Category Archives: Water

General Water

Will a Big Quake Leave our Water Supplies “High and Dry?”

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By Art Bishop, President, Mojave Water Agency Board of Directors

[The following excerpts are from a February 22, 2012 article by Aaron Task of The Daily Ticker] “…The Strait of Hormuz is a waterway that connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. It is the only passage to the open ocean for some of the biggest oil producers in the Middle East…

…Because so much of the world’s oil travels through the Strait, any disruption to the shipping channel would have a major impact on global crude oil prices, which ultimately determine the price we pay for gas at the pump.

Some analysts estimate the price of oil could go up by 50% within days if there’s a disruption of supply, which would mean much higher prices for us filling our tanks at the gas station — and anything else that requires the use of oil. Crude oil and gas prices have risen sharply since September in large part because of the threat of a disruption in the Strait of Hormuz…”

Once again, America is at the mercy of overseas oil producers and because of the instability in the Persian Gulf, we are paying much higher prices for gasoline—and the gasoline equivalent of “the Big One” (closing the Strait of Hormuz) hasn’t hit.

Californians face a similar crisis as the Strait of Hormuz, but our “Strait” is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and our “oil” is our water supply. We’ve been told for years when it comes to earthquakes, the “Big One” could happen at any moment and that a significant portion of the state’s water supply could be wiped out for a year or longer. So we buy earthquake kits, flashlights, bottled water, extra canned food for our homes—we take action to prepare. Billions of dollars have been spent retrofitting bridges, highways, hospitals, schools and prisons. But to date, no effective measures have been taken to secure our water supply in the event of an earthquake. Because of prudent management by the board of directors, including establishment of a water banking program, Mojave Water Agency’s service area would likely not be adversely affected like other areas in the state in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. But the region’s supplies won’t last indefinitely. It’s time to retrofit our state’s water delivery system.

The main concern is about a 6.7 earthquake striking Northern California and its effect on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a network of rivers, streams, marshes and grasslands—the largest estuary on the West Coast and home to unique communities and farming interests, and it currently doubles as the state’s primary water conveyance system, sending freshwater to 25 million Californians throughout Northern, Central and Southern California.

But that water is ushered through by 100-year old levees that are weak, poorly engineered and could collapse in the event of an earthquake. If that happens, water from the San Francisco Bay would rush into the Delta, turning freshwater into saltwater. The economic toll of this seismic event could amount to $40 billion from losses in water supplies, farm production, wages and jobs, and downed utilities.

To avoid a catastrophe as described above, public water agencies have been working with state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders on a comprehensive plan to protect California’s water supply, protect local communities, and restore the Delta’s ailing ecosystem. The plan, known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), couples a new water delivery system with habitat restoration to achieve long-term water supply reliability and a healthy Delta ecosystem.

New infrastructure — either a tunnel or canal — would carry a carefully managed portion of water underneath or around the Delta, rather than through the fragile ecosystem and away from the weak levees. By doing this, we would restore reliability to our water supply, protect it from floods and earthquakes, improve water quality, all while restoring and protecting the Delta ecosystem.

The BDCP is likely to be one of the largest public works projects in California history and public water agencies have already agreed to provide the funding for construction. With five years of research and planning, and more than 300 public meetings already complete, the state is now close to finalizing the BDCP and beginning the environmental review process.

A survey released last month by California public opinion research firm Probolsky Research (http://www.probolskyresearch.com/new-poll-california-voters-support-water-bond-but-display-little-knowledge-of-the-bay-delta/) indicates that:

  • 78 percent of Californians did not know what the Delta is
  • 86 percent of Southern Californians did not know about the Delta
  • 70 percent of respondents outside of Southern California did not know about the Delta

It’s time for residents throughout the state to get informed and understand the risks to our water supply system and the solutions presented by the BDCP. The Southern California Water Committee, including support from Mojave Water Agency, has launched a public education program, “Delta Disrupted,” to provide more information on this critical issue.To learn more, to request materials or to download a sample letter of support for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, check out www.socalwater.org/delta-disrupted.

General Water

Preparing for the Next Drought and Beyond

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By Michael Stevens
Community Liaison Officer

There’s a saying that goes: “No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan.” This adage, however, cannot apply to Mojave Water Agency (MWA) and most water agencies in the High Desert as we work to provide water for a region totaling 437,357 people-and expected to increase 60% by 2035 to 706,388.

The adage can’t apply because in 1983, the State of California adopted the Urban Water Management Planning Act, which requires water agencies to prepare an Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) every five years when a water agency’s service area includes at least 3,000 connections or water deliveries are equal to or greater than 3,000 acre-feet per year.

