Municipal Water Leader March 2019

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Volume 6 Issue 3


Leadership for a Challenging Water Future

March 2019



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Municipal Water Leader is published 10 times a year with combined issues for July/August and November/December by

STAFF: Kris Polly, Editor-in-Chief Joshua Dill, Managing Editor Tyler Young, Writer Nicole E. Venable, Graphic Designer SUBMISSIONS: Municipal Water Leader welcomes manuscript, photography, and art submissions. However, the right to edit or deny publishing submissions is reserved. Submissions are returned only upon request. For more information, please contact our office at (202) 698-0690 or


Dave Eggerton of ACWA: Leadership for a Challenging Water Future

Contents March 2019 Volume 6, Issue 3

5 Adaptation and Resilience By Kris Polly

24 How Albuquerque Is Planning for the Next 100 Years

6 Dave Eggerton of ACWA: Leadership for a Challenging Water Future


12 How HDR Is Implementing Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations 18 Earthquake Planning in the Coachella Valley

30 Sustainable Water Supply in a Changing Climate: East Bay Municipal Utility District

THE INNOVATORS 35 Developing Flow Solutions at In-Situ


Do you have a story idea for an upcoming issue? Contact our editor-in-chief, Kris Polly, at


CIRCULATION: Municipal Water Leader is distributed to irrigation district managers and boards of directors in the 17 western states, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials, members of Congress and committee staff, and advertising sponsors. For address corrections or additions, please contact our managing editor, Joshua Dill, at Copyright Š 2018 Water Strategies LLC. Municipal Water Leader relies on the excellent contributions of a variety of natural resources professionals who provide content for the magazine. However, the views and opinions expressed by these contributors are solely those of the original contributor and do not necessarily represent or reflect the policies or positions of Municipal Water Leader magazine, its editors, or Water Strategies LLC. The acceptance and use of advertisements in Municipal Water Leader do not constitute a representation or warranty by Water Strategies LLC or Municipal Water Leader magazine regarding the products, services, claims, or companies advertised. MuniWaterLeader


Dave Eggerton, Executive Director, ACWA. Photo courtesy of ACWA.


Coming soon in Municipal Water Leader: April: Water Recycling on the East Coast May: Financing Water Projects

ADVERTISING: Municipal Water Leader accepts one-quarter, half-page, and full-page ads. For more information on rates and placement, please contact Kris Polly at (703) 517-3962 or

Adaptation and Resilience


unicipal water providers are in charge of critical infrastructure on an immense scale, from reservoirs and dams to networks of pipes, both rural and urban, and water treatment plants of all sorts. These expansive facilities are vulnerable to the effects of a wide range of natural phenomena, from droughts to storm events, from earthquakes to floods, from fires to watershed deforestation. In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we look at how agencies, associations, and companies across the nation are building the disaster and climatic resilience of America’s municipal water infrastructure. In our cover story, we speak with Dave Eggerton, the new executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). ACWA and its more than 450 member agencies are fighting to provide safe, affordable drinking water to California’s inhabitants while stewarding local watersheds, dealing with forest fires and drought, ensuring in-stream flow, managing surface water storage, and preserving groundwater supplies. We also look at efforts to handle storm events, earthquakes, and climate change. Mike McMahon and David Ford of HDR explain how they are helping HDR’s clients implement forecast-informed reservoir operations to make more flexible and efficient use of their storage capacity in light of recent advances in hydrometeorology and weather forecasting. In California’s Coachella Valley, Desert Water Agency is building its resilience to both earthquakes and wildfires by updating its reservoirs’ earthquake shutoff valves and establishing disaster-response procedures. In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility

By Kris Polly

Authority is taking an exceptionally long view—its 100year plan, known as Water 2120, addresses groundwater overdraft, water efficiency, and the possible effects of climate change. California’s East Bay Municipal Utility District is confronting all of the above: It is pursuing well-defined goals of water supply and quality, infrastructure investment, and financial sustainability amid a wide variety of climatic challenges, from drought and weather variability to sea level rise and ground subsidence. We also look at some of the tools that can be used to build agencies’ monitoring and management capabilities. In-Situ has created sturdy doppler meters, water quality probes, and other devices that can hold up under taxing conditions, whether out in the field or in urban wastewater pipes. Earthquakes, fires, flooding, and subsidence pose serious threats to municipal water suppliers. Thankfully, the leaders of water associations, agencies, engineering firms, and technology companies are on the task. Through careful preparation, scientific advances, and hard work, they are adapting to the challenges and increasing our water infrastructure’s resilience every day. M Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at


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Dave Eggerton of ACWA: Leadership for a Challenging Water Future

Dave Eggerton gathers with attendees of ACWA’s 2019 DC Conference on the steps of the Capitol.


he Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) represents more than 450 local water agencies across our nation’s most populous state. Between advocating for its member agencies’ needs on the state and federal level and supporting their policies and investments, ACWA works to ensure a reliable water supply amid the challenges of population growth, extreme climatic conditions, and groundwater overdraft. In this interview, Dave Eggerton, ACWA’s executive director, speaks with Irrigation Leader Editor-in-Chief Kris Polly about California water agencies’ funding strategies, infrastructure investments, and plans for the future.

Dave Eggerton: I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and went to Texas A&M University, where I studied English and political science, and then attended law school



Kris Polly: Please tell us about your background.

at the University of California, Davis, where I studied to work in corporate law. I started my career in Silicon Valley, representing high-tech startup companies. When the dot-com bust happened in 2000, I, along with half of the first-year corporate attorneys at the firm, I lost my job. That’s when I changed my focus to government law. I practiced in Sacramento, working with local government, special districts, cities, and counties. Through that, I found out about a position with El Dorado Irrigation District and became their deputy general counsel. I stayed there for 7 years. While there, I realized that I enjoyed the management and policy side of the job more than practicing law, so I transitioned to the position of general manager at El Dorado County Water Agency, which I held for 4 years. El Dorado County Water Agency didn’t have operational facilities—it is a planning, water rights, and policy organization—and I wanted experience in operations, so I moved on to become

the general manager of Calaveras County Water District, where I worked in water and wastewater. Throughout, I always had the desire to put my name in for this position at ACWA if it ever became available. I became executive director in December 2018. Kris Polly: Please tell us about ACWA’s history and mission. Dave Eggerton: ACWA was formed in 1910 as the Irrigation Districts Association of California. Over time, it has grown to include more than 450 members, all of which are local water agencies. Our members deliver about 90 percent of California’s agricultural and municipal water supplies. Our mission is to promote the work of our member agencies, facilitate consensus, and provide resources to help members with their policies, investments, and efforts to improve local water supply reliability. We work to influence water policy in Sacramento and Washington, DC. Kris Polly: How many people work for ACWA? Dave Eggerton: We have around 40 employees, split between our Sacramento and Washington, DC, offices. The strength of our organization is our people. We have some of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the business. We are further empowered by the volunteer efforts of our member agencies and their staffs and directors, and all that they do through our 13 committees, 10 regions, and our 37-member board of directors. Kris Polly: What are ACWA’s top issues? Dave Eggerton: Each time we have an incoming board, it sets priorities for the work of our staff, and so right now we’re working on a list of 11 priorities, including both policy-oriented and organizational goals. On the policy side, one of our highest-priority issues is

trying to successfully pass a legislative alternative to the water tax that’s been pushed for the last 3 years. The vast majority of Californians have access to safe drinking water, but not all do. The state needs to pass a legislative solution to this problem this year. We have a much better solution than a tax. Our Safe Drinking Water Trust legislation would use an allocation of general fund money during a budget surplus year like this one to provide a stable funding source for operations and maintenance. One of the challenges of providing safe drinking water is that most of the funds that are available from the state or federal government, whether they are state revolving funds or bond money, are overwhelmingly intended to deal with infrastructure needs. What’s also needed are sustainable funds for operations and maintenance, consolidation, replacement water, and management that will allow those systems to be successfully operated. Kris Polly: Would you elaborate a bit further on your concerns about the establishment of a water tax? Dave Eggerton: There are a number of reasons for our concern. We do not think it is sound policy to tax a resource that is essential to life. We are talking about taxing people’s tap water. A state-imposed water tax would also be highly inefficient. Our member agencies would have to make changes to their billing software and hire staff to implement and administer the tax. Their staff would have to determine things like which customers would be exempted from the tax because of their income levels and would have to administer the ongoing collection and distribution of these funds back to the state. We’ve estimated that the costs of implementation and administration could be as much as three times the amount of revenue that would actually be collected. So a charge of 95 cents per standard residential meter would probably cost each customer closer to $4 per meter. These administrative costs would ultimately be shouldered by

