Topic: Drought

Overview

Drought

Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom-and-bust patterns.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in other regions of the country.

Most of the West experiences what is classified as severe to extreme drought more than 10 percent of the time, and a significant portion of the region experiences severe to extreme drought more than 15 percent of the time, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Experts who have studied recent droughts say a drought occurs about once every 10 years somewhere in the United States. Droughts are believed to be the most costly of all natural disasters because of their widespread effects on agriculture and related industries, as well as on urbanized areas. One of those decennial droughts could cost as much as $38 billion, according to one estimate.

Because droughts cannot be prevented, experts are looking for better ways to forecast them and new approaches to managing droughts when they occur.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

What a dry 2018 will mean to Stanislaus County farmers and homeowners

Irrigation season was delayed in 2017 as storm after storm kept farm and garden soil moist. Fast-forward to 2018, which has started out very dry and brought calls to fill the canals early. So are we back to serious drought in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, which endured one from 2012 to 2016?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California weighs permanent restrictions for water wasters

Members of the state Water Resources Control Board are scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to bring back what had been temporary water bans from California’s 2013-2017 drought and make them permanent.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water use climbs in California enclaves as drought returns

Overall water use is climbing in Southern California as that part of the state plunges back into drought, driving state and regional water managers as they consider permanently reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Californians voted to spend billions on more water storage. But state government keeps sitting on the cash.

Government at all levels moves at a glacial pace, especially when it’s trying to deal with the complex and contentious issue of water. Four years ago in the midst of a scary, five-year drought — one of the state’s driest periods in recorded history — voters eagerly approved a $7.5-billion water bond proposal, Proposition 1. The vote was a lopsided 67% to 33%.

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’, Climate Change and the Future of California’s Water
Western Water Q&A: Climate scientist Daniel Swain

Daniel SwainEvery day, people flock to Daniel Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from California, intensifying the drought.

Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the western United States. In a recent interview with Western Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may lie ahead for the state’s water supply. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Is California entering another drought? Experts answer your questions.

The lack of rain and snow in California has people wondering if we’re headed into another drought. … To find out what the lack of precipitation means for the state, we asked our social media audience for questions. And we reached out to experts across the state to answer them.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California’s wildfire risk is rising. Congress missed a chance to help.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress from California and other Western states had been pushing a policy fix that would create a new funding stream to fight fires, leaving more money for the U.S. Park Service to manage forests and prevent fires. Under current law, firefighting is not funded out of the same natural disaster account used to respond to hurricanes or tornadoes.

Aquafornia news The Porterville Recorder

Phase II of East Porterville water project complete

A partnership of state and local agencies working to help homeowners affected by California’s multi-year drought finished connecting 755 homes to a safe, reliable, permanent water supply. All households participating in the East Porterville Water Supply Project have now been connected to the City of Porterville’s municipal water system.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: What’s the chance for a ‘normal’ rain year now? Grim, if history is a gauge

Hoping for a March Miracle to bail out California’s dry winter? It’s not likely. A review of more than 100 years of rainfall records of major cities in California — including San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Rosa, Redding and Fresno — shows that none have ever finished the rainy season with normal rainfall totals after ending January with the amount of rain they’ve had so far this winter.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Water, water everywhere can’t quell a Western drought

Many Western reservoirs are full, and downpours have triggered floods and deadly mudslides in parts of California. But all that water isn’t enough to save the West from another drought. Most of the region has slipped back into the drought conditions that have plagued it on and off for the past two decades—alarming water managers across several states.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Southern California’s brief escape from drought ends

California’s brief escape from severe drought ended Thursday after scientists declared more than 40 percent of the state in moderate drought and water officials confirmed lower-than-normal snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: With storms skipping state, nearly half of California is back in a drought

The T-shirt-wearing temperatures and lack of winter rain have combined to push nearly half of California into all-too-familiar territory: a state of drought. … At Phillips Station south of Lake Tahoe, where state water officials base their monthly snow surveys, hydrologists on Thursday found just 13 percent of average snowpack.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Study suggests California grapevines can weather searing drought

The drought could be crippling but the wine will be good. That is the happy conclusion of a study published today in the journal, Science. … That means farmers may not need to water their vineyards as much as previously thought during a dry spell.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California drought returning?

Hampered by hot weather and a stubborn high-pressure ridge that has blocked winter storms, California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack — a key source of the state’s water supply — on Tuesday was a paltry 30 percent of normal. The last time there was so little Sierra snow at the end of January was in 2015, when it was 25 percent of its historic average.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Specter of drought looms as California’s weather turns dry again

The storms have passed and California’s dry winter has returned, raising the specter that the state could be entering another drought less than a year after the last one officially ended.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Could a major California city run dry like drought-stricken Cape Town?

A dystopian drama is unfolding in Cape Town, a popular tourist destination of nearly 4 million on the coast of South Africa that in April is expected to become the modern world’s first major city to run out of water after three years of drought. For Californians, who panted through five years of record drought before last winter and have seen a fairly dry winter so far this year, it raises the worrisome question: Could it happen here?

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Amid rains and mudslides, drought concern remains

Despite the fierce rains and deadly mudslides that have struck California, water officials are concerned about the possibility of a renewed drought. But they caution that is too early to tell.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Struggle to manage future wildfires as climate grows more unpredictable

California’s recent wildfires have been nearly unprecedented in terms of their destructiveness and size and the season in which they burned. The Thomas Fire, for example, has grown into one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, devouring thousands of acres daily as it moves from Ventura to Santa Barbara at a time of year more prone to gray skies and cold rain than burning forests.

River Reports

Winter 2017-18 River Report
A Warmer Future and Increased Risk

Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read the latest River Report to learn more about what’s happening, and how water managers are responding.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How craft brewers are embracing new water technologies

With the country and the world facing increasing strain on water resources, beer companies, including craft brewers, are learning how to do more with less water. … Craft brewers have recently struggled with water shortages in the American West. During the California drought, the city of Chico asked Sierra Nevada Brewing to reduce its water usage by more than 30 percent.

Tour Dan Scott

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip - March 14-16 (Early Bird Price Ends Feb. 21)

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

Come with us as we venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Is California heading back into a drought?

Californians are beginning to wonder: Is the state heading back into a drought? While experts say it’s still too early in the winter rainy season to say for sure, the evidence is accumulating, and the rain is definitely not.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Sierra peaks an inch taller after California drought, NASA finds

California’s already towering Sierra Nevada summits rose to new heights during the drought, albeit by just a hair. A study by NASA scientists published Wednesday found that the granite peaks of the 400-mile range were pushed nearly an inch upward between 2011 and 2015, a phenomenon linked not only to known tectonic forces but the expansion of the land as it dried out and shed water weight.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water loss caused Sierra Nevada to grow an inch during California drought, researchers say

The Sierra Nevada mountains grew nearly an inch taller during the recent drought and shrank by half an inch when water and snow returned to the area, according to new research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. Researchers used 1,300 GPS stations throughout the mountain range to closely observe how its elevation changed during the drought.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News Arizona PBS

Progress on new binational drought plan in Colorado basin slow going

States, federal and Mexican officials hailed a binational agreement this fall that they said could lead to a radical shift in how the region prepares for and responds to drought. But three months later, they appear no closer to a drought contingency plan, as negotiations have pitted states and water districts against one another, as the U.S. tries to hammer out details of the plan.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California losing 2 million trees a month as drought-related plague drags on

California’s forests are seeing a continued die-off of trees even a year after last year’s heavy rains ended the state’s crippling drought. The U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that 27 million trees died over the past 13 months after five dry years left them severely dehydrated and vulnerable to bark beetle attack.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Living with Risk, Avoiding Curtailment
Fall 2017

This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Second La Niña winter could extend drought across the West

Winter is off to a dry start across the West, raising the specter of ongoing drought in many locations. The culprit could be La Niña – a periodic cooling of Pacific Ocean waters near the equator that often brings drought. And not just any La Niña, but a “double whammy” effect, which latest research concludes may cause even worse water shortages.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In a warming California, a future of more fire

Severe wildfire seasons like the one that has devastated California this fall may occur more frequently because of climate change, scientists say. … The reason is an expected impact of climate change in California: increasing year-to-year variability in temperature and precipitation that will create greater contrast between drought years and wet years.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Just subtract water—how a dry spell allowed winds to lash California with flames

Hot, dry Santa Ana winds will likely whip up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California on Thursday, forecasters said. The gales have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Why 2017’s record wildfire season keeps getting worse

Even before the dramatic Southern California wildfires began their harrowing path this week, California was already experiencing its deadliest and most destructive fire season ever. And it’s only getting worse. … For Californians who welcomed one of the wettest, drought-busting winters early in 2017, the fury of the fires is startling. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California

California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

No place like home for Mokelumne River salmon

It could be a record year for salmon on the Mokelumne River, but not without some extraordinary human intervention. More than 15,200 adult salmon had returned to the fish hatchery below Camanche Dam as of last week. … This year’s strong return is good news in part because it shows how changes in hatchery operations can help fish survive the aftermath of a devastating drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Higher than expected number of Chinook Salmon return to American River

It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River. The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

The drought may be over, but California still wants residents to act like it’s on forever

For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use. Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties. The situation turned critical during the 2012 to 2016 drought, when reservoirs sank to alarmingly low levels. 

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary Pitzer

The Drought May Be Over, But California Still Wants Residents to Act Like It’s On Forever
State considers adopting permanent wise water use rules starting in April

For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use.

Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties.

Tour Dan Scott

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018
Field Trip - April 11-13

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

Explore the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Measures to boost salmon are working, but some fear they could backfire

Last spring, the outlook for California’s 2017 Chinook salmon fishing season was dire. Years of drought had taken a toll on the rivers where salmon spawn, reducing them to lukewarm trickles. As a result, the number of adult fish was seriously depleted, reported scientists with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: $4 billion California bond will help with droughts and floods

Droughts and floods are both a part of life in California as 2017 has so clearly demonstrated: It took one of the wettest winters on record to pull the state from the depths of a five-year drought. The state has invested funds in bulking up drought and flood protection in the past, but recent events highlighted the necessity of rejuvenating those efforts.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Better Forecasting Is Key to Improved Drought and Flood Response

Marysville flooding

In a state with such topsy-turvy weather as California, the ability of forecasters to peer into the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and accurately predict the arrival of storms is a must to improve water supply reliability and flood management planning.

The problem, according to Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager with the state Department of Water Resources, is that “we have been managing with 20th century technology with respect to our ability to do weather forecasting.”

