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    Report: San Diego has twice the water it needs
    by RY RIVARD, Voice of San Diego
    Feb 12, 2016 | 334 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    San Diego’s overabundance of water during one of California’s worst droughts has reached a new, absurd level: The San Diego County Water Authority has dumped a half-billion gallons of costly drinking water into a lake near Chula Vista. Now that drinking water has been poured into a lake, the water must be treated a second time before humans can consume it. And here’s another kick in the gut: The drinking water that’s now been dumped into the lake includes desalinated water, some of the most expensive treated water in the world. Water officials will now have to spend even more money to make the once-drinkable desalinated water drinkable once again. Several factors are causing the bizarre outcome: stubborn water politics, pipeline physics, unexpectedly low demand and the restrictive terms of a contract the County Water Authority signed with water desalination company Poseidon Resources. The result is that after spending money to make water from Northern California, the Colorado River and the Pacific Ocean drinkable, ratepayers will now have to shell out an additional quarter-million dollars to retreat the water so it’s again fit for human consumption. “Nobody wants to see any treated water going to a reservoir that would have to treated again,” said Mark Weston, chairman of the County Water Authority’s board of directors. How This Happened Several years ago, the County Water Authority imagined an ever-increasing demand for water, so it embarked on expensive efforts to bring more water into the region, including its backing of Poseidon’s $1 billion desalination plant in Carlsbad. The County Water Authority did not imagine an extensive drought would prompt Gov. Jerry Brown to order customers across the state to use less water. As San Diego benefits from its new supplies of water, its customers are cutting their water use. That means San Diego has more water than it needs. About 554 million gallons of treated water has been dumped into the Lower Otay Reservoir, a popular fishing spot near Chula Vista. That’s a very small portion of the County Water Authority’s annual water supplies, but it's still roughly as much water as 14,000 people use in a year. Blame Games There are two types of water. The first is “raw” water that has to be treated before it can be consumed by humans. The second, more expensive kind is water that’s already been treated. Getting extra raw water isn’t such a big deal, because it’s relatively cheap and can be stored in open-air reservoirs and treated later. Regional water officials welcome excess raw water and are storing it in case the drought continues and for emergencies. But now, there’s too much treated water, and that is causing headaches. The County Water Authority blames its main supplier of water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, for the treated water being dumped into the Lower Otay Reservoir. In recent weeks, the County Water Authority has asked Metropolitan to stop sending treated water to San Diego from Metropolitan’s treatment plan in Riverside County. Metropolitan said it cannot do that without making physical changes to its pipeline, designed to carry a few hundred gallons per second of water. “The Water Authority, like, calls us out of the blue and says, ‘We want it lowered to zero,’” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan’s general manager. Water Authority officials said they did not want all the water Metropolitan sent and are not going to pay for it all. The same pipelines carry two other kinds of treated water: desalinated water and water the County Water Authority treated itself at its Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant in San Marcos. The water that ended up in the Lower Otay Reservoir is a mixture of these three kinds of treated water. Of those, the most expensive by far is desalinated water. It costs at least $2,131 for an acre-foot, the standard measure used by water officials, which equals 326,000 gallons. Metropolitan’s treated water costs about half that much, $942 per acre-foot. The water treated at Twin Oaks costs even less, about $830 per acre-foot. Why is the County Water Authority trying to turn away cheaper water while buying desalinated water? Because it has to buy water from the plant whether it needs it or not. That’s the deal the authority struck with Poseidon Resources. “There’s no incentive for Poseidon to shut down, and we have to take the water, so this kind of thing I can see happening more frequently,” said Livia Borak, an attorney who represented environmental groups that opposed construction of the desalination plant. San Diego water officials said the current situation does not undermine the long-term rationale behind the desalination plant. “We have built-in resources not for this year, next year, but we have built-in resources for the next 30 years,” said Weston, the authority’s board chairman. The authority also expects the desalinated water to become cheaper than Metropolitan’s sometime between 2027 and 2042. The desalination plant is considered a reliable supply for the region, something San Diego can rely on even if there’s an earthquake or if Metropolitan cuts its deliveries, as it did during a prior drought. “We discovered back in the early 1990s that we really didn’t want to be in that position again,” said Mark Watton, another member of the County Water Authority’s board. Where This Is Heading The County Water Authority and Metropolitan are already on bad terms, but officials at both agencies have expressed hope for a quiet resolution to what the authority calls “forced water deliveries.” The County Water Authority has considered taking Metropolitan to court, although it is working to avoid that outcome because lawyers may cost more than the value of the water at stake. San Diego officials said they could pay Metropolitan cheaper raw water prices for the treated water. After all, the water can still be used; it just has to be treated again. “The treatment value is lost, but the water value is still there,” Watton said. Kightlinger, the Metropolitan head, also expressed interest in a compromise. The compromise proposed by San Diego would cost his agency about $400,000 in lost revenue, roughly the value of the treatment done to the water by Metropolitan. Staff at both agencies are also working on ways to permanently reduce the minimum amount of water that needs to go through the main pipeline involved in the dispute. Any flow below a certain number cannot be read by Metropolitan’s meter. One solution to all these problems? Just let San Diego use more water. The County Water Authority has been lobbying against the governor’s water conservation mandate, even though state officials are looking to lock in the water savings so that Californians don’t backpedal and find themselves unprepared for yet another drought. Recently, the authority sent an 11-page letter to the State Water Resources Control Board that continued to plead San Diego’s case, which is basically that San Diego should have a choice about saving water, in part because it has worked for years to buy itself out of droughts. “There is no substantial evidence in the record that the Water Authority’s use of water from existing sources is unsustainable, wasteful or unreasonable because its use will not injure any other water user or the environment,” the letter said. “All evidence is that water is available to the Water Authority and that this water can be used safely and efficiently.” Ry Rivard writes about water and land use for Voice of San Diego. You can reach him at HYPERLINK "mailto:ryrivard@voiceofsandiego.org"ryrivard@voiceofsandiego.org or (619) 550-5665.
