Topic: Climate Change


Climate Change

Aquafornia news KneeDeep Times

Climate zoning defined for Burlingame shore and Sonoma hills

Mention zoning to most people and they’ll likely think of height limits, density restrictions, or, if their memories are long enough, the notorious practice of racial redlining. But local zoning ordinances and other land-use regulations are taking on a new role in communities trying to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of climate change. … In the Bay Area, the city of Burlingame, with help from a new countywide agency in San Mateo County and a climate think tank in Washington, DC, just amended its zoning code to require higher ground-floor elevations and space for protective infrastructure in new development within an area vulnerable to sea-level rise.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Native American tribe, New Mexico ink water leasing deal

A Native American tribe has agreed to lease more of its water to help address dwindling supplies in the Colorado River Basin, officials announced Thursday. The agreement involves the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and The Nature Conservancy. The tribe has agreed to lease up to 6.5 billion gallons (25 billion liters) of water per year to the state to bolster flows for endangered species and increase water security for New Mexico. The water would be released from the Navajo Reservoir in northwestern New Mexico to feed the San Juan River, which flows into the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floods

It’s no accident that both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology claim the beaver (Castor canadensis) as their mascots. Renowned engineers, beavers seem able to dam any stream, building structures with logs and mud that can flood large areas. As climate change causes extreme storms in some areas and intense drought in others, scientists are finding that beavers’ small-scale natural interventions are valuable. In dry areas, beaver ponds restore moisture to the soil; in wet zones, their dams and ponds can help to slow floodwaters. 

Aquafornia news National Science Foundation

New research: Marine species can cling together to buy time during climate warming

Some marine species can help protect others from climate change by shielding them from heat, according to a new study by Texas A&M University at Galveston and other scientists. Laura Jurgens and colleagues at the University of Vermont and the University of California, Davis detail the findings in the journal Ecology. The team studied how tiny crabs and isopods – marine versions of pill bugs — that live on rocky shores react to warming of their habitats. The researchers found that the mussel beds these animals live in protect them from temperature swings and keep them from drying out on hot, sunny days. … The research was conducted near Bodega Bay in northern California.

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Aquafornia news USA Today

People haven’t just made the planet hotter. We’ve changed the way it rains

You probably noticed a lot of weird weather in 2021. From record-breaking deluges and tropical storms to drought-stricken landscapes that erupted in wildfire, the nation seemed to lurch from one weather-related disaster to the next. You’re forgiven if you dismiss these events as unrelated, albeit unfortunate, phenomena. But they actually share a common bond – they’re all part of a new climate reality where supersized rainfalls and lengthening droughts have become the norm. 

Aquafornia news UC Merced

New research: Climate change affecting tree migration, seedlings and seed production, research shows

If tree growth and seed production can’t compensate for the impacts of climate change, California’s trees will face difficulty filling in gaps left by wildfire and reaching areas that are becoming climatically suitable, studies now show.  Western trees tend to produce more seed and seedlings in the northward parts of their geographic ranges, said UC Merced Professor Emily Moran, with the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, but this doesn’t mean they will be fully able to keep pace with climate change.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Lithium a new gold rush for people near Salton Sea

People have been fighting Salton Sea shrinkage, salinity and stench for decades without much success. But now the local economy could be headed toward a boom. Gov. Gavin Newsom is trying to help energy companies tap into a huge underground reserve of lithium that’s in high demand for the big rechargeable batteries needed to power carbon-free automobiles.
-Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Highway 37 could be fully underwater as soon as 2040

California State Route 37, the major throughway that bridges the divide between Highway 101 and Interstate 80 and serves thousands of drivers daily in the North Bay, is in dire straits. A recent dispatch from the California Department of Transportation warns that nearly the entire route — spanning Novato to Vallejo — could be “permanently submerged” as soon as 2040 by increasing weather crises and rising sea levels caused by climate change. Its proximity to the San Pablo Bay makes this route especially vulnerable. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration pledges billions to fight wildfire crisis in California and across the West

Acknowledging that the U.S. Forest Service has fallen short when it comes to preventing wildfires, the Biden administration this week said it would spend nearly $3 billion to reduce risk across the most fire-prone areas of the United States, largely in the American West. The impact could be significant in California, where the federal government is the largest landowner, responsible for nearly half of all land area in the state, including 20 million acres of federal forests vexed by an enduring wildfire crisis.

Aquafornia news San Diego Community News Group

Hurricane Hunters chasing atmospheric river storms over Pacific Ocean

Dr. Alison Cobb of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla is hunting atmospheric rivers with planes known as Hurricane Hunters. More specifically, she is part of a scientific team analyzing data coming from instruments deployed by special Hurricane Hunter planes tracking atmospheric rivers. The hope is that learning more about these naturally occurring weather phenomena will make them more predictable. 

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

UN report: The world’s farms stretched to ‘a breaking point’

Almost 10% of the 8 billion people on earth are already undernourished with 3 billion lacking healthy diets, and the land and water resources farmers rely on stressed to “a breaking point.” And by 2050 there will be 2 billion more mouths to feed, warns a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). … California effectively acts as America’s garden. But climate change is exacerbating droughts and water shortages in the state, and farmers are struggling to adapt.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: NCWA’s 2022 priorities – Ridgetop to river mouth water management

The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors recently approved its 2022 Priorities. NCWA and the water leaders in the region continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin and we look forward to working with our many partners in 2022 to cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. We will also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy and the environment.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation seeks insightful writer to join our journalism team and cover West’s most important natural resource – water

We’re looking for a special kind of writer to join our team who is eager to produce the kinds of insightful and challenging stories we pursue, such as our latest Western Water article on how drought and climate change are threatening to upend collaboration in the Colorado River Basin. Are you a journalist enthralled by the history, policy and science behind Western water issues? Then you might be just the right person to join our team.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Water district board member lays out plan to build 3-year supply

This year, our reservoirs were reaching near historic lows in September. We were faced with the realistic prospect of running out of water by the summer of 2022. Then the “atmospheric river” storm in October set rainfall records in Marin. Despite predictions of a dry winter, the rain continued and now five of our seven reservoirs are full, eliminating the danger of running out of water this summer. The pendulum swung fast. But the lessons of the past year are clear: We must prepare now for what broad scientific consensus tells us the future holds, particularly the extreme swings in precipitation due to climate change.
-Written by Monty Schmitt, representing San Rafael’s District 2 as a member of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors.

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Climate change won’t always lead to NorCal heat records. Rising temps could increase other extremes

Data released by NASA and NOAA show that, globally, 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record for Earth’s atmosphere. That means that nine of the planet’s 10 hottest years have come in the past decade. Only 2012 is not in that top 10 list. … Sacramento experienced its longest stretch of dry time on record at 212 days. June, July and September were also each in the respective “top 10 hottest” list for that month. On the other side of the coin, October brought the wettest day on record for downtown Sacramento with 5.44 inches falling in a 24 hour period on Oct. 26. December was also much wetter and snowier than average.

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Aquafornia news NBC News

Lithium in a California lake could help U.S. gain energy autonomy

Deep in the Southern California desert, a massive drill rig taps into what could be the energy of the future. Temperatures in the region can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and residents live under the threat of toxic dust caused by decades of agricultural runoff depositing chemicals into the Salton Sea, a saltwater lake.  But in the brine lies lithium, a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, and the billion-dollar drilling project promises to not only transform an impoverished region, but also help the United States gain energy independence.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Proposed ballot measure would create water infrastructure

The More Water Now campaign was formed to qualify the Water Infrastructure Funding Act to appear as a state ballot initiative in November. Nearly every expert in California agrees that more water infrastructure is necessary; that conservation alone will not protect Californians from the impact of climate change. Projects to capture storm runoff and recycle urban wastewater are urgently needed, and this initiative provides the funding to get it done.
-Written by Edward Ring, lead proponent of the Water Infrastructure Funding Act, a proposed state ballot initiative.​

Aquafornia news Western Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: As the Colorado River shrinks, can the basin find an equitable solution in sharing the river’s waters?

Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah’s gnarly drought leads governor to issue ‘water action’ plan

Citing the extreme drought that had Utah in a chokehold last summer, pummeling residents to conserve water, Gov. Spencer Cox released Thursday what is the first chapter in “Utah’s Coordinated Action Plan for Water.” … The plan taps the expertise of multiple state agencies and builds on a list of more than 200 recommendations to safeguard water supplies in the fastest growing state in the nation, gripped by challenges of new development amid an increasingly arid climate.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California needs to do more than just throw money at climate change. It must act

For the second year in a row, California has been blessed with a massive budget surplus, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is again seeking to spend billions of those dollars responding to climate change. The $22 billion Newsom proposed last week is the largest investment in climate change in state history. Combined with funds from last year’s state climate spending package, it would provide California with a total of $37 billion for climate-related initiatives over a six-year period. … There is money to clean the electric grid, prevent wildfires, respond to the drought and protect coastal areas from rising sea levels…

Aquafornia news KOLD - Tucson

Some taking Arizona’s water future with a grain of salt

Gov. Doug Ducey says he’s all in for desalination to augment Arizona’s water supply which has taken a big hit during the prolonged drought. … Desalination has been talked about in Arizona for a long time even with the construction of the Central Arizona Project, which supplies most of the water used by Phoenix and Tucson. Seven states use Colorado River water and with unprecedented growth, Lake Mead and Lake Powell are now at only 30% capacity and dropping.

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Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Appeals court clears path for controversial wetlands housing

In a major victory for one of the Bay Area’s preeminent developers, a state appeals court has struck down an environmental challenge to plans to build 469 large houses near the edge of Newark’s wetlands, clearing a path for the controversial development to go forward. Though the project area could see flooding in the coming decades because of projected rising sea levels, and will remove some habitat of the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, the Newark City Council approved The Sobrato Organization’s plans in November 2019, over the objections of some residents and environmental groups, who called the development “illogical and irresponsible.”

Aquafornia news Axios

Earth’s climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

Global warming became local to a new and devastating extent in 2021, with the year ranking as the sixth-warmest on record, according to new, independent data from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth. Why it matters: Each year’s data adds to the relentless long-term trend, which shows rapid warming due overwhelmingly to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions during the past several decades in particular. … Four of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history occurred in 2021, as heat waves and drought primed the environment for massive blazes. 

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Spaceship-sized detection system could help determine future of California water supply and where to store it

If it looks like something that could transport you into the future, in a sense it is. A spaceship-sized hoop suspended from a helicopter is actually part of an advanced water detection system. The information it’s gathering, could help determine the future of California’s water supply – and where we store it. … For several years, [Stanford professor Rosemary] Knight has been conducting aerial surveys using an electromagnetic sensing system. She says the technology is able to penetrate the ground, yielding vital data on the geology of natural groundwater basins. 3D maps pinpoint attractive sites, made up of materials marked in red, like sand and gravel, that allow water to sink in.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado had hottest six months in history, impacting wildfires, ski season and drought

The average temperature for the last six months is the hottest recorded in Colorado and the country as a whole, according to data released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The next-highest six-month average temperature peak in Colorado came during the 1930s Dust Bowl era, the data shows. … Because the hotter, drier climate worsens water supply issues, particularly in the Colorado River basin on the Western Slope, climatologists have been keeping a sharp eye on snowpack levels and drought conditions across the state.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California plans to spend $37 billion fighting climate change

Some of the details will likely change over the next few months as the governor’s office negotiates with the Legislature, which must approve the budget. But here are nine things you should know about how Newsom would tackle the climate crisis. … It also adds $750 million to last year’s $5.2 billion for drought response, including $180 million for water suppliers to plug leaks, tear out grass and improve efficiency; $145 million in emergency assistance for communities at risk of going dry; $75 million to protect fish and wildlife; and $30 million for replenishing groundwater.

Aquafornia news Insurance Journal

Arizona eyeing $1B water plant to help with drought

Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed setting aside $1 billion to remove the salt from sea water and bring it to Arizona, a major legacy project as he enters his eighth and final year in office. The Republican governor previewed the plan but offered few details in his annual state of the state address, delivered to a joint session of the House and Senate. … Lawmakers also set aside $200 million last year for future water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Satellite images show Mount Shasta’s transformation after an exceptionally dry summer

After one of its driest summers in years, satellite images show that Mount Shasta is blanketed in its signature snow once again after December storms swept across Northern California. The images show the mountain nearly entirely devoid of snow in early September, after a very hot summer for the region compounded the lack of snowpack after two severely dry winters, dissipating the snowpack earlier than normal. Just four months later, the mountain appeared transformed, covered in snow once again.

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Aquafornia news CA Natural Resources Agency

News release: State agencies detail progress implementing Water Resilience Portfolio

A new report conveys significant progress made in the past 18 months to implement the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Newsom Administration’s water policy blueprint to build climate resilience in the face of more extreme cycles of wet and dry. … Recent progress includes assisting tens of thousands of Californians who depend on small water systems or domestic wells that have drinking water supply problems, dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to improve streamflow for salmon and other native fish species, advancing the removal of four obsolete dams that block salmon passage on the Klamath River, providing extensive financial and technical assistance to local sustainable groundwater management agencies, restoring streams and floodplains, and steadily improving the state’s ability to manage flood and drought.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom voices pledge to lithium valley

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, Jan. 10 announced a commitment to incentivize and spur development of the state’s lithium reserves around the Salton Sea. “We have what someone described as the Saudi Arabia of lithium here in the state of California down in Imperial County near the Salton Sea,” Newsom said on Monday as he unveiled his budget proposal for 2022-2023…. Newsom’s administration will work on a new regulatory framework to spur private investment, create loan programs to reduce investment risks, and “focus on environmental and labor standards right up front”…

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Why a world without glaciers is more terrifying than you realize

We’ve all read about glaciers in peril: pieces of ice, the size of continents, breaking off Antarctica or melting away in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole, leaving polar bears starving and clutching onto remnants of crumbling sea ice. But what do such tales mean for people in temperate places? Here’s one answer: Learning about glacier vulnerability can guide our fight to stop climate change. … There is still plenty of water left to melt in climate-vulnerable glaciers. … If all remaining glacier ice melts the sea would rise by about 230 feet!
-Written by Jorge Daniel Taillant, founder of the Center for Human Rights and Environment and currently climate justice policy adviser at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Arizona farmer struggles with water shortage

Arizona rivers and reservoirs saw record low water levels last year as megadrought and rising temperatures continue. The forecast for 2022 isn’t much better. In this episode of Arizona in Focus, Nancy Caywood, a farmer in Casa Grande, learns how to live with less water and what that means for her future and ours.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: To fight climate change, we must redesign San Diego communities

As the world struggles for consensus on climate action and national policy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of climate change occur all around us. … The San Diego region is a case in point. Its beaches and coastal bluffs are being eroded by ocean storms and sea level rise. Its inland valleys and mountains suffer from severe drought, leaving them vulnerable to wildfires. Long-term drought and higher temperatures contribute to the loss of natural habitat and wildlife. Its population, industry and agricultural economy rely heavily on water from shrinking, faraway sources — the Sacramento Delta in Northern California and the Colorado River.
-Written by Robert Leiter, former director of land use and transportation planning for the San Diego Association of Governments; Julie Kalansky, a climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Cary Lowe, a California land-use attorney who has written widely on environmental and planning topics. ​

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In Ojai, a glimpse of how to nurture land in a drier world

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County is a magical place. Consider its elements: the sweet smell of California citrus blossoms in the spring, the open space preserved by orchards, the seasonal creeks that run free through the cultivated lands. But the Ojai Valley is also a place in peril. That’s because the water source that keeps this inland Ventura hamlet thriving is nearly dry. Lake Casitas reservoir was built in the late 1950s, when decades of plentiful rain hid the true nature of California’s arid climate. Back then, the official projections for water-resources potential were optimistic. Today, that story has changed dramatically.
-Written by Stephanie Pincetl, a professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and founding director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California budget – How will Newsom spend multi-billion dollar surplus?

Buoyed by another massive surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday unveiled a wide-ranging $286 billion spending proposal for 2022-23, prioritizing more money to fight COVID-19 and tackle climate change, homelessness, the rising cost of living and other issues that plague the Golden State. … The budget also aims to address more long-standing problems, including climate-related issues such as wildfires and drought. It calls for an additional $1.2 billion to boost forest management and $750 million to round out last year’s $5.2 billion water package to help residents, farmers and wildlife respond to the historic drought.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Deadly extreme weather year for U.S. as carbon emissions soar

The United States staggered through a steady onslaught of deadly billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in an extra hot 2021, while the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions last year jumped 6% because of surges in coal and long-haul trucking, putting America further behind its 2030 climate change cutting goal. Three different reports released Monday, though not directly connected, paint a picture of a U.S. in 2021 struggling with global warming and its efforts to curb it. … Last year’s weather disasters included a record shattering heat wave in the Pacific Northwest where temperatures hit 116 degrees in Portland … mudslides and a persistent drought and lots of wildfires.

