Topic: Climate Change

Overview

Climate Change

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Report: Valley could see 6-9 degree temperature increase by 2100

Climate change projections show the Central Valley will see more hot, dry years like 2021, but also some dangerously wet years as well. This year has already seen high temperatures, drought and high fire risk for Central Valley residents, and Jordi Vasquez, environmental scientist for the California Department of Water Resources, said climate models show the Central Valley heating up 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. … The biggest impact for Central Valley communities like Hanford will be water management, Vasquez said.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey County officials get earful about private desal projects

Advocates for public water systems on Tuesday jumped quickly on a request by a Monterey County supervisor to consider amending a law that currently allows only public ownership and operation of desalination facilities. The request came in the form of a board referral, an instrument allowing members of the Board of Supervisors to make requests to the county’s chief administrative officer for work by staff or additional information on a specific topic.

Aquafornia news NASA

Blog: A long view of Sierra snow

In Spanish, Sierra Nevada means “snowy mountain range.” While the term “snowy” has generally been true for most of U.S. history, those mountains have seen less snow accumulation in recent years. This decline plays a role in water management and response to drought in California and other western states. Each spring and summer, meltwater runoff from Sierra Nevada snowpack helps replenish rivers and reservoirs, while also recharging the groundwater. In fact, snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California’s water supply in a typical year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Will drought and climate change feed more extremism in the West?

It’s sometimes thought that worsening wildfires, droughts and farming conditions — products of climate change — will lead to more conflicts and extremism, including in the West. Imagine a repeat of lawless mobs confronting and terrorizing federal land managers, as occurred at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, and could happen again amid the Klamath Basin water crisis…
-Written by Stuart Leavenworth, LA Times’ California Enterprise Editor.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California drought: Cities are taking a closer look at seawater desalination to deal with water shortages

As more communities impose water use restrictions because of the drought, the California Coastal Commission is likely to vote on a controversial proposal later this year that could ease water worries for millions of Orange County residents. After decades of debate, Poseidon Water just needs approval from the commission to begin the construction of a desalination facility in Huntington Beach that would produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Infrastructure talks leave Biden’s entire agenda at risk

President Joe Biden’s latest leap into the Senate’s up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects. The outcome of the infrastructure deal, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will affect what could be the crown jewel of his legacy. That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell reach record-low water levels

The water levels of two major water bodies — including a major reservoir — have reached historic lows in recent days amid extreme drought conditions in the western United States. Water levels at Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country, reached a record low — below 3,555.10 feet, the previous record low, reached in April 2005. As of Monday, the elevation at the reservoir straddling the border between Arizona and Utah was at 3,554.51 feet, according to data tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

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Aquafornia news NPR-Empire KVCR

Google plans to expand its campus — which might become unsafe as sea levels rise

Google is expanding its campus in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is planning to build offices as well as housing and green space near the shoreline, which is at risk from rising sea levels. And that’s raising the question of whether building there should happen at all. NPR’s Lauren Sommer has the story.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Drought depleting Bay Area reservoirs, driving urgent need for conservation

The state’s severe drought is transforming the landscape of our streams, lakes and reservoirs as the supply of water is depleted day by day. The changes at Uvas Reservoir in the hills above Morgan are readily apparent. The waterline has receded significantly as the footprint of the reservoir shrinks. … According to the Santa Clara County Water District, Uvas is currently at roughly 20% of its total capacity – basically 80% empty. And a district spokesperson says the situation is bad at all of the county’s reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news University of Washington News

New research: Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline

In recent years, wildfires on the West Coast have become larger and more damaging. A combination of almost a century of fire suppression and hotter and drier conditions has created a tinderbox ready to ignite, destroying homes and polluting the air over large areas. New research led by the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Barbara, looks at the longer-term future of wildfires under scenarios of increased temperature and drought … finds that there will be an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity, followed by recurring fires of decreasing area.

Aquafornia news Time

Opinion: We’re in a water crisis. We need to act like it

One of the greatest lessons of the pandemic is that we can meet the challenges of existential threats when we combine the collective power of our creativity, innovation and industry. As the climate crisis worsens, we need to address protecting and preserving water with the same urgency that we put into creating vaccines. We need to act like lives are hanging in the balance—because they are. Water is already shaping our politics, our economy and our national security too.
- Written by José Andrés, a chef, activist and creator of the documentary Undiscovered Haiti, and Caryl Stern, executive director of the Walton Family Foundation

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Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Why has western heat been so intense? 5 reasons

No other region in the country is warming faster than the western United States when it comes to increasing daytime highs, a trend that became apparent with the unprecedented and record-shattering heat wave that took over the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer. Heat has been building all across the west this year. In June, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California all had record heat statewide. Salt Lake City had its warmest June in 74 years of records with an average temperature of 80.2 F, which is 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Is this the end of summer as we’ve known it?

