What’s Current? Issue #2 – Saving Diablo Canyon, Water Reuse in LA, San Joaquin County Blueprint

Welcome to Issue #2 of our newsletter offering you the latest information on solutions to California’s energy and water challenges. We believe sustainable abundance is not an oxymoron, and that Californians — with their unrivaled creativity and immense wealth — are going to prove it.

California Allocates $80 Million for Wastewater Recycling in Los Angeles County

Officials in Los Angeles are building a plant that will treat and reuse 168,000 acre feet of wastewater per year, about 12 percent of LA County’s 1.4 million acre feet of total annual demand. Total project cost is estimated at about $3.3 billion (an old estimate, it will rise), which at 30 years and 5 percent interest equates to a financing cost of $1,300 per acre foot. The plant will draw about 50 megawatts, including the required energy to pump the water to storage aquifers. We need these plants in every coastal city.

Lawsuit Seeks to Uphold Closing California’s Last Nuclear Plant

In November 2022, the Biden administration announced it will provide Pacific Gas & Electric Co. with a $1.1 billion grant to keep Diablo Canyon open through 2030. But not if environmentalists can help it. This April, a lawsuit was filed by Friends of the Earth to force the utility to adhere to the originally scheduled 2025 shutdown. California’s in-state electrical capacity averages 22 gigawatts. To go electric toward achieving “net zero,” that capacity will need to grow to at least 100 gigawatts. Apparently, the anti-nuke wing of the environmentalist movement believes we can accomplish this without nuclear energy.

When it Comes to Offshore Wind, California Needs a Reality Check

Just leased to wind power developers: 583 miles of open ocean, 20 miles off the coast of San Luis Obispo and Humboldt counties. The plan? 450 floating wind turbines, each nearly 1,000 feet tall, anchored to the seabed with cables in water 4,000 feet deep. What could possibly go wrong? If these monstrosities are ever built, the average output for all 450 would be 1.8 gigawatts, 14 percent less than what is produced by the embattled Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

California Senator Introduces Voluntary Agricultural Land Repurposing Bill

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla wants the federal government to provide funds to help states pay farmers to “repurpose” their land. Padilla has introduced a bill, the Voluntary Agricultural Land Repurposing Act, that is supported by environmental groups along with some water contractors, farmers, and water agencies. California’s farms are currently using 30 million acre feet per year for irrigation; cities consume another 8 MAF/year. Half of that, 19 MAF/year, comes from overdrafted aquifers. Everyone agrees something must be done. But while Padilla’s bill to retire farmland will likely sail through Congress, where is the same urgency to fund and build new sources of water supply?

A Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley

Over the past 30 years, so-called “uncaptured water” flowing through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has averaged 11 million acre feet per year. If more of this water could be safely withdrawn during storms and stored in aquifers or used for flood irrigation (which recharges aquifers), Californians would not have to consider retiring a million acres (or more) of some of the most productive farmland on earth. The “Environmentally Friendly Diversion Project,” proposed by a coalition of water agencies and farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, offers a solution. We will be closely watching their progress.