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    Rio Report: Carnival goers not deterred by Zika virus threat
    by JOSEPH CAPP
    Feb 11, 2016 | 1862 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Blocos are free live music festivals put on all over the city. Each one is themed and the attendees are encouraged to come dressed in “fantasia” (fantasy costumes that are much like Halloween). / Photo by Joseph Capp
    Blocos are free live music festivals put on all over the city. Each one is themed and the attendees are encouraged to come dressed in “fantasia” (fantasy costumes that are much like Halloween). / Photo by Joseph Capp
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    The Sambadrome, which hosts the annual four-day Samba Parade and Contest, was overflowing as usual. The parades ran as scheduled and all in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves to the fullest. / Photo by Joseph Capp
    The Sambadrome, which hosts the annual four-day Samba Parade and Contest, was overflowing as usual. The parades ran as scheduled and all in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves to the fullest. / Photo by Joseph Capp
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    Blocos are free live music festivals put on all over the city. Each one is themed and the attendees are encouraged to come dressed in costumes. / Photo by Joseph Capp
    Blocos are free live music festivals put on all over the city. Each one is themed and the attendees are encouraged to come dressed in costumes. / Photo by Joseph Capp
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    This year was like all others. Carnival arrived and so did the people. Brazilians from around their country as well as people from all over the world descended upon Rio de Janeiro with one idea in mind, party! Just recently, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a worldwide threat but here in Rio the fear of Zika was not immediately evident. The people did what they came to do, drink lots of beer, get drunk and dance to the music that started as early as 9 a.m. and continued until late into the night. The revelers were all sweating profusely as the torrid 95-degree days gave no relief. Unfortunately, this is the perfect environment for mosquitos to breed and feast. A pregnant young Brazilian woman, Dee Sousa, 23, when asked if she was worried about the Zika virus, replied, “Of course I am, for both me and my child.” She added, “I use both spray and cream (insect repellant) several times per day and remain inside as much as possible but right now it’s Carnival. You do not expect me to give that up, do you?” She heard the warnings of keeping fully covered with long pants and long sleeve shirts to avoid the bites. “It is much too hot. We are all sweaty here in Rio, hopefully the mosquitos prefer the others over me,” she said. The Sambadrome, which hosts the annual four-day Samba Parade and Contest, was overflowing as usual. The parades ran as scheduled and all in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves to the fullest. “Business is good,” said a local ticket scalper who declined to give his name. “I have sold all my tickets much earlier than expected and almost every one was purchased by gringos.” Without a doubt the rise in tourists can be directly correlated to the decline of the Brazilian real, making dollars and euros almost twice as valuable as they were only 18 months ago. Today’s exchange rate is 3.98 Reais to 1 U.S. dollar. Brazil has experienced a severe economic slowdown and this has left multitudes out of work, giving most Brazilians only one choice when it comes to Carnival, enjoying the Blocos. Blocos are a Carnival tradition. They are free live music festivals put on all over the city. Each one is themed and the attendees are encouraged to come dressed in “fantasia” (fantasy costumes that are much like Halloween). Some Blocos are stationary and can have crowds in excess of 100,000, while others are in open-roof style buses that transport live music and costumed dancers, and slowly drive from one point in the city to another a kilometer or two away. The crowd dances in the street with the music and follows the bus as it wends its way through the crowded streets. Revelers buy their drinks and beers from the local vendors who set up alongside the Blocos route. Carnival has ended and the city is back to normal but the threat of Zika remains. Tourists are starting to leave and the local Carioca (Rio native) is back to work, patiently waiting for their next holiday. Rio was and always will be, a city ready to party, with or without Zika…. (Joseph Capp is a long time Pacific Beach resident who has lived part-time in Rio de Janeiro for the last five years. He will be sharing news and updates from Rio with sdnews.com readers through the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Have a question? Write him at copajoe@hotmail.com. He will be happy to reply.)