In the state that perfected if not invented the American summer, the smell of 17 million gallons of spilled sewage lingered last week on a Southern California beach. There were bare rocks where snow once capped the Sierra Nevada and bathtub rings where water once glistened in Shasta Lake. Wildfires roared across the West, threatening the electrical grid, the smoke so thick it could be seen from space, pluming into the jet stream, delaying planes in Denver, turning the sun red in Manhattan, creating its own weather. 

Aquafornia news Patch

Livermore would get $20M under infrastructure bill

The House of Representatives approved a $715 billion infrastructure plan, and if the Senate passes it, it will mean $20 million for the Valley Link project to connect Bay Area Rapid Transit to the Altamont Corridor Express commuter train. … California would be a big winner under the proposed law. The bill includes more than $900 million for projects throughout the Golden State. They include bridges, bike lanes and express lanes … wastewater and drinking water projects and other infrastructure to prepare for rising sea levels.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Rain in July surprises Southern California

A storm system moved into Southern California on Monday, bringing record-setting rainfall to some parts of the drought-stricken region. Downtown Los Angeles recorded 0.12 inch of rain, three times the previous daily record set in 2013 and enough to make it the area’s third-wettest July on record.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

Creeks, rivers and lakes that are fed by melting snow across the U.S. West are already running low as of mid-July 2021, much to the worry of farmers, biologists and snow hydrologists like me. This is not surprising in California, where snow levels over the previous winter were well below normal. But it is also true across Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, which in general received a normal amount of snow. You’d think if there was normal amount of snow you’d have plenty of water downstream, right? … But another less studied way moisture can be lost is by evaporating straight into the atmosphere. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Experts say climate change is to blame for unprecedented heat waves worldwide, and there’s no end in sight

New research says extreme weather events like the recent surge of summer heat waves across the U.S. are being spurred by the planet’s ongoing battle with climate change. In recent decades, many have become all too acquainted with record shattering heat waves that have put serious — and often deadly — pressure on communities around the world. … New research explores this new reality that many experts have been warning about for years.

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Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: Major monsoonal moisture surge to bring fairly widespread California thunderstorms (wetter south, drier north), with NorCal fire weather concerns

I’ll keep this section brief, as there is much to discuss regarding the upcoming pattern itself. But suffice it to say that the interior of NorCal has continued to bake for most of July, despite the slightly lessened pace of record-breaking high temperatures. Some areas across the NorCal interior are continuing to experience their hottest summer on record to date, and this is in the midst of an extreme to record breaking drought in the same region. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Key takeaways from the climate meeting kicking off today

More than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists will begin meeting today to finalize a landmark report summarizing how Earth’s climate has already changed, and what humans can expect for the rest of the century. … The urgency of addressing global warming has never been more clear. The two-week virtual meeting of IPCC scientists coincides with a raft of deadly climate-driven disasters unfolding around the world, from flash floods in Europe, North America and Asia, to intense wildfires in Siberia, to widespread persistent heat waves and droughts that threaten to upend food supplies in the U.S., Middle East and much of Africa.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Firefighters battle California blaze generating its own climate

Thousands of US firefighters are battling a blaze in California that has grown so big it is generating its own weather system, with authorities warning conditions could worsen on Monday. The flames have grown so large that they have created clouds that can cause lightning and high winds, which in turn can serve to fuel the fire. … The Dixie Fire has been raging in the forests of northern California since mid-July, part of a climate crisis that has brought sweltering heat and an alarming drought.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club Magazine

Could Las Vegas’s grass removal policies alter the western US drought-scape?

Earlier this year, the Nevada legislature made turf removal a requirement in cases where grass exists for purely aesthetic purposes. The legislation, pushed by the water authority and signed by Governor Steve Sisolak, requires the removal of all decorative, or “nonfunctional,” turf in Las Vegas by 2026. Under this law, residents can keep their lawns, and parks can keep their fields. But that turf decorating medians and buildings must be converted to less water-intensive vegetation. Irrigating grass in the desert heat demands a lot of water. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Flooding in Arizona as monsoon brings heavy rainfall

Monsoon season in the Southwestern United States is providing relief to parts of the region that are desperate for any kind of precipitation, but life-threatening flash floods and lightning are also part of the deal. On Thursday night, a downpour in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., brought heavy rain, lightning and National Weather Service cellphone alerts of “a dangerous and life-threatening situation.” … [T]his year has already seen a dramatic difference — a 200 percent increase in precipitation over the last two months in parts of the Southwest.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Climate change is driving extreme floods, wildfires and heat. Will the world meet the moment?

