March 27, 2024

Metropolitan’s turf replacement incentive adds rebate to encourage planting of trees

From left, Metropolitan Resource Specialist Krista Guerrero; Margarita Montañez, Cindy Montañez's Mother; Chair Adán Ortega, Jr.; General Manager Adel Hagekhalil; and Daniel Berger, TreePeople's director of operations.

Aiming to expand the region’s urban tree canopy, Metropolitan launched a new rebate offering residents and businesses $100 per tree, for up to five eligible trees planted, in conjunction with the replacement of grass with California Friendly® and native plants.

Metropolitan officials announced on March 5 the launch of this new rebate in honor of Cindy Montañez, who most recently served as a San Fernando City Council member and the chief executive officer of TreePeople prior to her passing in October 2023. The district worked in partnership with TreePeople and local water agencies, and consulted data from several organizations to identify and recommend trees that are lower water use and appropriate for Southern California’s climate.

Read the press release.

“Trees are critical to the beauty and sustainability of our neighborhoods, so we hope this change to our rebate program will build on our decades of work to transform Southern California’s landscapes to be more appropriate for our climate and create important habitat for our local wildlife.”

Metropolitan board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr.

Survey shows Southern Californians committed to conservation amid a changing climate

Diamond Valley Lake.

A vast majority of Southern Californians are committed to doing more to conserve water amid growing concerns about how climate change will affect the availability of water in the future, a recent Metropolitan survey found.

Nine out of 10 Southern Californians agree it is important to conserve water everyday, and three out of four are willing to do even more to conserve than they currently are, according to the regional conservation survey conducted in November 2023 in English and Spanish with 1,000 participants throughout Metropolitan’s six-county service area.

“The results of this survey are very reassuring, because they show that our residents are rightly concerned about our future and are willing to be our partners in adapting to the extreme droughts and other challenges that climate change will bring,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said.

Conservation continues to play a major role in ensuring the region has water during times of drought. About 2.5 million acre-feet of the record 3.4 million acre-feet of Metropolitan has in storage is water conserved by the region. Without these conserved supplies, the district’s storage reserves would have reached critically low levels during droughts over the past 20 years, possibly triggering additional and more widespread calls for mandatory rationing.

Read the press release on the survey and listen to a part of Water Resource Management’s Brandon Goshi’s recent presentation on the importance of conservation to Metropolitan’s supply planning.

Arizona, California, Nevada propose alternative approach for long-term Colorado River operations

The Lower Basin States in the Colorado River Basin on March 6 jointly submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation a proposed alternative for long-term Colorado River operations that would help ensure the river system’s health and sustainability for decades to come.

“We need new ways of thinking to solve problems that have been unresolved for nearly a century and solutions for future challenges like climate change and extended drought — that’s what the Lower Basin alternative does,” said Colorado River Commissioner J.B. Hamby. “Each basin, state, and sector must contribute to solving the challenges ahead. No one who benefits from the river can opt out of saving it.” 

Colorado River Commissioner for California J.B. Hamby, right, and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke outline Lower Basin alternative for Colorado River operations.

While water users have turned their attention to developing alternatives for long-term, post-2026 operations, Reclamation also advanced plans to ensure the river system’s sustainability in the interim, through 2026. On March 5, Reclamation released a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for revised interim operations of the Colorado River, featuring the Lower Basin plan as the preferred alternative. The alternative helps immediately stabilize the river system through compensated and uncompensated reductions in water use.

“The consensus agreement advanced today proves that when we work together, we can maintain a sustainable Colorado River,” said General Manager Hagekhalil. “A year ago, we were in a starkly different place, facing the prospect of plummeting reservoirs and protracted litigation. But the Lower Basin States made a choice to sit down at the table and build realistic solutions that could quickly produce results.”

Read Hagekhalil’s full statement.

Forecasted State Water Project allocation doubles following late winter storms

Photo courtesy of DWR.

Thanks to improved snowpack and reservoir storage conditions from February storms, the California Department of Water Resources has increased the State Water Project allocation for 2024 to 30% of requested supplies, up from 15% last month.

The updated allocation announced on March 22 reflects hydrologic conditions and spring runoff forecasts as of March 1. The next allocation update is expected in early April, with statewide snowpack earlier this week at 98% of average.

“DWR continues to take proactive measures and use the best available science to operate our water storage and delivery system to balance water supply needs while protecting native fish species,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “As we experience more extreme weather conditions, each year brings its own challenges and that’s why it’s so critical to continue to adapt our water system to build climate resilience.”

Read DWR’s press release

Wildflower Trail at Diamond Valley Lake opens for spring

Wildflower bloom at Diamond

Valley Lake, March 2023.

Metropolitan’s seasonal Wildflower Trail at Diamond Valley Lake opened earlier this month, offering visitors vistas of the district’s 4.5-mile-long lake and anticipated spring bloom.

The Wildflower Trail is open Wednesdays through Sundays at the Hemet lake in southwestern Riverside County. The intensity of this year’s blooms will depend on the timing and amounts of rainfall during the winter months as well as the onset of warmer weather. Flowers typically on view at Diamond Valley Lake this time of year include California poppies, deep blue arroyo lupines, purple Canterbury bells, yellow rancher’s fiddleneck, white popcorn flowers and pink red maids.

Read the press release.

“Leadership Today, Water Tomorrow” highlights Metropolitan’s multi-dimensional commitment to fulfilling mission

In support of its mission, Metropolitan recently released its latest “Leadership Today, Water Tomorrow” report highlighting how the district meets its challenges through planning, investment, conservation, sustainability and innovation.

Read the report.

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