Voluntary conservation measures are not reliably saving water during the worst drought to hit California in a generation, according to data from water agencies across the state. Only mandatory conservation rules, backed by a threat of fines, seem to prompt consumers to save.
The sprinklers outside the California’s state Capitol are off and the lawn is withering, the lemon- and cucumber-infused “water stations” at the state pension building are gone, and prison inmates are taking shorter showers while campers at some popular parks can’t take them at all.
Case Vlot pulls up groundwater through deep wells to keep his corn and alfalfa crops alive. Chase Hurley runs a water company nearby that sells river water to farmers who can’t depend on wells. Normally the two would rarely talk to each other.
Farm water pumping in this dramatic drought is causing the west San Joaquin Valley floor to sink, but forget about refilling those underground spaces when wet years return. There is no going back after a clay-laced underground collapses, says a new report warning California of irreparable harm from excessive pumping.
When Gov. Jerry Brown called on everyone from residents to businesses in California to curb water usage by 20 percent, he told state government to lead by example. … Here are five things to know about how state agencies are faring as they try to use less water:
When state regulators tried to tally water use across California recently, they didn’t exactly get a flood of cooperation. Of the 440 water agencies in the state, only 276 provided water consumption data.
“Beer without water is very crunchy.” That slogan appears on the back of the latest craft-beer map from the San Diego Brewers Guild and is the latest attempt to reach residents who might not be thinking about the drought gripping California.
California’s relentless drought is beginning to dry up revenue in its popular lake and river tourism industry. Marinas and boat ramps across the state are turning away customers, and even spots where water is still relatively plentiful say visitors are staying away, assuming things are worse than they are.
WaterSmart Software, a small startup in San Francisco, is working with local water districts in California and other states to transform water meter data into easy-to-understand home water reports that are mailed directly to homeowners or made accessible via the Web and mobile devices. And given the state’s ongoing drought, it’s a good time to be in the business of promoting water conservation.
The state’s plan to build twin tunnels to export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to places farther south is controversial, contested and very expensive. So may be the way that local water districts choose to pay for it.
If California and much of the West is suffering from severe drought, then why have the responses to it been weak and largely ineffective? The answers are as complicated as California’s water system itself, with our wildly diverse sources and uses of water, prices and water rights, institutions, and more.
Before they left Sacramento for summer recess, legislators said they would work together to hammer out a new water bond bill when they returned in August. This would replace the $11.14 billion proposal currently on the November ballot, which has already been delayed twice.