water system customers in the form of higher rates. Another important factor is the precedent it would set. In the past, state agencies and other groups have called for additional taxes on water bills for other purposes beside ensuring safe drinking water. Allowing a tax on water bills puts us on a slippery slope, with the possibility that 95 cents would be just the beginning. Finally, all this is happening despite a policy the state adopted 6 years ago, establishing the human right to safe and affordable water. For the state to impose a tax on ratepayers’ bills would make their basic water supplies less affordable. It undermines one of the state’s critically important policies. Kris Polly: What are ACWA’s other top issues? Dave Eggerton: Another big issue is the State Water Board’s update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Bay Delta. The staff approach that was adopted for the first phase, which dealt with South Delta and San Joaquin River flows, and is recommended for the next phase, including the East Delta and Sacramento River and its tributaries, is problematic. It’s based on the notion of restricting water agencies from impounding water supplies, thus preserving unimpaired flows in the river systems. On the San Joaquin, the State Water Resources Control Board is proposing a requirement of unimpaired flows of water from February to June each year with an allowed adaptive range of 30–50 percent and a target of 40 percent; on the Sacramento, they’re looking at requiring 45–65 percent, with a target of 55 percent. That would dramatically affect anybody who’s operating a water system, substantially reducing their ability to divert and store water for agricultural and municipal uses. It is claimed that this is necessary to protect the beneficial uses of the ecosystem and the fishery. Frankly, we believe the singular focus on quantity of flow is not the best method to MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM


support the ecosystem. There are other options, not specifically related to the amount of flow, that would be highly beneficial to the fishery. We very much support a more targeted, science-based approach to realizing more functional flows, focusing not just on the quantity of flow, but its timing, temperature, and interaction with the floodplain for the benefit of the fishery throughout its life cycle. Our work is to support the achievement of voluntary, collaborative agreements between the state, local water agencies, and the Bureau of Reclamation. It has been supported by both former Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Gavin Newsom. We want to see a comprehensive suite of actions that can be successfully implemented. Flow is one component, but it’s not the only one. There is a lot of work planned around habitat restoration, improving spawning grounds, and reconnecting the water to historic floodplains in order to reactivate them. This would create additional food supplies for the fishery and better conditions for the fish to rear in before they go out into the ocean. Numerous local water agencies have invested enormous time and effort into these plans, and they’re willing to contribute vast quantities of water and enormous financial resources to make them happen. In fact, much of the funding would come from fees assessed on Central Valley Project contractors. We’re supportive of these efforts and believe that agreements will be reached this year.

our upper watersheds. I’m proud of our organization for taking a position on the importance of that natural infrastructure. Our forests are in peril: Catastrophic fires are obliterating the landscape’s ability to filter and convey water. The dense vegetation today is much greater than it was a century ago. The recent extended drought and bark beetle infestation in California killed over 129 million trees, further increasing the fuel loading for catastrophic fire events. The Camp Fire in the Paradise area was the worst example of the devastation it caused. Paradise Irrigation District served over 10,000 customers in that community; after the fire, it has only about one-fifth of its customer base remaining. It is essential that we change the paradigm and carry out large-scale fuel reduction efforts on the landscape level. A few years ago, ACWA helped found a coalition called the California Forest Watershed Alliance, which also includes the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Forestry Association, the Rural County Representatives of California, and the Nature Conservancy. We are advocating for an increase in the pace and scale of fuels management in these areas and are working in Sacramento and DC to accomplish that goal. There are reasons to be optimistic, but the scale of the need is great.

Kris Polly: What are your thoughts on forestry management and watershed protection?

Dave Eggerton: The Colorado River is critically important for municipal and agricultural water supplies in California. Conditions in the Colorado and stored water supplies are dramatically effected by continued drought. We have closely followed the drought contingency planning efforts going on in the Colorado basin and support them, including congressional action to implement them. At the same time, it is extremely important

Dave Eggerton: It is one of the priorities that our board has established, and it’s very important to our work. About 5 years ago, we adopted a framework policy statement on the importance to our water supplies and quality of improving conditions in the forested areas of


Kris Polly: Would you care to comment on Colorado River issues?

that Salton Sea restoration efforts be adequately funded at the state and federal levels. Kris Polly: What are your thoughts on the need for storage in California? Dave Eggerton: Demands on water have increased over time, both because of California’s population growth and because of increased requirements for flows for environmental and other purposes. The needs are further compounded by the effect of climate change on water supply. We also have major challenges with groundwater conditions and the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Local agencies are working to achieve sustainability in some areas of the Central Valley that have been dramatically affected by groundwater overdraft. Investing in additional surface storage and other facilities to make more water available for recharge has to be part of the solution. That’s why the $2.7 billion in water bond money that was approved as Proposition 1 in 2014 is so important. We have worked hard to try to make sure that the process used by the California Water Commission in making preliminary decisions on how those funds will be awarded is equitable to all applicants. These storage projects are critical to local communities and the state. Finally, we need additional infrastructure and operational flexibility to adjust to reduced snowpack and other effects of climate change. Atmospheric rivers present an important opportunity for us to capture additional benefits from high-flow events. A series of megastorms known as atmospheric rivers begin over the ocean and provide the majority of California’s water supply each year. We need to capture more water during those events. There’s recognition of this at the State Water Board and at other levels of the state and federal government. Early results demonstrate that capturing this water can benefit surface and groundwater storage. For example, Turlock Irrigation District, which

Dave Eggerton and an ACWA Fall 2018 Conference attendee talk California water during the welcome reception.

manages the 2 million acre-foot New Don Pedro Reservoir, has been able to use advance-forecasting information from the Scripps Institute about the timing and magnitude of atmospheric river events to change the operation of the reservoir. That information is available to the operators of the reservoirs on a daily basis. They are also using information from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, including aerial surveys of snowpack and measurements of snow depth and moisture content. They have real-time information on the entire watershed unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. They’re using all of this information to operate the reservoir, and as a result, last year they were able to store an additional 150,000 acre-feet of water that otherwise would have been released into the ocean for flood management purposes. This effort is made possible with key, targeted investments at the state and federal levels in advanced, applied science, and it enables a better use of existing infrastructure. Ultimately, we will need federal assistance to change the decades-old operation manuals of Army Corps facilities that could likewise benefit from this scientific information.

infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Access to state and federal funding and low-cost financing, in partnership with local investment, is critical to achieving sustained, meaningful progress on the backlog of projects in every community. Kris Polly: Is there anything that you’d like to add? Dave Eggerton: It’s an honor to work in the water industry. What we represent and fight for is essential for human life. We are working to meet the needs of the next generation, which provides us with a different perspective. We’re not just maximizing profits for this year; we’re making hard choices looking much further into the future. That’s the ethic of the people that are part of our industry. To be able to represent them in this capacity is an unbelievable privilege. I would also like to say how much we value our work with our colleagues in other states through the National Water Resources Association. We have so many shared interests and are a much stronger voice when we are united together. M


Kris Polly: What is your message to Congress? Dave Eggerton: My message to Congress is that water infrastructure must be a vital part of any infrastructure legislation. It’s a matter of continuing to provide for the most basic and important needs of our people, which is not a partisan issue. That’s why I’m heartened to see how much attention this issue is getting. Our aging water infrastructure is, in some cases, at risk of catastrophic failure. It’s a large part of why the nation has such a low rating on the condition of its

Dave Eggerton is the executive director of ACWA. He can be reached at




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How HDR Is Implementing Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations


ater supply and flood prevention are constant concerns for the managers of dams and reservoirs, particularly in the American West. Reservoirs must maintain enough empty space to handle sudden storm flows while at the same time holding on to as much precious water as they can. In the past, problems like this were addressed with relatively simple, inflexible capacity requirements based on an analysis of historical behavior. Today, however, advances in hydrometeorological forecasting and big data analysis allow reservoir managers to operate on a far more flexible scale. HDR Engineering is helping its clients across the United States integrate forecast-informed decision support techniques into their operations in order to make them more efficient and flexible. In this interview, David Ford, a water management and hydrologic engineering expert at HDR, and Mike McMahon, HDR’s senior hydrometeorologist, speak with Municipal Water Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill about recent developments in the field of forecast-informed management. Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your backgrounds and how you came to be in your current positions.


