Register today for the return of our
in-person fall tours offering
participants a firsthand look at issues such as drought in
California’s two largest watersheds that have implications for
the entire state.
California Tourexplores the Sacramento
River and its tributaries to learn about key reservoirs and
infrastructure that conveys vital water resources across
California. Our San Joaquin River
Restoration Tourreturns this year to dive
into the story of bringing back the river’s chinook salmon
population while balancing water supply needs.
Mark your calendars now for our full schedule of fall programs,
including a reunion of our Water Leaders graduates to celebrate
the 25th anniversary of the program as well as the in-person
return of our 38th annual Water Summit.
Our fall programming also includes tours exploring California’s
two largest rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, to learn
more about infrastructure, the impacts on farms and habitat from
a third year of drought and salmon restoration efforts.
Check out the details below to learn more about these fall
The outlook for California’s drought is grim. The first
five months of the year have been the driest on record.
Snowpack in the mountains, at its usual April 1 peak, was the
smallest it’s been in seven years. Reservoirs are hovering near
historic lows for the season, including Lake Shasta, the
state’s largest. But there’s one, albeit small, bright
spot: spring runoff. The water that pours from the mountains to
rivers and streams, one of the most important barometers of
state water supplies, is up substantially from over a year ago
— though still far below normal.
Last month, the federal government dropped a
bombshell on the states that share the Colorado
River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation gave Colorado and
the other six states in the basin just two months to come up
with a plan to drastically reduce the amount of river water
they use. If they don’t, the federal government has threatened
to use its emergency authority to make the cuts it feels are
necessary. … Becky Mitchell, the commissioner of the
Colorado Water Conservation Board, .. said most of that
responsibility should be on the states in the lower part of the
river basin: Arizona, Nevada and California.
Southern California areas told to cut water use by 35% finished
June on track to stave off an outdoor watering ban. The
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California supplies
those communities in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino
counties with Northern California water delivered by
the State Water Project. After a record dry start to
the year, the state limited its deliveries to
just 5%. In response, Metropolitan required millions of
its customers to cut outdoor watering to one day a week or find
other ways to conserve.
The futures of tourism, wildlife and ranching in Mono County
are now at the mercy of the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power – according to environmental groups – now that a court
has upheld the agency’s authority to cut irrigation water. For
about 100 years, the agency has leased its land and provided
water for ranchers to graze cattle in Long Valley and Little
Round Valley. But Wendy Schneider, executive director of the
nonprofit Friends of the Inyo, said the damage from allowing
less water to irrigate these valleys would be widespread.
… Schneider also said she worries about the survival of
trout and the potential for increased dust storms and fire
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 2012–2016 drought, much of the state
experienced severe drought conditions: significantly less
precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher
temperatures. Those same conditions reappeared early in 2021
prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom in May to declare drought emergencies
in watersheds across 41 counties in California.