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Federal vacancies would impede recovery from next drought, Natural Resources secretary says

California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, who lives in Santa Cruz, said the state will be in trouble if another drought strikes as federal support remains uncertain. Key U.S. departmental vacancies could hamper negotiations for emergency relief, Laird said after the Democratic Women’s Club of Santa Cruz County meeting Saturday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How climate change is affecting California

California could one day be uninhabitable. Fire. Heat. Floods. … Decamping for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, California academics and political leaders were mulling how to better deploy the distressing projections to give unwary citizens a better understanding of what’s at stake and compel them to see the wisdom of embracing sustainability.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Climate change sucks moisture from the West, adding to droughts, fires, federal study reveals

The Trump administration released a sweeping report Friday that pegged man-made climate change to droughts and wildfires in California and the West, but for reasons you may not expect.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Governor vetoed 2016 bill aimed at power line, wildfire safety

Now, as a series of deadly fires rages in Wine Country, serious questions are once again being asked about the safety of overhead electrical wires in a state prone to drought and fierce winds. On Wednesday, Cal Fire said that investigators have started looking into whether toppled power wires and exploding transformers Sunday night may have ignited the simultaneous string of blazes.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

‘Dice were really loaded’ for wildfires exploding in California

A cascade of extreme weather events fed Northern California’s wildfires that exploded Sunday: Unusually high winds blew flames through unusually dense and dry vegetation, which sprung up following last winter’s heavy rains and then were toasted by months of record hot temperatures.

Aquafornia news Marketplace

Water managers look to new ways to save (with audio)

A lot of people and jobs in the Southwest rely on water from the Colorado River. According to a University of Arizona study, the river system contributes more than $840 billion to the Gross State Products of Arizona and California alone. But the region’s in a long-running drought.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Record low number of salmon expected to return to fish hatchery

The number of salmon returning to spawn at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson could reach historic lows this year — a legacy of the five-year drought that ended last year. At this time of year dozens of salmon would normally be teeming in the waters of Battle Creek near the hatchery.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

With drought restrictions long gone, California keeps conserving water

Good habits die hard, it seems, after five years of epic drought – for most Californians, anyway. The historic dry spell from 2012 to 2016 prompted many state residents to reduce their water consumption, as did strict regulations imposed by state agencies and individual water districts.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Science report: Who gets hotter, wetter with climate change

SOUTHWEST (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) -The average annual temperature has already gone up 1.56 degrees since 1901-1960 and is projected to rise another 4.8 degrees by mid-century and 8.65 degrees by the end of the century if carbon pollution continues unabated.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost

East Porterville took by far the hardest hit in the [San Joaquin] valley during the drought, state officials say. … The State Water Resources Control Board has responded with $35 million to connect East Porterville’s 300-plus dry homes to Porterville’s system. Another 400 homeowners who didn’t lose their wells have opted into the Porterville hookup to prevent future water problems.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

State’s June water savings down to 17.4 percent

Statewide water savings slipped in June to 17.4 percent of that in the same month in 2013, the state Water Resources Control Board announced Tuesday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Poll: Californians support climate change policies

Since the state’s drought officially ended earlier this year, there’s also been a precipitous drop in Californians worrying about having enough water. Last July, 62 percent said water supply was a big problem for the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Complaints pour in over planned East Bay water rate hike

A plan to raise East Bay water rates by nearly 20 percent partly to make up for all the lost revenue from customers who were responsible during the drought was facing a deluge of outrage Monday. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Senate committee to hear conservation bills

Several recently amended bills on long-term conservation and drought planning are set for hearing July 11 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Bark beetle infestation continues to threaten Tahoe-Truckee forests

Visitors to North Lake Tahoe this summer will notice the steady flow of the Truckee River, the high water level of Lake Tahoe, and dense green growth that has sprung up across the region thanks to record snow and rainfall this winter. But they’ll also see an increasing number of dead trees.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After the drought, the ‘Killer Kern’ river is a different monster, volunteer rescuers say

Several years of drought had severely depleted the Kern, a popular whitewater rafting destination known for its dramatic rapids. But this year’s wet winter created a record Sierra Nevada snowpack, and the melt has engorged the river with swift, frigid water. 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Toilet to tap? Some in drought-prone California say it’s time

As drought and water shortages become California’s new normal, more and more of the water that washes down drains and flushes down toilets is being cleaned and recycled for outdoor irrigation. But some public officials, taking cues from countries where water scarcity is a fact of life, want to take it further and make treated wastewater available for much more — even drinking.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Skiers hit the slopes in bikini tops as California’s endless winter endures a heat wave

The seemingly contradictory weather conditions — a heat wave and mountains still piled high with snow — are one final legacy of a historic winter that brought the most rain ever recorded in Northern California. Months of back-to-back storms finally pulled California out of its five-year drought. But they left behind up to 200 inches of snow.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Drought’s Impact on Fiscal Planning Highlights PPIC Report
Suppliers need “proactive” drought pricing to prevent cash crunch

During drought, people conserve water. That’s a good thing for public water agencies and the state as a whole but the reduction in use ultimately means less money flowing into the budgets of those very agencies that need funds to treat water to drinkable standards, maintain a distribution system, and build a more drought-proof supply.

