Southern California environment news and trends

Bond report finds DWP, other utilities not accounting for water scarcity

A report published late last month by Ceres looks at risks for municipal water bond holders - stemming from how the underlying water systems manage their supplies. Ceres says that risk is getting bigger:

"Investors should treat water availability as a growing credit risk," said Mindy Lubber, the President of Ceres, in a news conference. "Ample, long-term water supplies are not a guarantee, and (they are at risk) in many parts of the country."

Among the systems examined is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The Ceres report characterizes the DWP's water supplies as tenuous, and contains this stark sentence: "Recycled water constitutes one percent of the supply mix."

Although LA has made significant inroads with water conservation—the city uses the same amount of water as it did 25 years ago, despite a population increase of one million people—the vulnerability of the system’s water supply has increased. A decade of legal challenges and droughts has shrunk the system’s reliable yield of local and state sources, increasing its dependence on imported water from the Colorado River. For decades, southern California has relied on the availability of surplus Colorado water in excess of the state’s legal allocation to fuel growth. Increasing competition from other growing states is likely to reduce the reliability of that surplus.


Morning greens: Is L.A. ready for a food revolution?

L.A. Unified School District says no to Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” reports LA Times. The English chef previously “took on the ‘lunch ladies’ of Huntington, W.Va., in an attempt to make school food more healthful.” Jamie Oliver also won the 2010 TED prize earlier this year; below is his TED talk.

Edendale Farm in Silverlake brings a slower, more organic pace to urban life. Composting toilets, chickens, and graywater reuse are just some of the eco-features of this urban farm, reports LA Times. “Parents take their children here to feed the chickens their favorite treat: pink flowers from the bougainvillea vines that grow like weeds. Other neighbors bake Kahn quiche in exchange for eggs.”

Get the farmers market delivered to your door. SM Mirror highlights Abundant Harvest Organics, which delivers produce grown in Central California to subscribers’ doorsteps.


At REThink:Green - looking for a greener lifestyle

I've been working on a story about rooftop solar power in the last few days - so I was interested in talking to folks in the industry about how well that works in California. One person I interviewed was Sungetivity's Danny Kennedy - who I met Saturday night at the Rethink:Green event at the Blackwelder complex in Culver City. Sungetivity's one of several companies that sell or lease solar panels to homes with a financial mechanism that puts little of the upfront cost on homeowners (I've also talked to Solar City about stuff they're doing, among others).

The event seemed to serve several purposes. It honored 11 people: Heal the Bay's Mark Gold; Surfrider's Jim Moriarity; Anna Cummins, Marcus Eriksen, and Captain Charles Moore of Algalita Marine Research/5 Gyres (who study plastic debris in the ocean); La Loma development's Marco Barrantes; Global Green's Matt Petersen; Dale Bell and Harry Wiland, of the Media & Policy Center; Andy Meyers, president of Shangri-La Construction; and director Davis Guggenheim.


City of Malibu to update septic tank talks

Monday night in the 'Bu: Malibu's city council will get an update on the status of a septic system ban in the Civic Center Area - the one approved earlier this year by the State Water Resources Control Board. Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen and Water Board executive officer Sam Unger are supposed to be talking about ways to implement the ban. They're supposed to be doing that in part so that Malibu doesn't sue over the ban.

Malibu’s reliance on septic tanks originally had a purpose: city leaders reasoned that they’d help limit growth and keep the precious open space that give the coastal community its beauty. But as surfers at Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach have attested, that decision exacted a cost on the environment in the form of chronic pollution linked to human waste.

Photo of paddle-out courtesy Surfrider


TraPac expansion brings $16 million (so far) to port communities

You might remember an expansion at the Port of Los Angeles from 3 years ago at the TraPac area - if for no other reason that it was featured prominently in America's Port, a reality show on National Geographic:

Betting on the approval of Dr. Geraldine Knatzs plan to grow and green the port, TraPacs VP Frank Pisano gambled $15M by ordering two new cranes. TraPacs future hangs in the balance pending the vote of the Harbor Board of Commissions. Captain Michael Rubino guides the late MOL Endowment through a tight turn to avoid another ship. Challenged to fix a broken hatch seal and get the freighter back on schedule, TraPac calls in their ace crane operator Bo Stipicevich. In the marina, Det. Mike Belo investigates the suspected rape of a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child by a 53-year-old man. Habitat for Humanitys press conference with President Jimmy Carter gets delayed when Port Police discover a suspicious object during an underwater dive sweep around the pier.