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Executive Summary for August 3rd

For an overview of the latest news on the California drought, we’ve organized the most recent developments in a curated summary.

Published on Aug. 3, 2015 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

New Government Website Lets You Tattle on Water Wasters

A new website now makes it really easy for Californians to report water waste they observe around their neighborhoods and anywhere in the state.

Until now, reporting water waste has been complicated because it is difficult to know which water agency is responsible for the area where the waste was observed. Water agency boundaries often don’t match city or county boundaries. And the state has never had a central portal to report water waste.

Well, now it does.

The website requires users to report only the nature of the water waste (chosen from a drop-down menu), the address and time. There’s no need to know which water agency is responsible – the website does that work for you and reports it directly to the proper agency for follow-up. The reports are anonymous. So far, 300 water agencies around the state have signed up to use the information.

The new website was developed by the State Water Resources Control Board, and is optimized for use on cell phones and tablets.

AP Poll: Farms Should be First in Line During Water Scarcity

A new national poll by the Associated Press and the polling firm GfK found that when water is scarce, 74 percent of Americans believe agriculture should be a top or a high priority for water allocations, followed by residential needs (66 percent), wildlife and ecosystems (54 percent) and business and industry (42 percent).

In addition, 79 percent of those polled said developers should be allowed to build only “in places with an adequate long-term water supply.”

Findings in the online poll appear to run against recent criticism of farming practices that demand vast amounts of water. The results also contradict longstanding legal precedent, at least in California, which puts agriculture last in line for water deliveries during scarcity. This is based on simple logic that farm fields can be fallowed during drought, but cities cannot.

Some respondents mentioned their perception that the California drought has increased food prices in their part of the nation. Others said they are concerned about friends and family in California.

The topline poll results do not tell us where respondents live, unfortunately. But they do say the majority of respondents – 42 percent – are following news of the California drought “not too closely” or “not closely at all.” Only 19 percent said they are following the issue “extremely closely” or “very closely.”

Lawsuit Against Carlsbad Desalination Project Thrown Out

The latest legal challenge against America’s largest seawater desalination project has been rejected by a Superior Court judge in San Diego.

The suit by San Diego Coastkeeper alleged that San Diego County Water Authority failed to fully account for the energy demands of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, including the energy required to store and transport water. Among other things, the group alleged that the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act, an argument rejected by the judge.

The $1 billion Carlsbad projected is expected to be completed in November. It is the largest seawater desalination project in North America, designed to provide about 7 percent of San Diego County’s freshwater demand.

“The authority is required to provide a safe and secure water supply for the San Diego region, and the court properly upheld the authority’s actions in doing so,” said Mark Hattam, an attorney for the water authority.

Top photo by Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

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