Mike McMahon: I am the senior hydrometeorologist at HDR Engineering. I have been a hydrometeorologist for the last 34 years. I worked in operations for the first 20 years with Lockheed and Boeing as an atmospheric scientist and researcher. Next, 12 years ago, I came to HDR and started working in hydrometeorology, which means that I focus on the part of the water cycle that is precipitation. You could say I do the front end of what David does once that water hits the ground. That involves the use of advanced analytics as part of operational/planning analysis and forecasting. I am the climate change and resiliency lead for the company as well. Currently, my work is split about 50/50 between hydrometeorology on the one hand and climate change and resiliency work on the other. I lived in California for 45 years prior to moving to Denver, where I have lived for the last 13 years. I absolutely love what I do. Joshua Dill: Dr. Ford, does your work in hydrology focus on the behavior of lakes and rivers?


David Ford: I am a registered civil engineer in California with a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin; my field of specialty is hydrologic engineering. I apply hydrologic science to answer the water management questions HDR clients have. I started out my career working for the

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; I worked at an Army Corps research lab called the Hydrologic Engineering Center for 10 years. I then left and formed a consultancy, David Ford Consulting Engineers. We were in business for 28 years and were acquired in August 2018 by HDR. I have been based in Sacramento, California, for more than 40 years.

Folsom Reservoir.

David Ford: I would call my field flood hydrology, because I focus mostly on runoff from big storms. For example, when Mike predicts the kind of major rain event that we recently had in California, we hydrological engineers take the rainfall predictions and use those to predict how much water is going to run off into the lakes and reservoirs so that those infrastructure systems can be better managed. We’re concerned with things like the ponding of water on the land surface and how much of it will infiltrate, or go into the soil. In California, we’re concerned with how much of that precipitation is going to fall as snow and accumulate in the mountains, and then the rate at which that snow will melt over time. We’re also interested in temperature measurements and temperature forecasts. Joshua Dill: Please tell us about the benefits of forecastinformed operations, especially for reservoirs and dams. David Ford: Implementing forecast-informed operations is a way for HDR to help our clients better use the infrastructure they have. In California and in the western United States, we have a seasonal rainfall pattern that allows us to be quite sure that we are not going to have rain in June and July. Reservoirs in the West are managed to accommodate that seasonal difference. In the rainy season, we

keep the reservoirs low so that we can store flood runoff; in the summer season, we keep the reservoirs high, or filled, so that there is water for municipal clients and for commercial and industrial use. The challenge is deciding when to fill and when to empty those reservoirs. This technology allows managers to make those decisions more efficiently and in a timelier manner than they used to do. Here is a great example. One of our clients is the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), which manages the storage of water in Lake Mendocino in Sonoma County, just northwest of San Francisco. The rules for the allocation of water and the use of storage in Lake Mendocino were developed back in the 1980s, when there wasn’t a good method of forecasting rainfall, stream flow, and runoff into that reservoir. The rules were inflexible. They said that on a certain date, the reservoir needed to be drawn down to have lots of empty space for managing floods. It didn’t matter what the meteorologists were saying. Now, however, we can use forecasting to inform those decisions. We can say, “We don’t see a big storm coming. Let’s hold that water in there to use later in the season.” That is important in California, because we want all the water we can hold to use throughout our long, hot, dry summers. If we follow these arbitrary rules based only on historical behavior and empty that reservoir, and no big storm comes in, we might be short on water during the summer. Forecast-informed operations let us manage that space a lot more efficiently. Joshua Dill: Have existing guidelines and rules also become somewhat obsolete because of climatic changes? Mike McMahon: Yes. Today, we need to be able to manage increased natural climate variability. One key factor in managing that variability is that a forecast-informed reservoir operations program is iterative. In other words, your decisions are based on what is happening with the hydrometeorology of a given basin right now as it pertains to the coming water year. This program enables you to iteratively adapt to what the climate is doing at any given time, whether that means droughts; floods; or a nice, normal water year. You can make adjustments as you go, rather than relying on a future year climate model. Joshua Dill: It sounds like some reservoir managers are being exempted from older water allocation and storage rules and are now permitted to implement forecast-informed operations. How did this come about? David Ford: It came about because of the recognition by both the dam owners and operators and the regulators that the technology could now support forecast-informed operations. The operation of Lake Mendocino during flood periods, for example, is subject to rules developed by the Army Corps. The water agency follows those rules, which MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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the opposite of the Lake Mendocino situation. At Folsom Reservoir, the focus is on flood management, and forecast-informed operations are used to inform decisions to draw the reservoir down in anticipation of a flood in a flexible and proactive fashion. That’s all possible because the regulators and the operating agencies “HDR has provided very valuable have recognized that the assistance to Sonoma Water technology has improved enough to make this with the development and possible.

require it to keep empty space in that reservoir. But the Army Corps recognizes that improved forecasting allows those decisions to be made in a more adaptive manner. With the cooperation and collaboration of a group that included the U.S. National

implementation of forecastinformed reservoir operations for Lake Mendocino. They are experts in this field and have provided crucial technical guidance through the entire process. It has truly been a pleasure to work with them!”


Mike McMahon: We’re doing the same kind of thing in wastewater as well, especially in combined sewer systems that manage storm water and wastewater simultaneously. There is a cost benefit to doing this. I’ll give you an example. Orange County Sanitation District is looking at infrastructure options to enable it to better manage its system capacity, but it is already regularly using forecast information to manage its system. With the increased efficiencies the district could get from using forecast information, it might not have to fund costly infrastructure to improve its system conveyance. There is a distinct cost benefit to increasing your water management efficiencies through improved decision-support information rather than just relying on bigger, better, and faster infrastructure. Joshua Dill: Are these applications of forecast-informed operations paving the way for a broader adoption of the technology? David Ford: The applications we discuss here represent the front edge. I would predict a great shift to forecastinformed operations for virtually every reservoir in the United States that has significant flood-management or water supply capabilities. It’s just a better way to use the infrastructure that is already there. The great thing is that the regulatory agencies understand that. The leadership of the Army Corps in


Mike McMahon: Both Folsom and Lake Mendocino have minimum in-stream flow requirements that are designed to support fish populations below the dam. In years of drought, they have to release as much as they can for the —Chris Delaney, Senior fisheries downstream, Engineer, Sonoma County but in years of flood, Water Agency particularly in the case of Lake Mendocino, they can’t release too Weather Service, which is part of much, because it is a hazard to those the U.S. Department of Commerce, downstream and because it could the Army Corps, the California adversely affect the fisheries within Department of Water Resources, the Russian River. Particularly in the various university researchers, and the Russian River, there is an issue with National Marine Fisheries, SCWA salmon spawning grounds. In the was able to incorporate improved case of Folsom, water temperature forecasting into its operational is important to the fisheries in decisionmaking, increasing water the American River below the availability without increasing flood dam. Forecast-informed reservoir risk. operations can help control these A similar thing happened near temperature variables as well. At Kerr where I live in Sacramento. There’s a Dam on Flathead Lake, they are also big reservoir just upstream from us using forecast-informed operations called Folsom Reservoir. The release to address hydropower management from Folsom flows down the American issues and minimum stream flows River, which goes right through for two environmentally sensitive the urban area of Sacramento. The trout species. Operating a reservoir American River’s capacity is limited, more efficiently has ancillary benefits so it is important to operate Folsom beyond flood control and water supply. Reservoir in such a way that flood releases don’t exceed that capacity, Joshua Dill: Aside from dam and but also in such a way to ensure that reservoir management, what other there’s water in that reservoir for all applications are there for forecastthe water supply clients. It is almost informed reservoir operations?

David Ford: We are providing similar services for storm water management. Every urban community in the United States has storm drains, small open ditches, canals, channels, and detention storage facilities that have to be effectively managed. The scale is different, but the technology can also help with that. Weather forecasting, albeit on much smaller scale, can help emergency managers make decisions about when roads should be closed. HDR is helping provide services like that to our clients, too. We have ongoing projects in North Carolina and in San Antonio, Texas.

