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The 90 Day Plan

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Global Warming?

This sentence is one of a thousand this week trying to cast a shadow of doubt on the scientific consensus of global warming being caused by human impact on the environment.

"But there is another reason as well. The earth hasn't been warming for the last decade, and the man-made global warming scientists were recently discredited by the Climategate e-mails. The world's people are increasingly realizing that the science behind the hoped-for treaty is far from settled."

Points of discussion with regards to CO2 emissions:

1.) Increased CO2 levels are a direct result of the Industrial Revolution and population growth and increased production and consumption of goods.  Increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere are absorbed by the ocean forming carbonic acid and lowering the pH of the ocean.  This destroys sealife habitats.

2.) US Increased CO2 emissions 30% since the Kyoto Treaty was ratified.

3.) US has outsourced much of its local production and manufacturing to China, India, and many other industrial nations, which has increased their CO2 output.

4.) Scientists, please step forward and provide evidence that humans have not caused global warming.

Cutting Water Use to Curb Carbon Dioxide

Cutting Water Use to Curb Carbon Dioxide

UCLA Greywater study

Friday, December 18, 2009

CWA approves $686 million in new bond sales

QSA Ruling comment from PCL

Planning and Conservation League from



Last Thursday, Superior Court Judge Roland L. Candee issued a tentative order invalidating the nation's largest agricultural-to-urban water transfer agreement, known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA).

Signed in 2003, the QSA transferred water from California's Imperial Irrigation District to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the San Diego County Water Authority.

As part of the QSA, the State of California made an open-ended commitment to pay for mitigating impacts to the Salton Sea. Judge Candee's tentative ruling holds that it was unconstitutional to commit future state budgets to these undefined costs.

This legal ruling has implications for future transfers of Colorado River water as well as other large-scale water management decisions, such as the still-under-development Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Here are a few take-aways from Judge Candee's order:

    Environmental and public health commitments cannot be put off until a later date. (There's a real danger that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process is repeating this fatal error.)

    California must reduce its dependence on water imported from distant and unreliable sources. While transfers from within the same water basin will continue at some level, we need to move to a reliable future based on greater development of local water supplies that are not at risk of legal challenges, environmental conflicts, and climate change impacts.

    As the California State Water Plan demonstrates, there's a large portfolio of sustainable, cost-effective water solutions that can meet California's current and future water needs.

    Local interests, whether in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys or in the Bay Delta must be made full partners to develop sustainable water management solutions.

Area's water useage drops

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Carlsbad Desal Plant Moves Forward; Orange County Agencies Explore Desal California Coastal Commission on Dec. 10 voted to dismiss a request to revoke the Carlsbad Desalination Project’s Coastal Development Permit. The commission originally approved the permit in November 2007, and construction started last month.

The project is being built by Poseidon Resources in partnership with the City of Carlsbad. When completed, the desalination plant will have the capacity to produce 50 million gallons per day of high quality drinking water and serve 300,000 residents annually. It is expected to be operational in 2012.

Poseidon has proposed another desalination plant in Orange County. Fifteen agencies have signed a letter of intent to use water from the proposed desalination plant at the AES power plant near Pacific Coast Highway.

Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Seal Beach and the Metropolitan Water District, among others, have said they are interested in buying water from Poseidon.

The project would generate about 50 million gallons of drinkable water every day by tapping in to the 275 million gallons already flowing in to the AES plant to cool its equipment, officials say. The project needs to gain approvals from the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission before starting work.

Put People to Work on Water: Vote Coming Up in Hours

Forwarded in support of Food & Water Watch December 16, 2009

Dear Supporter;

We all know that the economic crisis has cost millions of people their jobs. And, while economists say the stimulus helped a little, it didn't go far enough. We also know that our water infrastructure is crumbling. Many of the pipes carrying our wastewater and drinking water are 60 years old or more. We lose 1.7 trillion gallons of water a year because of faulty infrastructure.

Today, we have a chance to do something about both. In a few hours the House of Representatives will vote on the Jobs for Main Street Act.

This bill will provide $2 billion for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure repairs. That means about 50,000 people will be put to work repairing pipes and treatment works. Email your Representative now and ask them to vote for the Jobs for Main Street Act.