“There are two things that can’t happen to a water utility – you can’t run out of money and you can’t run out of water,” said Tom Esqueda, public utilities director for the city of Fresno. He was a panelist at a June 16 discussion in Sacramento about drought resiliency sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Climate change could burn a hole in Forest Service budget

Climate change appears to be fueling more wildfires as forest service officials are increasingly concerned they don’t have the funds to effectively handle another devastating season.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farewell to the pines

People came here for the forest, to live among 200-foot-tall pine trees that shaded their mountain cabins and scented the air. But in the span of two short years, tens of thousands of those trees are gone, ravaged by bark beetles until their green needles turned orange.

Aquafornia news PolitiFact/Capital Public Radio

Lawmaker misleads with claim governor has axed funds for California’s dying trees

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno recently claimed Gov. Jerry Brown has slashed nearly all the money in the state’s budget to help local governments remove dead and dying trees in California’s forests. More than 100 million trees have died in the forests due to drought and bark beetle infestations since 2010.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Where have all the salmon gone? State committee discusses impacts of low runs

Already faced with unprecedented low numbers of returning salmon and drastically reduced fishing allowances, California’s fishing fleets and communities are not expected to find any relief in the next few years, according to testimony by a host of experts and regulators at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

You could fill Shasta Lake 7 times with farm groundwater lost during state drought

The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater levels back into balance.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Trout, salmon and steelhead: A massive die-off coming for these California fish?

Researchers have issued a dire warning for California’s native trout and salmon: Three-quarters of them will be extinct in the next 100 years unless urgent action is taken. This bleak assessment came Tuesday from biologists at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and from California Trout, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz County’s drying timber increases threat of 2017 wildfires

From the Central Coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills, spring winds have dried timber and brush after a historically wet winter that isn’t expected to relieve the 2017 wildfire threat, a Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit official said. Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proclaimed Wildfire Awareness Week, citing a rise in dangerous wildfires in recent years.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Record winter rainfall raises potential for summer tragedy (video)

The drought is over, but that doesn’t mean the end of calamity for Northern California – the abundance of rain and snow could produce more wildfires and drownings, officials say.

Aquafornia news Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon

House Natural Resources Committee backs bill protecting transmission lines

A bill intended to prevent dying trees damaged by drought from falling onto utility lines on publicly owned federal land, sparking wildfires and electricity blackouts, passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Despite drought’s end, conservation rules were still in place in California – until now

First the drought ended. Now the last vestiges of mandatory conservation rules are over, too. California’s main water regulatory agency ended mandatory conservation regulations for urban residents Wednesday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s official declaration that the drought ended April 7.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

New study: California drought boosted electricity bills, smog

California’s brutal five-year drought did more than lead to water shortages and dead lawns. It increased electricity bills statewide by $2.45 billion and boosted levels of smog and greenhouse gases, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought raised electric rates as hydro power dried up

Californians’ electricity costs jumped by a combined $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016 because of severe shortages of cheap hydroelectricity, according to an estimate released Wednesday by the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy think tank.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

What a difference! How drought-buster winter has changed Northern California

The Great California Drought is over, Gov. Jerry Brown declared earlier this month, but it’s too early to parade in our rain, scientists say.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

How the drought changed California forever

California’s historic five-year drought is officially over, washed away with the relentlessly drenching rains, floods and snowstorms of this winter. But just as tougher building codes and better emergency planning follow major earthquakes, the brutally dry years from 2012 to 2016 are already leaving a legacy, experts say, changing the way Californians use water for generations to come.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

For some Californians, effects of punishing drought not over

Knee-high tufts of grass dot the streets of Hardwick, a rural neighborhood with a few dozen homes hemmed in by vineyards and walnut and almond orchards in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Commercial salmon season slashed by lingering California drought impacts

California’s commercial salmon industry is being slashed this year because of lingering environmental impacts from the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

From extreme drought to record rain: Why California’s drought-to-deluge cycle is getting worse

California’s climate has long been dominated by cycles of intense dry conditions followed by heavy rain and snow. But never before in recorded history has the state seen such an extreme drought-to-deluge swing.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California likely to shorten chinook salmon season

For the second year in a row, California officials are likely to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and possibly beyond. … The low numbers are due to lingering effects of the drought, because impacts on the population are felt about three or four years behind years with little rain.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Permanent water conservation rules coming to San Diego, rest of state

After one of the wettest winters on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared Friday that California’s historic drought is officially over for all but a handful of areas in the Central Valley. But after five years of severely dry conditions, California also is pressing forward with a dramatic overhaul of its conservation ethic for farms to cityscapes.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Governor lifts drought emergency

Gov. Jerry Brown declared the end of California’s drought emergency on Friday, stressing that water conservation must be a permanent part of life as the state adapts to climate change and prepares for the next drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Governor declares California drought emergency is over

tartlingly green hills, surging rivers and the snow-wrapped Sierra Nevada had already signaled what Gov. Jerry Brown made official Friday: The long California drought is over. Brown issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all but a handful of San Joaquin Valley counties where some communities are still coping with dried-up wells.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Breaking News: California drought officially over, Jerry Brown declares

A deluge of wet weather this winter and unprecedented water conservation prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to end California’s drought emergency on Friday.


 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Six images show what happened to California’s drought

California looks to be resuscitated this spring, with green stretching the length of the state and the desert erupting in a colorful mosaic fueled by a super bloom of flowers. The state’s wet winter has erased a surface drought more than five years in the making. Now, many reservoirs have been topped off, rivers are running and the snowpack – so meager just two years ago as to be almost unmeasurable – is piled 50ft (15m) high in some places.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought may be nearly over, but Californians are still saving water

Californians are still conserving substantial amounts of water even as Gov. Jerry Brown appears ready to rescind or relax his drought declaration.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Will California farms find enough workers amid Trump’s immigration crackdown?