Despite better-than-average precipitation levels this past winter and this spring-and the recent cancellation of a three-year statewide drought-the state’s water resources are still subject to increasing demand for a finite supply. Urban Water Management Plans are developed and implemented at the local level in order to ensure effective conservation, water use efficiency and long-term supply reliability. And the Plans work!

For Mojave Water Agency its Plan works because of a proven track record of planning, preparing, and positioning. The Urban Water Management Planning Act requires water agencies to assess growth trends and project water demands a minimum of 20 years in the future. But adoption of the UWMP is one step that helps our region meet future water demands.

Equally critical is executing the Plan and making decisions at the right time, and taking advantage of opportunities that sometimes aren’t always available. One such decision by MWA occured in 1997. Recognizing the explosive growth in the High Desert region, the MWA board made a decision in an intense bidding climate to purchase additional water rights to meet future local water demands.

Again in 2009 the board purchased additional water rights with an “eye on the future” didn’t take too long to arrive because in 2010 the Agency was able to cash in and not just have “access” to water rights but was able to “purchase water” as a result of the additional water rights.

What this means is that MWA’s water deliveries in 2010 through the State Water Project marked the second year in a row the Agency took delivery of its full amount of water available (41,400 acre-feet) but without the acquisition of the additional water rights the total would only have been 37,900! The water delivered was enough to meet all of MWA’s delivery obligations-with 17,600 acre-feet going to underground storage for future use. MWA has planned, prepared, and positioned itself for several years and will continue with the goal of “leaving no water behind.”

Another Key decision enabling the Agency to meet water demands well beyond 20-years was the investment in aggressive water conservation starting in February 2008. The $3,146,605 million dollar invested in the conservation program thus far has seen 3.6 million square footage of turf removed, 1,200 toilets replaced with high efficiency toilets, and 1,989 high efficiency clothes washer rebates issued-resulting in a savings of 876 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot (approximately 326,000 gallons) is enough water to serve a family of four for a year.

The decisions to purchase additional water rights and invest in conservation enabled the Agency’s UWMP to exceed the state’s minimum of 25-years with the ability to plan for beyond.

The public will have several opportunities to provide input about the UWMP during a 30-day public comment period between April 5-May 5 while the draft is available for public review. To view the report you can visit the MWA website: (www.mojavewater.org) or to see a hard copy, visit either local library branch or MWA’s front counter. In addition, the MWA Board of Directors will hold a workshop on April 14th and a public hearing on May 5th before adopting the plan on June 9th.

For more information about Mojave Water Agency, visit our website: www.mojavewater.orgor Facebook page: http:facebook.com/mojavewater, or to speak to someone call: 1-800-254-4242.

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

General Water

Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater

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By Ryan Orr
Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority

Many High Desert residents don’t realize that the water they’re using to irrigate their gardens and lawns, and that municipalities use to irrigate parks, schools and golf courses, is perfectly safe for drinking.

At the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, we believe this precious resource should be conserved for just drinking and other uses that will sustain our water resources. The agency is introducing two new facilities, that when built out, will provide more than four million gallons of treated, reclaimed water to irrigate nearby parks and golf courses.

This much-needed benefit will not only help conserve water in our drought-ridden region but also create extra capacity in VVWRA’s currently crowded sewer pipe system, allowing for continued responsible growth and making way for new businesses to come to the Victor Valley.

“The Agency has been working on these projects for close to 20 years, and we’re very close to getting them built,” said Logan Olds, General Manager of VVWRA. “This will be an invaluable resource for our growing communities.”

Currently less than one half percent of our basin’s water demand is met by reclaimed water – being used at Westwinds golf course in Victorville. These facilities will serve to sharply increase that percentage and finally put us on an even playing field with other communities in the Inland Empire that have been utilizing this resource for years.

Building these facilities is an important part in both handling wastewater flow and sustaining local water supplies to build a sustainable path for the future of the Victor Valley.

Recycled water equals greener parks at lower costs; VVWRA’s Recycled Water Program needs the Valley’s support.

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

General Water

VVWRA Named One of California’s Best Wastewater Treatment Plants

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By George Passantino, Managing Partner
Passantino Andersen Communications, LLC

The Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) was recently named the second best plant of its size in California according to officials from the California Water Environment Association.

After being judged on a slew of criteria, including permit compliance, benchmarking, pre-treatment strategy, public relations, energy conservation, operations, maintenance efficiency, and safety, VVWRA beat out several other plants for the award.

“The CWEA Plant of the Year (POTY) award is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Dennis McBride, the Wastewater Utility Manager for the City of Redding, who evaluated plants for the award. “The award recognizes the demonstration of a well operated and maintained facility. Additionally, the POTY award is a reflection of the dedication of excellence of staff members as well as the support provided from the city, county, district, or agency that owns and governs it.”