Mitch Jones
Legislative and Policy Analyst
Food & Water Watch


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Hey Man, Whats in YOUR Drinking Water?

Nothing like a fresh, tasty glass of tap water.  Or maybe a fresh bottle of water... until we learn that much of the bottled water we purchase at highly inflated rates is nothing more spectacular than filtered tap water.  So much for images of wild mountains, springs and 10 point buck.

Regardless, the article below might give pause when we decide not to send a letter to our mayors, city council members, state or federal representatives demanding clean water and improved treatment processes.  Click the following for an assessment of "Whats in Your Water".  It may be time to write that letter, and I don't mean the one to Santa Claus.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pesticide application checklist

When planning for possible pesticide applications in an IPM program, review and complete this checklist to consider practices that minimize environmental and efficacy problems.

·         Choose a pesticide from the UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines for the target pest considering:

o    Impact on natural enemies and honeybees.

o    Potential for water quality problems using the UC IPM WaterTox database.

o    Impact on aquatic invertebrates. (See Pesticide Choice publication [216 KB, PDF] for impact on aquatic invertebrates.)

o    Chemical mode of action (based on efficacy, spectrum of activity, and pesticide resistance). Select an alternative chemical or nonchemical treatment when resistance risk is high.

·         Select an alternative chemical or nonchemical treatment when risk is high.

o    Choose sprayers and application procedures that keep pesticides on target.

o    Identify and take special care to protect sensitive areas (for example, waterways or riparian areas) surrounding your application site.

o    Review and follow label for pesticide handling, storage, and disposal guidelines.

o    Check and follow restricted entry intervals (REI) and preharvest intervals (PHI).

o    After an application is made, record application date, product used, rate, and location of application. Follow up to confirm that treatment was effective.

·         Consider water management practices (912 KB, PDF) that reduce pesticide movement off-site:

o    Install a tailwater recovery system for recirculating water if flood irrigating.

o    Limit irrigation to amount required by evapotranspiration (ET). Use soil moisture or stem water potential monitoring to confirm water status.

o    Consider vegetative filter strips (236 KB, PDF) or ditches to moderate winter rainfall runoff if resident vegetation is inadequate.

o    Redesign inlets into tailwater ditches to reduce erosion.

·         Consider management practices that reduce air quality problems.

When possible, choose pesticides that are not in emulsifiable concentrate (EC) form which release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs react with sunlight to form ozone, a major air pollutant.


For more info:


Say yes to rental water submeters

Imperial Valley holds breath over pending final QSA ruling

Distributed rainwater capture and storage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tijuana River Valley, post rain storm

The Tijuana River, Maurader of the Pacific

As the first major rainstorm of the year has descended upon San Diego, bringing inches of much needed rain to replenish significantly overdrafted reservoirs, another problem lies below the surface, that of a massive plume of pollution that runs from the Tijuana River into the Pacific Ocean.  This plume carries dozens of tons of plastic, garbage, tires and toxic runoff from untreated human waste from the Colonias and Maquiladores that are operated along the US - Mexico Border. 

A Race to the Bottom?

The Colonias are home to many immigrants from Central and Southern Mexico who have come to Tijuana in search of work.  These Hooverville-like villages and slums line the gulches and canyons of the US-Mexico Border and serve as a permanent work camp for hundreds of thousands of squatters, lacking, amongst other things, critical sewerage or potable water infrastructure.  The Maquiladores are factories owned by domestic and multi-national corporations seeking lower taxes and minimal if non-existant environmental regulations. 

I Don't Feel So Well...

This plume of wastewater and garbage flows through Tijuana River, decimating the health of what was a pristine watershed, buffer for pollution, and more poignantly, compromises the health of the beach-goers and coastal residents in South County San Diego, as far north as Point Loma and Coronado.  The problem is significant enough that Wildcoast, the Imperial Beach Health Center and  SDSU's Graduate School of Public Health pass out Hepatitis A Vaccinations to protect surfers from the virus that is inadvertently pumped into the Pacific and our bodies through this plume of waste.

Read about some of the current issues in a recent story in the Voice of San Diego:  A Tire Runs Through It

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - On Thinner Ice

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The melting glaciers of Mt. Everest are exposed in this short documentary from the Asia Society.

On Thinner Ice

The glaciers of the Himalaya are melting. On Thinner Ice, an Asia Society multimedia project, helps explain this critical issue.

Source URL:

[CWP_ENews] ~~ IRWM regions ~ Drought ~ 5% SWP allocation ~ Forest, Range workshop ~ Modeling ~~

This week's Water Plan eNews includes:


·         DWR announces approval of  IRWM regions

·         DWR releases Drought Bulletin for November

·         State Water Project initial allocation set at 5% of contracted water

·         CalFIRE forest and range assessment workshop next Tuesday

·         Water modeling forum plans annual meeting in February




Imperial Valley water canals safety debate

Friday, November 20, 2009

Water Conservation = Rate Increase

Supply and Demand 101

Supply goes up, demand goes down and price goes down.

Demand goes up, supply goes down, price goes up.

Unless you are guaranteed to have your bills paid by your bylaws.  Then if you conserve 10%, demand goes down, supply goes up and price goes up.  Maybe we're oversimplifying, but that's what happens when San Diego residents decreased their consumption by 9.5% and are faced with a rate increase of 7.5%, and in some areas as much as 19.6%.

Since the SDCWA and MWD revenues are derived from water rates, conservation = increased water rates. Meanwhile, there is a huge emphasis on storage, but San Diego is in a drought and the reservoirs are half full. Why do we need more storage? To survive the drought years?

Or to bank the water at today's rates to be resold at higher prices in the future?

How about this as a solution... instead of subsidizing desal at $350 million over the next 25 years... the MWD could subsidize homeowners for the installation of graywater systems and rainwater harvesting tanks to help decrease the load on the system.

Greywater can easily reduce your water use by 20% and helps to replenish the aquifers and retain soil. Properly landscaped lawns can help trap rainwater and decrease the load on the storm water system.

Rainwater harvesting with $350 million in subsidies could provide 350,000 homes with 1000 gallon tanks. With just 1 inch of rain on 1 thousand sq. ft. of roof, you can capture 600 gallons. With an average rainfall of ten inches/yr, you could refill that tank around 6x. That water can be used for irrigation and as an emergency cistern if the local water main goes out for a few days.

The average citizen uses around 150 gallons/day. Rainwater capture will not offset that use entirely in our arid desert climate, but it will help offset our consumption. Nearly 20% of electricity in California is used to move water from the delta to So Cal, so the water and electricity utilities are closely linked. Use less water, use less electricity, and we will consume less fossil fuels and produce less CO2.

Conservation and reuse are keys for a sustainable future.  Our editors would like to see conservation decoupled from water rate increases to help provide an incentive to use less in the future, and more localized solutions with incentives geared toward helping individuals conserve water.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Food and Water Watch: Free Screening of Tapped!

Join us for a Free Screening of Tapped!

Wednesday, November 18 , 7 p.m.

Ultra Star Cinema at Hazard Center

November 15, 2009

Dear Supporter,

Join Food & Water Watch and our friends, San Diego Coastkeeper and Pure Water Technologies, for a screening of Tapped. An award-winning documentary, Tapped explores the under-regulated bottled water industry's aims to privatize and sell back our public water. It also examines the impact of the bottled water industry on human health, climate change, pollution and our reliance on oil resources.

This eye-opening movie is for everyone-- regardless of what you know about bottled water. If you haven't already given up bottled water, you will after seeing Tapped! If you've already taken back the tap, invite friends and family who have not, as this film is sure to change minds.

Following the screening, you can take part in a short discussion about the film with representatives from San Diego Coastkeeper and Food & Water Watch.

Please RSVP by emailing if you plan to attend this free screening of Tapped.

What: Screening of Tapped

When: Wednesday, November 18

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Ultra Star Cinema at Hazard Center in Mission Valley

If you would like more information about the screening, please contact Corie Lopez at

You can also watch the trailer of Tapped. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for your support,

Corie Lopez

Organizer, Water Team

Food & Water Watch-- San Diego

Food & Water Watch is a non-profit organization working with grassroots organizations around the world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Through research, public and policymaker education, media, and lobbying, we advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food produced in a humane and sustainable manner and public, rather than private, control of water resources including oceans, rivers, and groundwater. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 12, 2009

[SASC] Join Us in Supporting Graywater Use

FWD: [SASC] Join Us in Supporting Graywater Use

Dear Fellow Sustainability Advocates:


During our regular meeting on October 27, the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California adopted the following official policy position regarding graywater use in Southern California:


"It is the policy of the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California to promote maximum implementation of graywater systems in Southern California.  We encourage all jurisdictions within Southern California to proactively support regulatory approval for graywater systems and that incentives, including cash rebates, sewage rate reductions, or reduction in water rates, be evaluated."


