Water and energy are interconnected. A frequent term to describe this relationship is the “water-energy nexus.”
Energy for Water: Energy is needed to store water, get it where it is needed and also treat it to be used:
* Extracting water from rivers and streams or pumping it from aquifers, and then conveying it over hills and into storage facilities is a highly energy intensive process. The State Water Project (SWP) pumps water 700 miles, including up nearly 2,000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains. The SWP is the largest single user of energy in California. It consumes an average of 5 billion kWh per year. That’s about 2 to 3 percent of all electricity consumed in California
* Water treatment facilities use energy to pump and process water for use in homes, businesses and industry
* Consumers use energy to treat water with softeners or filters, to circulate and pressurize water and to heat and cool water
* Wastewater plants use energy to pump wastewater to treatment plants, and also to aerate and filter it at the plant.
Different end uses require more electricity for delivery than others. Water for residential, commercial and industrial end-use needs the most energy (11 percent), followed by agricultural end-use (3 percent), residential, commercial and industrial supply and treatment (3 percent), agricultural water supply and treatment (1 percent) and wastewater treatment (1 percent), according to the California Energy Commission.
Water for Energy: Water is used to generate electricity
* Water is needed either to process raw materials used in a facility or maintaining a plant,or to just generate electricity itself.
Overall, the electricity industry is second only to agriculture as the largest user of water in the United States. Electricity production from fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires 190,000 million gallons of water per day, accounting for 39 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the nation. Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and each kWh generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water.
Solar panels have trouble producing renewable energy whenever it snows. With winters expected to increase in severity because of climate change, generating power in the cold, snowy season will likely become a major issue in years to come. Fortunately, scientists from UCLA just invented a way to produce energy from snow. The researchers call their handy device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow TENG). It works by generating power via static electricity.
The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. … When asked who funds his project, Sam Tucker listed five foundations. Those foundations’ grant databases showed that his campaign has received at least $8.6 million since 2016. … Almost half — $4 million — of the campaign’s money came from one source: the Walton Family Foundation. (Second of two parts.)
Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.
The dominant water issue facing our community and every community in California today is the insecurity of the water supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
Balancing fisheries restoration and water-supply reliability is central to a water struggle playing out in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. withdrew its application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, leaving the now “orphaned” project in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The US hydro fleet, despite experiencing flat growth in total capacity since the 1970s, is experiencing a renaissance. It isn’t only in California, but across the country – with some of the nearly 2200 facilities commanding substantial earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, owing in part to their renewable characteristics but also to their very long asset lives.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Friday that the EPA’s 2015 power plant wastewater pollution rule was not stringent enough, siding with environmentalists. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled in favor of various environmental groups that portions of the wastewater rule regulating legacy wastewater and liquid from impoundments were “unlawful.”
On the northern tip of California … Calpine Corporation won a U.S. government contract in 1982 to explore geothermal energy on 2,560 acres of national forest in the Medicine Lake Highlands of Siskiyou County. Now some 37 years later, members of the Pit River Tribe claim the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has allowed Calpine to squat on their sacred land for decades, even as the company fails to meet lease renewal requirements by making “diligent efforts” to produce geothermal power.
The main target of the order is Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which grants states the power to certify that construction projects will not harm water quality. … The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consult with states and tribes about whether Section 401 guidance should be modified. Some state organizations have expressed firm opposition to the administration’s attempt to supersede state permitting authority.
U.S. presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said on Monday she would ban all fossil fuel extraction on federal land and in coastal waters, setting herself apart from a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls who have made climate change a central campaign issue but have yet to outline specific policies.
When heavy rain falls over the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean, it is a good indicator that temperatures in central California will reach 100°F in four to 16 days, according to a collaborative research team from the University of California, Davis, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Center in Busan, South Korea. The results were published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on April 12.
Statewide leaders in agriculture recently launched an initiative to clean oilfield wastewater for use in arid Western states, hoping to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and improve the lives of ranchers and farmers.
Should the governor want to do away with fracking, he could issue an emergency order placing a moratorium on it. But the public hasn’t heard from Newsom on the issue as he has laid out his initial priorities, and his staff did not answer questions from CALmatters about his current leanings.
Two of the four plants are scheduled to close by 2025. The fate of the third rests upon a longshot bid to keep it open beyond 2022. … Navajo Generating Station was built as part of a federal effort to bring water to Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Power from the plant was used to pump water up and out of the Colorado River and across the desert. The federal government still owns a stake in NGS through the Interior Department.