The summer isn’t even halfway through and it’s already proved to be a season of deadly extremes. In a little over a month, four major heat waves have broiled the Western United States, including record-shattering triple-digit temperatures in Oregon and Washington that caused hundreds of heat-related deaths. Wildfires are again tearing through the West, burning hundreds of thousands of acres in California, Oregon and British Columbia in Canada. … Climate change is making normal weather events — heat waves, droughts, rainstorms and hurricanes — more extreme and more devastating to communities unprepared for the onslaught.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

After 20 years of drought, Western Slope ranchers face a choice — keep adapting, or move along

On the side of a dirt road in Gunnison County, a herd of cattle is cooling off in the water of an irrigation ditch.  Doug Washburn, range manager for Spann Ranches in southwestern Colorado, points at the hills surrounding the operation’s northern headquarters. … Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Powell level about to hit a historic low as West’s water crisis deepens

Lake Powell will soon hit its lowest level since Glen Canyon Dam started trapping the Colorado River’s water in 1963 — even with emergency releases of water from reservoirs upstream. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that the lake elevation will soon drop below 3,555.1 feet above sea level, the record set in 2005, back near the start of a 20-year dry cycle plaguing the Colorado River Basin….The increasingly dire situations at Lake Powell and its downstream partner Lake Mead illustrate the stress on the Colorado River system….

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Aquafornia news Christian Science Monitor

Seas are rising. Will California’s ‘managed retreat’ ease fears?

Surrounded on three sides by the San Francisco Bay, residents of Richmond are used to being near the ocean. But as rising seas threaten to bring it even closer, Mayor Tom Butt is candid about the risks. … Parts of Richmond are estimated to be at risk from a three-foot increase in sea levels, even as the waters of the Pacific Ocean along California’s coast are projected to rise by more than twice that due to climate change this century.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

Join us as we guide you 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.

Aquafornia news USA Today

What is La Niña? The climate pattern – and how it affects our weather – explained

So what exactly is La Niña? The La Niña climate pattern is a natural cycle marked by cooler-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean. It is one of the main drivers of weather in the United States and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring. It’s the opposite to the more well-known El Niño, which occurs when Pacific ocean water is warmer than average. 

Aquafornia news NOAA Climate.gov

New research: Preliminary analysis concludes Pacific Northwest heat wave was a 1,000-year event…hopefully

An international team of weather and climate experts known as the “World Weather Attribution” project has analyzed the late June heatwave in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and come to a preliminary conclusion that the event was a roughly 1-in-1,000-year event in today’s climate. (The results are preliminary because, while the methods the experts used have been applied to many other published studies like this, this specific analysis has not yet been formally reviewed by other experts.) If they are correct, it would have been at least 150 times rarer before global warming.

Aquafornia news Martin & McCoy and Culp & Kelly, LLP

News release: New report analyzes ten strategies and solutions for building climate resilience in the Colorado River basin

A new report issued today by seven environmental non-profit organizations examines ten strategies to bolster climate resilience and mitigate the impact of climate change in the Colorado River Basin, which is currently grappling with a historic megadrought. A crucial source of water for over 40 million people, the Colorado River is facing severe declines in stream flows and a looming federal shortage declaration as a result of a decades-long drought and increasing temperatures.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: New CA dams, water reservoirs move slowly as drought worsens

It doesn’t look like much now, a dry and dusty valley surrounded by the modest mountains of California’s Coast Range. These barren, brown hills an hour northwest of Sacramento will be the future home of Sites Reservoir, one of the few major water projects to be built in California since the 1970s. California taxpayers are helping pay for Sites, which would hold more water than Folsom Lake, through a $7.1 billion bond they approved during the 2014 election.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. embraces aggressive new climate change goals as drought, heat and wildfires engulf California

San Francisco set new, more ambitious climate change goals Tuesday, including getting to net zero greenhouse gas emissions produced in the city by 2040, as wildfires, drought and heat waves worsened by climate change plague California and floods in Europe grab headlines. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an update to the environment code that pledges the city will cut its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 61% below 1990 levels by 2030. 

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Opinion: The thirsty West’s dreaded water crisis is here

To grow up in the American West in the 20th century was to swing between inferiority and hubris. Our history books taught us that all great and elevated events happened back east. We should go there someday and study the monuments. At the same time, there was a sense — an understanding, as it turned out — that the East might be the past but the West was the future. … The Achilles’ heel, the hard ceiling on Western ambitions, was water, and everyone knew it. 
-Written by David von Drehle, Washington Post columnist.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Insufficient rain has California fires burning hotter than normal, UC Davis professor says

In Northern California, wildfires are burning hot and fast. …UC Davis Climate Modeling Professor Paul Ullrich says without sufficient rain, fires are burning much hotter than normal.

Aquafornia news Treehugger

Blog: What is desalination? Overview and impact

Desalination is the process of converting seawater into potable water by removing salt and other minerals. Although rudimentary forms of desalination have been used since antiquity, only in the mid-20th century did industrial-scale desalination methods become widely available for water-insecure coastal communities around the world. Today, about 300 million people in more than 150 countries get water every day from some 16,000 desalination plants. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

At least 70 large wildfires burning in US west as fears mount over conditions

At least 70 large wildfires are burning across the US west and nearby states – engulfing more than 1m acres in flames – as fears mount that shifting conditions can worsen an already dire situation. Significant areas of these states are in the grips of drought conditions that are considered “extreme” and “exceptional” – the most severe categories. In California, a rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Megafire and two other blazes sweep Northern California

