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Archive for the ‘Water conservation’ Category

Southern California, a leader in water conservation

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 6, 2014


SoCal1 SoCal2

Infographic from the Southern California Water Committee.


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Reminder to abide by permanent water use restrictions

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 7, 2014

News release from the San Diego Public Utilities Department:

(this may not be visible on the email that goes to subscribers. If you are having trouble viewing this in your email, please click the post title to view this page in your browser)


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San Diego water conservation poster contest underway

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 28, 2013


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City of San Diego issues reminder about outdoor watering restrictions

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 2, 2012

San Diego has been experiencing warmer weather already and summer isn’t even here yet. If you live on property that has landscaping, you’re probably going to use more water during the next few months.

So the City of San Diego released this timely news release to remind everyone that some of the water use restrictions in the city’s water use ordinance are permanent…drought or no drought.

One such permanent restriction dictates what time of day you may do outdoor watering.

The restricted hours vary a little depending on the season, but in a nutshell outdoor watering is permitted only in the early morning or late afternoon/evening. This law is intended to reduce water waste because a great deal of water is lost to evaporation when watering during the warmest hours of the day. Effective June 1, we’re now bound by the summer schedule specified in the ordinance.

I hope San Diego’s major news media will remind the city’s residents about this as well. Lately I’ve been seeing lawn sprinklers turned on at noon or even later during the warmest part of the afternoon. I’ve even seen lawns in city parks being watered during prohibited hours.

Some people seem to be unaware of the law prohibiting outdoor watering during the warmest time of the day (apparently including some employees at the Park and Recreation Dept.), or else they just don’t care.

Below is a copy of the official news release. If the text is too small for your eyes, you can expand the document to full-screen by clicking the rectangular button at the bottom right corner of the document window (don’t bother with the zoom [+] [-] tools, they won’t get you a full screen):


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MWD to San Diego water managers: you’ve betrayed us

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 23, 2011

[updated June 24]

You’ll recall that Metropolitan Water District (MWD) recently terminated a number of agreements to help fund local conservation and water supply development projects like the San Vicente Recycling project in Ramona and also decided against entering pending agreements to support projects such as the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project.

San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) has a big objection: MWD funds such conservation program agreements from its Water Stewardship Rate fee…and SDCWA’s contribution to that fund comes to a cool $22.5 million per year. Not fair, they say.

SDCWA says MWD’s terminations amount to “retaliation” for a lawsuit charging that MWD’s water transportation rate structure is illegal. SDCWA says MWD’s rates are illegal in part because MWD overcharges for delivering water that SDCWA already owns, in effect subsidizing MWD’s State Water Project water. This circumstance comes about because SDCWA buys Imperial Valley water from Imperial Irrigation District and pays MWD a wheeling charge to transport to the water to San Diego Aqueduct pipelines via the Colorado River Aqueduct. What gets bundled into that wheeling charge is the question.

The topic came up at this morning’s SDCWA Imported Water Committee meeting, part of a monthly all-day committee marathon culminating in a Board meeting.

“SDCWA pays $22.5 million per year to support that program and receives nothing in return?” asked Director Doug Wilson. “Why don’t we just stop sending that money and keep it for ourselves?” That was met with silent agreement, but General Manager Maureen Stapleton cautioned that there would be complications with unilaterally stopping those payments.

However, the meeting agenda packet reveals a variant tactic. A letter sent on June 13 to MWD Chairman Jack Foley reads in part:

“The Water Authority pays more to support MWD’s conservation and local supply programs than any other MWD member agency. By MWD’s own estimate, the Water Authority averages $22.5 million annually in Water Stewardship Rate payments; yet, under MWD board policy and action
under the RSI clause, the Water Authority and the ratepayers it serves are ineligible for program
benefits. The Water Authority hereby makes formal demand that MWD cease collection of Water Stewardship Rate dollars from the Water Authority’s ratepayers so we may fund our own conservation and local water supply development projects directly.”