We are taking this position of support for graywater reuse for a number of reasons: 


1) Simplest way to reclaim and reuse a valuable resource without expensive treatment and re-distribution.

2) Provides a readily available water source for irrigation of yards and greenbelts.

3) Conserves our most precious resource—fresh, potable water.

4) Cuts down on the amount of electricity needed to move water to and throughout our region.

5) Reduces the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated at publicly owned treatment works resulting in less effluent disposed of through ocean outfalls.

6) Less water treated translates to a reduction in related treatment costs and chemicals used in the treatment process.


Supporting this policy now makes sense because...

1) California is in a declared State of Emergency due to extended drought conditions and much needed, potable water is used to irrigate residential landscapes.

2) Statewide legislation supporting use of graywater was recently incorporated into existing building codes, 'opting in' every municipality for graywater use. To opt out, a municipality must hold a public hearing and show just cause for restricting or eliminating graywater use.


a) SB 1258 (which was signed into law in September 2008) directed the Housing and Community Development (HCD) agency to propose building standards for the construction, installation, and alteration of graywater systems for residential indoor and outdoor uses to the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). Existing graywater standards contained in the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, California Plumbing Code, Part 5, Appendix G were based on requirements for private sewage disposal. These standards were found to be overly prescriptive and antiquated and not readily usable by people seeking to install graywater systems for the purpose of water conservation and reuse.


b) The emergency graywater regulations, which added Chapter 16A, Part I "Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems,” were approved by the CBSC on July 30, 2009. The emergency regulations were subsequently filed with the Secretary of State on August 4, 2009, effective immediately upon filing.


 The two most significant changes in the new regulations:

1) Single Fixture Systems (such as clothes washers) no longer require a permit and

2) Irrigation lines no longer have to be buried 9 inches, but can simply be placed under 2 inches of mulch.

Considerations for graywater use:

1)    It’s best to use non-chlorine bleach when washing clothes.

2)    Distribute graywater as widely as possible rather than concentrate (such as in a trench), choosing which zones to saturate, either automatically, or by hand. 

3)    For optimal results, blend subsoil with a thick layer of bio-dynamic organic matter/topsoil and cover with 1-2 inches of mulch. 


Advocates are encouraged to have impact on this issue by:


1) Getting your city council to put the item on their calendar and providing supporting testimony during the formal discussion and vote about whether to adopt the policy position for your city/county.


2) Getting your organization or group to begin promoting graywater use. If so inclined, you can adopt the policy position above.



Thank you for your help guiding our region to implement sustainable practices.


In Partnership for Sustainability,



Anne Tolch
(619) 518-3178
Communication Director

The Sustainability Alliance of Southern California

Sustainability for the Region and Beyond



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delta Vision Foundation Analysis of Delta/Water Legislation

Significant progress made toward Delta ecosystem restoration and a more reliable water system for California