Washington, DC, is well aware of the opportunities that have arisen, and it is embracing them. There are still details to be worked out, but the technology is not experimental any more. HDR is excited to be on the front edge of this technology and to help our clients implement it. Mike McMahon: I will extend my career by 5 years just so that I can work on it. It is that important. Rolling out this paradigm change is complex, but it is exciting to be part of making it a reality. Right now, our task is not to achieve the highest conceivable level of efficiency, but to start doing better than we are right now. Over time, the technology will improve, and it will be able to be rolled out across the United States. Joshua Dill: How can HDR help agencies deal with this new technology and navigate the difficulties of implementing it?

have computers to take in massive amounts of data about the weather, the watershed’s response, the snow melt, and the runoff, and to use that to analyze alternative operations schemes and help our clients make decisions. Mike McMahon: There is a third component that I think is worth mentioning: the issue of dam and levee safety. When we start talking about operating reservoirs in a different way, there is a natural concern about dam safety. Forecastinformed reservoir operations will not reduce dam safety—it will be able to enhance reservoir management to the point that increases it. The decision-support information that David just mentioned will provide water managers with the tools they need to improve operational efficiencies, and that includes dam safety. M

Mike McMahon (left) is the senior hydrometeorologist at HDR engineering. He can be reached at David Ford (right) is a water management and hydrologic engineering expert at HDR engineering. For more about HDR, visit

David Ford: One of the most important things that HDR can do to help our clients move forward with this technology is what Mike is doing: forecasting weather and interpreting those forecasts. The second thing, which HDR is also on the forefront of, is the use of information technology. This all works because we


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Earthquake Planning in the Coachella Valley One of DWA’s steel reservoirs.


Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position. Steve Johnson: After graduating from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1993, I interviewed and


was hired by Dames and Moore, a geotechnical engineering firm in Los Angeles. I was a field inspector and worked on several projects, including monitoring subsidence along Hollywood Boulevard during the construction of the red line of the L.A. subway. In 1995, I joined DWA as a staff engineer. Over the past 24 years with the agency, I have worked my way up through the engineering department, and now I am the assistant general manager. Joshua Dill: Please tell us about DWA. Steve Johnson: DWA was formed in 1961 and is one of only 29 state water contractors in California. A state water contractor has the authority to purchase water from the State Water Project (SWP). Prior to the formation of DWA, the City of Palm Springs was served by a privately owned water agency, the Palm Springs Water Company. The citizens of Palm Springs realized that the groundwater levels were dropping fast, and to remedy this, they decided to form DWA to purchase SWP water and replenish


esert Water Agency (DWA) serves 64,000 people in a service area in California’s Coachella Valley centered on the city of Palm Springs. This area of Southern California is vulnerable to natural disasters of several kinds, primarily earthquakes and wildfires, both of which have occurred in DWA’s service area. As a major utility that provides a life-sustaining resource, DWA has been carefully building its resiliency to natural disasters by modernizing its reservoirs’ earthquake shutoff valves, eliminating fragile pipes, and strengthening its relationships with the local fire department and other agencies. In this interview, Steve Johnson, DWA’s assistant general manager, speaks with Municipal Water Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill about how his agency is building up its disaster resilience.

the valley’s groundwater. In the late 1960s, DWA purchased the Palm Springs Water Company, along with the neighboring Cathedral City Water Company. Today, DWA’s service area covers about 325 square miles. DWA has approximately 23,000 services serving a population of about 64,000 people, most of whom are in Palm Springs. In addition to water management and retail water service, DWA recycles water and conveys wastewater in parts of its service area. Joshua Dill: What is the source of DWA’s water? Steve Johnson: DWA sits over the Whitewater, Garnet Hill, and Mission Creek subbasins—parts of the Coachella Valley groundwater basin.

I like to describe the valley as a large bowl of sand that captures and holds local mountain runoff and rainfall. The aquifer is estimated to store more than 42 million acre-feet of water in the first 1,000 feet. That groundwater is the major source of our water. The first settlers in the Coachella Valley initially diverted runoff from the surrounding mountains as their water source, but as the population grew they found that the runoff was not enough to sustain their needs and turned to pumping groundwater from wells. The water that we import is used to recharge and sustain our groundwater. The imported water is delivered to large ponds and percolates into the ground, where it mixes with the existing groundwater and is eventually pumped and distributed to our customers. Although DWA purchases water from the SWP, the existing conveyance facilities for the SWP are approximately 30 miles west of the Coachella Valley. Another water conveyance system, the Colorado River Aqueduct (CRA), owned and operated by Metropolitan Water District (MWD), runs through our region. DWA and MWD developed and executed an exchange agreement that allows DWA to import water from the CRA into the Coachella Valley in exchange for providing MWD with our allotted SWP water. Joshua Dill: How frequent are earthquakes in your service area? Steve Johnson: The San Andreas Fault is within 10 miles of Palm Springs, so we are in an active earthquake zone. I would guess that several earthquakes occur every month, but they are not large enough to feel. We have at least one or two earthquakes a year that I would consider moderate in intensity, somewhere between 4.0 and 5.0 on the Richter scale. There have also been some large earthquakes in the Palm Springs region. The 1992 Landers Earthquake, the epicenter of which

was just north of Palm Springs, was about a 7.0 on the Richter scale. I was not working at the agency at that time, but I remember the widespread damage that earthquake caused. Joshua Dill: Would you tell us about some of the infrastructure work DWA is doing to guard against the effects of earthquakes? Steve Johnson: All our water storage facilities are above-ground welded steel reservoirs, located in the foothills that surround Palm Springs. They were constructed with isolation valves that have pneumatic actuators. It’s an old technology: The actuator contains a small ball that sits on a pedestal, and if there is ground movement of a certain intensity, the ball falls off the pedestal and releases air from the actuator, which then closes the valve. We are in the process of replacing those actuators with more modern, battery-powered devices. The new devices require less maintenance and use advanced ground-movement technology, which is more reliable. They’re quite expensive—the materials alone cost around $30,000 per actuator. Joshua Dill: Is the idea that, if the pipes in your system are damaged, you don’t want water leaking out? Steve Johnson: Correct. A large earthquake could damage water mains, causing large leaks that would then drain our reservoirs. We have 59 million gallons of storage. In the case of a major earthquake, we do not expect to have power for our pumps. We want to preserve as much water as we can in our reservoirs and then evaluate our system for damages. After that assessment, we can route our water in strategic ways. The fire department may need water in some areas for fire fighting. We would also have to set up water distribution points for residents. We may want to isolate certain areas where we know there are large main breaks. Preserving the water in our reservoirs is the prerequisite for all that. MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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One of DWA's remaining pneumatic actuators.

Joshua Dill: How are you making your pipelines more resilient? Steve Johnson: In the early 1990s, we started using ductile iron pipe. In the 1980s, we used asbestos concrete pipe, which is long lasting but fairly fragile. Ductile iron is more resilient when it comes to earthquakes. Joshua Dill: Does DWA have any concerns about major water pipelines or the CRA getting damaged in an earthquake?

Joshua Dill: How do wildfires affect DWA? Steve Johnson: Although we are a desert agency, we do have some facilities located in the foothills that surround Palm Springs that are vulnerable to wildfires, particularly our steel reservoirs. Last year, there was a fast-moving wildfire on the south end of Palm Springs that started about a half mile below two of our 5-million-gallon reservoirs. Because we create a buffer, or shrub-free zone, around our facilities, the fire caused little damage. The fire department was then able to use our site as a staging area and use the water in the reservoirs to fill their trucks. That buffer zone was critical to protecting our reservoirs. Joshua Dill: What sort of planning can you do to prepare for natural disasters?

Joshua Dill: How do you plan for an earthquake? Do you make your plans based on the expectation of an earthquake of a specific intensity?

Steve Johnson: DWA meets annually with the Forest Department to review procedures for events such as wildfires. We also discuss events that may have occurred over the past year. It’s important for us to have updated contact information on hand so that if something does happen, we can call the right person.

Steve Johnson: All our planning involves a significant earthquake. There isn’t a specific size, but we expect to see

Joshua Dill: Would you tell us about the simulations and training that DWA does with the local fire department?



