014 drought on drinking water for vulnerable communities.
The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. in room 437 of the State Capitol. Details are expected to be available soon here.
Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors formally declared a water supply alert and doubled its water conservation budget on Tuesday.
The moves were anticipated since Gov. Jerry Brown visited Metropolitan late last month and urged Southern California and the rest of the state to continue conserving water. The governor declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17 and called on California to voluntarily reduce water use by 20%.
An ACWA-opposed bill that would place a $6.5 billion water bond on the November ballot was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Feb. 11 and now will move to the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee.
Legislation from U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein would provide California and other Western states with $300 million in emergency funds for drought-relief projects and economic assistance, and would order federal agencies to take additional steps to maximize water supplies.
Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-29), Jim Costa (D-16), and Sam Farr (D-20) are sponsoring a companion bill in the House.
On Monday night, the House voted on a bill to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) by a vote of 365 to 21. The bill, HR 2431, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), would extend funding for the NIDIS through 2018 with a $13.5 million annual budget. The passage of this bill follows similar action by the Senate, which last week approved a similar bill (S. 376) by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) that would cut the program’s annual budget to $12 million.
Recent storms brought sorely needed rain and snowfall to Northern California, but water managers say the state is nowhere close to recovering from record drought conditions.
Precipitation recorded over the past several days has given a boost to some drought-stricken areas, but it’s not enough to bring California back to normal water conditions for this time of year, according to the Department of Water Resources.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Drinking Water Program on Feb. 10 approved $250,000 of emergency funding for the city of Willits to install an emergency water pipe to deliver safe drinking water to its residents.
The Willits water system has been identified as one of 17 systems in the state vulnerable to losing its capacity to deliver safe drinking water due to drought conditions in California.
An op-ed by ACWA President John Coleman detailing California’s unprecedented drought and calling for a comprehensive water action plan with targeted investments in water storage, recycling and water-use efficiency ran in the Sunday Feb. 9 edition of The Sacramento Bee.
The Feb. 7 edition of ACWA News is now available online. The top story continues to be the drought. State and federal agencies are taking unprecedented actions and pooling their resources amid California’s dire drought situation. ACWA also is acting swiftly by forming a Drought Action Group that will recommend specific actions to combat this year’s severe drought conditions.
Other stories this issue include:
The water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins – including snow, soil moisture, groundwater and surface water – has declined precipitously over the past two years due to increased groundwater pumping because of the state’s dry conditions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) on Feb. 5 announced it has begun focused drought-related surveys for delta smelt as part of the federal response to California’s severe drought.
The surveys will provide USFW, state and other federal water managers with real-time information about the location of delta smelt and details if the smelt move closer to water diversions in the southern Delta. The surveys will be conducted at Jersey Point on the San Joaquin River with assistance from the Bureau of Reclamation.
With California now in its worst drought on record, ACWA is moving to assemble a group of water community experts to recommend specific actions to combat severe drought conditions this year.
ACWA’s Board of Directors voted to establish the Drought Action Group at its Jan. 31 meeting as a way to channel expertise and hands-on drought experience to identify needs and potential solutions. The group’s work will help guide ACWA’s efforts at the state and federal level to advance actions to reduce impacts this year and in future droughts.
The House of Representatives on Feb. 5 passed Rep. David Valadao’s (CA-21) HR 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, by a vote of 229-121. Every Democratic member of California’s congressional delegation voted against the bill with the exception of Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16). The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, and President Obama has vowed to veto it if it reaches his desk.
Fri, 02/14/2014 – 9:00am – 12:30pm
Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street, Sacramento
Whether it’s the lowest Sierra snowpack on record or the historic announcement of zero deliveries from the State Water Project, it’s clear that California is in a drought of epic proportions.
Local, state and federal agencies are mobilizing to address the challenge, but experts agree we are in uncharted territory. What will these unprecedented conditions and unprecedented response measures mean for Californians in 2014? How will impacts of the drought reverberate across the state this summer?
Mon, 02/24/2014 – Wed, 02/26/2014
Lake Natoma Inn, Folsom
The California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum will hold its 20th Annual Meeting at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom from February 24 to 26. Highlights of the Annual Meeting include many excellent technical sessions, a joint day with the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) on February 26, keynote address by Gary Bardini, Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources, the presentation of the Hugo B. Fischer and Life Membership awards, and an evening social at Sudwerk.
Tue, 02/25/2014 – Thu, 02/27/2014
The Liaison Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
ACWA’s 2014 Washington DC Conference is set for Feb. 25-27, 2014, at the Liaison Capitol Hill.
Groundwater Issues and Water Management – Strategies Addressing the Challenges of Sustainability in California
Tue, 03/04/2014 – Fri, 03/07/2014
Lions Gate Hotel at McClellan Park 3410 Westover Street, Sacramento, CA 95652
Groundwater Resources Association (GRA), in cooperation with the United States Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (USCID), are organizing two co-located USCID and GRA Conferences that provide a unique opportunity for attendees to access simultaneously the technical and policy challenges facing groundwater resources.
Sacramento Convention Center
The 2014 ACWA Legislative Symposium is set for March 5 at the Sacramento Convention Center.
Fri, 03/21/2014 – 8:00am – 4:30pm
Rancho Cucamonga and Rialto
ACWA is hosting a new workshop and tour this year on small hydropower. A half-day workshop at the Cucamonga Valley Water District Frontier Project will include programs on site selection, permitting, financing and small hydropower technologies. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Attendees then will have the option in the afternoon of touring Fontana Water Company’s Sandhill Small Hydro Facility in Rialto.
This workshop may qualify toward the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) continuing education credit.
Wed, 03/26/2014 – Thu, 03/27/2014
University of California, Irvine
Presented by the Orange County Water District, Disneyland Resort, National Water Research Institute and the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team, the Festival presents a unique opportunity to educate Orange County’s third, fourth and fifth grade students about water and the environment. More than 7,000 students are expected to attend. Volunteers, presenters and sponsors are needed to support this educational event. Learn more at www.childrenwaterfestival.com.
Thu, 04/03/2014 – Fri, 04/04/2014
The Roberts Environmental Center at Claremont McKenna College
The California Water Policy conference is set for April 3-4 at Claremont McKenna College.
UC Davis Conference Center (Davis, CA)
The 2nd Annual Climate Change Water and Society (CCWAS) IGERT State of the Science workshop is here! “Climate Change and the Future of Groundwater in California” aims to bring together scientists, water managers, policy and decision makers, engineers and other interested stakeholders to identify key challenges and solutions for a sustainable groundwater future.
Tue, 05/06/2014 – Fri, 05/09/2014
Portola and Marriott Hotels, Monterey
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, Anaheim
Presented by the Orange County Water District, the Municipal Water District of Orange County and Disneyland Resort, the Summit brings together more than 500 Southern California business professionals with international, national and state water industry stakeholders, elected officials, environmentalists, scientists and community leaders to discuss ongoing global water issues and how water supply challenges impact our economy and public safety. Prominent authors, world-renowned experts and distinguished speakers will also be a part of this critical dialogue.