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    Strong women tackle Alzheimer's on the gridiron
    by THOMAS MELVILLE
    Feb 10, 2016 | 8334 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Lisa Kondrat (and behind her from left), Michelle Anderson, Jocelyn Fielding and Amanda Ruedas celebrate a Green team touchdown. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Lisa Kondrat (and behind her from left), Michelle Anderson, Jocelyn Fielding and Amanda Ruedas celebrate a Green team touchdown. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Green team defenders Michelle Le and Cristina Kelly tackle Pink team RB Autumn Sutterlin. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Green team defenders Michelle Le and Cristina Kelly tackle Pink team RB Autumn Sutterlin. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Green's Colleen Stoyas drops a pass as Pink's Autumn Sutterlin and Maia Albano give chase. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Green's Colleen Stoyas drops a pass as Pink's Autumn Sutterlin and Maia Albano give chase. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Cristina Kelly tackles Pink's Lauren Hoffmaster during the first half. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Cristina Kelly tackles Pink's Lauren Hoffmaster during the first half. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Kat Shaw fires up her Pink teammates at half time of the TackleALZ game. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Kat Shaw fires up her Pink teammates at half time of the TackleALZ game. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Green's Ali Nicastro runs through Pink's Eileen Johnson, Maia Albano and Alyce Fernebok for a second half touchdown. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Green's Ali Nicastro runs through Pink's Eileen Johnson, Maia Albano and Alyce Fernebok for a second half touchdown. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    On the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, blondes and brunettes – and even a redhead or two – came together to tackle, tussle and take part in trying to defeat Alzheimer's disease. TackleALZ (formerly Blondes vs. Brunettes) is a volunteer-led female flag football game that raises money for Alzheimer’s San Diego. The event, partnered with Vavi Sport & Social Club, with assistance from Old Mission Bay Athletic Club, played out at the Little Q rugby field next to Qualcomm Stadium with the Green team (Brunettes) beating the Pink squad (Blondes) in a rout, 31-12. But the real winner is Alzheimer’s San Diego, which will receive more than $56,000 raised by players and fans at the annual event. "The TackleALZ San Diego game was an incredible testament to the local dedication and commitment these women have shown over the last year,” said Mary Ball, president and CEO of Alzheimer's San Diego. “Not only did they play their hearts out on game day, but together they raised more than $56,000 to support San Diego families facing Alzheimer's disease and advance local research for a cure.” For more information on TackleALZ and Alzheimer's San Diego, visit http://www.alzsd.org.
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    Are tiny homes the solution to homelessness?
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Feb 09, 2016 | 6842 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, rector of St. Andrews by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach, and Christopher Scott, who's designed and built his own version of a “tiny” home, have teamed to popularize the concept. / Photo by Dave Schwab
    Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, rector of St. Andrews by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach, and Christopher Scott, who's designed and built his own version of a “tiny” home, have teamed to popularize the concept. / Photo by Dave Schwab
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    A Pacific Beach inventor and a church rector are promoting one conceivable solution to the intractable problem of homelessness: IKEA-like tiny, build-it-yourself homes. Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, rector of St. Andrews by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach, and Christopher Scott, who's designed and built his own version of a “tiny” home, have teamed to popularize the concept. They're calling it “the start of a real solution to San Diego's homelessness problem.” “A kit for these 400-plus square-foot homes can be purchased for $500 or $600 and can be assembled in two or three hours with screwdrivers and without power tools,” said Scott, a forestry specialist who said he helped start IKEA, a Scandinavian chain selling ready-to-assemble furniture, in North America. “The concept I hope may work in PB is that a jobless person can start off with one of these little houses, make improvements to it, make it look pretty, and resell it and build some equity for their next step up.” Mainwaring, among five local PB church leaders who've banded together since November of 2015 to form the Pacific Beach Homeless Coalition, said Scott's creative solution to finding the homeless homes is way of stimulating “thinking about homelessness and potential solutions. “We are looking at this as a way of sparking the imagination,” said Mainwaring, who discussed the tiny homes concept. “That's the key, providing someone with a roof over their head in a location that provides stability and security, in their own little home where they can even close and lock the door, keeping them safely inside.” Once housed, an individual can then reboot his or her life, beginning the process of finding a job and re-establishing himself as a contributing member of society, Mainwaring said. One of Scott's tiny home models is presently on view in St. Andrews sanctuary at 1050 Thomas Ave., across the street from Pacific Beach library. The tiny homes, which resemble children's