Fueled by a trifecta of dangerous weather conditions — strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures — a series of wildfires, including a so-called megafire that has already charred more than 100,000 acres, continue to burn huge swaths of drought-dried vegetation in Northern California. In Plumas County, the massive Sugar fire, the first 100,000-acre fire in California this year, had burned more than 105,000 acres by Sunday night and was 82% contained, officials said.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Feeling the California drought on my family farm

I can see my future: It’s dry, thirsty and bleak. On our farm, we live with drought daily, working with limited groundwater and learning to adjust and adapt, or to fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine a farmer’s survival. I farm organically outside Fresno, part of one of the world’s richest and most productive agricultural oases, providing, of course, that we have water. … A severe two-year drought is drying out the West and Southwest from Washington to California, Montana to Texas. Agriculture feels the impact with crops withering and production limited.
-Written by David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Del Rey, California. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Secure California’s future water supply and invest in recycled water

Climate change is forcing our state to reimagine our water supply future. How do we do that? Easy — we reuse water.   Just like recycling a plastic bottle, we can safely use recycled water to drink, irrigate parks, support environmental uses, grow crops, produce energy, and much more. More than just a new source of water, water recycling projects provide a degree of local water independence.  
-Written by Jennifer West, managing director of WateReuse California.​

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Megadrought poses ‘existential’ crisis in California and the West

The American West was once seen as a place of endless possibilities: grand vistas, bountiful resources and cities that somehow grew out of deserts. Now, manifest destiny has become a manifest emergency. A scorching drought made worse by climate change is draining reservoirs at an alarming pace, fueling massive wildfires and deadly heat waves and withering one of the most important agricultural economies in the country.

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Amid Sacramento’s highest temperatures, water needed for city’s unhoused population

The shade in Cesar Chavez Plaza provides a refuge for people during the rising, record-breaking heat in downtown Sacramento. Staying cool is critical during a heat wave — as is staying hydrated.  But for Sacramento’s over 5,000 unhoused people, accessing that drinking water isn’t always straightforward.  And while Sacramento has 297 drinking fountains, they don’t always provide cold water, for example.  Jeffrey Milner, who is unhoused, said he’s gotten water from people near the downtown library branch and from people giving away water at Cesar Chavez. 

Aquafornia news Berkeley Law

Blog: Piloting a water rights information system for California

California’s complex water management challenges are growing and intensifying. Systemic stressors like the more frequent and severe droughts and floods driven by climate change are only making it harder to respond. Accordingly, California needs to dramatically improve the ability of local, regional, and State entities to make agile and effective water management decisions. We believe doing so will require enhanced understanding of our water resources and how they align with the needs of a range of agencies and stakeholders. 

Aquafornia news KUNC

Colorado River basin reservoirs begin emergency releases to prop up a troubled Lake Powell

Emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell are underway to preserve the nation’s second-largest reservoir’s ability to generate hydroelectric power. The Bureau of Reclamation started releasing additional water Thursday from Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming. Additional water releases from Blue Mesa reservoir in Colorado and Navajo reservoir in New Mexico are planned to commence later this year. Emergency releases could last until at least December, and could extend into 2022. Lake Powell is projected to hit a record low in July. It’s situated on the Colorado River, a drinking and irrigation water source for more than 40 million people in the Southwest.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: California drought – La Niña could dash hopes of desperately needed rain this winter

The punishing drought conditions afflicting most of California are expected to endure for months, climate experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said Thursday. There is a 60% chance, NOAA experts said, of a La Niña event this winter — conditions that would likely bring about a cool and very dry winter. NOAA climatologists presented a stark portrait of the fiercely dry conditions gripping a huge portion of the country: 46% of the contiguous U.S. is in a state of drought, they said.

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Aquafornia news The Stanford Daily

California is heating up. Here’s what Stanford climate scientists say needs to happen

Temperatures are up, and Stanford researchers are worried the record highs don’t bode well for the future of wildfire and drought in California. Though mitigating the effects of climate change is the only long-term solution, the researchers said there are short-term adaptations communities can make to stay safe. This June, Stanford reached a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, with the Pacific Northwest recording widespread average highs over 100 degrees in the recent, record-breaking heatwave that enveloped the West.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

NASA: Moon “wobble” in orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth

Every coast in the U.S. is facing rapidly increasing high tide floods. NASA says this is due to a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit working in tandem with climate change-fueled rising sea levels. The new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, warns that upcoming changes in the moon’s orbit could lead to record flooding on Earth in the next decade. … They expect the flooding to significantly damage infrastructure and displace communities.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s monsoon season is struggling to bring relief to rivers, ranchers and wildfires as the climate warms

The North American monsoon has returned to Colorado, and the rain has brought some much-needed relief to some of the driest parts of the state — after multiple back-to-back years of almost no summer rain. … Gov. Jared Polis has recently declared a drought emergency for the region and the rest of western Colorado. … The seasonal moisture from the tropics creates afternoon cloud cover that protects … drought-stricken creeks from baking in the sun. The rain helps lower the risk for wildfires. The timing of the monsoon is vital to Colorado’s ecosystem, which evolved on its schedule.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Report: Colorado River ranch water savings hit 42 percent