Steve Johnson: The agency is extremely concerned about damage to major transmission pipelines. These mains are large in size and, if severed, will not only cause a tremendous amount of flooding but will rapidly draw down our reservoir storage. That is why it is important for us to have the isolation valves on the reservoirs. We store a limited amount of larger-size pipeline at our operation center facility to expedite any needed repairs. Any damage to the CRA would most likely lead to a halt in imported water deliveries to the valley. Without the imported water, we would be unable to recharge the aquifer until the repairs are complete. Damage to the aqueduct could also result in catastrophic flooding, depending on where the damage occurs.

major damage in our area when the big one hits. Based on my experience, something of the magnitude of 7.0 or greater along the section of San Andreas Fault located north of Palm Springs would be a devastating event for the valley.

One of DWA's new electronic actuators.

Steve Johnson: In 2017, DWA staff, along with city emergency response personnel and local Tribe management staff, participated in the city of Palm Springs emergency operations center tabletop exercises. In those exercises, we simulated several scenarios that might happen as a result of a large earthquake. Participants discussed things such as who the primary contact would be and what equipment or supplies would be available to the different parties involved. It was during this exercise that city fire department staff learned that DWA has earthquake shutoff valves that will isolate the reservoirs and that water may not be available for firefighting if the valves are closed. As a result, DWA and the fire department developed a communication plan. DWA staff meet with city emergency response staff annually. We also collaborate with the city fire department on confined space training exercises. We have several large vaults that allow for rescue training. We usually train annually.

several fires throughout the city. That reinforced our awareness of the need to ensure that we have water storage and good lines of communication to the fire department. We also learned that the earthquake caused a lot of damage to sewer pipes. Although wastewater conveyance is a small part of our responsibility, we invested in a significant amount of sewer pipe for our inventory. We also realized that we needed to develop a plan to get supplies to us. The Northridge earthquake damaged some freeway overpasses, making it difficult to reach some areas. There is only one main freeway through the Coachella Valley, the I-10. We think there is a high possibility that access to the Los Angeles area would be limited by highway damage in the case of a major earthquake. We have been developing plans to work with suppliers to our east, in Arizona, as alternatives in case of an emergency. M

Joshua Dill: What is the best way to predict the possible effects of a major natural disaster on your system, and have you made any changes to your operations based on what you have observed in natural disasters elsewhere? Steve Johnson: I am familiar with some of what utilities face in natural disasters based on my experiences at Dames and Moore. In 1994, there was a major earthquake in Northridge, a suburb of Los Angeles. Dames and Moore published a report in its in-house magazine about the damage caused by this earthquake. We used that report to research how a similar disaster would affect DWA facilities. The Northridge earthquake damaged gas mains, creating

Steve Johnson is the assistant general manager of Desert Water Agency. He can be contacted at


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How Albuquerque Is Planning for the Next 100 Years Downtown Albuquerque.


he Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority supplies water to 675,000 residential, commercial, and institutional water customers in a service area centered primarily on New Mexico’s Bernalillo County. Providing water to this desert region is a challenge, and over the last few years, the Water Authority has transitioned its water supplies from 100 percent groundwater to a more sustainable portfolio that includes surface water and nonpotable reuse. But the Water Authority’s plans go further than that: It has developed a 100-year plan to ensure a sustainable supply of water far into the future. For its groundwater management efforts and its 100-year plan, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) awarded the Water Authority with its 2018 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence. In this interview, the Water Authority’s chief operating officer, John Stomp, speaks with Municipal Water Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill about the challenges and advantages of planning for the very long term.

John Stomp: I am a civil engineer by trade. I hold a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico and have been working in the water and wastewater industry for more than 30 years. I started work for the utility in 1996 and in 1997 was promoted to water resources manager, a position I held for 13 years. In 2010, I was promoted to chief operations officer for the Water


Joshua Dill: Please tell us about the Water Authority’s history and services. John Stomp: The Water Authority was previously a department within the City of Albuquerque. In 2003, the New Mexico State Legislature created a new regional entity called the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, with board representation from elected officials from the city and county. The Water Authority’s service area includes most of Bernalillo County, including the City of Albuquerque and certain unincorporated areas outside the city limits. It also serves parts of Sandoval County and has extended service to some folks in the East Mountains. The Water Authority currently provides water and sewer service to about 675,000 people. Considering that we serve customers across this entire region, I think that being a regional entity that combines service to the city and the county makes great sense for our customers and helps us to manage water resources more effectively. Joshua Dill: What is the source of your water? John Stomp: In 2008, the Water Authority transitioned from sole reliance on groundwater by adding surface water from the San Juan-Chama Project to the community’s portfolio. That surface water has now become our main


Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your background and how you ended up in your current position.

Authority and have been in that position ever since. In total, I have been blessed to be working for the utility for going on 24 years.

source of supply, representing about 70 percent of our production. The transition away from the aquifer to surface water was part of a comprehensive water resources plan adopted in 1997 and updated in 2007. The plan included water conservation and the use of nonpotable supplies for irrigation and industrial use. Joshua Dill: Where does that surface water come from? John Stomp: In 1963, our community contracted for water from the San Juan-Chama Project, which delivers New Mexico’s share of the water from the Colorado River. The water is diverted on three tributaries of the San Juan River and is conveyed southward across the continental divide through a series of diversion facilities and reservoirs. It’s finally diverted, via the Rio Chama, into the Rio Grande for eventual delivery to Albuquerque. The Water Authority is entitled to 48,200 acre-feet per year from the project, which is a portion of New Mexico’s overall share of 11.25 percent of the water from the Upper Colorado River basin. Until 2008, the Water Authority (and before that, the city) provided this water to other entities but didn’t directly use it for itself. Since 2008, the Water Authority has been using the water to meet the needs of the local community. Joshua Dill: Who are your customers? John Stomp: Around 60 percent of our users are residential customers. Around 47 percent are single families and another 10 percent or so are multifamily residential customers. A further 10 percent of our customer base is made up of irrigation-only account holders who primarily use nonpotable recycled water to irrigate golf courses and parks. The remainder is composed of institutional and commercial users like schools, hospitals, and businesses. A very small percentage of our water, probably less than 1 percent, goes to industrial users. Joshua Dill: Would you tell us about the Water Authority’s aquifer management work? John Stomp: In 1997, we adopted a water resources management plan with the purpose of transitioning away from sole reliance on the aquifer. This has since evolved into a 100-year plan that we call Water 2120. Back in 1997, the aquifer was dropping at a rate of 1–3 feet a year, which brought its long-term sustainability into question. We had surface water available to us that we weren’t using, so we decided to make the transition to this renewable source and to emphasize nonpotable reuse. We built $500 million worth of infrastructure to make it happen, including a riverside diversion and raw water pipeline, a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, and about 50 miles of large-diameter transmission pipelines to integrate the surface water into the existing system. We also constructed

