Only one week remains to register
for our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado
River Tour where you can hear directly from experts
offering a range of perspectives on the most contested and
meticulously managed river in the United States. Practically
every drop of water in the Colorado River is already
allocated, but pressure on the hard-working river continues to
grow from myriad sources — increasing population, declining
habitat and climate change.
The 1,450-mile Colorado
River is a lifeline to 40 million people in the
Southwest across seven states and Mexico, but a 20-plus year
drought in the basin has significantly dropped water levels in
Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the river’s largest reservoirs.
This once-a-year tour will focus on how the Lower Basin states of
California, Nevada and Arizona are using and managing the river’s
water in that unprecedented context.
As California slowly emerges from
the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by
the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic
challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and
the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of
Concerns about water affordability, long an issue in a state
where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into
overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the
latest article in Western Water explores
the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have
devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out
An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well
as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California
fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its
current rate. With state water resources constrained by the
extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing
and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the
Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during
spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that
analyze the bureau’s planned water releases.
With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are
destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to
survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery
shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted
meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity.
Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows
melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought
brings a flood of concern.
As Californians can tell by the already beige hills, the early
fire weather warnings and the dusty umbrellas sitting deep
inside closets, it’s been drier than usual this winter. And
according to decades worth of precipitation data, that’s the
new normal. What’s considered “normal” for baseline rainfall
amounts is determined by a 30-year average that gets
recalculated every decade. The latest recalculation, according
to Jan Null, a forecaster who runs Golden Gate Weather
Services, “show a noticeably drier state” through 2020 compared
to the previous “normal” calculation covering 1981 through
Only one week remains to register for our May 20 virtual
Colorado River Tour where you can hear directly
from experts offering a range of perspectives on the most
contested and meticulously managed river in the United
States. Practically every drop of water in the
Colorado River is already allocated, but pressure on the
hard-working river continues to grow from myriad sources —
increasing population, declining habitat and climate
As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea
regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its
elevation of 237 feet below sea level.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when
the Colorado River broke
through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years,
creating California’s largest inland body of water. The
Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130
miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
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.
During California’s most recent drought, from 2012–2016, much of
the state experienced severe drought conditions: significantly
less precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher