Tim Quinn's blog

New Strategy on Delta Smelt a Step in the Right Direction

Over the past few months, California water has seen its share of policy shifts. This month brought a development that many hope will set us on a course to better manage aquatic resources with a comprehensive set of tools.

With the release of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy, state and federal agencies have outlined a comprehensive plan that centers on more than just pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. ACWA and its member agencies have advocated for such a strategy for the better part of two decades.

Threading the Needle on Conservation Messaging this Year

Thanks in large part to a unified effort by the water community, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a new approach to urban conservation this year. The board’s action on May 18 moved us away from a policy that had the wrong metric of success (meeting arbitrary targets) to an approach that incentivizes further investments in local drought-resilient supplies.

Senate Bill Presents Opportunity to Redefine Federal, State Relationship on Water

Since passage of historic water legislation in 2009, the core tenet of California water policy is managing for the coequal goals of improving both water supply reliability and ecosystem health.

It’s “Go Time” for Improving California’s Voluntary Water Market

As we have seen over the past few years, droughts have a way of spurring leadership on important policy issues. In the past two years alone, ACWA and its members have played a leading role in putting substantive proposals on the table to address key issues including sustainable groundwater management, headwaters health and water storage investments.

Conservation a Hot Topic as Water Community Converges on Monterey

As the water community gathers in Monterey this week, the State Water Board will be getting its monthly update in Sacramento on urban conservation under the state’s emergency regulation.

In what has become a familiar drill, State Water Board staff will report the latest water use figures on how much Californians have reduced urban water use over the same month in 2013. This time, however, the report comes as the water community anticipates action later this month to adjust the emergency regulation to reflect improved water supply conditions in many parts of the state.

Boost in Flows Underscores Need for Delta Improvements

With a series of recent downpours sending huge volumes of water into rivers, streams and reservoirs, drought-weary Northern Californians are seeing images they haven’t seen in years.

Lake Shasta picked up about 1 million acre-feet of storage in two weeks, while the Bureau of Reclamation is making flood control releases from Folsom Reservoir, which was at near-historic lows just two months ago. Sacramento River water flowed into the Yolo Bypass for the first time since 2012, and the statewide snowpack is close to average.

When it Comes to Drought Readiness, 2016 is a Far Cry from 1991

In January 1991, local water managers were bracing for a fifth year of drought. Key reservoirs were at just 50% of historic average and steep cutbacks were announced for both the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP).

Proposed Emergency Urban Water Conservation Regulation Framework’s “No Stacking Rule” Could Undermine Regional Water Planning

On Dec. 21, State Water Resources Control Board staff lifted the curtain a bit and shared their initial thinking on what could be in store for emergency drought regulation in 2016. While the draft framework for the next version of the emergency urban conservation regulation provides a cursory nod to the notion that local conditions should be accounted for in the state’s drought plan, the proposal turns a blind eye to the sea change that has occurred in 21st century water management in California. We can do better.

Let’s Get the Right Approach to Drought Response in 2016

There is no question that California is in a drought of epic proportions. By now, the statistics are well known: driest sequence of water years in a millennium; lowest April 1 snowpack in 600 years; hottest temperatures on record.

In early 2015, there was broad agreement that we faced a drought emergency that required statewide action. The State Water Resources Control Board – at the direction of Gov. Jerry Brown – responded by implementing the first-ever mandatory statewide reductions in urban water use.

Drought Shows Value of Investments, Need for Statewide Solutions

The latest conservation figures from the State Water Resources Control Board show Californians are continuing to heed the call to cut back on outdoor watering this summer.

In addition to letting their lawns go “California golden” and taking shorter showers, Californians are signaling their interest in making permanent changes to the way they use water indoors and outdoors. ACWA member agencies report a surge in interest in turf rebates, water-wise house calls and incentives to install water-efficient appliances and fixtures in place of thirstier models.

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