The Delta Vision Foundation is very pleased that all seven goals of the Delta Vision Strategic Plan[1] are incorporated into the Delta/water policy bills, enacted by the Legislature on November 4, 2009.
Importantly, the legislation recognizes the need for linked action in several important areas, as strongly recommended by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force. The seven goals are:
1.    Make the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration the legal foundation of Delta and water policy making.
2.    Recognize and enhance the unique cultural, recreational and agricultural values of the California Delta as an evolving place, an action critical to achieving the co-equal goals.
3.    Restore the Delta ecosystem as the heart of a healthy estuary.
4.    Promote statewide water conservation, efficiency and sustainable use.
5.    Build facilities to improve the existing water conveyance system and expand statewide storage; operate both to achieve the co-equal goals.
6.    Reduce risks to people, property and state interests in the Delta by effective emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses and strategic levee investments.
7.    Establish a new governance structure with the authority, responsibility, accountability, science support and secure funding to achieve these goals.
Phil Isenberg, Chair of the Delta Vision Foundation, applauded the successful passage of these policies, noting that old patterns of downplaying Delta and other ecosystem needs, while behaving as if water supplies were inexhaustible, had resulted in less reliable water supplies for all Californians and a gravely impaired Delta ecosystem.
“Passage of a package addressing all seven goals of Delta Vision is very welcome progress,” Isenberg stated.  “As these bills are implemented, we will learn what else needs to be done to ensure the desired results.  The members of the Delta Vision Foundation are heartened at this major step toward Delta ecosystem health and a more secure water future for all Californians.”
Brief synopsis of the bills as they relate to the Delta Vision Goals:
SB1 7x (Simitian and Steinberg) adopted the co-equal goals of water system reliability and an improved Delta ecosystem (goal 1).  The legislation adopts significant governance reforms (goal 7) and also recognizes and enhances the Delta as a place (goal 2) by:
a) Modifying the composition and roles of the existing Delta Protection Commission and ensuring their right to participate in development of the new Delta Plan (goal 2),
b) Establishing a new Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, a primary state agency to implement ecosystem restoration in the Delta and to support economic sustainability of the Delta (goals 2 and 3) and a Delta Investment Fund (goal 2),
c) Establishing a new seven person Delta Stewardship Council as an independent agency of the state, and directing the Council to adopt and overseeing implementation of a comprehensive management plan for the Delta (Delta Plan).  The legislation also establishes procedures by which state and local actions will become consistent with the Delta Plan. The bill transfers existing authority and programs of the California Bay Delta Authority to the Council and abolishes the Authority. The bill importantly establishes a Delta science program and Delta Independent Science Board (goals 1, 3, 7).
d) The bill imposes several significant requirements on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan if it is to be incorporated in the Delta Plan (goals 5 and 3), and requires the State Water Resources Control Board to establish an effective system of Delta watershed diversion data collection and to establish flow criteria for the Delta watershed (goals 3 and 4).
e) The bill directs the Council to incorporate flood control and other requirement to protect life, property and the Delta ecosystem and water supply system (Goal 6).

SB 2 7x (Cogdill)
authorizes issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $11.1 billion.  The bill includes these broad allocations (then sub-allocated by program and geography):

  • Drought relief   $455,000,000   
  • Water supply reliability   $1,050,000,000   
  • Delta sustainability   $2,250,000,000   
  • Statewide water system operational improvement   $3,000,000,000   
  • Conservation and watershed protection   $1,785,000,000   
  • Groundwater protection and water quality   $1,000,000,000
  • Water recycling program   $1,000,000,000  

This bill includes language restricting eligibility to bond funds to districts complying with water management plan requirements.

SB 6 7x (Steinberg and Pavley)
focuses on groundwater (goal 4) an area where California currently lacks information required to make effective policy and lags all other western states in the reporting and monitoring of  ground water use. The bill establishes a program in the Department of Water Resources to work with local water districts to establish ground water monitoring and includes language making urban and agricultural water suppliers ineligible for a water grant or loan administered by the state unless complying with provisions of the act.
SB 7 7x (Steinberg) requires the state to achieve a 20% reduction in urban per capita water use by December 31, 2020 (goal 4). Incremental progress is required of at least 10% reduction by December 31, 2015. Agricultural water suppliers are required to implement efficient water management practices.  Standardized reporting will be required and, with some exceptions, urban and agricultural water suppliers would be ineligible for state water grants or loans unless they comply with the bill’s water conservation requirements.
SB 8 7x (Steinberg) strengthens current law which requires the report of  water diversion and use (goal 4), adding penalties for failure to report and removing some exemptions from report requirements. The bill also continuously appropriates $3,750,000 annually from fee revenue to fund new permanent water right enforcement positions, a significant change protecting the integrity of the water rights system (goals 1, 3 and 4).                  


The Delta Vision Foundation is the successor to the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, the independent body established under Governor’s Executive Order S-17-06. The Blue Ribbon Task Force held over 30 days of public meetings over two years, and involved hundreds of stakeholders, scientists and members of the public in its processes. It issued Our Vision for the California Delta (2007) and the Delta Vision Strategic Plan (2008). The Delta Vision Committee (cabinet officers) issued its Delta Vision Committee Implementation Report (2008) supporting almost all of those recommendations.
The goal of the Delta Vision Foundation is to maintain the visibility and viability of final recommendations of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and encourage the public policy process to utilize those recommendations. The Foundation issues reports and participates in policy processes, but takes no formal position on legislation. The Foundation provides information to help policy makers act to restore the Delta and provide a more reliable water supply for California. For more information, visit the Delta Vision Foundation website at:

[1]  The Delta Vision Strategic Plan was adopted October 2008 by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Killing The Water!