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Aquafornia news KQED

California court OKs controversial Newark housing plan along its climate-vulnerable wetlands

A California district court has sided with the city of Newark and developer The Sobrato Organization in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups who challenged a plan to build hundreds of two-story tract homes along fragile wetlands in Alameda County. Environmentalists said the dwellings would be built in a federal flood zone and could succumb to rising seas in coming decades, arguing that the project’s environmental review was inadequate.

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Aquafornia news International Journal of Climatology

New research: Enhanced winter, spring, and summer hydroclimate variability across California from 1940 to 2019

California’s recent hydroclimatic pivots have caused billions of dollars in damages with the potential to become more extreme in the future, even if the mean total precipitation and streamflow do not change. … Our analysis shows that there is a statistically significant positive trend in precipitation variability that is driven by long-term increases to the 90th percentile through most of California during winter (January–March), which has been steadily increasing since the mid-20th century.

Aquafornia news Mercury News and East Bay Times

Editorial: California should stop burying its head in winter snow

When it comes to water conservation, California is burying its head in the winter snow. Future generations will not look kindly at our leaders’ complete failure to strategically address the state’s water shortages, which will only get worse with climate change. Two years of some of the worst drought conditions in state history haven’t slowed Big Ag’s demands for more water. Meanwhile, urban users aren’t coming close to meeting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to voluntarily cut their water use by 15% from 2020 levels.

Aquafornia news CNBC

2021 ranks as fifth hottest year as carbon, methane emissions rise

The last seven years have been the hottest on record, with 2021 ranking as the fifth hottest year as the world continues to see a rise in climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released on Monday. … Extremely dry conditions also exacerbated wildfires throughout July and August, especially in several Canadian provinces and the U.S. West. The Dixie Fire became the second-largest fire in California’s history, burning nearly 1 million acres and resulting in poor air quality for thousands of people across the country.

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Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Phoenix among those voluntarily losing Colorado River water

The city of Phoenix last week outlined how it will voluntarily contribute water to a regional plan to shore up the country’s largest reservoir that delivers Colorado River water to three states and Mexico. The river cannot provide seven Western states the water they were promised a century ago because of less snow, warmer temperatures and water lost to evaporation. Water managers repeatedly have had to pivot to develop plans to sustain it for the long-term.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Newsom California budget adds money for drought, fires, agriculture

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday will propose spending billions of additional dollars on drought response, wildfire suppression and rural workforce development programs, according to budget documents reviewed by The Sacramento Bee. The governor’s plan includes $750 million in one-time money to help communities affected by the drought, including for water conservation, water efficiency, replenishing groundwater supplies and helping small farmers.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Study predicts rising heat and hardship in San Joaquin Valley

Within three decades, the San Joaquin Valley’s annual average temperature could increase by 4 degrees, worsening water quality and health hazards in the impoverished communities of California’s agricultural heartland, according to a new regional climate change report. Those hit hardest by the increasing heat will be poor farming communities that lack the resources necessary to adapt, according to the UC Merced report. 

Aquafornia news NPR

In coastal areas, rising seas can also mean failing septic tanks

In rural, coastal areas, rising groundwater is flooding people’s properties from underneath, causing septic tanks to fail. States are responding, but it could be a losing battle in some places. … Sixty million Americans rely on septic tanks to flush their toilets. But extreme rain, floods and rising seas are making the ground too wet for many to work properly. As Zach Hirsch reports, the biggest problem is in rural coastal areas …

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Concerns aren’t eroding as Half Moon Bay dives into study sea level rise

The city of Half Moon Bay is examining the impact of sea level rise and erosion on its southern coastline, which could harm the most significant contributor to the city’s economy. According to ongoing studies from San Mateo County and its environmental consulting firm Integral Consulting, parts of the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, the Golf Links and Ocean Colony neighborhood are at risk of erosion and flooding as a result of sea level rise.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa City Council passes water management plan update and water shortage plan

Despite the 2021 drought, which resulted in mid-year restrictions on outdoor irrigation and trucked water, the city of Napa is projecting it will likely meet water demands through 2045 with only minor restrictions in the case of dry years or multiple dry years. That is, of course, unless the city faces historically unprecedented dry conditions, in which case greater restrictions could be put in place to limit the demand on the city’s water resources. That’s according to the city’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, a long-term evaluation of the city’s water supply and demand through 2045, approved by the Napa City Council late last month. 

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

The rise of billion-dollar disasters

In the last year, deadly frigid winter temperatures in Texas gave way to excruciating summer heat in the Northwest. Wildfires raged across California. In late summer, Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana and flooded the Northeast. In December, an outbreak of nearly 70 tornadoes caused unprecedented destruction. If you’ve thought headlines about U.S. weather and climate disasters are becoming more common: You’re right.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join Jan. 13 Q&A for Colorado River Water Leaders program; staff writer position open; save the date for our Lower Colorado River Tour in March

The West is experiencing extraordinary and historic turmoil surrounding water resources and drought, despite recent storms that plumped up much-needed snowpack in the mountains. At the Foundation, we are gearing up this year to focus even more on the Colorado River Basin, the West’s iconic river that supplies 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and irrigates more than 4 million acres of crops.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Judge halts $1 billion California development over wildfire danger

Development of a $1 billion resort and housing project in one of the state’s most wildfire-prone communities has been placed on hold after a judge ruled developers didn’t adequately plan for what might happen when a wildfire erupts and thousands of people have to run for their lives. The Lake County judge’s ruling on the Guenoc Valley Resort could have sweeping ramifications for housing and business developments across a state where fires are growing in severity and local officials are under intense pressure to approve new building projects during a housing crisis. 

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

News release: New climate report on California’s San Joaquin Valley

A new report released about how climate change is affecting California’s San Joaquin Valley says the nation’s leading agricultural region is facing the most challenging environmental and socioeconomic conditions in the state including water insecurity and some of the worst air quality in the United States. … Jose Pablo Ortiz-Partida, the Western States climate and water scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the lead authors of the report, says increasing heat, drought and air pollution are worsening the quality of life and economic conditions of millions of San Joaquin Valley residents, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities.

Aquafornia news NPR

The Western drought is revealing America’s ‘lost national park’

At Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, record low water levels are transforming the landscape, renewing a longstanding dispute over the land the reservoir drowned — a canyon labyrinth that novelist Edward Abbey once described as “a portion of earth’s original paradise.” For half a century, environmental groups and Colorado River enthusiasts have implored water managers to restore Glen Canyon by draining the reservoir.

Aquafornia news Fast Company

The Western U.S. might be seeing its last snowy winters

When a fire started spreading quickly in Boulder County, Colorado, on December 30, destroying nearly 1,000 homes as residents fled, the ground was dry. This was unusual: Boulder typically gets around 30 inches of snow between September and December. But last year, it had only a total of 1.7 inches over the same period … It was so warm in Colorado that ski resorts often couldn’t even make fake snow. In California, though heavy snow fell in the Sierra Nevada mountains in December, recent winters have seen extreme drought: Last April, when the snowpack in the Sierras should have been at its highest point, it was at just 4% of the average.

Aquafornia news Regional Water Authority

News release: Sacramento region awarded over $14 million in state grants for drought and climate change resiliency

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced the award of over $14 million in grant funding for projects in the greater Sacramento area that advance drought and climate resiliency. Over $4 million was awarded to a coordinated application submitted through the Regional Water Authority, which represents 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region. Funded projects include planning for the Sacramento Regional Water Bank, and groundwater wells for the Fair Oaks Water District and Orange Vale Water Company. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Snowpack up 160% in ‘good start’ to 2022

After two consecutive years of drought, the state Department of Water Resources conducted the season’s first manual survey of the snowpack Dec. 30 and found a promising result—deep snow totaling 160% of average for the time of year. State Climatologist Michael Anderson said storms in December that dumped several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and brought much-needed precipitation were “a great start to the water year.”