A new rule goes into effect today that will help protect California’s groundwater. … The new standards for oilfield injection are some of the strongest in the nation. They require stricter permitting standards, regular mechanical integrity testing and routine pressure monitoring – all necessary ingredients for safeguarding groundwater.
Armed with a recent court ruling that climate change must be considered in decisions to open federal land to oil and gas drilling, conservationists shot the opening volley Thursday in what promises to be a protracted legal battle over the future of fracking and oil drilling in Northern California.
As a result of California’s outdated water infrastructure and persistent droughts, some elected leaders are shifting the focus to investing in seawater desalination to help address the state’s water crisis. While less than half a dozen desalination plants currently exist in the state, the idea is gaining momentum and greater support at the state level.
Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination plant got a major boost this week when the City Council officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition 1…
The city is suiting up for construction of a new facility later this year that will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of drinking water for residents by 2022. Pure Water Oceanside is a water purification system that aims to reduce the city’s reliance on imported water, improve groundwater resources, increase local water supply and strengthen the city’s resiliency to drought and climate change in an environmentally sound process.
Whitewater rafting businesses are holding out hope of getting a safe landing area near the Ward’s Ferry bridge over the Tuolumne River, as a condition of relicensing the Don Pedro hydroelectric project. At a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing Tuesday in Modesto, speakers said an existing takeout for rafts on the Tuolumne, upstream from Don Pedro Reservoir, is under water because of dam operations. And the options for getting boats out of the water are not safe.
In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the energy, food and water issues facing the state into a sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.
The City of Oceanside is taking control of its water destiny, investing in a facility to purify recycled water from homes. “It’s not being used, it’s really a waste. A lot of that water is going out to the ocean and it’s really a precious resource,” said Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director for the city. This Fall they’ll break ground on the Pure Water Oceanside facility, which will sit right next to the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility.
Four hours east of Los Angeles, in a drought-stricken area of a drought-afflicted state, is a small town called Blythe where alfalfa is king. … Massive industrial storehouses line the southern end of town, packed with thousands upon thousands of stacks of alfalfa bales ready to be fed to dairy cows – but not cows in California’s Central Valley or Montana’s rangelands. Instead, the alfalfa will be fed to cows in Saudi Arabia.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board … detailed a specific timeline for the board’s permit process — with a final vote penciled in for Oct. 25. Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni interpreted that as a signal that board geologists, engineers and administrators are confident they can work through outstanding issues.
The stations monitor meteorological conditions over the water and estimate evaporation using four primary methods: eddy covariance, energy balance, aerodynamic bulk mass transfer, and the combination of energy balance and aerodynamic. Data from the stations are transmitted back to the research team via a web portal for real-time monitoring.
California American Water has notified the state Public Utilities Commission it does not plan to pursue a Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal, at least for now, arguing that its proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project is still on schedule and noting an absence of detailed information on the proposal, as well as an apparent increase in the cost of the recycled water project.
For a second, let’s consider what these cybercriminals stand to gain from you: financial, data (operational, client, etc.), bandwidth, processing, and power. You likely thought of the first few – but have you considered how much processing power you could also be offering? Why would processing, power and bandwidth be of interest? Cryptocurrency mining.
AquaCycl, a San Diego-based wastewater treatment startup, took home the grand prize at the San Diego Angel Conference on March 15. … The company developed a technology that uses electricity-generating bacteria to speed up wastewater treatment rates, resulting in a more efficient, lower-cost option.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
Dozens of computer coding teams from around San Joaquin County were tasked to create an app in roughly seven hours. The issue: following the destruction caused by the malfunction of the Oroville Dam in February 2017 and the evacuation of more than 180,000 people, could there be an app that can track dam leakage, seismic activity and other structural impacts and communicate with the appropriate individuals to help deter another disaster?
Environmental groups and local residents are sounding alarms that proposed drilling projects would triple onshore oil production in Santa Barbara County — to which the oil industry says, “What’s wrong with that?”
The city of Oceanside is receiving more than $2.6 million in federal funding to increase its local water supply and to reduce brine discharge into the ocean. The city will receive $2.623 million in funding from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART’s Desalination Construction Projects under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), subject to federal appropriations.
A state environmental group is calling for the removal of an old dam on the Eel River, contending it threatens the future of protected salmon and steelhead while acknowledging it is a key part of the North Bay’s water supply. Scott Dam, a 138-foot concrete dam erected in 1922, is one of five aging dams California Trout asserts are “ripe for removal” to benefit their natural surroundings and communities.