playhouses in design and appearance, are large enough for a medium-size person to stretch out or even stand in. “The whole country is seeded with people who are trying to approach it (homeless housing),” Scott said. Seattle has opened 14 tiny homes. A Nashville church has built six. The tiny homes are said to offer these advantages: • They provide better shelters than tarps or tents. • The homeless can build them themselves. • Wasted building materials can be collected to make the tiny homes, which adds an element of sustainability to them. • Often, tiny homes can be grown to make them a more permanent form of housing. • They're extremely cost effective. Tiny homes will be on the agenda of the next Pacific Beach Homeless Coalition meeting, to which the public is invited on Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Room of Pacific Beach Taylor Library, 4275 Cass St. “It's a group meeting between neighbors, the homeless and other interested parties,” said Mainwaring, noting the format is mostly informal. “It's a chance for people to build relationships, offer feedback,” he said. Mainwaring said the next step in the process of paving the way for the homes to become a reality is to “get neighborhood buy-in on the concept before working up a comprehensive proposal to bring to the city, then have an informed discussion.” Obviously places would have to be found, and in some cases zoning changed, to make tiny homes legal. “It's a challenging solution to what is a profoundly challenging life to lead on the street,” noted Scott, who added that dialogue about homeless housing “is a great conversation to have.” Scott pointed out that tiny homes are trending. “It's a solution being considered across the country and, frankly, the world,” he said, adding, “If we can put a man on the moon, we can find a solution for this.”
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    PBMS installs rain barrels; students learning to conserve, recycle water
    by HANNA LAUKKANEN
    Feb 09, 2016 | 1093 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Arty Rodriguez and Daasha Ferguson paint rain barrels at Pacific Beach Middle School. /  Photo by Hanna Laukkanen
    Arty Rodriguez and Daasha Ferguson paint rain barrels at Pacific Beach Middle School. / Photo by Hanna Laukkanen
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    2. Ellah Campagna, Kylee Hollingswoth, Eliel hernandez, Daniela Zoni, Arty Rodriguez and Daasha Ferguson are studying how to save water. / Photo by Hanna Laukkanen
    2. Ellah Campagna, Kylee Hollingswoth, Eliel hernandez, Daniela Zoni, Arty Rodriguez and Daasha Ferguson are studying how to save water. / Photo by Hanna Laukkanen
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    The U.S. – Israel Center (USIC) at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management recently unveiled a new rain barrel program at three San Diego schools and Pacific Beach Middle is one of the schools participating in the international project. Earlier this month, four rain barrels, which will collect the water from the school’s roof and save it, were installed at the middle school. Students will use the captured rain water to care for campus gardens, and students at the Farm Lab also will use it to flush toilets. "The water conservation efforts the students in San Diego and Encinitas will spearhead is wonderful, but what really will be inspirational will be watching how the rain barrel program changes how these kids think about and use water,” said Susan Lapidus, executive director of USIC. “It’s very exciting to be able to bring this technology developed in Israel to San Diego. It is my fervent hope that this is just the beginning of technology transfers between San Diego and Israel,” Lapidus said. PBMS eighth grader Arty Rodriguez painted beautiful waves on the side of the one barrel. He has designed patterns for all four barrels. The work is part of his community project. Rodriguez was inspired by a Japanese artist Hakusai. On another barrel he designed a Hawaiian-Californian design with tribal arts. “It took me a week to design the paintings. My theme for this project is recycling water, so I have to add something that resembles recycling,” he said. Rodriguez also added a Hebrew message to the barrels, which reads “Water is life.” The rain harvesting system was developed in Israel by former teacher Amir Yechieli, who installed Israel’s first water catchment systems at elementary schools 16 years ago. Today, Yechieli’s business, Rain Harvest, serves more than 140 schools in Israel, including 40 in Jerusalem. Until now, no school in California used Israeli‐designed rain barrels to conserve water. “I am thrilled to see three of your schools embrace the rain barrel program and what San Diego’s future may hold based on this forward-thinking decision,” Yechieli said. “The rain barrel program helps young people understand that and it inspires them to become conservation leaders, which has the potential to help change how water is viewed and used in San Diego,” Yechieli said. USIC’s Lapidus met Yechieli at a water conference in Israel last year. Israel faced a drought similar to the one California is experiencing but today the country is 100 percent water resilient. Israel recycles 85 percent of its water, more than any other nation in the world. California recycles roughly 3 percent of its water. Lapidus would like students to learn that they are charge of their own environment and they have the power to change their behavior. “The rain barrel project is wonderful because it’s reaching school children to show them, how water is so important,” Lapidus said. “It’s clean enough to even drink, but our policy is not there yet.” Gov. Jerry Brown and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between California and Israel. The MOU sets goals for mutual collaboration on water policy and water technology.
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