Colorado’s high altitude hay meadows, a significant water user in the state, could be re-operated to yield more than 40 percent in water savings, according to a new report. The report is based on a major high tech research initiative to see if ranch-scale water conservation techniques, in which farmers are paid to voluntarily stop irrigating their fields temporarily, could produce enough saved water to help protect the Colorado River from unplanned shortages due to drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wildfires, drought and record heat: Numbers reveal impact in the West

The American West is baking, burning and drying in intertwined extreme weather. Four sets of numbers explain how bad it is now, while several others explain why it got this bad. The West is going through “the trifecta of an epically dry year followed by incredible heat the last two months and now we have fires,” said University of California Merced climate and fire scientist John Abatzoglou. “It is a story of cascading impacts.” And one of climate change, the data shows.

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Aquafornia news Mountain View Voice

Protecting Google’s future development from sea level rise is expected to cost $122 million

The city of Mountain View is planning for a surge in new offices and homes in North Bayshore, placing dense new development just a short jaunt away from the baylands. But new sea level rise estimates show that future development could very well end up underwater without flood protection, and it’s unclear who is going to pick up the costly bill. Earlier this year, Google announced its proposal to build 7,000 homes in North Bayshore alongside 3 million square feet of offices less than a mile from the bay.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

California’s wildfires are outpacing last year’s record-breaking season

The number of wildfires in California to date this year is greater than the amount recorded in the same time period in 2020 — a year which saw more burned acreage than any recorded year in history, according to data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.  Between January 1 to July 11 of this year, approximately 4,163 fires have burned in California, the department said. During the same time period in 2020, 3,645 fires were reported by the department.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Californians will adapt to living with drought, as we always have

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and accelerating the transformation and decline of California’s native forest and aquatic ecosystems. As a state, we are poorly organized to manage these effects, which need extensive focused preparation. We need to adapt (and we will make mistakes in doing so). Our human, economic and environmental losses will be much greater, however, if we manage poorly because of delay, complacency or panic.
-Written by Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis. 

Aquafornia news Stanford University Natural Capital Project

Sea-level rise solutions

Communities trying to fight sea-level rise could inadvertently make flooding worse for their neighbors, according to a new study from the Stanford Natural Capital Project. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how seawalls constructed along the San Francisco Bay shoreline could increase flooding and incur hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for communities throughout the region.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California fires are burning faster, getting harder to fight

The fires have burned more than 140,000 acres, from soaring mountains along the California-Nevada border to forest north of Mt. Shasta and the gateway to Yosemite. But many of 2021’s biggest blazes have one thing in common: They are burning faster and hotter than some firefighters have seen this early in the year. A winter and spring of little rain and minimal snow runoff — followed by months of unusually warm conditions and several summer heat waves — left the vegetation primed to burn fast, giving crews little time to get a handle on the flames before they explode.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA drought, climate change cause increase of yellow jackets

Climate change and worsening drought could be to blame for … increased sightings of yellow jackets, a predatory type of wasp with stingers that can sting repeatedly and even kill people who are allergic to its venom. When the natural landscape “turns to toast” as a result of drought conditions, carnivorous yellow jackets have a harder time finding their primary food source: insects. In turn, yellow jackets become attracted to irrigated green gardens and lawns full of insects to hunt…

Aquafornia news Foreign Policy

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: The American west’s climate hellscape is just a preview

For the past few weeks, the American West has been confronting a hellish climate nightmare of scorching heat waves, a severe drought, and raging wildfires. And it’s not just the West—or even the United States. In typically chilly Siberia, ground temperatures reached a blistering 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The Middle East has been gripped by a searing heat wave and a drought that has especially hammered Syria. In late June, a small Canadian village was almost completely consumed by wildfire. China is also bracing for another year of extreme weather… 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

As California wineries lose insurance, some fear this fire season will be their last

Across California, as peak wildfire season approaches, many vintners in the state’s $40 billion wine industry are unable to protect themselves from fires in several crucial ways. Winemakers here were already vexed by smoke taint … which forced many to abandon their entire production in 2020. … Now, some are discovering that the one fallback they’d counted on — insurance in case their properties are damaged or destroyed by flames — is either impossible to get or exorbitantly expensive. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California isn’t running out of water; it’s running out of cheap water

A California water myth which becomes especially pernicious in droughts is that California is “running out of water”. Viewing California’s supply and demand pressures in terms of fixed water requirements perpetuates this myth and invariably places undue attention on building additional supply infrastructure. Instead, managing water as a scarce resource suggests a balanced portfolio of water trading, investments in conveyance, smart groundwater replenishment, and demand management. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Bird count shows what happens when Colorado irrigators use less water

In the gray light of dawn, hundreds of swallows darted over a pool of standing water in an irrigated field along the Colorado River. The birds were attracted to the early-morning mosquitos swarming the saturated landscape. … Across the Western Slope, birds and other wildlife have come to depend on these artificially created wetlands, a result of flood irrigation. But as the state of Colorado grapples with whether to implement a demand-management program, which would pay irrigators to temporarily dry up fields in an effort to send more water downstream, there could be unintended consequences for the animals that use irrigated agriculture for their habitat.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

In California’s interior, there’s no escape from the desperate heat: ‘Why are we even here?’