One way or another, $53 million of Utahns’ money soon may get sunk into a deep-water export terminal on the West Coast in an effort to shore up the state’s fading coal industry. On Monday, a Senate panel advanced a bill that would transfer a special fund to the Utah Office of Energy Development… That fund was set up to legitimize a $53 million CIB loan that four coal-producing counties hoped to invest in a controversial export terminal under development in Oakland, Calif.
A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously rejected a key desalination project permit, California American Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City Council. On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council, arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal project.
Poseidon is a bad deal for ratepayers. The study by the experts at MWDOC ranked Poseidon dead last among local water projects based on cost. Even after demanding a $400 million subsidy financed by Southern California water users, Poseidon’s water is still overpriced, costing twice per gallon as much as some of the conservation, recycling and rainwater projects already in development around our region.
A project offering to triple Santa Barbara County’s oil production continues stirring debate. Environmentalists believe a proposal to add dozens of oil wells in Cat Canyon could trigger the next oil spill and contaminate the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, while supporters insist it would boost the local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue.
A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets Wednesday in Santa Maria. Project opponents have said they intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the project that would have significant impacts on biological, surface water and groundwater resources and would increase noise, according to the environmental impact report.
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and operate pipelines within California near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas
California is battling federal authorities over how to clean up a contaminated former nuclear research site near Simi Valley that was also caught up in the flames of November’s Woolsey Fire. The fire complicated cleanup efforts after burning large portions of the site, scorching nearly 100,000 acres of land, and destroying 1,643 buildings. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory operated as a nuclear research and rocket test facility on 2,850 acres from 1948 to 2006.
Plenty of snow in the Sierra and lots of rain just about everywhere else in California have helped alleviate drought conditions across the state. But there’s also another positive byproduct of the wet winter — a likely boost in the amount of hydroelectricity in California’s energy mix.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation Thursday to repurpose federal funding for the high-speed rail project. The Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act would take funding from the high-speed rail project and use it for water infrastructure projects in California and the West… McCarthy’s proposed legislation is cosponsored by every Republican member of the California Congressional Delegation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $205 million to reimburse California for the Oroville Dam spillway reconstruction costs, the state Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. … However, FEMA has notified DWR that it doesn’t think some of the reconstruction costs are eligible for reimbursement,
A recently completed study on the cost effectiveness and financial risk of proposals to meet water supply demands through 2050 concludes that the controversial Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach would produce more water than the Orange County basin needs and cost ratepayers far more than alternatives such as recycling and capturing rainwater.
The moment a lone duck was sucked into a 200ft-deep drain at a reservoir in northern California – and reportedly survived – has been captured on video. Known locally as the “Glory Hole”, the giant spillway is designed to capture excess water at Lake Berryessa reservoir in Napa County. Rick Fowler, the lake’s water resources manager, filmed the bird as it drifted towards the fast-swirling vortex and dropped down into the hole.
This past December, DWR reconnected electricity to the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Plant in Oroville, a major step towards returning the plant to full operation. A fire in November 2012 destroyed the plant’s operating capacity, requiring closure of the facility and its disconnection from the state’s electrical grid. …
The dramatic shift from dry to wet this winter hints at what’s to come. Scientists predict that California’s total precipitation will remain close to constant in the future, but it will fall in a shorter window of time, with more of it as rain. The state will also experience greater variability—more very wet and more very dry years. These findings highlight the need to capture rainfall and improve aging infrastructure. Here’s what to expect from California’s wet seasons, now and in the future.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
Working under a less-than-four-year deadline, Soquel Creek Water District is fine-tuning the ‘where’ of its planned water recycling plant construction. On Tuesday, district officials will recommend the board split the Pure Water Soquel project between two sites, with tertiary treatment at the city of Santa Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility and advanced purification at the controversial new site in Live Oak.
Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.
To help build leadership capacity and acquire water management tools for valley communities, Self-Help Enterprises invites water board members and staff, water leaders, and residents from rural communities to participate in the 2019 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute. The six-month program is scheduled for March through August, with sessions held one Saturday per month at Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which state holds the most clout: California. … California now has more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee chairs and vice chairs.
All eyes have been on the Colorado River recently with headlines across the west announcing the progress – or lack thereof – of the efforts of the seven basin states to reach agreement on the Drought Contingency Plan. So is the Colorado River in crisis? At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Brad Udall’s keynote presentation focused on answering that question.
Lake Oroville, currently at 773-foot elevation, could rise to 780-785 feet by the end of the month based on current projections. DWR and crews with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractor for the spillways construction project, would remove equipment from the main spillway if the lake elevation reached 780 feet.