VVWRA, which handles wastewater services for the Victor Valley, also scored well in a number of other categories, including best laboratory person and best plant manager.

“I can’t say enough about our staff and how passionate they are about ensuring that we are always running our plant efficiently and safely,” said Logan Olds, VVWRA’s general manager. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past few years.”

The agency has also been recognized for its financial awards, was named the best plant of its size in the region last year, and identified more than $2.5 million in savings to ratepayers over the last three years.

General Water

Taking Steps to Ensure There’s Water for Now-and the Future

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By Michael Stevens, Community Liaison Officer
Mojave Water Agency

Gloves, check; scarves, check; beanies, check; umbrellas, check…but wait, who wants to think about winter and the cold temperatures and shorter days? Some people do. Mojave Water Agency (MWA) thinks about winter for reasons other than comfort. It’s the time when our water table is replenished with natural supplies—and the more precipitation we receive through natural sources (rain, snow melt from the local mountains) the less we have to import what’s becoming scarce and expensive: supplemental water.

Winter of 2009-2010 was a good water year for California—with most reservoirs around the state filling to normal levels. This past winter was also good for Mojave Water Agency because what started as a dismal water year—all State Water Contractors like MWA being told by Department of Water Resources in December to expect only five-percent (for MWA 4,140 acre-feet) of contracted water deliveries (for MWA 82,800 acre-feet)—this figure was eventually increased in August to allow for deliveries of 50% (for MWA 41,400 acre-feet).And MWA is purchasing every drop to help boost groundwater supplies for future needs.

Last issue I wrote about how “Water Drives Our Economy” and how without water, development, and the jobs it brings, comes to a screeching halt. As Mojave Water Agency celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2010 (July 21 to be exact), the agency recognizes the key role that water plays for our quality of life and is meeting its obligation to reliably deliver safe, clean, affordable water.

However, the ability to purchase over 41,000 acre-feet (af) of water this year to support our local economy and quality of life didn’t just happen because we had a good winter. Always with an “eye towards the future”, the agency had to plan, position and be poised to execute when opportunities arose to purchase water or rights to water. More later on the opportunities that came along and how the agency took advantage.

As of September 9, 2010, 11,541 acre-feet has been delivered this year through recharge sites throughout the agency’s service area, and at one site in particular—Rock Springs—deliveries will continue until the end of the year in order to take all the water that’s available to MWA. The four other sites have already reached their maximum allotment. According to MWA Board President Mike Page, “being able to store or bank water is like having a savings account so that during periods when water is less available through the State Water Project, we’ll have a source of supply to plan for dry spells or increased demands.”

“The decision to buy water now is an example of our board showing foresight and helps us to reduce our future reliance on what could be an undependable source,” Page added.

The agency made two key decisions in recent years, without which 16,000 of the 41,000 acre-feet would not have been available for purchase. In 1997 MWA’s contracted amount of State Water Project water (referred to as the Table A amount) was 50,800 acre-feet (af). That amount changed to 75,800 in 1998 when the agency purchased the rights to 25,000 additional acre-feet of Table A amount from the Berrenda-Mesa Water District.

Our share of the supply increased again with the purchase in 2009 of 14,000 af from the Dudley Ridge Water District, which included 7,000 acre-feet effective in 2010 and an additional 7,000 acre-feet in effect by 2020.By combining the Berrenda-Mesa and Dudley Ridge purchases, this increased MWA’s Table A amount to 82,800af in 2010. What this means is that when the Department of Water Resources in August increased the amount to 50% that State Water Contractors(29 state wide including MWA) could receive of its contracted amount. For MWA that meant 50% of 82,800af, not 50% of 50,800af.

Some have criticized the water rights purchases only as “paper water,” a phantom allocation from a portion of the State Water Project that will never be delivered. But 2010 has proven that the water rights purchases are truly more than just paper water.

And, the value of the water rights purchases—and the subsequent deliveries in 2010—are proving once again to have been a wise, strategic move. As the next winter rainfall season approaches, water experts are closely watching the emergence of La Niña—where Pacific Ocean water temperatures have been steadily cooling, which increases the chances of a dry year ahead for much of California.

“For Central and Southern California, it looks like a drier-than-normal winter, and it may be for Northern California also, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” said Jon Gottschalck, head of forecast operations at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Washington, D.C. Scientists say they will know more in the months ahead as California’s traditional rainy months of December through February near.

“To reiterate, the decision to purchase all the water available to us this year is an example of our board showing foresight and helps us to reduce our future reliance on what we are discovering is an undependable source,” Page added. In a nutshell—Taking Steps to Ensure There’s Water for Now—and the Future.

For more information about Mojave Water Agency, visit our website: www.mojavewater.org or Facebook page: http:///facebook.com/mojavewater.org, or to speak to someone call: 1-800-254-4242