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A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into The Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Chuck Cullom, a longtime Arizona water manager, brings a dual-basin perspective as top staffer at the Upper Colorado River Commission

Chuck Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon. 

“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and on.”

Announcement

Water Summit to Focus on Rethinking Water in the West in Response to Drought & Climate Change
Oct. 27 event in Sacramento will highlight the push to reexamine our relationship with water resources

Aerial view of Lake Oroville, showing the effects of the 2020-2022 drought.Our premier event of the year, the Foundation’s 38th annual Water Summit on Oct. 27 in Sacramento will highlight conversations that examine our relationship with water resources and how best to address the challenges presented by ongoing drought and a changing climate.

With this year’s theme, Rethinking Water in the West, a variety of policymakers, experts and officials will be discussing important topics in water across California and the West. Conversations will take place around rethinking:

  • Water management in a drought-driven West
  • Water rights in light of drought-spawned shortages and climate change
  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which acts as the state’s crucial water hub and serves as a vital ecological resource

In addition, there will be an update on the status of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. 

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Monday Top of the Scroll: Another La Niña could be more bad news for the Colorado River

Our third La Niña weather pattern in three years seems almost certain, and one climate expert says that could be bad news for the already overtapped Colorado River. … The Climate Prediction Center for the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration forecast a 91% chance of a La Niña weather pattern dominating the Northern Hemisphere from September through November, and a 54% chance from January through March of 2023. La Niña winters typically mean drier, warmer weather in the Southwest that can, although doesn’t always, spread as far north as Colorado’s southern Rockies, which would clearly drive down Colorado River flows. The last two to three years in particular have seen fairly low to very low river flows in the basin, at the same time La Niña conditions were present.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Distrust of satellite monitoring delays Madera County’s plan to penalize growers for over pumping

Fear and confusion over a new groundwater monitoring technology pushed back the “penalty phase” of Madera County’s attempt to get a handle on its pumping problem. The Madera County Board of Supervisors was supposed to have voted on penalties for growers who pump more than they’re allowed at its Sept. 13 meeting. But after three hours of debate and hearing from more than 15 members of the ag community about whether the county’s new water monitoring system – Irriwatch – is working properly, supervisors pushed the decision off to Sept. 27.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘The American lawn feels irresponsible’: the LA homes ditching grass for drought-friendly gardens

A lush green lawn has long been a symbol of the perfect American home. But as a prolonged drought reshapes life in California, many residents are rethinking what a beautiful yard should look like. In Los Angeles, which imposed sweeping restrictions on outdoor water use this year, thirsty lawns are out – and California native plants are in. … The choice to conserve may be contagious. Starting this June, more than a thousand southern California residents a month made plans to replace their lawns with more drought-friendly landscapes, according to data from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Press

Antioch to get new desalination plant

Antioch is investing in its water supply future. A new $110 million desalination plant is being built in Antioch. With construction underway at an existing water treatment facility, the new desalination plant will service the needs of Antioch’s population of more than 115,000 people, as well as help to improve its water supply reliability, city officials say. … The primary reason for the need for the desalination plant is due to increased salinity in the water supply. The city of Antioch derives much of its water source from the San Joaquin River …

Online Water Encyclopedia

Aquapedia background Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Wetlands

Sacramento National Wildlife RefugeWetlands are among the most important and hardest-working ecosystems in the world, rivaling rain forests and coral reefs in productivity of life. 

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

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.

Lake Oroville shows the effects of drought in 2014.

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. 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.

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Important People in California Water History

Read about the history people who played a significant role in the water history of California.