Rep. Grace Napolitano, a Democrat with a district office in El Monte, sent a letter Wednesday, Feb. 20, urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make safety repairs at Whittier Narrows Dam its highest budgetary priority in light of an assessment that the barrier could fail in the event of a very large, very rare storm.
According to a new study from the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences, waves are crashing onto the coastline with more force than ever before — and this increase in wave strength is directly correlated to ocean warming.
A controversial oilfield wastewater disposal operation east of Bakersfield has been shut down amid a years-long regulatory crackdown and opposition by environmental activist organizations. The Jan. 3 closure … puts an end to a practice regional water quality regulators say threatened to foul Bakersfield’s water supply through a slow process of underground migration.
What may be the nation’s largest dam removal project—delayed for years by regulatory and legal disputes of a utility, stakeholders and states over licensing and environmental permits—now may have new momentum after a hard-hitting January federal appeals court ruling. Kiewit Infrastructure West, Granite Construction and Barnard Construction are shortlisted for the $400-million project to design and deconstruct four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon.
As Californians, I believe we must look west to the Pacific Ocean, where seawater desalination offers a proven, climate change-resilient solution. No longer do we need verification from Israel, the Middle East and Australia, where desalination facilities have literally helped save lives and fend off debilitating droughts due of climate change. Now, we can look much closer to home — in San Diego.
Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that El Niño — the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, with weather consequences worldwide — has officially arrived. El Niño typically peaks between October and March, so it’s pretty late in the season for a new one to form. This year’s El Niño is expected to remain relatively weak, but that doesn’t mean this one won’t be felt — in fact, its cascading consequences already in motion.
In a recent paper, Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, and co-authors argue that investments made over the years to fortify the city’s supply with additional imported water have not solved LA’s water shortages. … The paper asserts that LA could become water self-reliant by strategically investing in local supplies, and offers several concrete strategies for improving LA’s water security.
Three new directors representing the cities of Fullerton and Santa Ana, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency were seated today on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The new report, “Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed,” explores how landscape conversion on commercial and industrial properties can reduce water use, increase stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use.
The Klamath Tribes have made it clear that we are not interested in engaging in water settlement discussions. However, we are very interested in discussions that will protect and enhance our treaty resources.
As PG&E Corp. plunged into bankruptcy last month, S&P Global Ratings slashed credit grades almost to junk status for California’s two other big electric utilities, owned by Sempra Energy and Edison International, and said they could go lower. The reason: inverse condemnation. Under the state’s view of this legal doctrine, utilities can be held liable for any fires sparked by their equipment, even if they follow every safety rule.
The Imperial Irrigation District holds among the oldest and largest rights to water from the Colorado River and is using that as leverage to get what it sees as a better deal in current drought contingency plan negotiations involving states that draw from the river. Among the hardball tactics IID is putting in play: A demand that the federal government provide $200 million for efforts to bolster the beleaguered Salton Sea.
Arizona and California aren’t done finishing a plan that would establish how states in the Colorado River Basin will ensure water for millions of people in the Southwest, said the head of the agency running the negotiations. … One challenge comes from the Imperial Irrigation District, a water utility that serves the Imperial Valley in southeastern California. It hasn’t signed California’s plan because it wants $200 million to restore the vanishing Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake.
The Colorado river crisis ought to be upsetting markets. The U.S. waterway supports some $4 trillion in GDP and at least $1.3 trillion in stock value across seven U.S. states. The river was already virtually tapped out last century, and continuing troubles have now led the federal government to step in to help manage its water use. Yet investors have barely caused a ripple.
The latest chapter in the long-running dispute over how to manage water in the Klamath Basin is playing out in northern California communities. … About two dozen protesters are standing along Main Street in Yreka, the seat of Siskiyou County, which lies just across Oregon’s southern border. They’re holding signs saying “Stop The Klamath Dam Scams.”
Although U.S. adoption has been slow, some recent deals may turn the tide. A typical installation consists of solar panels on pontoons tethered to the bottom of a reservoir or retention pond—considered easier to utilize than lakes. Floating or underwater cables carry direct current to an inverter on shore where it is converted to alternating current and sent to the local grid. Engineers must consider multiple factors: systems have to withstand high winds and waves, panels must be resistant to corrosion and anchors have to last for 25 years or more.
They are giant conveyor belts of water in the sky, moisture-rich storms that roll in from the Pacific Ocean a few times a year to fill California’s reservoirs… But distinguishing a good atmospheric river storm — a modest one that can help end a drought — from a catastrophic one that can kill people has been elusive. On Tuesday, that changed, as scientists published the first-ever scale to rank the strength and impact of incoming atmospheric rivers, similar to the way hurricanes are classified.