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Project Klamath: Saving a watershed in the climate change era

Drought is no stranger to the Klamath Basin. But twenty years ago, following a century and a half of control by settlers, it began tearing at the fabric of the watershed. Farmers saw their water supply cut off for the first time since the Klamath Project’s inception. Young fish perished up and down the watershed. Migrating birds’ ancestral rest stops reduced to mud puddles. Indigenous people saw themselves vilified for seeking the protection of natural and cultural resources promised to them by treaties.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

What can be done to save Utah’s dying inland sea, the Great Salt Lake?

[The Great Salt Lake] is in trouble, which is why hundreds of people representing myriad agencies, advocacy organizations, industry and sportsmen convened for the half-day summit, making plain that fixing what ails the lake is a top political, fiscal and conservation goal for all. … The lake, drained by diversions and drought, dropped below its lowest recorded level logged in 1963 this last summer and continues to remain below that historic low. 

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

As droughts intensify, this Utah family farm is ditching the Monsanto way

For generations, the Jensen family has farmed several hundred acres in the middle of the Gunnison Valley growing the staple crop of Utah, alfalfa. … For Stan Jensen, the big question is how to get more organic material in the ground. “In terms of drought tolerance, organic material is everything,” said Jensen. “1% of organic material can hold 3 inches of water per foot.” Jensen said his land is at about 2% organic material. “But if I were at 10%, I could be good for a year and survive a drought.”

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Aquafornia news Science Daily

New research: Ancient Maya lessons on surviving drought: Huge variety of plant foods made their starvation unlikely

There is no dispute that a series of droughts occurred in the Yucatan Peninsula of southeastern Mexico and northern Central America at the end of the ninth century, when Maya cities mysteriously began to be depopulated. Believing the Maya were mostly dependent on drought-sensitive corn, beans, and squash, some scholars assume the droughts resulted in starvation. However, a new analysis by UC Riverside archaeologist Scott Fedick and plant physiologist Louis Santiago shows the Maya had nearly 500 edible plants available to them, many of which are highly drought resistant. 

Aquafornia news KCRW

Cloud seeding: Weighing the pros and cons of playing rain god

Despite a rush of rain and snow heading into 2022, 85% of California remains in severely dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That’s why water agencies in Southern California and beyond are trying to squeeze a bit more water out of the storms that come this winter using a method called cloud seeding. It’s a weather modification technique that uses silver iodide to bond cloud droplets together to form ice crystals, which grow into snowflakes and fall as either snow or rain, depending on the elevation. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

New research: New technologies for mapping surface soil moisture over wildfire-prone landscapes

USGS scientists, industry engineers, and an innovative NGO are partnering to map surface soil moisture over 13 km2 of wildfire-prone grasslands, oak lands, and closed-canopy forest in Sonoma County, California. The partnership is exploring how to improve our ability to measure water in ways that inform land and water resource management practices during wildfire season and during droughts and floods.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California drought: Researchers optimistic state can build new housing and have enough water for expanding population

It’s the decades-long conflict even our recent surge of storms can’t wash away — How to build the thousands of new housing units we desperately need and at the same time ensure there’s enough water for an expanding population. … While the recent storms may bring short-term relief, many experts believe a true end to the current drought, could still be a long ways off. Marin County is currently working on plans for a new emergency water pipeline across the Richmond – San Rafael Bridge. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Thursday Top of the Scroll: More than 40 percent of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021

2021 ended as it began: with disaster. Twelve months after an atmospheric river deluged California, triggering mudslides in burned landscapes and leaving a half-million people without power, a late-season wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes in the suburbs of Denver. In between, Americans suffered blistering heat waves, merciless droughts and monstrous hurricanes. People collapsed in farm fields and drowned in basement apartments; entire communities were obliterated by surging seas and encroaching flames. More than 4 in 10 Americans live in a county that was struck by climate-related extreme weather last year … 

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Aquafornia news The Hill

In a drying West, Utah governor proposes major water investments

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox [R] unveiled his $25 billion budget proposal last month near what was once the shore of the Great Salt Lake. But instead of waves lapping behind him, the waterline was barely visible in the distance. One of the longest periods of prolonged drought in modern memory has shrunk the lake by more than 10 feet in recent decades, just one barometer in parched Western states that are feeling the increasingly dire effects of a changing climate that is sapping reservoirs, contributing to extreme fires and reducing snowpack and river flow.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Half Moon Bay faces issues due to sea level rise

A study examining vulnerabilities to the southern coast near Half Moon Bay from climate change was presented to the City Council Dec. 21, showing buildings like the Ritz Carlton are at risk from sea-level rise. … It found the Ritz Carlton and the California Coastal Trail is at serious risk of erosion with just 5 feet of sea level rise, while other structures, residences and trails are at risk. Erosion would affect 123 buildings, including Pescadero Cal Fire Station, the Ritz Carlton, Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Gazos Creek Gas Station. Pescadero, Martin’s Beach and Tunitas Creek are vulnerable communities due to creek and storm wave flooding.

Aquafornia news Stanford Lawyer Magazine

California burning: Stanford research looks at drought, wildfires, and smoke and the growing risks of climate change in the Golden State

In July 2021, smoke from California’s Dixie Fire, the second largest in the state’s history, combined with smoke from fires in the American West and Canada, traveled thousands of miles to New York and other parts of the East Coast, triggering air-quality alerts. It was an alarming message for people a continent away from the flames that the environmental fallout from climate change does not respect state lines. California is prone to both droughts and floods, but climate change is sending those natural cycles into overdrive.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Despite heavy snow, we must seek a new water path

California is facing an indisputable fact: We need, in a big way, to get busy finding water alternatives to the long-indispensable Sierra Nevada snowpack. Yes, we’ve been blessed by recent exceptional snowfall, perhaps a snowy feast after an extended water famine. But year to year, California’s frozen reservoir—the mountain snow whose melt feeds farming and quenches the thirst of Californians—is dwindling and increasingly unreliable as the climate changes. As a result, we now must move water— coming increasingly as rain or early snowmelt—underground.
-Written by Justin Fredrickson, the California Farm Bureau’s water and environmental policy analyst.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Could Colorado’s type of extreme winter wildfires happen in California? ‘Absolutely,’ Cal Fire official says

The recent cold-weather wildfire in Colorado was a shocker, but it “could absolutely” happen in fire-prone California as well, with the advent of late-season wildfires already offering a warning, a Cal Fire official said Sunday. Where California’s wildfires used to blaze most intensely in September and October, they’ve crept later into the fall in recent years with some — like the December 2017 Thomas Fire — even burning in the winter months, said Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Companies want to grow seaweed in California to fight climate change. They’re held back by environmental regulations

It absorbs carbon. It reduces emissions on dairy farms. It can be used as food, fuel and fertilizer. It requires nothing but seawater and sunlight to grow. Seaweed has become a symbol of hope in mitigating climate change, and at least a half dozen companies are actively trying to farm it in California. They aim to be part of what’s called the blue economy, a movement to use the ocean’s resources in a sustainable, if not regenerative, way. But getting a permit to set up a seaweed farm in state waters involves navigating a permitting process that can take many years and cost many thousands of dollars.

Aquafornia news KUNC Morning Edition

Extreme climate conditions, drought set the stage for winter wildfires

The Marshall Fire that erupted in Boulder County on Thursday, Dec. 30 quickly became the most destructive in state history. The fire consumed more than 6,000 acres, and forced more than 30,000 people to flee their homes. Officials estimate nearly 1,000 structures have been destroyed. It was a rare occurrence for December in Colorado, but many experts say similar events will become more common, fueled by extreme climate conditions. We talked with Russ Schumacher, Colorado’s state climatologist and director of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, about how those conditions set the stage for fire.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Water in 2021 – Looking back on a year of extremes

In California, 2021 was the year that climate change hit home. The increasingly frequent, warmer droughts that climate scientists have been predicting have arrived. Although this past December brought some welcome storms, California remains in the grips of an historic, fast-moving drought that has followed close on the heels of the last one. The non-partisan PPIC Water Policy Center tackled the thorny issues of this moment—as we often do—by providing data and analysis to inform tough conversations about managing drought today and into the future.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Western tribes push for a larger role in water management

When officials from California, Arizona and Nevada signed a deal this month to take less water from the shrinking Colorado River, a large portion of the water savings came through agreements with two Native tribes. Indigenous leaders have also been invited by the Biden administration to play a key role in future negotiations on coping with shortages. The rising involvement of tribes in discussions about managing the West’s scarce water supplies marks a dramatic turn in a century-long history of being left on the sidelines.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California Waterblog 2021 “Wrapped”

We compiled and analyzed California Waterblog statistics from 2021 to provide some insight as to which blogs viewers found the most alluring or noteworthy (as measured by total unique views). As expected perhaps, top blogs tended to focus on reservoirs, drought, climate and fish, roughly in that order. And as we descend into a highly uncertain 2022, where our new drought may tighten or loosen its grip (maybe both), these topics will continue as critical issues for California – its ecosystems, egosystems, unique biota, and peoples.

