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Archive for the ‘Scripps Institution of Oceanography’ Category

Panel: Signs of the tide — San Diego’s water supply

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 9, 2010

“Signs of the tide — San Diego’s water supply” was the title of an interactive panel discussion hosted by San Diego Coastkeeper yesterday evening at the Urban Corps of San Diego County facility in the Midway area.

Panelists were David Pierce, Analyst, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Jared Criscuolo, Co-founder, Below the Surface; Bruce Reznik, Advocate, San Diego Coastkeeper; and Brook Sarson, Owner, H2Ome, and the moderator was Rob Davis, Senior Writer, Voice of San Diego.

The first speaker, David Pearce, delivered an overview of San Diego’s water supply situation. Using slides with maps and charts, he set up the dynamic of our need to import 80% of our water and a growing population against how expected water shortages, climate change, economics, issues with the California Delta, and decreasing Colorado River Basin runoff present difficult challenges to plan and make adjustments for. He illustrated how the price of water rises at each stage of the delivery process and commented about the low price for farming use vs. high prices for urban use being a factor in water use and conservation, saying “people make different decisions when water is cheap.”

From left: Rob Davis, Brook Sarson, David Pierce, Jared Criscuolo, Bruce Reznik.

Next, Jared Criscuolo showed slides from his group’s “Spring to Sandtrap” canoe expedition to explore the headwaters of the Sacramento River through the State Water Project to the sprinklers at a Southern California golf course (the shot of that looked like it might be Palm Springs). He said that they had intended to but didn’t actually canoe through the SWP aqueduct because it was dangerous and also prohibited (someone behind me whispered “they better not have…that’s drinking water!”). The expedition documented how relatively pristine water conditions near the headwaters rapidly deteriorated as they went downstream where they encountered numerous facilities drawing water on the one hand and expelling wastewater on the other, with water becoming murkier and algae growth more prominent as they continued their journey.

Bruce Reznik spoke on organizing and planning issues for San Diego’s water future. He criticized the San Diego County Water Authority for lacking vision in their planning and observed that they seem to just gather information on projects and needs from member water agencies and then plug that into a master plan. He also complained about their charts illustrating increased diversification in water sources, saying they’re misleading because they count canal lining and the IID water transfer as representing a reduction in the imported water category where in fact that’s just a financial arrangement for getting more of the same imported water. After comparing various water supply options using data from Equinox Center reports, highlighting desal as an extreme that should be considered last resort, he concluded saying “solutions are easy, the problem is political will.”

Finally, Brook Sarson covered rainwater harvest, stormwater redirection, and greywater reuse design and cost issues. She talked about the mindset people have about getting water away from the house and property and the desirability of finding ways to redirect it into the local soil. She also covered practical issues with greywater use, noting that it’s a bit more involved because it often requires a permit, can’t be stored for longer than 24 hours, and can only be used on certain types of plants. She displayed slides from some the rainwater harvest projects she has installed locally through her H2Ome business.

Overall impression: a worthwhile informative gathering, but while turnout was probably around 100, most appeared to be people already well-schooled in water issues. I think the hope was to address more newbies who would be learning something new but I’m sure the organizers were gratified to see so many well-informed people coming together for this event.

Logistics –

Prior to starting we were treated to a light dinner of pizza and ice tea.

Dylan Edwards from Coastkeeper did the welcome and closing remarks.

The moderator Rob Davis gave a brief introduction to each panelist and fielded questions turned in from the audience on paper slips during the discussion.

One of the sponsors, San Diego Gas & Electric, had a small booth with pamphlets and information about the Smart Meter program.

I was told slides from the PowerPoint presentations will be made available by Coastkeeper, and I’ll add a link to them here when they’re available.

The North County Times filed this report on the meeting. San Diego Coastkeeper also did some live tweeting from the event.


Posted in Environment, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Water | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Keeping SIO sea-watered

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 30, 2010

You might imagine that UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in La Jolla is a major water user — seawater, that is — for its various aquariums and research units, but did you know the pier is the conduit for that water?

The SIO pier

Facilities at end of pier

Securing the hoist after pulling a boat out of the water

Surfers' view from the pier

The nearly 1100-foot-long pier at Scripps was built in 1987-88 to replace an older pier that dated back to 1915. It not only provides for the launching for ocean-bound research boats and collection of data on ocean and weather conditions, but also is the drinking straw in the ocean for the seawater filtration, distribution, and discharge system that provides the various labs and aquariums with the seawater they need.

A housing at the end of the pier holds three vacuum-assisted pumps, along with a backup pump available on standby. The system can produce a flow of about 1200 gallons per minute, and generally produces about 800,000 gallons per day (although it is permitted for up to 1.25 million gpd).

Inside the pump house

Inside the pump house

A long ladder down to the pumps

Pump closeup

The fiberglass flume runs along the south side of the pier

Three pumps, three pipes

Water from flume goes through the sand filters

Sand filters, settling tanks, and backwash discharge pipe

A flume runs from the end of the pier to the shore conveying the water through a screen to trap large kelp and other debris. The water then goes into settling tanks and then through four high-speed sand filters. From there it is pumped up to several 15,000 gallon storage tanks and a 60,000 gallon tank on the hillside which provide a steady gravity-feed of water to the aquariums and lab facilities below. After the water flows through the various systems, it is returned to the ocean via several outfalls near the pier. Because the waters offshore are designated as the San Diego Marine Life Refuge, the discharges are regulated and monitored under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Program (NPDES) permit.

Inside the experimental aquarium facility

Specimen tank

More specimens

More spaces in the experimental aquarium facility

The Ring Tank next to the Kaplan Lab is no longer used

Pool adjacent to ring tank is also no longer used

The high quality filtered seawater is a critical resource in numerous marine biology and oceanographic research and teaching activities at SIO. The Birch Aquarium, the Hubbs Hall Experimental Aquarium, Ritter Hall Experimental Aquarium, Hydraulics Laboratory, and even the nearby NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center all receive a constant flow of fresh seawater through the delivery system.

Behind the scenes is a variety of life support chillers, heat exchangers, piping, pumps, filtration systems, electrical equipment, and backup power systems. A crew of 8 provides 24/7 support for the seawater delivery facilities.

Birch Aquarium

Water tank above Birch Aquarium

Thanks to Mario Aguilera, Assistant Director of Scripps Communications, and Jose Moret, Superintendent of Zone Maintenance Operations for giving me a tour of the facilities.

Posted in Environment, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Water | Leave a Comment »

World’s largest oceanography library goes digital

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 20, 2010

Approximately 100,000 volumes from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library, the world’s largest oceanography library, have been digitized and are being made publically accessible as part of a partnership between Google, the University of California and the UC San Diego Libraries.

The digitized books from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library and other materials from the UCSD Libraries are accessible via the Google Book Search index. The search engine allows anyone to search the full text of books from libraries and publishing partners. For books in the public domain, readers will be able to view, browse and read the full texts online. For books protected by copyright, users can access basic background (such as the book’s title and the author’s name), a few lines of text related to their search and information about where they can borrow or buy a book.

Click here for the entire UCSD News story.

Posted in Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Friday spot check: Scripps Pier

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 30, 2010

Today’s 9:30am visit to the SIO pier found good size but somewhat junky surf from yesterday’s winds. An onshore breeze was building which didn’t help matters much. Most sets were closed out, surfers had little to choose from between sets, and rides were very short. Click for enlargements.


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