In Cantua, a small town deep within California’s farming heartland, the heat had always been a part of life. “We can do nothing against it,” said Julia Mendoza, who’s lived in this town for 27 years. But lately, she says, the searing temperatures are almost unlivable. … Global heating is driving stronger, longer heatwaves in the region, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. Researchers have been warning of such extreme heatwaves for decades, he said, but the barrage of heat surges that California and the western US have been alarming, he said.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California hit by record-breaking fire destruction: ‘Climate change is real, it’s bad’

California is off to another record-breaking year of wildfires as the state enters its most dangerous months, with extreme heat and dry terrain creating the conditions for rapid spread. More than twice as many acres burned in the first six months of this year than during the same period last year — and hundreds more fires, officials said. June saw a series of destructive blazes that swept through rural counties at the northern edge of the state, fueled by a historic Pacific Northwest heat wave. But July is already shaping up to be worse.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

One way to save California salmon threatened by drought: Truck them to the mountains and back

[A] long-stalled plan to save Sacramento winter-run chinook salmon, a critically endangered species, proposes trucking them twice in their lifetimes. Spawning adults would get a lift from the too-hot Sacramento River over Shasta Dam and be driven up Interstate 5 to a cold mountain habitat in the McCloud River. Later, their offspring would catch a ride back to the Sacramento and head to the ocean to start the cycle again.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Lake Mead, crucial water source in West, tips toward crisis

[A]fter years of an unrelenting drought that has quickly accelerated amid record temperatures and lower snowpack melt, [Lake Mead] is set to mark another, more dire turning point. Next month, the federal government expects to declare its first-ever shortage on the lake,  triggering cuts to water delivered to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico on Jan. 1. If the lake, currently at 1,068 feet, drops 28 more feet by next year, the spigot of water to California will start to tighten in 2023.

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Aquafornia news Yale E360

Once a rich desert river, the Gila struggles to keep flowing

The confluence of the tiny San Pedro River and the much larger Gila was once one of the richest locales in one of the most productive river ecosystems in the American Southwest, an incomparable oasis of biodiversity. The rivers frequently flooded their banks, a life-giving pulse … The confluence now is a very different place, its richness long diminished. A massive mountain of orange- and dun-colored smelter tailings, left from the days of copper and lead processing and riddled with arsenic, towers where the two rivers meet. Water rarely flows there, with an occasional summer downpour delivering an ephemeral trickle.

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Aquafornia news LA Department of Water and Power

News release: LADWP, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Forest Service announce partnership to protect and enhance the Inyo Forest

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership in the Eastern Sierra dedicated to improving forest resiliency, increasing carbon capture, decreasing wildfires, improving wildlife habitats and recreation sites, and enhancing the Eastern Sierra watershed over the next two and a half years.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Northern California heat wave: 110 degrees in Sacramento forecast

Another extreme heat wave is about to smother Northern California — high temperatures well into the triple digits are expected this weekend in Sacramento. … Temperatures are predicted to soar as high as 115 farther north in the Sacramento Valley, including near Redding. South Lake Tahoe could approach 90 degrees.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Solar on farmland could help California keep the lights on

To the extent most Californians are thinking about energy right now, they’re probably wondering whether the lights will stay on during the next heat wave. It’s a reasonable fear, especially after the state’s power grid operator issued an urgent call for electricity supplies last week and warned of possible shortfalls this summer. The California Independent System Operator is seeking bids from power plants that can fire up after sundown, when solar panels stop generating but air conditioners keep humming.
-Written by Sammy Roth, LA Times columnist. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

UCLA study shows human influence on heavy rain, snow since 1980s

A UCLA study shows that abnormally heavy rain and snowfall events since as early as the 1980s are intensifying globally due to human-driven climate change, researchers said Tuesday. … The study was published Tuesday in Nature Communications and shows the human influence in issues like floods, soil erosion, crop damage and problems with water resource management.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California warns ‘nearly all’ salmon could die in Sacramento River

The drought is making the Sacramento River so hot that “nearly all” of an endangered salmon species’ juveniles could be cooked to death this fall, California officials warned this week. In a brief update on the perilous state of the river issued this week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife made a dire prediction about the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and its struggles against consistently hot weather in the Sacramento Valley. 