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Aquafornia news Daily Beast

Cloud seeding technology that triggers rainfall is could be a big solution to fixing future droughts

The American West is facing a historic drought, so many Western states like Arizona, California, Colorado, and Wyoming have embraced cloud seeding as a way to hopefully keep crops alive and maintain water supplies. The United Arab Emirates unleashed a fleet of cloud-seeding drones this past summer to help residents in Dubai beat the heat. China recently announced plans to develop an expansive cloud-seeding system over the next decade to produce artificial rainfall over 224,00 square miles across the country.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

Explore the lower Colorado River, where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Click here to register!

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Aquafornia news Associated Press

Las Vegas proposes to ban grass for new homes

Grassy yards would be banned at all new housing and commercial developments in the Las Vegas metro area as officials try to expand water use limitations and the region prepares for a hotter and drier future. The Southern Nevada Water Authority passed resolutions on Monday to prohibit the yards and the use of evaporative cooling machines, also known as “swamp coolers,” at the new developments. Swamp coolers are used by many people instead of traditional air conditioners, but use more water. 

Aquafornia news High Country News

At the Colorado River conference, ‘It’s really no longer a drill’

Last week, at Caesars Palace, a luxurious hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, nearly a thousand water managers, scientists, and government officials convened at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference to discuss the future of the imperiled watershed.  The tone was one of urgency: The Colorado River, which spans seven states, 30 tribal nations and two countries, is carrying much less water than it used to. At the same time, a lot more people are vying for what’s left.

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

The dirty business of wetlands restoration

On Oct. 29, the waters of the Suisun Bay breached the levee along the northern shoreline of Martinez and flowed into the Pacheco Marsh. The breach was the culmination of a process that took 18 years, $24 million in funds, and dirt. Lots of dirt. … Like the Pacheco Marsh, many of the Bay Area’s coastal wetlands are degraded after decades of dredging, draining and construction activity. As sea levels rise, restoring them could be a long-term solution to build resilience against flooding, but acquiring enough sediment is proving to be an issue for some restoration teams.

Aquafornia news Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

New research: Rapid increases in shrubland and forest intrinsic water-use efficiency during an ongoing megadrought

Photosynthesis involves a tradeoff between the uptake of carbon and the loss of water. Intrinsic water-use efficiency is an indicator of this tradeoff that is pivotal for understanding plant responses to climate change. Global increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration have increased intrinsic water-use efficiency, but this relationship is also modulated by water availability. Here, we have identified that a severe, multidecadal drought in the American Southwest has caused some of the largest increases in plant water-use efficiency ever observed.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Wine Country tourism faces a challenge, how to deal with climate change

Perhaps more than any sector of the North Bay and state’s economy, the tourism and hospitality industry and its ability to lure visitors is being severely tested by climate change. … In an industry which contributed $145 billion to the state’s economy in 2019, seeing it drop by 55% in 2020, state tourism officials are examining how evidence of climate change – such as season after season of wildfires and drought – colors the way potential visitors see wine country. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases $210 million spend plan for drought and fire suppression in the West

The Bureau of Reclamation released the spending plan for the $210 million provided in the Extending Government Funding and Delivery Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43). The legislation provides Reclamation with $200 million to address drought conditions throughout the West, as well as $10 million for fire remediation and suppression emergency assistance related to wildfires.

Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Blog: In the year 2021, water crises took center stage worldwide

Communities rich and poor bore witness to horrific devastation in 2021. In July, floods in China’s Henan province trapped commuters in subway tunnels in the city of Zhengzhou, which received a year’s rainfall in just three days. That same month, raging waters in Germany’s Ahr Valley scoured farmland into canyons and submerged riverside towns. … Across the American West, intense heat and meager precipitation produced tinderbox conditions. Water systems were at the center of the story. Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir in California, dropped to a record low, too depleted to generate hydropower.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California lacks lumber mills, biomass plants to cut wildfire risk

Niel Fischer’s company sits on an enormous stack of kindling — a staggering backlog of dead and dying trees that could catch fire again. Collins Pine Co. was left with 30,000 acres of blackened pines and firs after the Dixie Fire ripped through the company’s private forest in Plumas County this past summer. … California’s wildfire crisis is being fed by a host of problems, notably climate change and drought. The dilemma at Collins illustrates another contributing factor: a shortage of places for the state to process wood.

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Aquafornia news Clean Technica

Blog: Climate change impacts on California’s Central Valley

While different places in the United States experience different climate impacts (e.g., more extreme precipitation in eastern states, stronger hurricanes in the Gulf, and dryer and hotter conditions across southwestern states), the Central Valley is expected to experience quite a few: hotter temperatures, droughts, wildfires, and extreme precipitation events. Because of this, and because of the Valley’s history of environmental and socioeconomic inequities and injustices, we are devoting a blog series to the region.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Californians have a lot of ideas for how to get more water. Most of them are really bad

When it comes to water, Californians have a lot of big ideas for how to get more of it. One of the latest is in Marin County, where water managers are looking to build an eight-mile pipeline atop the towering Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The line would allow water to be moved across San Francisco Bay from other parts of the state, to prop up sagging local supplies. But for every grand plan pushing forward like this one, a dozen others – often more ambitious and sometimes outright wacky - get only eye rolls and a quick thumbs-down.

Aquafornia news Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein, Padilla to Interior – Prioritize California drought projects when disbursing bipartisan infrastructure bill funds

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today called on the Interior Department to prioritize $8.3 billion in Western water infrastructure funding for California projects that will promote preparedness and resiliency to climate-driven droughts.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: Looming water cuts call for solutions

Lake Mead is shrinking. Last seen full in 1983, a 157 foot “bathtub ring” of salty white mineral deposits is the visible record of a slowly unfolding crisis. For the first time ever, federal officials have declared an emergency water shortage for the Colorado River. Nevada’s water cuts will take effect on January 1, 2022. Extended droughts, extreme temperatures, and chronic overuse of the Colorado river basin require our attention. It’s a wakeup call to change the country’s reckless relationship with desert water. Policymakers, farmers, and 40 million residents who depend on the Colorado River must find ways to use less.
-Written by Linda Stout, a longtime Las Vegas resident and climate activist. 

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

How the West can survive smaller snowpacks and bigger atmospheric rivers

Mountains are the foundation of water in the western United States, natural infrastructure that captures snowfall during the winter and releases snowmelt over the spring and summer. In California, the snowpack holds nearly as much water on average as all the reservoirs put together, effectively doubling the state’s surface storage. But, as the world warms, we may not be able to rely on this ecosystem service much longer. A new study projects that snowpack shrinkage will likely disrupt the West’s water system well before the end of the century. 

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

New research: Optimizing coastal wetland restoration for carbon capture and storage

Healthy coastal wetlands can help combat climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for the long term. Coastal wetlands also provide habitat for fish and other wildlife, reduce erosion and coastal flooding, improve water quality, and support recreational uses.

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Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Scarcity the theme of Colorado River conference

Sobering. Troubling. The new abnormal. Crazy bad. These were the words used to describe conditions on the Colorado River at the largest annual gathering of water managers and experts in Las Vegas this week. … Water scarcity — and a sense of urgency to address it — has underscored this year’s Colorado River Water Users Association conference. In 2000, the storage system was nearly full, but over the past two decades, the river’s two largest buckets, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, have fallen to just one-third of their capacity.