Farmers employ tens of thousands of people in the San Joaquin Valley and run a $35 billion industry producing grapes, milk, oranges, almonds and dozens of other commodities sold in stores around the globe. Many of them supported Donald Trump for president, calculating that his promise to deliver more water to drought-starved valley farms would help them despite his hard-line stance on immigration.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Stunning turnaround: Once-empty San Luis Reservoir now full

Last summer it was a jarring symbol of California’s historic five-year drought. San Luis Reservoir — the vast lake along Highway 152 between Gilroy and Los Banos, the state’s fifth-largest reservoir and a key link in the water supply for millions of people and thousands of acres of Central Valley farmland — was just 10 percent full.

Aquafornia news New York Times

When is a drought over? A wet California wants to know

Why hasn’t the drought been declared over? Here are some answers for Californians — and everyone else who has watched this story unfold — about what is going on

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California water regulators expand focus on climate change

California’s water regulators are looking to strengthen their focus on climate change, adopting policies aimed at helping the state prepare for more severe floods, more extreme droughts and shrinking snowpack.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: New report — Just 9 percent of California still in drought

One year ago, just 5 percent of California was classified as free from drought. That number has been turned nearly upside down, and as of Thursday, 91 percent of the state is no longer in drought condition, according to federal scientists.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

California faces another bleak salmon-fishing season, a holdover from the drought

California salmon anglers are looking at another bleak fishing season, despite the remarkably wet winter – a lingering impact from the state’s five-year drought. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Yes, California’s drought is all but over, and dramatically revived Cachuma Lake proves it

Heading into February, things were looking grim here in the rugged hills north of Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Skiing on July 4. More rain than Seattle. Yes, California’s drought is receding.

How much precipitation has fallen on Northern California this winter? So much that Squaw Valley expects to be open for skiing July 4.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

New report: Drought finally over in nearly every part of California

The historic drought that plagued California for five years is finally over in nearly every part of the state, federal scientists reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Only 11 percent of California remains in severe drought

Going, going, but not gone yet. About 47 percent of California still faces a drought, and the conditions are severe in 11 percent of the state, according to the most recent weekly report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought And Floods Taxing California’s Water System

Both drought and floodwaters are testing California’s aging water infrastructure. A new NASA analysis shows too much groundwater pumping during the drought has caused the California Aqueduct to sink more than two feet near Avenal in Kings County.

 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How California’s South Coast is still coping with severe drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that less than 2 percent of California is still experiencing severe drought impacts, but that small area is concentrated in southern Santa Barbara County and parts of neighboring Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

State regulators to consider ending emergency drought rules following storms

California’s top water cops will decide Wednesday whether to extend the state’s emergency drought rules. 

Aquafornia news ABC 30

California water board to reevaluate emergency drought regulations

A healthy snow pack and steady rain have offered a fresh outlook to over five years of drought in California but the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to extend emergency regulations due to water supply problems in areas such as the Central Coast.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

North state lawmakers call to end water restrictions

As sections of California experience flooding due to heavy rains, a group of Northern California lawmakers want Gov. Jerry Brown to end the emergency drought declaration.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Desalination of aquifers offers drought-weary California new hope

California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply: removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s surface.

Aquafornia news VICE News

The water level at America’s largest reservoir is dangerously low (with video)

Lake Mead, one of the most critical water sources in the country, is at dangerously low levels and federal employees are struggling to manage the depleted reserves.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Shrinking Lake Mead water levels could trigger official shortage

Water levels in Lake Mead, which stores water for Arizona, California and Nevada, have plunged in recent years.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought eases thanks to storms

Roaring storms that brought California almost a year’s worth of snow and rain in a single month should make state water managers’ Sierra snowpack survey Thursday a celebration, marking this winter’s dramatic retreat of the state’s more than 5-year-drought, water experts say.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada

The ponderosa pine had taken root decades before the Revolutionary War, making a stately stand on this western Sierra Nevada slope for some 300 years, Nate Stephenson figures. Then came the beetle blitzkrieg.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County Water Authority declares drought over in region

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Thursday declared an end to drought conditions in the region, citing heavy local rainfall and snow in western mountain areas.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California groundwater levels remain critically low (with audio)

January’s heavy rains are erasing years of extreme drought in many areas of California, when it comes to the state’s surface supplies of water.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

‘Exceptional drought’ is over in California

For the first time in three years, not a single area of California is considered in “exceptional drought,” the most severe category, according to a U.S. government estimate released Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought is over in nearly half of state, feds say

Hammered with record rainstorms and snow blizzards, nearly half of California is no longer in a drought, and the rest saw dramatic improvement over the past week, federal scientists reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow

California’s top water regulator has strongly suggested the state will keep drought conservation rules in place despite winter storms that have waterlogged many communities.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Governor’s funding plan for climate, drought

Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and battling climate change. … Although state money represent only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending (13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important piece of the funding pie. 

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time since 2011

San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos is on its way to filling for the first time since 2011 as rain and snow bring the state additional relief from a punishing drought. Statewide, a series of storms over the past two weeks have allowed water managers to fill major reservoirs to above-normal levels for this time of year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

When will soggy California drop water restrictions?