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Aquafornia news KUNC

After decades of warming and drying, the Colorado River struggles to water the West

The Colorado River is tapped out. Another dry year has left the waterway that supplies 40 million people in the Southwest parched. A prolonged 21-year warming and drying trend is pushing the nation’s two largest reservoirs to record lows. For the first time this summer, the federal government will declare a shortage. Climate change is exacerbating the current drought. Warming temperatures are upending how the water cycle functions in the Southwest. The 1,450-mile long river acts as a drinking water supply, a hydroelectric power generator, and an irrigator of crop fields across seven Western states and two in Mexico.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

2020 wildfires could be boon for water allocation

Last summer’s catastrophic Creek Fire burned about 380,000 acres in the upper San Joaquin watershed, the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada’s history. The fire literally exploded, fed by strong gusty winds and 150 million dead trees the fire scorched 43% of the burned area “with high severity” said the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency. Altogether, about 36% of the upper San Joaquin watershed was burned—the same watershed that supplies nine dams and impounds water that feeds a million acres of farmland below, along the Madera and Friant Kern Canals. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Save our water’: Meet the rain harvesters taking on the US West’s water woes

The American west has a sprawling network of dams, reservoirs and pipelines that brings a supply of water to its cities and farms. But overexploitation and a two-decade dry spell have put a severe strain on the resources, with reserves dwindling to historic lows in some areas. The situation will only get worse in the coming decades, warn scientists, as surging populations will boost freshwater demand and a hotter, drier climate will bring deeper droughts and more erratic precipitation patterns. …[N]ew water-sourcing approaches are also needed. One such is rainwater harvesting. 

Aquafornia news KQED

How California’s complex water delivery system robs its ‘rainforests’ of resources

[S]ome 95% of the Central Valley’s riparian woodlands, along with the conditions they evolved in, have already been sacrificed, mainly to make the Central Valley an agricultural powerhouse. The scattered remnants face multiple threats, including droughts and floods intensified by climate change; manipulated streamflows  that favor human over ecological needs; and shrinking aquifers left critically overdrawn by decades of unregulated groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Bay Area, state hit 126-year lows for rainfall this year

California and the Bay Area experienced the driest rainy season on record, with average statewide precipitation reaching 126-year lows, according to Golden Gate Weather Services, a meteorological consulting firm. The Bay Area got only 9.88 inches of rain this season, 39% of its normal amount of 25.28 inches, Golden Gate Weather Services said. That’s the least ever, going back to 1895. California got 11.46 inches, or 49% of its normal 23.61 inches. That’s also the least ever.

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Aquafornia news Zocalo Public Square

Blog: To beat climate change, rural towns and farms need to head north

Migrating agriculture north to the Sacramento Valley can’t be a one-to-one trade where every venture survives. The Sacramento Valley is approximately one-half the size of the San Joaquin Valley, and at most, 15 to 20 percent of the land could host relocated agriculture. The majority of San Joaquin agricultural businesses won’t survive in their current form—but some could find new life by converting their fallowed fields into solar farms to help the state achieve its goal of fossil fuel-free electricity by 2045. Or we can allow the San Joaquin Valley to revert to the desert it was before our forefathers planted a garden in it.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Q&A: EPA’s top water official on Biden’s climate, equity goals

Radhika Fox vividly remembers growing up in rural India without running water or flushing toilets. The newly confirmed head of EPA’s Office of Water lived with her grandmother while her parents finished their medical training in New York City. “When the monsoon season came, the roads flooded because they were mud,” Fox said in a recent interview. “At least our little village was an oasis unto its own.” Fox said it’s an “incredible dream and honor” to serve as the first woman of color in the role of assistant administrator at EPA’s Office of Water after such “humble beginnings.”

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Building capacity for long-term forest stewardship

Faced with the prospect of another devastating wildfire year, California policymakers are seeking ways to accelerate the pace and scale of forest management. Urgency is warranted, especially in the dry mixed-conifer forests that dominate many headwater regions of the state. Decades of fire suppression have left California’s forests too dense and prone to disease. Two exceptional droughts over the past decade have turned these forests into tinderboxes, primed for extreme wildfires. Forest management can mitigate wildfire risk; we just have to act fast and over much larger areas to reap the benefits.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Drought-stricken western districts plan new ways to store water

Driving through the Sacramento valley an hour north of California’s capital, most travelers notice nothing but a few cows grazing on grass scorched brown by the heat. But Jerry Brown, the executive director of the Sites Reservoir Project, sees the future of California’s water system….Sites is just one of hundreds of new projects being urgently pushed by districts, whose officials see that climate change is irrevocably changing their water equation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Excessive heat ahead in new Southern California heat wave

After a broiling Fourth of July holiday weekend, temperatures are expected to keep climbing across Southern California. The heat is expected to build throughout the week, with highs soaring into the triple digits in some parts this weekend. The National Weather Service predicts excessive heat will be possible Friday through Sunday, with temperatures reaching highs of 100 to 112 degrees in the Antelope Valley and the interior of San Luis Obispo County.

