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Executive Summary for August 31st

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. 31, 2015 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Company Hopes to Ship Water from Alaska to California

A company called Alaska Bulk Water is hoping to become the first to crack the code on transporting freshwater from Alaska to California. Although dreamers have thrown around this idea for years (remember the iceberg-towing scheme?), this may be the first time a company has actually sought clients.

“We are prepared to deliver bulk water now, and we are currently working with customers who hope to be able to take delivery by the end of the year,” Alaska Bulk Water CEO Terry Trapp told USA Today.

The idea is to fill cargo ships with freshwater pumped from Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska, where the company says it has rights to nine billion gallons of water. The goal is to transport as much as 10 million gallons a month.

But hold on. Physical capacity to transport the water is one thing. But how much will that water cost after its long oceanic journey to California? Although we don’t know the answer, this is what will decide whether the idea can fly.

“There are no shortage of people with ideas about how to ship water around with no economic savvy,” says Peter Gleick of The Pacific Institute.

Another reality is capacity. Tanker ships are big, and they may seem capable of moving lots of water. But moving 10 million gallons per month is really not a lot of water. It works out at about 30 acre-feet. Over the course of a year’s deliveries, that amount of water will meet the needs of only about 700 average California households.

Water for Golf, but Not for Birds

A Southern California wildlife group is suing the Eastern Municipal Water District, claiming the district is giving preference in its water deliveries to a golf course over a wildlife preserve.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area, located 80 miles east of Los Angeles, is owned by the state of California, and the water district in 1987 promised to serve it with an “adequate, dependable and affordable” supply of recycled water.

But that 25-year water supply contract has expired, and the district has renewed it with two one-year extensions, for this year and last only.

Instead, it granted 25-year contracts to farms and golf courses, which will leave too little water to meet the nature preserve’s need for 4,500 acre-feet annually. The environmental group Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley claims the water agency and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife violated the California Environmental Quality Act in approving the water contracts.

The group says the 19,000-acre San Jacinto Wildlife Area has become the “most significant” state wildlife area in Southern California.

Now You Can Grow a Lawn (Almost) Without Water

A backyard scientist in Massachusetts has invented a mix of grass seeds that will grow a green lawn that hardly ever needs mowing and requires almost no water.

Called Pearl’s Premium, the grass created by Jackson Madnick after years of experimentation grows as green as new AstroTurf and requires watering as little as once a month.

The secret is very slow growth and deep roots. The roots on Madnick’s grass burrow down as far as 14 inches, where they can access water conventional turfgrass varieties would never reach.

The wonder grass is available at some Whole Foods Markets and Home Depot stores.

One drawback: The grass can’t take much abuse, so it’s not suitable for sports fields.

Top Photo: Aerial photo of the dam at Blue Lake near Sitka, Alaska. A company hopes to ship freshwater from the lake in tanker ships to California (Sitka Economic Development Association).

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