Much of California has gone from withered to water-logged this winter, but the state’s top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the drought. … Water districts have been lobbying the board to back down.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drenched: How Los Angeles went from bone-dry to 216% of normal rainfall in four months

According to the latest maps, Southern California is still in a drought. But the dry conditions that have mired the region for more than five years have definitely shifted — at least for now.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Mountain snows that feed Colorado River look good so far

Snowpack in the mountains that feeds the Colorado River is slightly above the long-term average this winter — welcome news in the drought-stricken Southwest.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California grapples with pivot from drought rules to long-term water strategy

With storms drenching much of California and snow blanketing the Sierra Nevada, the state’s top water regulators are grappling with how to shift from conservation rules devised during more than five years of drought to a long-term strategy for using water more sustainably. 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought continues to shrink, federal government says

With major reservoirs nearly full, the Sierra Nevada snowpack well above average and flood warnings in place for some rivers, federal scientists reported Thursday a continued weakening of California’s drought. … Even as state officials urged caution, they announced Wednesday that cites [sic] and farms will receive at least 60 percent of the maximum amount of water they are contracted to buy in the coming year from the State Water Project, up from just 20 percent two months ago. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Should California drought rules be lifted? State ponders question as storms roll in

A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California’s chief drought regulator, to allow the state’s emergency conservation rules to expire.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

First of 3 more storms hits California as drought retreats

The worst area of drought in California has significantly narrowed to a small region northwest of Los Angeles that has stubbornly failed to benefit from Pacific storms that have drenched much of the state since the fall and were lining up again Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California proposing to continue water conservation (with audio)

Water conservation would continue in California until at least May under a proposal regulators are considering.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: State conservation rules to stay for now

Despite drenching rains and heavy snowfall this winter, California moved Tuesday to keep in place its statewide water conservation rules — at least for another three months or so.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big storms end drought across much of Northern California

Deluged with a series of relentless storms this winter, more than 40 percent of California — including the Bay Area — is no longer in a drought for the first time in four years, a stark turnaround after one of the worst natural disasters in state history, a new federal report said Thursday morning.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Northern California has escaped the drought. Can it carry the state?

After five years, is the drought over? The feds seem to think so, at least as far as Sacramento and most of Northern California are concerned.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Storms make significant dent in California drought, new federal records show

A week of powerful storms in Northern California has significantly eased the state’s water shortage, with a large swath of the state emerging from drought conditions, officials said Thursday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Flooded California residents rescued as major storms recede

Rescue workers used boats and firetrucks to evacuate dozens of Northern California residents from their flooded homes Wednesday as a drought-busting series of storms began to move out of the region after days of heavy rain and snow that toppled trees and created havoc as far north as Portland, Oregon.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Weakened by drought, trees are falling in rainy California

Drenching winter rains combined with the punishing effects of six years of drought are causing trees to topple across California, in some cases with deadly results. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Officials: More than 40 percent of California out of drought

Federal monitors announced Thursday that 42 percent of California has emerged from a five-year drought after some of the heaviest rain and snow in decades.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Brown’s budget proposal contains funds for drought and other key water issues

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday released a $177.1 billion spending plan that contains funds for drought, water rights management, continuation of the statewide conservation program Save Our Water and other key water programs.

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Reservoirs start to fill in California, putting a dent into drought

As a result of the nearly weeklong deluge, water is flowing into California lakes and reservoirs, prompting dam operators to release supplies in advance of a storm expected next week. But it’s too early to say if the series of storms is a drought-buster.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is the great California drought finally quitting?

If the storm systems keep coming, state and regional water managers say, 2017 could be the end of a dry spell that has, for more than five years, caused crops to wither, reservoirs to run dry and homeowners to rip out their lawns and plant cactus.  

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs

The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods. … Officially, California’s drought won’t end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency drought declaration he signed in January 2014.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Storms are making a dent in California’s drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas

A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the state’s once-grim drought picture.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s megastorm: Rain, snow, flooding – and maybe drought relief

California entered 2017 hoping a wet winter could end the state’s six-year drought. Be careful what you wish for.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

National Weather Service: Northern California now on pace for ‘wettest water year on record’

After many long years of waiting, California’s drought relief may finally be here. … Central California is on track to be the second wettest water year on record, and Southern California is expected to tie the wettest year, which was the year of ‘68-’69.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Keep conserving water, Californians told as water savings falls below 19 percent

As much of the state heads into a sixth year of drought, water officials on Wednesday, Jan. 4, cheered Californians’ continued conservation while urging them to stay stingy with water after residential savings slipped below 19 percent in November.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians saved less water in November than previous year, water board report says

California water conservation took a slight step backward in November, officials announced Wednesday, possibly due in part to an unusually wet fall and months of successful conservation efforts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

With snow piling up in the Sierra, what will it take to end California’s drought?