two different nonpotable reuse systems so that we could minimize the use of potable water for the irrigation of green spaces and golf courses. In 2008, the new water treatment plant, pipelines, and diversion facility were completed, and we began providing purified surface water to our customers. In terms of preserving the aquifer, the system is working as planned. In the decade since we started using surface water, the local aquifer has rebounded by more than 50 feet in some places and the regional aquifer has risen by about 20 feet. Joshua Dill: Would you give our readers an overview of the 100-year plan? John Stomp: Our 100-year plan, which was adopted in September 2016, involves using existing supplies, bringing on new supplies if necessary, and adopting new conservation goals so that we can preserve and protect the aquifer for the future. When we started looking at the future, we tried to map out the possible trajectories of our supplies and demand, looking at the potential growth of this region and at the possible effects of climate change, using the Bureau of Reclamation’s study on the possible reduction of surface water in the Colorado River. We came up with low, medium, and high scenarios for each. The high-supply scenario was that our current water supply would remain constant. The medium-supply projection was that, because of climate change, we would experience a reduction of 10–15 percent in surface water supplies over the next 60 years. The low-supply scenario, which was developed as part of Reclamation’s work, projected a reduction of up to 30 percent of our surface water in the future. Those projections can be reevaluated every 5 or 10 years or as more scientific information becomes available. Once we had our supply and demand scenarios, we started to think about how we would fill the gaps in supply that we saw. We ended up deciding to implement a reduction of water use from the current level of 135 gallons per capita per day to a level of 110 gallons per capita per day by 2037. Our customers have already halved their water use in the last 23 years, from 250 gallons per capita per day in 1995 to 135 in 2018. We looked at reuse and other alternative supply options that might help us get there. We ranked 47 different alternatives and selected from among them through a public process. We were able to fill the supply gaps we foresaw for the medium-supply/medium-demand scenario, but there was still a gap for the hot, dry, low-supply scenario. That gap, however, would not reach its worst state for 80 years, so our board felt pretty confident that as we update this plan over time, we will get better information and a better idea of how to address the problem. The majority of the supply alternatives we identified involved using our existing supplies in new ways. For example, in the future we will have more wastewater MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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available. We can treat that to drinking water standards and use it as a drinking water source for the future. We can also take advantage of additional reuse opportunities to irrigate more turf and possibly transition industrial uses to nonpotable supplies. In total, the supply projects outlined in Water 2120 are expected to cost $400–500 million. We put a financial plan together and analyzed whether additional rate increases would be needed to pay for the infrastructure. Fortunately, we think we can do it without additional dedicated rate increases because we’ll be retiring old debt from the San Juan-Chama Project and freeing up those resources. There was extensive public involvement during the development of the Water 2120 plan. A series of public meetings was held at the outset to get feedback from our customers about what the plan might look like and whether 100 years was a realistic timeline. Our customers were adamant that they did not want us to leave this problem to our children. There were also more than 14 meetings with our internal Technical Customer Advisory Committee, and we presented to the Water Authority board about 10 times over the course of 2 years. Joshua Dill: Will the 100-year plan involve more storage and infrastructure? John Stomp: Absolutely. The infrastructure will be used to take advantage of our existing water resources, primarily wastewater effluent. In New Mexico, groundwater users are required to pay the river back for pumping in areas where the river and the aquifer are connected. We are responsible for repaying our depletions on the Rio Grande, and we use our water rights and wastewater effluent to do just that. In the future, we will be pumping less groundwater and therefore will have additional wastewater effluent available to use. That wastewater effluent will be a source of drinking water in the future, whether directly or indirectly.

John Stomp: Over the last 10 years, we have been implementing an asset management plan, which is intended to prioritize and fund infrastructure rehabilitation projects and reduce our backlog of needs. That has required some water and sewer rate increases. Ultimately, we plan for those to provide $80 million a year for the capital program outlined in the asset management plan. We’re ramping up to that level and are currently spending around $60 million per year on rehabilitation. In addition, we borrowed money to fund the $500 million San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project along with the two reuse projects. The debt service payments for those projects will be completed around 2026, freeing up some funding for the infrastructure required under Water 2120. As we


Joshua Dill: How have you educated your customers? John Stomp: Every year, we hold at least four public meetings called Customer Conversations, where we pick an important topic and discuss it with our customers. Some of the recent topics included the 100-year water plan and our asset management plan. As part of our water conservation education program, we also host every fourth grader in the Albuquerque area for a 1-day educational program on water conservation, water quality, and other important topics. These sessions have been going on for more than 20 years, so water conservation has really become ingrained in the local culture. We also host irrigation and garden classes every summer, partner with local businesses on conservation issues, and provide presentations throughout the community. We have a monthly newsletter, bill inserts, and advertisements promoting efficient water use and providing drought updates when necessary. We have water conservation rebates and other incentives to reduce use, and our enforcement staff work with our customers to educate them on reducing water waste. Joshua Dill: Would you tell us about the Water Authority board’s vision for the future? John Stomp: To date, our board has taken the long view. It has supported continued investment in our infrastructure and has approved the resources necessary to ensure a sustainable and efficient operation over the long term. It understands and supports our asset management efforts, including using our work-order system to track and document work and to make sure we are providing the best value for our ratepayers. It has also supported our commitment to sustainability in the realm of energy usage. We have or are implementing solar energy projects capable of providing about 8 megawatts of power per day in addition to our cogeneration facilities, which use biogas and natural gas to provide power for our wastewater treatment plant. That is the vision that the Water Authority board, along with Executive Director Mark S. Sanchez, has outlined for us. It’s a powerful vision. AMWA thought it was a good vision, and we appreciate the recognition it gave us for it. M

John Stomp is the chief operating officer of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. For more information about the Water Authority, visit


Joshua Dill: What are some of the challenges of funding your 100-year plan?

discussed previously, there are no water rate increases planned for implementation of Water 2120.


Wa t e r S u p p l y • F l o o d P r o t e c t i o n • Wa t e r Q u a l i t y • R e c r e a t i o n

Enriching communities. Improving the quality of life. 8 0 0 E . N o r t h s i d e D r i v e , F o r t Wo r t h , T X 7 6 1 0 2 | ( 8 1 7 ) 3 3 5 - 2 4 9 1 | w w w. t r w d . c o m













— L E S L I E FA R N S W O R T H - L E E




Sustainable Water Supply in a Changing Climate: East Bay Municipal Utility District



Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position. Doug Wallace: I have a background in both environmental sciences and public policy. I spent about 22 years as East Bay MUD’s environmental affairs officer. During that time, I was involved in a lot of advocacy on statewide issues. One thing that I focused on was the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which aimed to find consensus-based approaches to managing California’s complex statewide water system, the heart of which is in the delta at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. At a certain point, I began to switch gears and focus on sustainability and our own management and operations.


he East Bay Municipal Utility District (East Bay MUD) has been providing drinking water to the people of California’s Bay Area for almost a century, amid rapid population growth and climatic change. Today, the threats posed by challenges such as intense storms, flooding, wildfires, and sea level rise are front and center. East Bay MUD is increasing its future resilience with a sustainability program aligned with six key goals in its strategic plan, which earned it the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ Sustainable Water Utility Management Award in 2018. In this interview, Doug Wallace, the manager of public affairs at East Bay MUD, speaks with Municipal Water Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill about how East Bay MUD continues to provide clean water and wastewater services to the Bay Area while planning for an uncertain future.

DISTRICT PROFILE our sustainability efforts, which also include dealing with solid-waste management and renewable energy. Joshua Dill: Would you give us an overview of East Bay MUD’s history and services?

Pardee Dam and Reservoir.

East Bay MUD is widely recognized as an industry leader in environmental stewardship, natural resources, and sustainability. We were the first water agency to actively support the greenhouse gas emissions law AB 32, which was passed in 2006 and required California to meet hard targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. East Bay MUD adopted similar targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and it is well ahead of the trajectory to meet those goals. Addressing climate change is a centerpiece in

Doug Wallace: We came into being as a municipal utility district under the auspices of the state law known as the MUD Act back in 1923. At the time, the East Bay was developing rapidly and was reliant on local water sources. That was simply not going to work in the long run. We acquired water rights on the Mokelumne River, which is a fairly small river fed by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, and built what was then the tallest dam in the country, Pardee Dam. That dam started supplying water to the East Bay region in the late 1920s, really in the nick of time, before local supplies started running out. In the 1950s, by a vote of the people, we extended our responsibilities as a municipal utility by providing wastewater treatment services for an area roughly half the size of our water service area. Our water service area is about 332 square miles in size, and covers portions of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties; the wastewater service area is roughly half that. The populations of those areas are about 1.4 million and 685,000, respectively. We are an independent, not-for-profit district with our own publicly elected, seven-member board of directors. We’re not attached to a city, a county, or the state. We have two major reservoirs in the Sierra foothills, which straddle the county line between Amador and Calaveras Counties, and three aqueducts, each around 90 miles in length, that bring that water to the East Bay, where it’s treated in one of several treatment plants. The Mokelumne River supplies about 90 percent of our needs—slightly less during drought years, when we maximize conservation and draw in

water from other sources, including the Sacramento River, via transfers. Joshua Dill: What percentage of your service area is urbanized? Doug Wallace: We are highly urbanized. We have several large cities in our service area, including Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, and Walnut Creek. We have no real agriculture in our service area, aside from some private vineyards and golf courses. One of the marvelous features of the San Francisco Bay Area is that a lot of open space has been preserved. We control 29,000 acres of carefully protected watershed, which is managed to maintain water quality and biodiversity. That watershed surrounds five terminal reservoirs, including the Chabot and San Pablo Reservoirs, which were the main sources of water for the East Bay back in the 1920s. We anticipate that most of the development moving forward will be urban infill. In California, there is an increasing emphasis on transit-friendly residential development as an alternative to the sprawl that has been the typical development pattern for most of the last half century. Joshua Dill: Would you give us an overview of East Bay MUD’s sustainability efforts? Doug Wallace: We have embraced the concept of the triple bottom line. In common parlance, a bottom line is purely financial. However, if you’ve ever heard critiques of gross domestic product (GDP), you know that financial bottom line does not equate to quality of life. For example, an oil spill can add to GDP because of the money spent on cleanup. The notion of a triple bottom line was developed in the 1990s to embrace financial, environmental, and social factors. Our sustainability efforts are centered around six long-term goals. The first is ensuring a long-term water supply. California as a state made MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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East Bay MUD’s wastewater treatment plant.