The letter was signed by Directors Jim Bowersox, Lynne Heidel, Keith Lewinger, and Fern Steiner.

Director Lewinger lobbied that it’s time to begin a really vigorous public relations campaign and flood the county with updates and news highlighting the situation.

Was MWD retaliating for the lawsuit when it terminated its agreements? SDCWA Director Lynne Heidel said MWD Chairman Foley recently told her “You’re all a bunch of Benedict Arnolds.” Kidding? – maybe.* But GM Stapleton said she heard the same thing and that Foley later told her “Don’t take it personally.” Stapleton’s reply: “Just call me Ms. Arnold.”

* June 24: Someone told me they didn’t understand what the “betrayal” was. My take is that these are water management colleagues who are normally on friendly terms and the lawsuit puts them in a sensitive position, perhaps like someone choosing sides when a couple with whom (s)he is mutual friends are getting divorced. I guess Stapleton could have also replied that MWD was the Benedict Arnold by engaging in retaliation.




The following is from a handout provided at the committee meeting showing the status of the existing and pending agreements with MWD.


Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water conservation | 2 Comments »

Lawsuit leads to cut in Poseidon desalination subsidy and more

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 14, 2011

[updated June 16–see bottom]

As predicted here one year ago (San Diego County Water Authority water pricing lawsuit could jeopardize funding for Carlsbad Desalination Plant), the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has moved to terminate an agreement that would have paid a subsidy of $250 per acre foot (potentially $14M annually) to Posiedon and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) for water produced at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. According to the SDCWA news release, “The MWD board also instructed its staff to refuse to consider any pending or future local supply development projects in San Diego County. The pending agreements included the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, which would have been eligible for up to $14 million in annual payments.” SDCWA said MWD’s action was retaliation for its lawsuit filed last year challenging MWD’s water rates.

Other MWD conservation rebates were also affected.

Here are news releases from both parties and local news reports:

A few days ago, the Sacramento Bee had this observation on the dispute: Warring water agencies should tone down rhetoric.

June 16: MWD move will not affect Carlsbad desalination, says Poseidon

Please see also the June 16 update to this story


Posted in Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water conservation, Water desalination | 2 Comments »

On the proposed overhaul of San Diego’s water policy

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 3, 2011

At yesterday’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee meeting, Councilmember Sherri Lightner unveiled her proposal for an overhaul of San Diego water policy. Click here to see the draft policy.

I addressed the committee during the public comments period. Here’s what I had to share:

Good afternoon. My name is George Janczyn. I publish a San Diego water blog and I would like to share some comments on the overhaul of San Diego’s water policy.

First, although we’ve experienced a fairly wet rainy season, the policy should not succumb to popular pressure to ease water use restrictions. Despite our efforts to develop more local supplies like desalination, Indirect Potable Reuse, and groundwater resources, the fact is that San Diego will always get most of its water by importing it. But our northern California supply is being reduced because of limits on pumping from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta; and our current Colorado River allocation is threatened because demand by the lower basin states exceeds what the river can sustain, even if one leaves climate change out of the equation. Eventually there could be reductions in water from the Colorado River as well.

As demand for water grows in San Diego, providing a reliable supply will become more challenging.

San Diegans need to develop a mindset for living in an arid region and discard the notion that strict conservation is needed only periodically when there’s a severe drought. San Diego needs a policy of more rigorous conservation practices…and permanently, not just when there’s a dry year.

Second, the policy should be more assertive in supporting potable reuse for high-quality and reliable local water. Despite the fact that the previous city councils strongly promoted a potable reuse policy, some committee votes more recently have actually hindered development on that front and the new proposed water policy only half-heartedly offers this:

“Support indirect potable reuse if the Water Purification Demonstration Project is successful.”

We need to look forward on the use of IPR.

The original plan was to have full-scale IPR reservoir augmentation that will produce only 16 million gallons per day. What the committee should do now is look into the feasibility of increasing that amount to a meaningful number, say 50 million gallons per day using Direct Potable Reuse, so that it would be on a par with the output of the upcoming Poseidon desalination plant.