The resort town of Phillips high in the Sierra Nevada has long been a barometer of California’s drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California snowpack measures low, but big storms coming

The first manual survey this year of California’s snowpack revealed Tuesday that it holds about half as much water as normal, casting a shadow on the state that’s hoping to dodge a sixth straight year of drought, officials said.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Despite recent storms, California’s ‘snow drought’ continues

Around the start of each year, California water officials make a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53 percent of average, about a third as much water as the same time last year at that site.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California snowpack surveyed as indicator of drought

Surveyors will plunge poles into the Sierra Nevada snowpack near Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, taking the season’s first measurement by hand of the snow’s water content as California flirts with a sixth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

After slow start, snow is catching up in Western mountains

After a dry autumn, snowfall is rebounding to normal levels at Western ski areas and in the mountains that feed the vital Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After six years of drought, this is the winter weather we’re ’supposed to be getting,’ meteorologists say

The slow but steady improvement in California’s drought picture should accelerate in the new year with a series of storms that are expected to dump rain and snow in Northern California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Feds to pour $225 million into water projects around US

The federal government will be pouring nearly a quarter-billion dollars into several dozen projects aimed at tackling the effects of drought in the West and restoring watersheds that provide drinking water to communities around the nation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Major storms barrel into California: ‘Every field is a big lake’

The drought-plagued state was slammed with rainstorms Thursday night, with Northern California hit particularly hard. In Southern California, rains started moving in Thursday afternoon. 

Aquafornia news Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona water leaders confer with Colorado River states on drought contingency plan

[Arizona] Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke is meeting with other Colorado River system users in Las Vegas at the annual Colorado River Water User Association Conference running through Dec. 16. … On Dec. 15, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will unveil the program for management of the Colorado River between Lakes Powell and Mead.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s drought divergence: Wetter in the north, still bone dry in the south

When California water officials assess the drought, the first place they look is the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Rain and snowmelt from the area feed into a complex system of rivers, canals and reservoirs that send water across the state.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How California plans to make conservation a way of life

California is working to put into place a framework that will help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a draft report released last week, is the collective effort of five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Will wet start to rainy season put dent in California’s drought?

State water officials are expected to have a better sense of the drought outlook after they conduct the first snowpack measure of the season, later this month or early next.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought bill victory could be short-lived: Sen. Barbara Boxer pledges filibuster as one of her last acts

The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in Congress.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Water conservation rules could get a lot more complicated under new proposal

Despite a wet start to the fall in Northern California, nearly two-thirds of the state remains wracked by extreme drought. In the future, climate change is likely to make dry periods more frequent, more intense and longer.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California water conservation slips slightly

Urban Californians used about 1.8 percent more water in October compared with a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. It marked the fourth straight month in which conservation has slipped following the state’s decision to relax drought mandates.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians did a slightly better job saving water during an unusually wet October

California enjoyed one of its wettest Octobers in recent history and its residents responded by reducing their water use, state officials announced Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Fall snow, rains have ’satisfied the drought debt’ in Northern Sierra Nevada, climatologist says

Now, if past weather patterns are fulfilled this year, experts say, Northern California’s winter — and long-term relief from years of drought — could be just around the corner for the state’s most important watershed.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California will use aerial images to sharpen lens on water use

California’s water regulators will start using aerial images to measure the green grass and irrigated landscapes of hundreds of communities across the state as part of a new long-term strategy to boost conservation.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

CAL FIRE will receive $15 million grant to reduce wildfire threat

CAL FIRE says the money will be spread across 34 counties to remove dead and dying trees and thin fuels that could make wildfires worse.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s new water conservation plan focuses on cities

California officials crafting a new conservation plan for the state’s dry future drew criticism from environmentalists on Thursday for failing to require more cutbacks of farmers, who use 80 percent of the water consumed by people.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The coming droughts of California in 2017

Even if California has a productive rainy season, parts of the state will still remain in drought. Here’s a look at the current water picture and how that could change in coming months.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Wet fall helps, but real test begins now

One hundred and seventy percent of normal: It sounds so impressive. But Stockton’s wet fall — mirrored across much of Northern California — doesn’t necessarily portend a wet winter.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California might tighten water conservation standards

In a series of proposals released Wednesday, state officials said they might require urban water districts seeking to avoid state conservation mandates to prove they have a five-year water supply on hand.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wealthy Hillsborough residents sue, saying water rates are too high

In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from over-watering big lawns are illegal.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Rain season off to fast start, but drought worries linger

In a preliminary outlook, the state Department of Water Resources said it can count on allocating as little as 20 percent of requested water supplies to start, hinting drought fears are far from over in California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

State initially estimates 20% of full water deliveries

California’s Department of Water Resources has made its initial projection of how much water public agencies can count on receiving from the canals and pipelines of the State Water Project next year: 20 percent of their full allotments.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California rainy season off to wet start, but drought not over

It’s only a beginning. But it’s a strong beginning, and it offers at least a rain gauge’s worth of hope to a state enduring its fifth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Q&A: California has 102 million dead trees — and no easy answers for what to do with them

California has more than 100 million dead trees in its forests — and no easy way to deal with them.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Another crisis for Trump: What to do about all the dead trees piling up in California

More than 102 million dead trees now litter California’s drought-flayed forests, according to the latest aerial survey, a finding likely to fuel a heated public-lands debate during the incoming Trump administration.

Aquafornia news KQED

Trump’s pledge to ‘open up the water’ for San Joaquin Valley farms: easier said than done

President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California. On the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring, “There is no drought” here.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Water recycling may prompt new environmental concerns

Wastewater recycling is being hailed in many communities as the answer to ongoing drought problems. By cleaning sewage effluent to extract pure water, it’s possible to create a sustainable water supply that is cheaper than seawater desalination or buying a new water supply. But there’s a little-recognized downside to water recycling: It may damage wildlife habitats already imperiled by water scarcity.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

102 million dead California trees ‘unprecedented in our modern history,’ officials say

The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what officials described as an unparalleled ecological disaster that heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion. … Scientists say five years of drought are to blame for much of the destruction.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A giant reservoir that supplies a California county’s drinking water is nearly empty

Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer — 7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous bathtub ring.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

It’s not just California. The Deep South is reeling from a drought.

