Welcome to the drought, California hotels

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

California is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history. There was less rainfall in 2013 than in any year since California became a state 165 years ago. Precipitation and snowpack levels remain well below average, and there does not appear to be an end in sight.

To mitigate impacts from the drought, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued Executive Order B-29-15 on April 1. This historic act signaled the beginning of a new era of stringent water conservation for California. The executive order, as well as the legislation and agency rulemaking to follow, affects every citizen, agency and business within California — including lodging properties.

HVS provides practical guidance on steps that hospitality operators can take to identify opportunities to reduce water consumption and associated costs.

FactCheck.org: Muddying the Clean Water Act

Read the full story at FactCheck.org.

Kentucky Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell misrepresented cases involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act.

  • Paul said a Mississippi man served “10 years” for “conspiracy to put dirt on his own land.” Robert Lucas was in fact convicted of numerous counts related to filling in protected wetlands on a 2,620-acre lot and selling housing units with deficient septic systems. He served about seven years.
  • In an op-ed, Paul and McConnell highlighted the case of Andy Johnson, “a farmer who built a stock pond on his eight-acre Wyoming farm” and is now threatened with fines by the EPA. Johnson actually damned a creek considered a tributary to larger, “navigable” rivers, which requires a permit.

Paul and McConnell, along with many other lawmakers, have expressed concern that the new Clean Water Rule finalized by the EPA on May 27 extends regulation of waters to even puddles and backyard ditches. There is disagreement on what the new rule actually accomplishes; EPA has said that it clarifies existing rules on which waterways are included under the Clean Water Act, and does not drastically expand jurisdiction.

Amid Drought and Flooding, States and Localities Look to Harness the Rain

Read the full story at Stateline.

As drought grips California, floods overpower Texas and Eastern cities grapple with crumbling sewers that pump contaminated runoff into waterways, state and local governments are revisiting how they get, use and manage water.

One method is to harness the rain. Some governments are doing this through massive systems that treat and pump stormwater back to residents, while others are looking to the installation of rain collection systems for homes and businesses. A few cities are introducing green infrastructure designed to put water back into the ground rather than letting it flow down the street.

Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations

Download the document.

This report aims to provide a reference on common elements and decisions inherent in water quality trading (WQT) program design, especially point-nonpoint WQT programs and the range of available options.

It is intended to help establish WQT programs, provide greater transparency about what WQT programs can accomplish, and assist WQT program developers and broader stakeholders to meet their clean water goals.

L.A. County’s plan to capture stormwater could be state model

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea.

Federal clean water legislation has long required municipalities to limit the amount of pollution — including bacteria, trash and automotive fluids — that is flushed into oceans and waterways by storm runoff.

But only recently has California considered capturing this water as a way of augmenting its dwindling water reserves. The plan approved by the State Water Resources Control Board applies to Los Angeles County but is seen as a model for other parts of water-starved California.

A farm-level view on supply chain water risk

Read the full story from GreenBiz.

As California’s agricultural community faces mandatory water cutbacks, growers are bearing the brunt; yet the entire supply chain, from farm to fork, has a stake in ensuring the long-term sustainability of water supplies. Ceres’ new report, “Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How Global Food Companies are Managing Water Risk,” found that very few global food companies are assessing water risk in their agricultural supply chains, or working with their growers to improve water management.

California Sleepwalks into Water Crisis

Read the full story from the World Resources Institute. The post is from April, but is still worth a look.

When California’s Governor Jerry Brown ordered mandatory reductions in water use last week, it came as no surprise in a state that’s experienced an extended and unprecedented drought. Now in its fourth year, the drought has fueled groundwater pumping by farmers, lowering water tables, driving land subsidence, and damaging roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Snow-capped mountain ranges no longer have snow. Citizens in some smaller communities worry they’ll loss access to water altogether. And banks and corporations are beginning to ask if they’re now exposed to potential risks and losses.

Against this backdrop, the governor’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and last week’s water-use cuts appear to many water experts to be too little too late.

So what can California do to shore up its dwindling water supply?