Planning for an eventual 50 million gallons per day for San Vicente reservoir augmentation would require study. In order to accommodate that much capacity, the use of San Vicente Reservoir as a six-month environmental buffer might not be possible. While the reservoir could still be used for storage of the purified reclaimed water, the higher volume of water would mean more turnover in the reservoir so the time period would have to be shorter – in essence the indirect potable reuse aspect would cross over into being Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) which would raise new questions about safeguards.

On that topic, note that California Senate Bill 918 (Pavley) would require the State Department of Public Health, in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board, to investigate the feasibility of developing water recycling criteria for DPR. More immediately, I’ve learned the WateReuse Research Foundation might soon support a study on DPR feasibility. The NR&C committee should consider asking the Public Utilities Department to support or coordinate with the Foundation on such research.

In any case, San Diego water policy should more firmly promote Potable Reuse as an integral component of our water strategy.

Thank you.

See also:

Posted in Indirect potable reuse, Natural Resources and Culture Committee, Water, Water conservation | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Water news from the Natural Resources & Culture Committee

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 1, 2011

The San Diego Public Utilities Department submitted the following reports for the Feb 2 meeting of the City Council Natural Resources & Culture Committee.


Posted in Indirect potable reuse, Water, Water conservation, Water Purification Demonstration Project | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

San Diego monthly update on conservation and water use restrictions

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 18, 2010

Pulled from the Oct 20 agenda of the Natural Resources and Culture Committee (San Diego City Council)


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San Diego Council looks to relax water conservation effort

Posted by George J Janczyn on September 16, 2010

There’s an apt observation contained in this message from the president of the American Water Resources Association:

“…the present level of water use cannot be maintained…We all need to understand water conservation is not just for short-term drought shortages. For example, during the early 1990’s drought water use in San Diego dropped to 147 gallons per person per day but then after the drought use rebounded to 180 gallons per person per day. Conservation and efficiency improvements can and must be adopted on a continuing basis to meet our future water needs. Continuing and more water conservation are needed and each individual can make a difference.”

Once again, in fiscal year 2010 San Diego residents reduced their water usage by 11% over the previous one-year period, largely because of landscape watering restrictions that were enacted. Could those conservation efforts evaporate as before? That looks like a definite possibility.

This past spring Councilmember Donna Frye voiced fear that residents might succumb to a feeling that San Diego’s water supply problems are only due to a temporary drought — that the decent rainy season brings everything back to normal. To counter that mistaken impression, she proposed to make landscape watering restrictions a permanent rule, in particular the limit on how many minutes per day a sprinkler may be operated.

Before the proposal was formally introduced to the Natural Resources and Culture Committee, pressure grew from landscaping contractors with large grassy lawns to maintain (like the American Society of Landscape Architects and the California Landscape Contractors Association) and from homeowners who said they are “tired of living as if there is a drought.”

Consequently, in the days before the Sept. 8 committee meeting, the so-called “10-minute limit” on sprinkler use was quietly removed from the proposal and the committee was presented with a revised ordinance that asks only that San Diegans limit landscape watering to morning and evening hours of the day, with no limits on quantity (and even that milquetoast restriction was opposed by the contractors). As before, real watering restrictions would require a special drought-level 2 or higher declaration by the City Council. The committee approved the revised proposal and sent it on to the Council.

The City Council will soon get to vote on this ordinance that does little more than pay lip service to conservation. Once that passes and the previous watering restrictions are lifted, it will be interesting to see whether public service reminders alone will be enough to prevent consumption from returning to previous levels.

For the foreseeable future, the Council will be faced with figuring out how to limit rate increases needed to pay for increasingly expensive imported and desalinated water. From a strategic viewpoint, it’s not reassuring that they can’t even muster the will to mandate conservation which is “the most favorable and least costly option” for addressing San Diego’s tight water situation.


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