Friday, July 25, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 20
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Are you in favor of the county building a solar facility in Cuyama?

Yes; we need more clean energy!
Maybe; I hear those things take a lot of water, like the one in SLO.
No; it's a big money sinkhole.
I don't have an opinion.

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Community Notebook 7/24-7/31/14

MONDAY, JULY 28
• The South County Advisory Council has its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Nipomo Community Services District Headquarters, 148 S. Wilson St., Nipomo.

• The Solvang City Council has its regular meeting at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1644 Oak Street, Solvang. Agendas are available at cityofsolvang.com.

Political Watch 7/24/14

• The California Water Resources Control Board recently released a draft Ocean Plan Amendment known as the Desalination Policy, which will set statewide standards for seawater desalination facilities in the state. Facilities already exist along California’s Coast—including one in Santa Barbara that is in the process of being revamped—and cities such as San Jose and Carlsbad have approved construction of desal plants thanks in part to the drought. According the San Francisco Chronicle, 17 facilities are planned throughout the state. A press release from the Surfrider Foundation and the California Coastkeeper Alliance said many of the proposed desalination facilities plan to use open ocean intakes, “despite the availability of less harmful alternatives.” The California Water Board has determined that open intakes can result in marine life mortality and cause disruption to aquatic life, which is why the two organizations want the state to adopt a desalination policy. Chad Nelson, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation, said in the press release that the current drought has intensified a knee-jerk reaction to build the plants, which will take several years to complete. “These projects threaten to undermine a reasoned approach to developing sustainable, local, and inexpensive water supplies,” Nelson said in the release. Although the foundations don’t oppose ocean water desal plants outright, they support less costly and energy intensive water supply alternatives to be pursued first. Those alternatives include water conservation, stormwater capture, and wastewater recycling. The proposed Desalination Amendment would include components that clarify the board’s authority over desal facility intakes and discharges; monitoring and reporting requirements; provide guidance to regional water boards; and include provisions for a statewide salinity limitation.

• In response to the continuing drought, the California Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation on July 15 intended to reduce outdoor urban water use. A press release from the Water Board said that most Californians use more water outdoors than indoors and in some areas, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. When Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state emergency for severe drought, residents were asked to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent. “Many communities and water suppliers have taken bold steps over the years and in this year to reduce water use: However, many have not and much more can and should be done statewide,” the press release said. All Californians will be expected to stop washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering outdoor landscapes in a way that causes run off; using a hose to wash a vehicle unless the hose has a shut-off nozzle; and using potable water in a fountain or water feature unless the water is re-circulated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances. Water suppliers will be required to activate their water shortage contingency plans to restrict outdoor water use. Local water agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement the conservation requirements. Failure by water agencies that don’t comply with the new regulations could result in a $10,000 a day penalty. Water agencies are also being asked to step up their programs to fix leaks and other sources of water loss, use more recycled water or recaptured stormwater, and find other ways to decrease water use among their customers.