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Aquafornia news Stanford University

New research – Climate of chaos: Why warming makes weather less predictable

A new Stanford University study shows rising temperatures may intensify the unpredictability of weather in Earth’s midlatitudes. The limit of reliable temperature, wind and rainfall forecasts falls by about a day when the atmosphere warms by even a few degrees Celsius. … Widespread changes in weather patterns and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events are well documented consequences of global climate change. These departures from old norms can bring storms, droughts, heatwaves and wildfire conditions beyond what infrastructure has been designed to withstand or what people have come to expect.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County backs Walt Ranch mitigation plan

A divided Napa County Board of Supervisors decided the controversial Walt Ranch vineyard project found an acceptable way to address greenhouse gas concerns related to the expected loss of 14,000 trees. Walt Ranch plans to make up for the loss of carbon-sequestering trees by preserving 124 acres of woodlands and planting about 17,000 trees. … The Board of Supervisors approved the vineyards in 2016 and opponents sued. The courts upheld the county on issues such as groundwater availability and rare species protection, but said the greenhouse gas issue related to expected tree loss needed more work.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: California releases draft strategy to achieve 30×30 conservation target

To protect biodiversity, advance equitable access to nature and combat climate change, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) today released California’s draft strategy to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30). The draft of Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature is now available for public review and feedback. Input is welcomed through January 28, 2022.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California, Arizona and Nevada agree to take less water from ailing Colorado River

Trying to stave off dangerously low levels of water in Lake Mead, officials in California, Arizona and Nevada have reached an agreement to significantly reduce the amount they take from the Colorado River. The problem took on new urgency this summer when the federal government declared a first-ever water shortage in the 86-year-old reservoir near Las Vegas. The agreement, which was signed Wednesday after four months of negotiations, aims to keep an extra 1 million acre-feet of water in the lake over the next two years.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Megadrought is renewing debates about how to manage water in the arid American West

The Western megadrought is revealing a famed desert landscape long drowned by a controversial dam. It’s raising questions about the future of this oasis, and water in the American West. Parts of the West got much-needed rain and snow this week, but it comes as the region experiences one of its driest periods in a thousand years. The drought, amplified by climate change, is renewing debates about how to manage water in the arid West. NPR’s Nathan Rott takes a look at one debate playing out on the Utah-Arizona border over what some see as America’s lost national park.

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Aquafornia news KQED

The Bay is rising. Newark residents wonder why the city plans to develop its shoreline

Newark Vice Mayor Mike Bucci sat behind a wood-paneled council dais, a sinking feeling growing in his gut as he scribbled notes. The council was discussing Sanctuary West, a nearly three-decade-old plan from Mountain View-based The Sobrato Organization to bring badly needed housing to the city. Newark — a Bay Area enclave of fewer than 50,000 people — is located on the east side of the Dumbarton Bridge near Fremont in Alameda County, a place that has struggled mightily to build new housing even as costs have skyrocketed.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Fires, landslides, lack of snow: The ski industry girds for battle

From the top of an intermediate ski slope called Ridge Run at Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly resort, Bryan Hickman knew what was at stake. It was late August and for the past two weeks the Caldor Fire had been tearing through California’s Eldorado National Forest. Nearly 150,000 acres of drought-primed timber, brush and grass had already burned and 72,000 more acres would go up in flames before the fire’s containment in October. Hundreds of homes in Grizzly Flats, a community of about 2,000 people, to the southwest, had been lost.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: The state of the Colorado River going into 2022

Climate change is unfolding as a water supply crisis in the Colorado River Basin. Competition over water is on the rise, but I hold out hope that these extraordinary conditions will actually increase opportunities for stakeholders whose interests have historically been set aside. … I’ve spent decades working in the basin to improve water management, looking for alignment between solutions for birds and other wildlife and solutions for people.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Feds should focus on natural solutions in flood preparation

Our country faces a flood crisis. More people and places are at risk, with climate-induced flooding threatening widespread social, environmental and economic impacts. We need a holistic approach to reduce flood risk now. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has focused on building levees, spillways and hardened infrastructure to address episodic storm events. But, by focusing solely on storm surge, they leave millions exposed to chronic flooding from sea level rise, tides and extreme rainfall. … Coastal areas experience flooding from rising seas, storm surge, rainfall, and swelling rivers and streams.

-Written by Natalie Snider, associate vice president of Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds at Environmental Defense Fund; and David Lewis, executive director of Save The Bay. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento winter storm totals compared to October cyclone

This week’s winter storm in Sacramento comes just two months after a bomb cyclone-atmospheric river combo broke records and took the title of ”100-year storm.” And while the October storm dropped significant amounts of water in just a day and a half, this week’s storm — which started over the weekend and is expected to last into Thursday — will spread precipitation over several days. Here’s how the two Sacramento winter storms compare, including storm characteristics, precipitation totals and safety concerns:

Aquafornia news High Country News

Winter without snow is coming

Across the Central Rockies, it’s been an unseasonably warm, dry year. Denver smashed the record for its latest first measurable winter snow. Colorado ski resorts delayed opening because temperatures were too high to even produce fake snow. And Salt Lake City was entirely snowless through November, for only the second time since 1976. These snowless scenarios, while still an exception, are set to become much more common as early as 2040, according to a paper published in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Startlingly low snowpack this fall bodes poorly for water supply

November brought unusually warm temperatures in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the Mountain West, which made for some lovely fall days. But not for our water supply. Those warm temperatures that made for shirt-sleeve conditions in Las Vegas and much of the Southwest were murder on the snowpack that feeds the region’s rivers. In an example of how climate change is threatening the viability of the West, the region emerged from November with lower-than-average snowpack in every one of its river basins, particularly in the Southwest.

Aquafornia news Reuters

From heatwaves to floods, climate change worsened weather extremes in 2021

Extreme weather events in 2021 shattered records around the globe. Hundreds died in storms and heatwaves. Farmers struggled with drought, and in some cases with locust plagues. Wildfires set new records for carbon emissions, while swallowing forests, towns and homes. Many of these events were exacerbated by climate change. … Nearly all of the western United States was gripped by a drought that emerged in early 2020. Farmers abandoned crops, officials announced emergency measures, and the Hoover Dam reservoir hit an all-time low.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

One Arizona tribe seeks to lease water, another moves to conserve it

As Arizona tribal leaders prepare to take a greater role in a regional forum on Colorado River issues, a new bill to allow at least one tribe to lease water is making its way through Congress, while another tribe tries to forestall further cuts to water delivery. The tribes are increasingly concerned that a persistent drought, worsened by a 20-year-long period of hotter and drier conditions in the Southwest, has already led to the federal government’s first-ever shortage declaration for Arizona water users. One tribe is worried that it may be asked to reduce its own water deliveries.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Democrats want to spend budget surplus on California infrastructure

State lawmakers want to use a projected $31 billion surplus to fuel an infrastructure boom, a tactic that could reduce the amount Californians might see in any rebate checks this year – if they happen at all. The state expects to have so much money it risks exceeding a state spending threshold called the Gann Limit…. [Assemblyman Phil Ting, who runs the Assembly Budget Committee] said he wants lawmakers to use the state surplus for drought resilience projects and broadband expansion to communities without reliable internet access.

A Colorado River Veteran Takes on the Top Water & Science Post at Interior Department
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tanya Trujillo brings two decades of experience on Colorado River issues as she takes on the challenges of a river basin stressed by climate change

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science For more than 20 years, Tanya Trujillo has been immersed in the many challenges of the Colorado River, the drought-stressed lifeline for 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and the source of irrigation water for more than 5 million acres of winter lettuce, supermarket melons and other crops.

Trujillo has experience working in both the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River, basins that split the river’s water evenly but are sometimes at odds with each other. She was a lawyer for the state of New Mexico, one of four states in the Upper Colorado River Basin, when key operating guidelines for sharing shortages on the river were negotiated in 2007. She later worked as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California, exposing her to the different perspectives and challenges facing California and the other states in the river’s Lower Basin.

California Spent Decades Trying to Keep Central Valley Floods at Bay. Now It Looks to Welcome Them Back
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Floodplain restoration gets a policy and funding boost as interest grows in projects that bring multiple benefits to respond to climate change impacts

Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains.

Water-Starved Colorado River Delta Gets Another Shot of Life from the River’s Flows
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Despite water shortages along the drought-stressed river, experimental flows resume in Mexico to revive trees and provide habitat for birds and wildlife

Water flowing into a Colorado River Delta restoration site in Mexico.Water is flowing once again to the Colorado River’s delta in Mexico, a vast region that was once a natural splendor before the iconic Western river was dammed and diverted at the turn of the last century, essentially turning the delta into a desert.

