In Depth: Water Woes


Guest host Bob De Castro takes over for Hal Eisner. Mandy Sackett, Surfrider Foundation's California Policy Coordinator, joins Bob to talk about the potential of desalination to alleviate the worst threat of drought in California. Sackett tells us that the California Coastal Commission recently rejected a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. The Surfrider Foundation opposed that plant in that location, saying that Orange County was not a good place for it and that they have an abundant groundwater availability there.

Sackett says that despite some drawbacks of desalination, there can be places in California where such plants would be useful.   She does say that there are certain designs, such as the one proposed for Huntington Beach, which would be very destructive to the environment. Surfrider foundation says we need to maximize other, better alternatives first, such as recycling wastewater.


MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil joins Bob to talk about the drought crisis, which he calls the worst drought ever. The MWD board has asked customers to cut back water usage by 35 percent. He says the water supply we have now is not enough to last the year.  He says cutting back watering the landscaping to one day a week, would help to stretch that supply.

The areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and upper San Gabriel are facing the biggest problems because they get water from Northern California. If they exceed their water usage, they are mandated to cut back as of June 1st, and there will be penalties if they don’t comply.

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Hagekhalil says there is a water recycling plant that filters wastewater to be released into the ground, and then is brought back up with extraction wells and turned into usable water. People shouldn’t be afraid of it, because it’s technology that is being used in a number of places and it will help us survive that drought.


Bob speaks to Emily Parker, a water quality scientist with Heal the Bay, about the problem of microplastics. Parker says that humans are ingesting a surprising amount of microplastics, and there isn’t enough research on the consequences. However, there is concern that those plastics could be disrupting our hormones, could cause birth defects, or even be carcinogens. She says that people are ingesting those microplastics from plastic bottles and utensils, and if they consume animal products, they are consuming plastics that the animals may have eaten.

Parker says that we need to pass laws reducing single-use plastics, and reduce our own usage of those items that contribute to the problem.