It’s apparently Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan week! Documents here. This is when we all gather around and try to make sense of the sweeping effort to ratchet up efforts to reduce Colorado River water use to keep the system from crashing.
Environmentalists are challenging a court ruling over whether water from the Rio Grande is properly accounted for and being used in beneficial ways as it flows through New Mexico’s most populated region. They say the state’s top water manager needs to do more to reduce use in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, but irrigation officials say they’re already doing the best they can as years of drought have strained resources.
The likelihood this winter of an El Niño — the weather pattern marked by warm Pacific Ocean waters that can affect California’s rainfall — is increasing. But so far, this El Niño looks more like a lamb than a lion. The probability of El Niño conditions being present by December is now 70 to 75 percent, up from 50 percent five months ago, according to a new report Thursday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A state of emergency was declared for the bayfront community of Belvedere after investigation of a damaged seawall revealed the problem is larger than the city had realized. Consulting engineers told the city late last month it should act immediately to prevent the seawall along Beach Road — which protects the area from flooding — from shifting any further or collapsing into San Francisco Bay.
An El Niño is forecast for the winter ahead, and we all know what that means. Or do we? … But in reality, whether El Niño actually delivers greater-than-normal precipitation is strictly a toss-up, says Jan Null, owner of Golden Gate Weather Services, a consultancy based in Saratoga, California.
After years of stop-and-go talks, California and two other states that take water from the lower Colorado River are nearing an agreement on how to share delivery cuts if a formal shortage is declared on the drought-plagued waterway. Under the proposed pact, California — the river’s largest user — would reduce diversions earlier in a shortage than it would if the lower-basin states strictly adhered to a water-rights pecking order.
You won’t be seeing much of California’s gubernatorial candidates this fall — at least, you won’t be seeing much of them together. The only debate between Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox took place on KQED’s Forum radio program Monday. Prompted by host Scott Shafer, the two had a lengthy exchange about the state’s approach to climate change.
A Marin Audubon Society-led marsh restoration project in San Rafael’s Canal area seeks to pack a double punch on the environmental front by both restoring some of the state’s dwindling wetland habitat and bolstering defenses against sea level rise. The project at the 20-acre Tiscornia Marsh near Pickleweed Park is in its early planning and fundraising stages, but has already gained widespread support among San Rafael officials and departments.
Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached landmark agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, including a commitment by California to bear part of the burden before it is legally required to do so, officials said Tuesday. The agreements are tentative and must be approved by multiple states and agencies as well as the U.S. government.
Some cold white stuff fell (and stuck) on Mt. Rose this weekend. And the National Weather Service in Reno says it’s likely more cold white stuff will fall this week. But skiers and snowboarders hoping for a big snow year should continue to hold their collective breath, because the appearance of snow in early October may not happen every year, but it’s not necessarily a sign of big storms to come.
In 2007, years into a record-breaking drought throughout the southwestern U.S., officials along the Colorado River finally came to an agreement on how they’d deal with future water shortages — and then quietly hoped that wet weather would return. But it didn’t.
An estimated three-quarters of the water used by farms, ranches and dairies in California originates as snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but the future viability of that resource is projected to be at heightened risk due to global climate change.
Firefighters have mostly surrounded a smoky grass fire in Solano County but the blaze moved into marshland Monday, and officials said it could take a week to extinguish the flames. The Branscombe Fire, near Suisun City, has consumed about 4,700 acres and continues to burn on Grizzly Island, a state wildlife area that features natural tidal wetlands and artificially diked marshes.
One of the report’s contributors said predicted temperature increases will be greater in the semi-arid climate of the American West. Diana Liverman, a professor of geography and development at the University of Arizona, said this would lead to even more intense heat waves, droughts, fires and downpours than California is already experiencing.
Water saving in urban California continued to slide in August, but Butte County agencies generally conserved twice as much water as the rest of the state. The State Water Resources Control Board reported Tuesday that statewide, water use was down 12.6 percent in August, compared to August 2013.
Pasadena violated state water laws for three years by allowing new homes and commercial buildings to waste water, while failing to file conservation reports with the state resources agency. They also ignored a 25-year-old state law strengthened under the governor’s drought emergency of 2015 that ordered stringent reductions in landscape watering, according to a settlement agreement signed last month.
The phrase “climate change” did not appear on the agenda of a recent three-day meeting of the Colorado Water Congress, but the topic was often front and center at the conference, as it increasingly is at water meetings around the state and the region. Amy Haas, the new executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, told the Water Congress audience of about 300 water managers, irrigators, engineers and lawyers that “hydrology is changing more rapidly than we once thought” and that “it is primarily due to climate change.”
In the exact spot where Hurricane Katrina demolished the Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, a new $105 million jail now hovers 19 feet above the marsh, perched atop towering concrete pillars. Described by a state official as the “Taj Mahal” of Louisiana corrections, it has so much space that one of every 27 parish residents could bunk there.