In 2012, the idea emerged that water could be intentionally sent down the river to inundate the delta floodplain and regenerate native cottonwood and willow trees, even in an overallocated river system. Ultimately, dedicated flows of river water were brokered under cooperative efforts by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

As Climate Change Turns Up The Heat in Las Vegas, Water Managers Try to Wring New Savings to Stretch Supply
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Rising temperatures are expected to drive up water demand as historic drought in the Colorado River Basin imperils Southern Nevada’s key water source

Las Vegas has reduced its water consumption even as its population has increased. Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

Milestone Colorado River Management Plan Mostly Worked Amid Epic Drought, Review Finds
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Draft assessment of 2007 Interim Guidelines expected to provide a guide as talks begin on new river operating rules for the iconic Southwestern river

At full pool, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. but two decades of drought have dramatically dropped the water level behind Hoover Dam.Twenty years ago, the Colorado River Basin’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. The weather turned persistently dry. Water levels in the system’s anchor reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeted. A river system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and ecosystems across the West was in trouble. And there was no guide on how to respond.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

The Colorado River is awash in data vital to its management, but making sense of it all is a challenge
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Major science report that highlights scientific shortcomings and opportunities in the Basin could aid water managers as they rewrite river's operating rules

The Colorado River threading its way through a desert canyon near Lee Ferry, Arizona. Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows, canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of science attached to it. Snowpack, streamflow and tree ring data all influence the crucial decisions that guide water management of the iconic Western river every day.

Dizzying in its scope, detail and complexity, the scientific information on the Basin’s climate and hydrology has been largely scattered in hundreds of studies and reports. Some studies may conflict with others, or at least appear to. That’s problematic for a river that’s a lifeline for 40 million people and more than 4 million acres of irrigated farmland.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Questions Simmer About Lake Powell’s Future As Drought, Climate Change Point To A Drier Colorado River Basin
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: A key reservoir for Colorado River storage program, Powell faces demands from stakeholders in Upper and Lower Basins with different water needs as runoff is forecast to decline

Persistent drought in the Colorado River Basin combined with the coordinated operations with Lake Mead has left Lake Powell consistently about half-full. Sprawled across a desert expanse along the Utah-Arizona border, Lake Powell’s nearly 100-foot high bathtub ring etched on its sandstone walls belie the challenges of a major Colorado River reservoir at less than half-full. How those challenges play out as demand grows for the river’s water amid a changing climate is fueling simmering questions about Powell’s future.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Can Carbon Credits Save Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Islands and Protect California’s Vital Water Hub?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: An ambitious plan would use carbon credits as incentives to convert Delta islands to wetlands or rice to halt subsidence and potentially raise island elevations

Equipment on this tower measures fluctuations in greenhouse gas emissions for managed wetlands on Sherman Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.The islands of the western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are sinking as the rich peat soil that attracted generations of farmers dries out and decays. As the peat decomposes, it releases tons of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. As the islands sink, the levees that protect them are at increasing risk of failure, which could imperil California’s vital water conveyance system.

An ambitious plan now in the works could halt the decay, sequester the carbon and potentially reverse the sinking.

Foundation Event

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Virtual Workshop Occurred Afternoons of April 22-23

Our Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the workshop was held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Meet the Veteran Insider Who’s Shepherding Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Bring Climate Resilience to California Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Former journalist Nancy Vogel explains how the draft California Water Resilience Portfolio came together and why it’s expected to guide future state decisions

Nancy Vogel, director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, highlights key points in the draft Water Resilience Portfolio last month for the Water Education Foundation's 2020 Water Leaders class. Shortly after taking office in 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges — unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish populations threatened with extinction.

Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Can a Grand Vision Solve the Colorado River’s Challenges? Or Will Incremental Change Offer Best Hope for Success?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: With talks looming on a new operating agreement for the river, a debate has emerged over the best approach to address its challenges

Photo of Lake Mead and Hoover DamThe Colorado River is arguably one of the hardest working rivers on the planet, supplying water to 40 million people and a large agricultural economy in the West. But it’s under duress from two decades of drought and decisions made about its management will have exceptional ramifications for the future, especially as impacts from climate change are felt.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Can a New Approach to Managing California Reservoirs Save Water and Still Protect Against Floods?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pilot Projects Testing Viability of Using Improved Forecasting to Guide Reservoir Operations

Bullards Bar Dam spills water during 2017 atmospheric river storms.Many of California’s watersheds are notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it can get from storms, but current flood management guidelines are strict and unyielding, requiring reservoirs to dump water each winter to make space for flood flows that may not come.

However, new tools and operating methods are emerging that could lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water supply and flood protection capabilities.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems and upend an agency’s finances.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Understanding Streamflow Is Vital to Water Management in California, But Gaps In Data Exist
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A new law aims to reactivate dormant stream gauges to aid in flood protection, water forecasting

Stream gauges gather important metrics such as  depth, flow (described as cubic feet per second) and temperature.  This gauge near downtown Sacramento measures water depth.California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.

That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Jennifer Bowles Nick Gray

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Could “Black Swan” Events Spawned by Climate Change Wreak Havoc in the Colorado River Basin?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Scientists say a warming planet increases odds of extreme drought and flood; officials say they’re trying to include those possibilities in their plans

Runoff from what some describe as an "epic flood" in 1983 strained the capacity of Glen Canyon Dam to convey water fast enough.  The Colorado River Basin’s 20 years of drought and the dramatic decline in water levels at the river’s key reservoirs have pressed water managers to adapt to challenging conditions. But even more extreme — albeit rare — droughts or floods that could overwhelm water managers may lie ahead in the Basin as the effects of climate change take hold, say a group of scientists. They argue that stakeholders who are preparing to rewrite the operating rules of the river should plan now for how to handle these so-called “black swan” events so they’re not blindsided.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. The majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation. Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris, it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.

Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous, stream-choking mudflows. 

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Flood Management Gary Pitzer

Southern California Water Providers Think Local in Seeking to Expand Supplies
WESTERN WATER SIDEBAR: Los Angeles and San Diego among agencies pursuing more diverse water portfolio beyond imports

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad last December marked 40 billion gallons of drinking water delivered to San Diego County during its first three years of operation. The desalination plant provides the county with more than 50 million gallons of water each day.Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.

In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)

Western Water Groundwater Education Bundle Gary Pitzer

Imported Water Built Southern California; Now Santa Monica Aims To Wean Itself Off That Supply
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Santa Monica is tapping groundwater, rainwater and tighter consumption rules to bring local supply and demand into balance

The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) treats dry weather urban runoff to remove pollutants such as sediment, oil, grease, and pathogens for nonpotable use.Imported water from the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on imported water.

Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s, Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

As Colorado River Stakeholders Draft a Drought Plan, the Margin for Error in Managing Water Supplies Narrows
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Climate report and science studies point toward a drier Basin with less runoff and a need to re-evaluate water management

This aerial view of Hoover Dam shows how far the level of Lake Mead has fallen due to ongoing drought conditions.As stakeholders labor to nail down effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times ahead.

The latest sobering assessment landed the day after Thanksgiving, when U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment concluded that Earth’s climate is changing rapidly compared to the pace of natural variations that have occurred throughout its history, with greenhouse gas emissions largely the cause.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Gary Pitzer

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.


Can El Niño Tell Us Anything About What’s Ahead for Water Year 2019?
Learn what is and isn't known about forecasting Water Year 2019 at Dec. 5 workshop in Irvine

Nimbus Dam winter releasesJust because El Niño may be lurking off in the tropical Pacific, does that really offer much of a clue about what kind of rainy season California can expect in Water Year 2019?

Will a river of storms pound the state, swelling streams and packing the mountains with deep layers of heavy snow much like the exceptionally wet 2017 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017)? Or will this winter sputter along like last winter, leaving California with a second dry year and the possibility of another potential drought? What can reliably be said about the prospects for Water Year 2019?

At Water Year 2019: Feast or Famine?, a one-day event on Dec. 5 in Irvine, water managers and anyone else interested in this topic will learn about what is and isn’t known about forecasting California’s winter precipitation weeks to months ahead, the skill of present forecasts and ongoing research to develop predictive ability.

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
One-day workshop included optional groundwater tour

One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resources.

 Optional Groundwater Tour

On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater experts Thomas Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Gary Pitzer

New Leader Takes Over as the Upper Colorado River Commission Grapples With Less Water and a Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission

Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River CommissionAmy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.