The Southeastern drought almost challenges the longstanding Western drought, centered in California, as the largest in the nation.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

New virus infected brains of last year’s Eel River salmon run

Researchers have identified a novel virus found in the brains of Eel River salmon from last year’s strenuous run, but the find is not generating any concerns for fish health this year.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: On the Colorado River, climate change is water change

How low can the Colorado go? When will we get back to “normal” winters? Can we blame it all on climate change? To address some of these questions, the Colorado River Research Group recently released a concise four-page paper explaining how climate change is affecting the river.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California’s drought divide — rainy North, dry South

The drought divide leaves California’s water managers and experts striving to finesse conservation messages for two wildly differing situations in the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Monitor — Drought ends in nearly one-fourth of California

A heavy dousing of autumn rain in Northern California has lifted a quarter of the state out of drought, the highest percentage in more than three years, according to a new federal report.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Feds say 25% of California is drought-free, but state experts are still cautious

A rainy October in Northern California has lifted about a quarter of the state out of drought conditions, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Northernmost California counties free of drought — highest share of state drought-free since 2013

October’s rains put a modest dent in California’s drought, leaving the state in its best shape in more than three years, according to data released Thursday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water conservation improved in September but is still worse than in 2015

Californians halted a three-month slide in water conservation in September, saving enough to hearten state regulators who previously had expressed alarm about possible drought fatigue.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

Farming in the Delta with less water

If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets water during shortage.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

California’s wet October exceeding historical norms

As California enters the sixth year of its historic drought, something unusual is happening: It’s raining. And raining.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

In California, a $350 million social experiment over lawns

California water agencies that spent more than $350 million in the last two years of drought to pay property owners to rip out water-slurping lawns are now trying to answer whether the nation’s biggest lawn removal experiment was all worth the cost.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: The drought eased up, and these Californians turned on the spigot

The San Juan Water District’s especially steep backslide stood out as part of a statewide trend: With mandatory state restrictions lifted, the overwhelming majority of local suppliers saved less this summer, according to a Times analysis of state water data.

Aquafornia news NPR

As drought wipes out Western forests, how do Sequoias survive? (with audio)

It’s been a brutal forest fire season in California. But there’s actually a greater threat to California’s trees — the state’s record-setting drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Northern California is seeing two or three times more rain than normal. So why is Southern California so dry?

As the state enters its sixth year of drought, Northern California is seeing some significant relief thanks to a series of powerful storms, while Southern California remains mired in record dry conditions.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Six takes on six years of drought

It might have been sprinkling outside the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, but inside the building some of the state’s brightest water experts were taking stock of California’s enduring drought. As we enter into what could be a sixth year of shortage, here are six lessons gleaned from Tuesday’s forum sponsored by the nonprofit Water Education Foundation:

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California rainy season begins; Wildfires increase risk of flash flooding (with audio)

As the rainy season begins in California, so too does the potential for dangerous flash flooding. … California agencies are using a new computer monitoring tool to understand ground conditions in real-time, including areas burned by wildfire.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fears of flooding rise as rain returns

Back-to-back bouts of rain that began Monday will make for an unusually wet week leading up to Halloween, said forecasters who are beginning to grow concerned about potential flooding this winter in fire-scorched areas.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought worries rise as La Niña reemerges in forecast

As the days darken, all eyes are on the Sierra Nevada, then the sky, with a glance back at the mountains, to the Internet for forecast information, over to the thermometer — all in a fidgety search for a sign, any sign, that this winter will be wet.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought’s grip on Southern California to tighten with La Niña, forecasters say

After five years of withering drought, government forecasters say California is once again headed for a warm and dry winter, especially in Southern California.  

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The big shortage: how drought is impacting water investment

For those with a financial stake in water, drought can mean boom or bust, depending on the investment. And even without a specific market to trade water, there are numerous ways to invest in it – from buying land with water rights to stocks in water-dependent companies to municipal bonds. Take Michael Burry, for instance, the hedge fund manager featured in the book and movie “The Big Short” who outsmarted the subprime housing market crash.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

As California water use rises, some ask: were limits eased too soon?

By any measure, California is confronting a complicated new chapter as it enters the sixth year of a drought that has forced it to balance huge demand for a sparse resource — water — from farmers, residents, municipalities and developers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

La Niña may be back this winter

Forecasts are already showing a possibility of La Niña in our future, with the Climate Prediction Center for the National Weather Service rating our chances at about 70 percent. … La Niña was originally not in the cards as recently as early September, according to NOAA.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds forecast a weak and fleeting La Nina coming next month

Federal forecasters see a weak and short-lived La Nina coming, probably next month.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Klamath Basin farmers were paid $32 million to pump and not farm. Was it a waste of money?

In a move that could have ramifications across the arid West, a government watchdog agency accused federal water regulators of wasting taxpayer funds when they gave Klamath Basin farmers more than $32 million to stop growing crops and to pump groundwater instead of drawing from lakes and rivers.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Strange bedfellows form coalition to increase water supply (with audio)

California’s drought has brought about a strange partnership that includes corporations like Coca-Cola and environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy. They’re partnering on projects aimed at helping increase water supply in California. 

Commands