Last June, the Court of Appeal of the First Appellate District issued an opinion addressing the long-standing dispute between the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the San Diego County Water Authority regarding lawful wheeling rates for water conveyed to San Diego through Metropolitan’s Colorado River Aqueduct and local distribution system. Reversing a superior court decision, the Appellate Court held that Metropolitan’s inclusion of State Water Project costs in its calculation of wheeling rates was lawful. Putting aside legal debate, Hydrowonk focuses on the economic consequences of the decision.
On July 18, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a drinking water standard for the regulation of the contaminant 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP). The Division of Drinking Water set the standard for TCP at 5 parts per trillion (ppt) as a maximum contaminant level. If public water systems exceed the standard, they will be required to notify their customers and take corrective action. Based on recent actions taken by the City of Bakersfield to correct their TCP problems, the total tab for California’s public water systems will exceed $4 billion.
While many areas of the United States are recovering from drought conditions, there is one area which is headed deeper into extreme drought: the Northern Plains. While a series of storms in May and June caused widespread flooding and damage in Oklahoma, these storms largely missed the Dakotas and Montana. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor as of August, Montana and North Dakota were the only states in the US that had any exceptional drought. Currently, 99.59% of the Roughrider State is in some form of drought, and 43.84% of the state faces either extreme or exceptional drought. At the beginning of the calendar year, only 6.13% of the state had some form of drought, and there was no drought more severe than “abnormally dry,” the least severe drought designation.
The June 30, 2017 deadline for medium and high-priority groundwater basins to create Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”) under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) is behind us, and the newly-formed regulatory agencies must now figure out how they will meet their purpose of stopping overdraft and bringing groundwater to sustainable levels. SGMA implementation can easily build on the experiences of the west.