Headwaters Tour 2018

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state. 

GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.

Annual Water Summit to Focus on Critical Issues from the Headwaters to the Delta
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento; some sponsorship opportunities still available

Our annual Water Summit, being held Sept. 20, will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta. 

As debate continues to swirl around longer-term remedies for California’s water challenges, the theme reflects the need for straightforward dialogue about more immediate, on-the-ground solutions.

Domino Effect: As Arizona Searches For a Unifying Voice, a Drought Plan for the Lower Colorado River Is Stalled
EDITOR'S NOTE: Finding solutions to the Colorado River — or any disputed river —may be the most important role anyone can play

Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.

Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.


Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman to be Keynote Speaker at Water Summit
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento

Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanBrenda Burman, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will give the keynote lunch address at our 35th annual conference, the Water Summit, to be held Sept. 20 in Sacramento.

The daylong event will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta.


Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118

Learn What New Tree-Ring Studies Reveal about Drought Patterns in Southern California
Also hear about efforts to improve weather forecasting, drought preparedness at April 19th workshop in San Pedro

University of Arizona research professor removes tree core sample from bigcone Douglas fir tree.Learn what new tree-ring studies in Southern California watersheds reveal about drought, hear about efforts to improve subseasonal to seasonal weather forecasting and get the latest on climate change impacts that will alter drought vulnerability in the future.

At our Paleo Drought Workshop on April 19th in San Pedro, you will hear from experts at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Arizona and California Department of Water Resources.


Learn About Efforts to Improve Weather Forecasting at San Pedro Drought Workshop
Agenda for April 19 event just posted; check out other topics, speakers

Dramatic swings in weather patterns over the past few years in California are stark reminders of climate variability and regional vulnerability. Alternating years of drought and intense rain events make long-term planning for storing and distributing water a challenging task.

Current weather forecasting capabilities provide details for short time horizons. Attend the Paleo Drought Workshop in San Pedro on April 19 to learn more about research efforts to improve sub-seasonal to seasonal precipitation forecasting, known as S2S, and how those models could provide more useful weather scenarios for resource managers.


Improve Drought Preparedness By Digging into the Past at April 19th Workshop in San Pedro
Learn new details about historic droughts in Southern California watersheds and how they provide insight on water management today

Cracked dirt as in a droughtCalifornia’s 2012-2016 drought revealed vulnerabilities for water users throughout the state, and the long-term record suggests more challenges may lie ahead.  

An April 19 workshop in San Pedro will highlight new information about drought durations in Southern California watersheds dating back centuries.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,’ Climate Change and the Future of California’s Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Climate scientist Daniel Swain

Daniel SwainEvery day, people flock to Daniel Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from California, intensifying the drought.

Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the western United States. In a recent interview with Western Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may lie ahead for the state’s water supply. 

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Layperson’s Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources
Published 2017

Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources

Evidence shows that climate change is affecting California with warmer temperatures, less snowfall and more extreme weather events. This guide explains the causes of climate change, the effects on water resources and efforts underway to better adapt to a changing climate. It includes information on both California water and the water of the Colorado River Basin, a widely shared resource throughout the Southwest. 

Aquapedia background Lakes

Lake Tahoe

World-renowned for its crystal clear, azure water, Lake Tahoe straddles the Nevada-California border, stretching 22 miles long and 12 miles wide and hemmed in by Sierra Nevada peaks.

At 1,645 feet deep, Tahoe is the second-deepest lake in the United States and the 10th deepest in the world. The iconic lake sits 6,225 feet above sea level.


River Report Examines Climate Change Impact on Colorado River Basin

Drought and climate change are having a noticeable impact on the Colorado River Basin, and that is posing potential challenges to those in the Southwestern United States and Mexico who rely on the river.

In the just-released Winter 2017-18 edition of River Report, writer Gary Pitzer examines what scientists project will be the impact of climate change on the Colorado River Basin, and how water managers are preparing for a future of increasing scarcity.

River Reports

Winter 2017-18 River Report
A Warmer Future and Increased Risk

Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read the latest River Report to learn more about what’s happening, and how water managers are responding.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Living with Risk, Avoiding Curtailment
Fall 2017

This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future. 

Aquapedia background


The atmospheric condition at any given time or place, measured by wind, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness and precipitation. Weather changes from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, during a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.

Aquapedia background

Natural Variability

Variations in the statistical analysis of the climate on all time and space scales beyond that of individual weather events is known as natural variability. Natural variations in climate over time are caused by internal processes of the climate system, such as El Niño, and phenomena such as volcanic activity and variations in the output of the sun.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Climate Change Impacts Here to Stay for California Farmers, Grower Says

California agriculture is going to have to learn to live with the impacts of climate change and work toward reducing its contributions of greenhouse gas emissions, a Yolo County walnut grower said at the Jan. 26 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.

“I don’t believe we are going to be able to adapt our way out of climate change,” said Russ Lester, co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters. “We need to mitigate for it. It won’t solve the problem but it can slow it down.”

Aquapedia background


While less a scientific term than a colloquial one, meadows are defined by their aquatic, soil and vegetative properties.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Average Sierra Nevada Winter Temps at Record Highs
Scientist Brad Udall says climate pattern is new normal for California

Brad Udall

California had its warmest winter on record in 2014-2015, with the average Sierra Nevada temperature hovering above 32 degrees Fahrenheit – the highest in 120 years. Thus, where California relies on snow to fall in the mountains and create a snowpack that can slowly melt into reservoirs, it was instead raining. That left the state’s snowpack at its lowest ever – 5 percent on April 1, 2015.

Because he relays stats like these, climate scientist Brad Udall says he doesn’t often get invited back to speak before the same audience about climate change.

Western Water Magazine

Is California’s Water Supply Resilient and Sustainable?
January/February 2015

This issue looks at sustainability and resiliency and what the terms mean for California’s water.


Overcoming the Deluge: California’s Plan for Managing Floods (DVD)

This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past, present and future of flood management in California’s Central Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand. Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic flood management plan for the Central Valley.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.


Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).


Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources

Climate Change

California Department of Water Resources snow survey in the Sierra Nevada.

Climate change involves natural and man-made changes to weather patterns that occur over millions of years or over multiple decades.

In the past 150 years, human industrial activity has accelerated the rate of change in the climate due to the increase in greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, among others). Scientific studies describing this climate change continue to be produced and its expected impacts continue to be assessed.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Two States, One Lake: Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue
September/October 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses some of the issues associated with the effort to preserve and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Western Water Magazine

Adjusting to the New Reality: Climate Change in the West
July/August 2013

This printed issue of Western Water This issue of Western Water looks at climate change through the lens of some of the latest scientific research and responses from experts regarding mitigation and adaptation.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Solving the Colorado River Basin’s Math Problem: Adapting to Change
November/December 2011

This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River Drought: A Sobering Glimpse into the Future
November/December 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River drought, and the ongoing institutional and operational changes underway to maintain the system and meet the future challenges in the Colorado River Basin.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy requirements associated with water use and the means by which state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge and improve the management of both resources.

Western Water Magazine

A Significant Challenge: Adapting Water Management to Climate Change
January/February 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines climate change – what’s known about it, the remaining uncertainty and what steps water agencies are talking to prepare for its impact. Much of the information comes from the October 2007 California Climate Change and Water Adaptation Summit sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and DWR and the November 2007 California Water Policy Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

A Significant Challenge: Adapting Water Management to Climate Change
January/February 2008

Perhaps no other issue has rocketed to prominence in such a short time as climate change. A decade ago, discussion about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the connection to warming temperatures was but a fraction of the attention now given to the issue. From the United Nations to local communities, people are talking about climate change – its characteristics and what steps need to be taken to mitigate and adapt to the anticipated impacts.

Western Water Magazine

An Inconvenient Future? Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change
September/October 2006

This issue of Western Water looks at climate change and its implications on water management in a region that is wholly dependent on steady, predictable wet seasons to recharge supplies for the lengthy dry periods. To what degree has climate change occurred and what are the scenarios under which impacts will have to be considered by water providers? The future is anything but clear.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

An Inconvenient Future? Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change
Sept/Oct 2006

The inimitable Yogi Berra once proclaimed, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” While the Hall of Fame baseball player was not referring to the weather, his words are no less prophetic when it comes to the discussion of a changing climate and its potential impacts on water resources in the West.