The Water Education Foundation’s
just-released 2020 Annual Report recaps how, even in
the midst of a global pandemic, we continued educating about the
most crucial natural resource in California and the West –
The annual report takes readers along to see the array of
educational events, trainings and articles we produced last year,
including engaging virtual water
tours that educated participants on pressing water
issues and allowed them to interact with each other and a wide
range of experts offering different viewpoints.
Speaking at Sequoia National Park, where firefighters have
toiled for the past two weeks to keep wildfires from killing
some of the largest trees in the world, Gov. Gavin Newsom on
Thursday signed a package of bills providing $15 billion for a
wide range of climate, wildfire and water projects — from
thinning forests to building electric car charging stations and
encouraging the development of offshore wind farms.
Though summer rainfall brought some relief to the Southwest,
the unrelenting drought there is about to get worse with La
Niña on the horizon, according to David DeWitt, director at the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate
Prediction Center. … La Niña is a natural phenomenon marked
by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the
central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which
causes shifts in weather across the globe. In the Southwest, La
Niña typically causes the jet stream — upper-level winds that
carry storms around the globe — to shift northward. That means
less rainfall for a region that desperately needs it.
Everyone in California has been asked to conserve water, but no
one is doing it better than one community in the North Bay.
Healdsburg has cut its water use in half. Lake Mendocino
provides the bulk of Healdsburg’s water, and early in the
summer there was talk of that lake simply running dry. Just the
thought of that scared this city into an aggressive
conservation plan. … Letting the park lawns die off was
only part of the answer. To cut overall water consumption in
half, Healdsburg set out to change the way residents think
about their own water use.
California is running out of water. That’s the harsh assessment
by experts who say 90% of the state is dealing with drought
conditions with the threat of mandatory statewide water
restrictions looming. The most glaring indications of the
drought in the Bay Area are the local reservoirs. The
reservoirs during the last drought were relatively full and
offered a temporary buffer to a major water shortage. That is
not the case this time around.
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.