the first wastewater treatment plant in North America to produce more energy than it requires for operations. Trending issues to address in terms of bay protection include preventing microplastics and nutrients from entering the bay through the wastewater effluent stream. Another element of our sustainability work is managing the Mokelumne River salmon fishery. The construction of dams on the Mokelumne River, particularly the construction of Camanche Dam in the 1960s for flood control purposes, blocked a significant amount of salmon spawning habitat. To remedy that, we built a salmon hatchery at the foot of Camanche Dam. It has had enormous success in replenishing the salmon run on the river. The Mokelumne River provides only 2–3 percent of the outflow of the California Delta, but due to the success of our fishery management, our hatchery fish constitute over 40 percent of the commercial catch and over 30 percent of the recreational catch of salmon off the coast of California. We also participated actively in getting 37 miles of the Mokelumne River designated by the state as a Wild and Scenic River. We are also doing a major rehabilitation of our downtown administrative office to improve its heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems and to bring it up to Energy Star–rated levels for energy conservation and LED lighting. Our third goal is long-term infrastructure investment. We continually monitor and maintain our dams and make major investments in pipeline replacement to reduce leaks. Our budget includes funds to upgrade our water treatment


tremendous gains in water conservation during the last drought, and fortunately, those seem to have been structural changes. For example, a lot of people got rid of their lawns and didn’t replace them when water supplies returned to normal. We are also committed to recycling and reusing wastewater in order to supply businesses and industries and for use in landscape irrigation. We are also increasingly involved in groundwater replenishment, which requires us to work with institutional partners outside our service area. California has had a banner year for snowpack and precipitation, so this will be a perfect year to bank some surface water supplies into depleted aquifers. Another way we work on firming up our long-term water supply is by detecting leaks in our large pipeline distribution system. It takes a lot of commitment and technological refinement to get pipeline loss down to even 10 percent. Our second goal is maintaining water quality and environmental protection, which includes our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That has been supported greatly by state policies to reduce the greenhouse gases associated with electricity production. We’re also looking at constructing two 5-megawatt photovoltaic solar power arrays. Those are quite large—they could cover 20 acres each. Our wastewater treatment plant fundamentally exists to protect the San Francisco Bay’s water quality and aquatic habitat. The plant, at the base of the Bay Bridge, processes wastewater and trucked waste, and produces so much clean biofuel that it not only runs completely on the energy it produces, but it sells surplus energy to the grid. This is

DISTRICT PROFILE plants so that they can handle water of varying quality, which we might need to use because of drought or a change in our water sources. As we adapt to climate change, we will not be able to rely so completely on our Mokelumne River supply. Additionally, we are putting a lot of money into maintaining the 90 miles of aqueducts that bring water to the East Bay from the Sierras. Workforce planning and development is our fourth sustainability goal. Our number of days lost to injury has plummeted. We’ve made a lot of progress on that by working closely with our unions. Like other water agencies, we’re concerned about where we will get qualified employees in the future. For example, there is a shortage of capable water treatment plant and wastewater treatment plant operators. We are working with local community colleges to establish a pipeline of talent to help students qualify for highly desirable jobs at East Bay MUD. We also had one of the first customer assistance programs in the state. This fund helps subsidize water rates for people with low incomes. Long-term financial stability is our fifth goal. Our debt-to-service ratio has improved substantially over recent years. Our current budget proposal focuses on increasing the cash funding of capital projects and relying less on debt. Obviously, an East Bay MUD debt burden is a burden for all ratepayers. We have a high bond rating, which is one measure of our financial stewardship. The last of the six goals is customer and community services. We continue to increase the number of customers signed up for electronic bill payments. Additionally, the Bay Area is experiencing rapid economic growth, and with all the new businesses applying for water service, we’re always looking at easing the paperwork burden. We are continually upgrading our ways of engaging with the public as social media and telecommunications evolve. Joshua Dill: You mentioned that climate change is one of the most important factors shaping your future. Would you give an overview of what effects you expect to see in your service area? Doug Wallace: We are already experiencing the destabilization of the climate. California has the most variable climate of any of the 50 states when it comes to precipitation. There is no longer any such thing as a normal water year here. We have recently had wild swings from punishing drought to record-breaking rain and snowfall. The most obvious effect of climate change on water providers will be drought. Drought resilience and improved water use efficiency among our customers are core elements of our long-term strategy. We are making big investments in our water treatment plants to handle variability in water quality. Severe storms throw a lot of sediment in the water. Wildfires are also a concern: When a source watershed is burned over, it can

have serious effects on water quality. That hasn’t happened to us yet, but it is a threat. The more immediate concern for our wastewater plant operators is intense storms that test our ability to handle inflows of wastewater. We are committed under a consent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce and minimize the excess flows that we have to release at times, which contain partially treated wastewater. That is a pollution issue. We’re already experiencing sea level rise, which is compounded by ground subsidence of certain kinds of bayshore soils and greatly exacerbated by king tides and storm surges. It affects us in several ways. Our wastewater treatment plant is located just above sea level and is surrounded by a lot of infrastructure, including Interstate Highway 80, the east span of the Bay Bridge, and other urban development along the East Bayshore and the Port of Oakland. All of these are vulnerable to sea level rise in the coming decades. Sea level rise will affect us at least two more ways over the coming decades. It will lead to saline water intrusion into low-lying areas and increase the risk of the corrosion of distribution pipes, which is a problem that needs to be managed with the installation of cathodic protection. Finally, the confluence of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers, an area of incredibly productive farmland, is crossed by our aqueducts and has subsided to below sea level. How does it still exist? The delta is surrounded by a huge network of over a thousand miles of human-made levees, all of which are subject to breach. In fact, there have been many breaches over the years that flood parts of the delta with brackish water. One of these so-called islands, which is crossed by our aqueducts, was flooded in 2006. Some of our aqueducts were even submerged for certain stretches. These above-ground aqueducts are not meant to be sitting in brackish water. For us, it is a longterm threat that the lion’s share of our water supply is conveyed by aqueducts that now are subject to flooding. Drought, wildfire, sea level rise, and intense storm events are already happening. The San Francisco Bay Area is highly exposed. It’s a challenging time to be this business, but it’s exciting in a way. We’re fortunate to be in California, where the state has taken a global leadership role with policies that are tackling the issues of climate change and sustainability head on. M Doug Wallace is the recently retired manager of public affairs at the East Bay Municipal Utility District. For more information, please contact Clifford Chan, director of operations and maintenance, at MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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Metropolitan Water District's proud legacy and forward-looking leadership has positioned Southern California to meet tomorrow’s water challenges.



A Doppler insert sensor installed in a pipe.


Developing Flow Solutions at In-Situ

n-Situ has been providing in-field water level monitoring, flow monitoring, and water quality solutions for four decades. In recent years, In-Situ has expanded from its traditional focus on water level through ambitious R&D work and strategic acquisitions, moving into flow and water quality monitoring and process. In 2017, In-Situ acquired the Australian company MACE, which manufactures ultrasonic flow meters, data loggers, and controllers. In this interview, Mathew Campbell, the Australia-based application development manager for flow at In-Situ, and Helen Taylor, In-Situ’s content manager, speak with Municipal Water Leader Editor-in-Chief Kris Polly about the company’s flow monitoring systems and how they are helping irrigators and wastewater managers across the globe.