Animal waste is polluting our water ways at an alarming rate - so much that our coastal waters are rapidly turning into areas that cannot support life. The map below shows the hypoxic zones around the coastlines of the world in 2006.  This problem has proliferated, there are nearly 400 that have formed around the world, 40 of which surround the US. 

Check out a recent article from the Wall Street Journal focusing in on how the Chesapeak Bay is being impacted by animal waste, and what some people are doing about it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009





October 22, 2009

Contact:   Lori Costa                                            





The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board is pleased to

announce the appointment of David W. Gibson as its new Executive


Employed by the San Diego Water Board since 2000, Mr. Gibson currently

serves as Branch Chief for the Water Quality Restoration and Standards

Branch.  In this capacity, he oversees multiple programs, including

Water Quality Standards and Basin Planning, the development of Total

Maximum Daily Loads, Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment, and the

Compliance Assurance Unit.   

Mr. Gibson brings 20 years of cumulative experience in public service

in leadership roles in water quality monitoring, management and

regulation to the position of Executive Officer, having served as a

watershed biologist with the City of San Diego and founding the San

Diego Stream Team prior to joining the San Diego Water Board.  He is a

fifth generation San Diegan and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in

Biology from San Diego State University.

The San Diego Water Board considered a diverse and highly qualified

candidate pool before making the appointment.   "Mr. Gibson has

demonstrated a deep understanding of the many critical and wide-ranging

issues facing the San Diego Region at this time.  He possesses the

organizational, decision-making and consensus-building skills the San

Diego Water Board is looking for in an Executive Officer," said

Richard Wright, Chair of the Board.

Mr. Gibson will succeed John Robertus, who is retiring from the San

Diego Water Board after serving as its Executive Officer for 14 years.

Mr. Gibson will manage a staff of more than 70 employees.  "At a time

when resources of all kinds are in short supply, the need to protect

water quality and ensure reliable supply has never been greater.  The

challenges and complexity of water quality protection demands more than

ever our best efforts and creative solutions." 


The Mission of State Water Board and nine Regional Water Quality

Control Boards is to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of

California's water resources and ensure their proper allocation and

efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations. 

The San Diego Region includes 11 watersheds located in San Diego, Orange,

and Riverside counties extending from the crest of the Peninsular

Mountain Range to the sea. The region is home to 3.8 million people,

supports thousands of businesses, and hosts millions of visitors, and

yet retains some of the highest quality natural resources and biological

diversity in the state.  The surface and ground waters in the San Diego

region support a variety of important beneficial uses, including: water

supply, recreation and aesthetic enjoyment, and habitat for fish and




State Water Resources Control Board

Office of Public Affairs

Phone: 916.341.5254

Fax: 916.341.5252



Members mailing list

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Graduate's New Word: Algae

The popular line from The Graduate can usher in the new era now... "One word. Plastics." can now be described as "One word. Algae."

Thanks to the rapidly advancing field of Algaculture, the blue-green revolution continues at a hopeful pace.  This is not breaking news, but there are signs that this technology is reaching a practical level faster than expected.  Exxon and General Atomics are investing hundreds of millions of dollars on applied research.  If this doesn't give you hope for the process, than consider the other potential uses of algae as a dietary supplement, water treatment, and other beneficial uses.

Not all algae is created equal though and in many cases, algal blooms have a devastating effect on local ecosystems.  In the Sacramento River, the first 40 miles of river are as pristine as the headwaters at the base of Mt. Shasta.  Once the river dips into agricultural land, the nutrient rich runoff and slower waters are perfect for Algae blooms.  The clarity of the water is drastically reduced and the algae clings to rocks and increases turbidity.  Perhaps this is a contributor to the decline in fish populations, it's not the algae's fault though, they are merely being fed an endless buffet of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizer runoff from one of the greatest Agricultural areas in the United States.

