Executive Summary for September 9th

In this weekly roundup, we analyze key developments in the California drought, including water rationing in Southern California. We also look at good news for water recycling and the latest conservation numbers.

Published on Sep. 9, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Direct Potable Reuse Advances

California moved a step closer to regulations for the treatment of wastewater for drinking following a decision by the State Water Resources Control Board.

After examining information from an expert panel and an advisory group, the board recommended to the state legislature that it is feasible to draft regulations for direct potable reuse.

Currently, California has regulations for indirect potable reuse – whereby wastewater is treated for drinking but is first stored in a reservoir or aquifer before being pumped for drinking. Now the state is likely to move forward in the next year to develop guidelines on direct potable reuse.

Jeffrey Mosher, executive director of the National Water Research Institute and a member of the expert panel, told Water Deeply that direct potable reuse “provides a lot of advantages in the sense that it’s local – you don’t have to bring it in through a long pipeline or aqueduct.” And “the other reason it is so attractive is that it’s so reliable,” he said.

Latest Conservation Numbers

Latest statistics show how well California fared during the month of July when it comes to conserving water. For the most part, Californians continue to conserve, but there are some key regional differences.

The State Water Resources Control Board reported this week that urban water agencies cut their use by 20 percent compared with July in 2013, which is about the same as the previous month. However, conservation has fallen in comparison with last summer when mandatory orders were issued and the residents reduced their water use by 31 percent in July.

In this latest round of reporting, the Water Board also named the agencies where conservation dipped more than in other places. The list included Anaheim, Malibu, Vallejo, Yucaipa Valley Water District, the City of Bakersfield and the San Juan Water District in the Sacramento area, which serves the affluent Granite Bay neighborhood.

Other agencies were applauded for increasing their conservation, including Menlo Park, South San Francisco, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Barbara, Benicia, Hayward, Alhambra, Marina Coast Water District, Salinas and King City.

Water Rationing on Catalina Island

It’s not just Central Valley towns and small Northern California communities that are running low on water. The Los Angeles Times reported this week about shortages in the resort destination of Catalina island.

The local utility has ordered residents in the town of Avalon to cut water use by 40–50 percent. There are 4,500 residents but its businesses also support 700,000 visitors a year. The water comes from “modern desalination plants and a complicated relic of old wells, pumps, tanks and miles of 10-inch [25cm] pipelines,” the Times reported. “Contractors mix cement with water floated in by barge. Hotels ship laundry to the mainland. And some of the finest restaurants in town mop floors with the water customers leave in their glasses or abandoned Evian bottles.”

Residents now are just hoping for rain.

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