Extreme wildfires in California threaten more than homes in the Golden State. … Under California law, a utility is liable for property damage if its equipment caused a fire, regardless of whether there was negligence. Given that, some are asking whether utilities can survive in the nation’s most populous state.
Solar and wind companies, concerned that PG&E will be paying them less or even nothing in the future, have launched a preemptive strike, asking federal regulators to step in to protect their deals with PG&E. PG&E is one of the largest buyers of renewable energy in the country, driven by the ambitious climate change goals California has adopted.
The rise of wind and solar power, coupled with the increasing social, environmental and financial costs of hydropower projects, could spell the end of an era of big dams. But even anti-dam activists say it’s too early to declare the demise of large-scale hydro.
Plains All American Pipeline has applied for permits to rebuild a 124-mile pipeline across the Central Coast of California, a project that would enable ExxonMobil to reopen offshore production that stopped after Plains’ existing pipe caused an oil spill near Santa Barbara in 2015.
Details of the Sacramento River portion of the SWRCB’s plan are still preliminary, but we expect the required water releases to be higher for the Sacramento River, and its tributaries, than they are for the San Joaquin River. SWRCB staff is currently recommending that between 45 and 65 percent of the natural runoff of northern California rivers be allowed to flow to the ocean unimpeded.
The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
Tucked inside PG&E’s mammoth bankruptcy filing is a company request that the judge in the case approve payment of $130 million in cash incentive bonuses to thousands of PG&E employees, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records made public on Tuesday.
Arizona’s water leaders and lawmakers are running out of time to complete the state’s Drought Contingency Plan, a blueprint for how Arizona water users would share a likely shortage on the Colorado River. … There are a lot of moving parts to understand and a lot of concepts that may seem overwhelming. Here are the things you need to know in advance of the Jan. 31 deadline to finish the plan.
Citing impacts to water, soil and people, Jackson County commissioners are asking the state to block a proposed natural gas pipeline through Southern Oregon. The Oregon Department of State Lands is taking comments until Feb. 3 as it considers whether to grant a key permit for the controversial 239-mile pipeline that would stretch through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties to a proposed export terminal north of Coos Bay.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.
The draft legislation compiled by the Department of Water Resources looks similar to how water leaders described the measures at a Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee meeting last week. … But the legislation as drafted barely delves into the nitty-gritty details of a far more complex intrastate agreement that Arizona water users have been hashing out for months.
A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles, videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years, you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.
Arcadis has announced it will partner with Kiewit Infrastructure West and PERC Water to serve as the progressive design-build team for the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP) in the City of Santa Monica, Calif. Currently, the city partially relies on imported water to meet its water needs. This project will allow the city to take a major step toward water independence, supporting existing programs designed to create a sustainable water supply
Nasdaq, along with Veles Water and WestWater Research, has announced the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index (NQH2O), the first of its kind water index that benchmarks the price of water in a way that supports price discovery and enables the creation of a tradable financial instrument.
Climate change helped fuel the deadly fires that prompted California’s largest power company to announce Monday that it would file for bankruptcy. … In a grim twist, the bankruptcy of PG&E Corp. could now slow California’s efforts to fight climate change.
The century-old PG&E—which employs 20,000 workers and is slated to play an integral role in California’s clean energy future—also has a checkered history and little goodwill to spare with the public. On Thursday, the PUC launched an investigation into the utility’s safety record and corporate structure, as Bay Area residents shouted, protested and urged commissioners not to give them a bailout.
The Colorado River may not look like it, but it’s one of the world’s largest banks. The river is not only the source of much of the American West’s economic productivity – San Diego, Phoenix and Denver would hardly exist without it – but its water is now the central commodity in a complex accounting system used by major farmers and entire states. … This month, the nation’s largest water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, began what amounts to a run on the bank.
Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.
Gov. Doug Ducey will use his fifth State of the State speech Monday, Jan. 14, to try to corral the votes to approve a drought-contingency plan in the next 17 days or risk federal intervention. “We’re in a position now where we have a sense of urgency and focus on Arizona’s water situation,” the governor told the business community Friday in previewing the speech that kicks off the legislative session.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues, some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’ concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to pump more groundwater.
Registration is now open for the Santa Ana River Watershed Conference set for March 29 in Fullerton. The daylong event will be held at Cal State Fullerton. Join us to discuss the importance of the Santa Ana River Watershed and how, through powerful partnerships, resilient solutions can be found to improve the quality and reliability of the region’s water supply.