Would it be possible to trap the runoff before it hits the river and allow Algal blooms to be contained in pools and harvested for nutrients and potential biofuel?  Could we improve river water quality by fixing the nitrogen in the Algae before it contaminates the river?  Could farmers utilize this veggie diesel/biofuel to power their tractors, combines, and shakers and reduce their reliance on traditional diesel?  All of this remains to be proven through basic applied research, but from an early stage analysis of the state of the art and the millions of dollars of investment from big oil companies, I believe that the answer is yes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Someone just shared a publication with you

  Below The Surface Newsletter September 2009 was just recommended by Kristian Gustavson
Open Document
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Facing funding cuts by local water agencies, conservation garden considering structural changes

Water-saving showcase may become a nonprofit

September 5, 2009

RANCHO SAN DIEGO: The Water Conservation Garden, facing mounting financial difficulties, may become a nonprofit organization instead of being governed by a group of San Diego water agencies.

The concept of changing the governance of the garden was approved by the Otay Water District board this week. The Otay board also approved providing $7,750 to assist the garden in becoming a nonprofit group.

The garden near Cuyamaca College was founded 10 years ago as a showcase to display flowers and other plants that require little watering. The garden offers classes and provides advice from professionals on designing a drought-tolerant lawn.

The garden is now governed by a joint powers authority made up of the Otay Water District, Helix Water District, San Diego County Water Authority, the city of San Diego, the Sweetwater Authority, and Cuyamaca College. The Otay and Helix water districts provided about $2 million each to construct the garden, which opened in 1999, on land donated by Cuyamaca College.

If the garden became a nonprofit, the water agencies would still contribute long-term funding, but a nonprofit would be better able to raise additional money, an Otay staff report said.

If approved by the Water Conservation board, the nonprofit would assume full management of the garden in 2011.—A.K.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Algae Bloom Claims the Life of a Horse, Nearly its Master

Algae Covered Beaches in Saint Michele En Greve, Brittany, France.

Hypoxic (or more commonly known as "Dead") Zones have become a plague along coastlines throughout the world. This phenomena has been well know to threaten the well being of marine ecosystems - indeed there are over 400 Hypoxic Zones throughout the world, often caused by nitrogen and phosphates contained in manure and other synthetic fertilizers. Below The Surface was started in response to the Hypoxic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico that has grown to 8000 square miles, or roughly the size of Massachusetts.

France has recently experienced a rash of deaths attributed to the key catalyst of Hypoxic Zones, Algae. Click Here for the full article.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Capitol Weekly: Major water bond proposed in the Capitol

Capitol Weekly: Major water bond proposed in the Capitol

Shared via AddThis

Water Pollution in Oregon, 100 Years Later

Unfortunately, pollution that enters the rivers and oceans does not only flow down stream. It also settles, builds up and most dangerously can be stirred up and released, creating a toxic underwater cloud.

Click Here for the full article from the Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland, OR.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swimming with the Chickens... Water Pollution in the Mid West

Cause and Effect

There is much discussion about the phenomena of Eutrophic (nutrient rich) and Hypoxic (oxygen depleted) areas throughout the oceans of the world. Estimates place as many as 400 Hypoxic Zones world wide and over 40 are on the East, Gulf and Pacific Northwest coasts of the United States. There is one at the mouth of the Mississippi River estimated to be 8000 square miles, or roughly equivalent to the size of the State of Massachusetts.

So where does this marine holocaust originate? The unwitting actions of many - it is not a problem with a definite source as there are many causes. Click Here to read about a sample of just one of the many causes of Hypoxic Zones and the destruction they render on the marine ecosystem and fishing industry.

Full Article

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Levels of Mercury Content in Freshwater Fish Surprises EPA

The concern of carbon dioxide pollution effecting our lungs is being closely contested by the danger of mercury that enters the atmosphere and is making its way into the fish that many throughout America eat.

Click Here for more.

Homes May Be Big Contributors to Polluted Runoff

The aggregate impact of residential runoff may be 50% greater than anticipated. Click Here or the link to the article below for more details.

Sacramento River Fight: Farmers & Fish

Supporters of water development think the fight is between farmers and fish. It's not nearly that simple.

From Sacramento

The "water buffaloes" like to frame their fight as farmers vs. fish. It is not. It's about farmers and fishermen.