Kris Polly: Would you please tell us about your background, Dr. Campbell, and how you came to be in your current position? Mathew Campbell: My father Lawrence started the company MACE in Sydney, Australia, in 1968. I was born into the business, but once I left high school, I basically decided I did not want anything to do with the family business. I went to university and completed undergraduate studies in agriculture and environmental science. In 1993, I received a PhD in environmental science with a focus on agriculture, dealing with cotton and other irrigated crops. Before I went to university, MACE had been primarily

involved with data logging—taking sensors from other companies and providing a data logger, along with some pretty cool interface technology, including voice telemetry and early modem technology. During the early 1980s, we had a bad problem in Australia with sewer overflows, which could happen in the middle of the Sydney’s main street. Of course, as soon as the general public saw raw effluent flowing down the gutters, it became a political football, and the government decided to spend money on a solution. MACE received funding from government-owned water authorities to develop a better way of measuring sewer flows and developed the Doppler ultrasonic velocity sensor. One of the problems in irrigation is measuring the water that is used to irrigate crops. Historically, that was done with mechanical meters with a little propeller that moved inside the pipe. Those irrigation pipes can be quite large—anywhere from 6 to 90 inches in diameter—and are full of water. If you put a propeller in a pipe in the field, it inevitably gets clogged up with leaves, grass, and mud. With my research into irrigated cotton, I saw a market in agriculture for our Doppler sensor, and once I was finished with my studies, I decided it was a good time to come back to the family business. We moved into agriculture in a big way from the mid-1990s, around the time I came back. While we maintain our wastewater business, I also work with farmers to develop products that work in the field. It’s one thing to have a sensor that measures flow, but it’s another thing to have an instrument that you can MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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THE INNOVATORS literally put out in the middle of nowhere and run on battery power or maybe with a solar panel. The bigger flow-metering companies in the world all have great technology in their own right, but their products cannot necessarily be put out in the middle of nowhere. That is what we focused on. We were approached by In-Situ around 3 years ago about a potential acquisition. Personally and from a business perspective, we were spending an awful lot of money on R&D. We are constantly improving products, but as a small family business, we had only so much R&D funding. In-Situ has something like 25–30 R&D engineers in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the opportunity to stoke the fire on product development was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we were acquired in February 2017.

Kris Polly: What are the main applications that In-Situ’s flow-monitoring devices are used for?



Mathew Campbell: From a flow perspective, we’re split about 50/50 between agriculture on the one hand and wastewater and storm water on the other. In agriculture, we basically do measurements of farm turnouts, or the water that is actually delivered on the farm. When a farmer lifts the gate or turns on a pump, we measure the water that flows out. That water flow is totalized, and the irrigation district generates a bill based on that total. Our insertion Doppler sensor also allows us to measure flow in pump situations. A lot of irrigated agriculture in Australia, as well as in parts of Texas and California, uses pump-driven irrigation. We can happily measure river-pumping stations with Kris Polly: Please tell us about In-Situ’s pipes anywhere between 6 and 100 inches. We history and its current operations and also do some open channels, although our size. technology is only effective with channels up to about 10 feet in width. Beyond Helen Taylor: In-Situ is that, we would probably recommend celebrating its 40th year of that users seek out a different incorporation. The company was technology. originally founded in Laramie, In the wastewater market, we Wyoming, to address needs in sell a lot of down-manhole flow the uranium mining industry. meters. Those instruments literally Its original focus was level go down the manhole, with their monitoring. In fact, the company sensors in the flow stream. Inflow produced the world’s first in-well and infiltration studies are probably water level data logger. We have a our biggest markets in the wastewater strong history and strong reputation industry, along with combined sewer An In-Situ FloPro installation in water level technologies. In recent overflows and wastewater treatment plant measuring sewer flow. years, we’ve expanded our focus to include influent/effluent. flow and water quality, and we are now even With our insertion Doppler sensor, we’re moving into process. That’s part of the reason for our finding more applications in sewer lift-station monitoring. upcoming webinar. Our other additions and growth strategies Lift stations are commonplace in the United States, and it are heavily focused on R&D and strategic acquisitions. can be important to know almost in real time what flows are entering and exiting wet wells so that treatment plant Kris Polly: What are In-Situ’s top issues as a company today? capacities are not exceeded or, by contrast, underused. We can provide this data back to operators’ mobile devices so they Helen Taylor: We are moving strongly into the field of can make real-time decisions. water quality with our new products. Another major focus We do a lot of storm water as well. We measure the flows for us is the software and data management services that through things like box culverts or even twin pipes going make it possible for people not only to more easily collect under a highway. We can also drive a water sampler in order their data, but to analyze it and use it more effectively. Our to capture water samples for pollutant loading studies. One VuSitu mobile app and our HydroVu Data Services software of In-Situ’s newer products is the Aqua TROLL 500, which are a huge focus for us, as we see the industry going in that is a water quality probe. That allows us to analyze water direction. quality in real time, rather than having to take a water sample back to the lab. Not only is it faster, it eliminates lab Mathew Campbell: We focus intensively on R&D and data. costs, which can be astronomical. Our products can work in It is important not only to be aware of what your competitors anything from a sewer treatment plant in a tiny little town in are doing, but to be aware of what your customers are doing. the middle of nowhere to a treatment plant in Chicago. That’s probably one of the bigger issues: getting out there and understanding the applications that the customers need and Kris Polly: Please tell us about the advantages of Doppler providing them with solutions. sensors.

THE INNOVATORS Mathew Campbell: Our sensor portfolio includes what we call the insert sensor, which is designed for full pipe flow, as well as an area/velocity sensor for partially full pipes and open channels. Our full pipe insertion sensor is the only continuous-wave Doppler insert sensor in the world. There are a couple of other Doppler technologies out there, but they are horrendously expensive. We have a massive cost advantage over any other way of measuring full pipe flow in dirty water applications. Doppler doesn’t work in clean water—it requires particles of dirt in the water, whether that dirt is human effluent or dirt off the ground. We also have a significant installation advantage. Installation is a one- or two-man job, and it takes about 2 hours to get it done, whereas historically, in that climate, with bigger pipes of around 30 inches, it might take 2–3 days to install a mag flow meter and require ancillary equipment like cranes and forklifts as well as a full process shutdown. Kris Polly: Who are your customers, and how do you reach them? Mathew Campbell: As I mentioned, about half our marketplace is agriculture, and half is wastewater and storm water. We are quite lucky in that most of our ag customers are irrigation districts. They are large organizations in their own right, so they typically get dealt with directly by our regional sales teams. Some are so big that they’re actually water districts for the communities that they are based in. They will provide irrigation water, drinking water, and the local sewage network. Some of them even generate electricity. They really are utility companies rather than just irrigation districts. Distribution in the wastewater market is a bit funny. A lot of big companies are selling products that are competitive in terms of the applications they are used for. Those products might cost $50,000, while

ours cost $5,000. A lot of reps in the industry obviously would prefer to sell a $50,000 meter. So in terms of distribution representation, we tend to do better by dealing directly and providing the specifications our customers need. Kris Polly: What trends do you see out there, and what is your vision for the future? Mathew Campbell: Realistically, I think the future is smart sensors that can provide better, more accurate data. I see a future where we have more wireless ability with transducers. We want to set up a network of sensors that talk to each other in a wireless network across whole wastewater catchments and allow for comprehensive data management. The catchphrase everyone knows is “big data.” We want to get the deep data side of things rather than just using a one-off data logger, whether that is with a Doppler sensor, an electromagnetic sensor, or any other kind of flow sensor. There are still so many combined sewer overflows that would not happen if the flow measurement were done early enough. There are a lot of capacity constraints in sewer treatment plants and in sewer networks. If you can install a network of sensors relatively cost effectively, you can save a lot of money downstream. With R&D, I’m actively working on this vision. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’m hopeful that in a handful of years that sort of technology will be able to provide upstream answers to downstream problems. M

A Doppler insert sensor.

In-Situ's FloPro water meter.

Mathew Campbell is the application development manager for flow at In-Situ. Watch Mathew’s free webinar, “How Doppler Sensors Offer a CostEffective Alternative to Electromagnetic Meters,” at For more information about In-Situ and MACE instrumentation and software, please visit www. or call (800) 446-7488. MUNICIPALWATERLEADER.COM

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