First, the good news: The negotiators of Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan have crafted the most detailed, concrete proposal to date laying out how Arizona will deal with expected cutbacks to its supply of Colorado River. Now, the bad: The partial shutdown of the federal government is squeezing these negotiators.
One of the Water Education Foundation’s most popular events, Water 101 offers a once-a-year opportunity for anyone new to California water issues or newly elected to a water district board – and anyone who wants a refresher — to gain a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource. It will be held Feb. 7 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to auction off its Potter Valley Project hydropower plant, which contains two reservoirs and dams, to a new operator. PG&E cited increasing operation costs, a competitive energy market and lower energy generation needs as reasons for its decision. Questions remain as to what extent Marin County water supplies will be affected by a potential change in ownership and operation of the 110-year-old hydropower plant more than 100 miles to the north.
Gov. Doug Ducey used his second inaugural speech Monday to exhort lawmakers and others with a claim to Colorado River water to approve a drought contingency plan before a solution is imposed by the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s simple: Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than Mother Nature puts back,” the governor told his audience. “And with critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick the can any further.”
At Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Water District’s Planning & Stewardship Committee, officials said that with no Drought Contingency Plan in place (Arizona being the hold out), they are beginning to draw down their storage in Lake Mead. “If there is no Drought Contingency Plan, we don’t want to leave potentially half a million acre-feet or more locked up in Lake Mead if we go into shortage,” said General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.
Each year, several thousand weather forecasters, researchers and climate scientists from all over the world gather for the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting to exchange ideas to improve weather prediction and understanding of climate change. This year, due to the partial federal government shutdown, hundreds of scientists will not attend the conference set to begin this weekend in Phoenix.
In the latter half of 2018, both the federal and state governments released new climate change assessments that outline the projected course of climate change and its potential effects on water resources. At the December meeting of the California Water Commission, staff from the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Stewardship Council were on hand to present an overview of the newly released assessments.
It has been called speculative, foolhardy and overly expensive, but Aaron Million’s plan to pump water from the Utah-Wyoming border to Colorado’s Front Range just won’t dry up. Now seeking water rights from the Green River in Utah for a new version of his plan, Million thinks he has fashioned a winning proposal to feed Colorado’s thirsty, growing population.
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now, they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job, the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.
With 10 days left for California lawmakers to pass bills this year, renewable energy companies are rallying around legislation that could jump-start geothermal energy development by the Salton Sea — and also give a boost to solar, wind and bioenergy.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats yesterday took a mostly wait-and-see approach toward the Trump administration’s aggressive proposal to reorganize federal agencies, including those with jurisdiction over energy, water and environmental programs. E&E News talked with several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, many of whom were unfamiliar with the White House plan unveiled late yesterday morning.
Eight years ago, Marin County created a new kind of public power agency in California — over the strenuous objections of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. … Community choice allows local governments to band together in something like a buyer’s club for electricity, purchasing in bulk from operators of power plants, wind farms, hydroelectric dams and solar facilities. Each community choice program’s governing board sets its own electricity rates.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will.
Commissions that oversee coastal lands and water pushed the Trump administration to leave California out of plans to expand offshore drilling, saying the state will throw up any barriers possible to prevent pumping and transportation of oil. The warning came weeks after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he wants to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and gas drilling.
It’s been nearly three years since an oil pipeline ruptured in Santa Barbara County, coating seven miles of beaches with crude oil and killing dolphins, birds and sea lions. Area parks and fisheries have since re-opened. The pipeline has not, and the company that owns it is under criminal indictment. But the financial impacts of the 2015 Refugio oil spill continue to wash up in California.
The state Department of Water Resources could have lost control of the spillway radial gates for days during the Oroville Dam crisis if crucial power lines had gone down, according to department officials. DWR leaders Cindy Messer and Joel Ledesma stated this Jan. 10 during a legislative oversight hearing on the dam at the State Capitol.
In April 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown called on the people of the most populous state to reduce their water use by 25% in response to a punishing four-year drought. It was an audacious goal, and Californians came close to meeting it.
Utilities from California to Florida are seeing their expenses drop dramatically with the GOP tax overhaul, which could save these regulated electric, gas and water utilities billions of dollars each year. … California is home to numerous investor-owned utilities, ranging from Pacific Gas & Electric to private water companies.
States throughout the West have rushed to legalize marijuana over the last four years. The biggest by far is California, where recreational use of the drug became legal on January 1. The states are clamoring for the tax revenue in these new markets, but they seem less concerned with how they may affect water resources.