A California water buffalo is someone who instinctively battles to develop water -- so named, I'm told, after the beast that reputedly can smell water from 200 miles away.

The fight isn't necessarily about "versus" either because farmers and fishermen often are in the same boat, dry-docked for lack of water.

Up and down the San Joaquin Valley, farm fields have been fallowed and field hands can't find work because there isn't enough water to irrigate crops.

"I represent communities that are threatened to be blown away like tumbleweeds," Assemblyman Juan Arambula (I-Fresno) complained at a legislative water hearing Tuesday.

Along California's central and northern coasts, salmon season has been closed for the second straight year because, in large part, water conditions have become so mucked up in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that baby fish can't survive before heading to sea.

Commercial fishermen and their crews can't work. Recreational anglers can't fish, hurting charter boat owners.

"The delta is a black hole" for salmon, legislators were told by Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Assns.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin river system -- encompassing California's Central Valley -- historically has been the second-largest salmon producer on the West Coast, second only to the Columbia River. And Columbia salmon tend to migrate north to British Columbia and Alaska. Salmon that make it through the delta and out the Golden Gate have supplied 90% of the catch off California, and 50% off Oregon.

The delta also is the largest estuary on the West Coast of America, north and south, Grader said in an interview.

"Estuaries are places where salmon gain strength before going to sea," he continued. "We've been seeing salmon actually losing weight in the delta. They become weakened, get lost because of [reverse river] flows, become entrained in pumps or wind up in forebays where they're easy prey to predator fish."

What Grader describes is pretty much the fault of water management in the delta during the past half-century -- something all sides currently are trying to fix.

In 1950, more than 1 million chinook salmon -- also called king salmon -- returned during the fall to spawn in the Sacramento-San Joaquin system. Last fall, only 66,000 returned.

There also have been some good spawning runs -- notably in 2002, after a few wet winters, when 880,000 salmon showed up. But generally, there has been a gradual decline in Central Valley salmon over the last 60 years.

Blame construction of dams that blocked access to ancestral spawning streams and the introduction of giant fish-chomping delta pumps that reverse river flows while diverting water south to irrigate San Joaquin Valley fields and fill Southern California reservoirs. Pour in a toxic brew of pesticide runoff from farm fields and inadequately treated waste water from cities such as Sacramento and you've got a fish death trap.

So it's not just about cotton, cherries and citrus. It's about chinooks. Also huge sturgeon and striped bass. They've gotten sick on delta water too.

Some water buffaloes belittle the striped bass because they're not a native species. But they've lived in the delta for 130 years, which makes them a native by California standards. And let's not even get into which crops are native to California.

And, oh yes, there's the pesky delta smelt -- called the "canary in the coal mine," or, more aptly, "black hole" -- that water buffaloes love to hate.

The tiny fish is officially listed as endangered. So federal courts have cut back on delta water exports to save the critter. That has San Joaquin Valley farmers and farm workers marching and protesting during this third year of drought. They've found a sympathetic listener in the governor's office.

"We have to go to the federal government and get this judge off our backs so that we can open the pumps and give water to the farmers," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told me in April. "If I have a choice between the fish and the farmer, I choose the farmer. I choose the food that feeds the world."

As if salmon weren't worth eating.

Schwarzenegger sounded like a buffalo again on Tuesday when he denounced federal judges who "make decisions based on what's best for the fish rather than what's best for people."

Fishermen aren't people, presumably, in the governor's definition.

But fishermen these days bear a striking resemblance to fallowing farmers -- as delta salmon go the way of smelt.

Schwarzenegger talked about fish vs. people as he vowed not to sign any delta-fix legislation that doesn't include bonds for dams. The governor has lobbied unsuccessfully in recent years for a water bond issue of roughly $10 billion.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told me he could perhaps support a water bond in the $3-billion to $4-billion range.

Democrats have proposed a legislative package that, among other things, would create a powerful, independent council to decide how to repair and replumb the delta, making it more fish-friendly and more reliable as a water deliverer.

The delta is now dangerously vulnerable to floods or an earthquake that could topple levees, cutting off drinking water for 24 million people and irrigation for 3 million acres.

If that catastrophe occurs, you'll see the return of the fish -- but an estimated $40 billion loss to the California economy, buffaloes included.

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