With the number of fires in the West growing due to climate change, and a recent decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to require that a utility — not ratepayers — pick up the costs for fires caused by its power lines, it’s likely that Californians are going to see more deliberate, pre-planned power outages when there is extreme wildfire risk, experts say. … Among the problems from planned blackouts … Water pumps may not work.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
The success of solar and wind energy in California is having a surprising side effect: It may be undercutting revenue for hydroelectric dams, the longtime stalwart of “green” energy in the West. Four years ago, officials at the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity demand across the state, identified a phenomenon called the “duck curve.”
As state lawmakers debate far-reaching bills that could reshape the energy landscape in California and across the West, some groups are urging the Legislature to require new geothermal power plants at the Salton Sea before a key deadline Tuesday* night — but those groups can’t agree on what the geothermal mandate should look like.
The growth in renewables has been fueled by scores of new wind turbines and solar farms. Recent increases in hydroelectric power as a result of heavy snow and rain in Western states last winter also provided a boost.
Energy ministers from around the world gathered in Beijing this week to report increased spending to help counter climate change. Yet one prominent voice, that of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, delivered a starkly countervailing message as the Trump administration seeks to roll back spending on clean energy and promote fossil fuels.
After slowing to a trickle during the past five years of punishing drought, hydroelectric power in California is poised to make a major comeback this spring and summer, thanks to the wet winter. Across Northern California, hydroelectricity producers say their reservoirs are brimming at levels not seen in decades.
California’s years-long drought put hydroelectric power flat on its back. But one of the cleanest and cheapest energy sources may be poised for a comeback as the state has been drenched with rain and its mountains blanketed in snow in recent months.
Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Energy secretary, has close ties to the Texas oil industry and has corporate roles in two petroleum companies pushing to get government approval for the proposed 1,200-mile crude oil pipeline that has stoked mass protests in North Dakota.
With the passage of Measure Z, which has captured nearly 56 percent of the vote so far, Monterey County would become the first oil-producing county in California to ban fracking and expansion of risky oil operations. … Monterey County, which ranks fourth statewide in oil production, becomes the sixth county in California to ban fracking.
A new frontier in the energy-water nexus is being forged in Southern California. Teaming up with Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Irvine Ranch Water District will be using an energy storage system to reduce its costs and help ease demand on the grid during peak hours.
Hydropower in the United States is primed for a shakeup. On one hand, utilities and governments are tearing down old dams with increasing frequency. … On the other hand, lawmakers and officials are keen to wring more power from rivers.
Earlier this year, in an announcement that has become more routine around the world, Suy Sem, Cambodia’s minister of mines and energy, declared a moratorium on the construction of big hydropower dams until at least 2020. … Cambodia joins a lengthening list of nations around the world that are reassessing big hydropower dams in an era when wind and solar power are less expensive, much easier to build, less damaging, and far less vulnerable to droughts and floods.
California has been diligently trying to reduce use of fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 350, which requires 50 percent of the electricity from utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030. But it’s not just energy utilities that can add more renewables to their portfolios – water suppliers can, as well, although they aren’t mandated to do so.
As debate continues in San Diego County and around the state over how aggressively to conserve water amid a historic drought, a new study finds that reductions in urban water use have saved significant amounts of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Colorado’s Supreme Court on Monday struck down local government prohibitions on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, handing oil and gas companies a victory in a lengthy battle over energy production in the environmentally conscious state.
At least at the Salton Sea, the district’s [Imperial Irrigation District] hardball tactics seem to be working: There’s been more political progress this year than ever before. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked for a plan of action, and several long-stalled pilot projects are finally getting underway.
What’s holding up the relicensing of Oroville Dam facilities? Fish. Specifically, an opinion on how three threatened species might be affected, according to local Department of Water Resources officials.
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Jimmy Carter, Rahm Emanuel: All of them were quoted at the Southern California Energy and Water Summit in Palm Springs on Thursday. But the quote that best summarized the summit came from Felicia Marcus’ father.
Although the state’s electrical grid has taken a punch from the drought and record-high summer month temperatures, it has remained standing. A state mandate to convert from burning oil, coal and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, to solar, wind and geothermal energy has helped.
Across California this summer, residents have been racking up water conservation numbers that defy expectations — a 27% reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in July. … The conservation performance raises a host of possibilities, and profound questions, for water policy analysts and managers …
Nestled high in the Sierra mountains among the pine and fir trees, a little-known man-made wonder may help resolve a pressing energy concern: how to store wind and sun power that the grid increasingly can’t handle.
Call it a first step. … The Imperial Irrigation District has released a 260-page document that provides short, medium and long-term plans to avert a health crises and spur the development of up to 1,700 megawatts of new geothermal energy at the Salton Sea.
SMUD’s big bet on a system to store energy by pumping water uphill just got a little more complicated. The state wants the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to monitor groundwater at the site, a remote spot near Camino, for an entire year before moving ahead.
Most of us hardly think about it, but when we turn on the tap, we’re not just using water — we’re also using energy. And you may be surprised to learn just how much. … It takes a lot of power to get water to our taps — conveyance from the source, treatment, and distribution — not to mention cleaning the wastewater we send down drains.
The Imperial Irrigation District has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the manager of most of the state’s electricity grid, alleging that it is using its monopoly power to limit options for the district, which is a major player in the effort to mitigate the shrinking Salton Sea.
Even as [Gov. Jerry] Brown rations water for urban lawns, computer manufacturing and toilets, California continues to dedicate enormous amounts of water to producing energy. This year, 1.3 billion gallons of water are being injected into oil fields to extract heavy crude — 320 gallons for every barrel of oil pumped.
A new article by Julian Fulton and Heather Cooley evaluates the amount of water consumed in meeting California’s energy needs – also referred to as the water footprint of energy. The article, published in Environmental Science and Technology, examines how the water footprint of energy changed between 1990 and 2012 – finding that the amount of water consumed substantially increased over recent decades without utilizing more of the state’s water resources, but rather by relying more heavily on water resources from outside the state.
In an environmental study nine years in the making, the State Water Resources Control Board has proposed lowering the temperature of the [Feather] river 40 miles below Lake Almanor through enormous devices known as thermal curtains. … The thermal curtain project is part of PG&E’s application to renew licenses on its Feather River hydroelectric projects at Rock Creek and Cresta.
Modesto Irrigation District leaders Tuesday morning could revive last year’s drought-combating measures, which enjoyed only marginal success, for the coming season. … The MID board Tuesday morning also will continue discussing a historical inequity in rates that has electricity customers subsidizing farmers’ water prices.
State lawmakers are preparing a sweeping package of bills that would fulfill several of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change objectives by increasing California’s reliance on renewable energy and alternative transportation fuels.
President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request of $13.2 billion for the Department of the Interior continues the Administration’s strong support for Interior’s core missions, protecting the nation’s cultural and natural heritage, responsibly managing energy development on public lands and waters, investing in science, and honoring the nation’s trust responsibilities to Native Americans and Alaska Natives and our special commitments to affiliated island communities.
Sacramento State plans to launch a new institute that will merge environmental science and policymaking, particularly concerning climate change and water-related issues that challenge California and the world.
The Department of Water Resources announced on Jan. 8, 2014, that it has begun using renewable power purchased from a Dominion Solar Holdings’ solar project to help move water through the State Water Project.
A meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown and Chevron executives was ending when an oil company official turned to Mary Nichols, California’s top regulator for air pollution. … The October conversation, recalled by Nichols in a recent interview, echoed many others in her decades-long career as an environmental lawyer and regulator.
Growing rice requires flooding fields, which produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The California Air Resources Board is discussing allowing growers to obtain greenhouse gas “offsets” that could then be sold on the state’s cap and trade market.
Electricity customers of the Turlock Irrigation District will get a rate increase averaging 2 percent as of Jan. 1, following a 5-0 vote by its board Tuesday morning. … TID also has proposed a far larger increase – more than double – in farm water rates.
Two actions taken Tuesday – one by the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and one by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors – show that our elected officials are not only listening, they are responding.
An intriguing public debate over electricity customers subsidizing farmers has focused on what the farmers get: irrigation water at bargain basement prices. Somewhat lost in the dialogue is how much more power customers are paying – not just to benefit agriculture, but to keep afloat the Modesto Irrigation District’s entire operation.
Reclamation is inviting States, Tribes, irrigation districts, water districts and other organizations with water or power delivery to apply for a funding opportunity to cost-share on projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. The projects should support water sustainability in the west.
In his first policy speech as California’s Senate leader, Kevin de León said one of his key priorities will be combating climate change by setting policies that promote energy efficiency. … In his speech to the water officials Thursday, de León also stumped for Proposition 1 …”
The shrinking of the Salton Sea might pose a serious public health hazard, but it could also boost renewable energy development in the region, officials said Thursday at the Southern California Energy Summit.
In the midst of a record-smashing dry cycle in the United States, the organization with the most influence over state and federal drought policy wants to do a better job managing the crisis. … On September 18 and 19, the Western Governors’ Association, a forum for state leaders, will welcome to Norman, Oklahoma, agency officials, industry representatives, and technical experts who will offer insight on how a multi-year drought in the western United States is challenging the energy sector.