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Aquafornia news CNN Politics

Western governors make bipartisan plea as states battle record heat and drought

A pair of governors on Sunday called on the federal government for help and pushed for solutions as their states grapple with recording-breaking temperatures, drought and wildfires that officials have said is being driven by climate change. … The bipartisan plea follows a meeting last week between President Joe Biden and other Western governors during which he announced new federal response plans to help address the wildfire threats and extreme heat being driven by climate change. They include extending seasonal hiring, adding “surge capacity” by training and equipping additional personnel, and adding fire detection resources. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Running out of water: how climate change fuels a crisis in the US west

Except for a brief stint in the military, Paul Crawford has spent his entire life farming in southern Oregon. First, as a boy, chasing his dad through hayfields and now, growing alfalfa on his own farm with his wife and two kids, who want to grow up to be farmers. … The American west is drying out as the region faces an unprecedented drought. Few places are as devastated as the Klamath Basin, where Crawford’s farm sits. Straddling the border between California and Oregon, the watershed spans 12,000sq miles – from agricultural lands fed by Upper Klamath Lake to tribal communities surrounding the Klamath River.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: ‘Megadrought’ along border strains US-Mexico water relations

The United States and Mexico are tussling over their dwindling shared water supplies after years of unprecedented heat and insufficient rainfall. Sustained drought on the middle-lower Rio Grande since the mid-1990s means less Mexican water flows to the U.S. The Colorado River Basin, which supplies seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, is also at record low levels. A 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico governs water relations between the two neighbors. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Blue oak tree cover exclusive to California are gone. Why?

Sprinkled along the foothills of California’s Central Valley stand the iconic blue oak woodlands. Towering up to 80 feet tall and some reaching over 400 years old, the trees are home to one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the state. But extreme drought and wildfires are forcing the woodlands into an uncertain future. A new study conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers found that the historic drought of 2012-2016 alone caused nearly 490 square miles of tree cover loss — or the reduction of leaves and branches — in the blue oak woodlands.

Aquafornia news Science

The Colorado River is shrinking. Hard choices lie ahead, this scientist warns

As a warming climate reduces the river’s flow, [Utah State University scientist Jack] Schmidt, 70, is making what could be his most important push to shape the fate of his beloved waterway. He and his colleagues are working to inject a dose of scientific reality into public debate over water resources that, the team says, is too often clouded by wishful or outdated thinking. The biggest delusion: that there will be enough water in a drier future to satisfy all the demands from cities, farmers, power producers, and others, while still protecting sensitive ecosystems and endangered species.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s rain year just ended – and the data shows we’re in trouble

California’s rain year officially ended Wednesday, and the data reflects what the dry landscape in much of the Bay Area already shows: It wasn’t pretty. Data shows that for many of the major regions of California, the July 2020-June 2021 rain year was one of the top 10 driest ever. Even more troubling is that the extreme dry spells are starting to stack up, especially in the Sierra Nevada watersheds that supply so much of the state’s water.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

U.S. Chamber official warned of climate danger in 1989

Twenty years before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for climate science to be put on trial, an official from the powerful pro-business lobby group crafted what would prove to be a prescient message on global warming. Harvey Alter, who ran the Chamber’s resources policy department at the time, said in 1989 there was “broad consensus” that human-made climate change would likely have a disastrous impact on coastal communities and farmers. … “Wetlands will flood, salt water will infuse fresh water supplies, and there will be changes in the distribution of tree and crop species and agricultural productivity,” Alter said. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California fires 2021: What to know about this year’s wildfires

Wildfire season came early this year in the Bay Area after a meager rainy season left the landscape tinder-dry, offering an abundance of fuel for wildland blazes. In just the past few years, California has seen some of the largest, deadliest and most destructive fires in state history. Last year was a record-buster, with nearly 10,000 blazes burning more than 4 million acres. Meanwhile, most of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency in a majority of the state’s counties. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Biden to talk heat wave, drought with western state leaders

With a record-shattering heat wave suffocating much of the Pacific Northwest and a drought-fueled wildfire season already well underway in New Mexico, Arizona and California, President Biden will attend a virtual meeting with leaders of Western states on Wednesday to discuss strategies to minimize weather-related disasters this summer. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the president planned to bring together members of his cabinet and the Western governors to assess “the devastating intersection of drought, heat, and wildfires,” as well as “prevention, preparedness, and response efforts for this wildfire season.”

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California’s native blue oak faces destruction due to worsening drought

A new study released Monday found that recent years of drought in California devastated the state’s blue oak woodlands, destroying more than 460 square miles of blue oak, a tree only found in the Golden State. Named for the color of its leaves, the blue oak woodlands date back to pre-European settlement and are considered “one of the most biologically diverse” ecosystems in the state, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Climate. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta adapts – Creating a climate resilient future

The time to act is now. Climate change is already altering the physical environment of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (Delta), and we will continue to experience its effects through hotter temperatures, more severe wildfires, and prolonged droughts. Over the long term, climate change in the Delta is expected to harm human health and safety, disrupt the economy, diminish water supply availability and usability, shift ecosystem function, compromise sensitive habitats, and increase the challenges of providing basic services. Many of these impacts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Historic drought in the West is forcing ranchers to take painful measures

On Andrew McGibbon’s 90,000-acre cattle ranch south  Tucson, Arizona, the West’s punishing drought isn’t just drying up pastureland and evaporating water troughs. … Nearly 1,000 miles from McGibbon’s ranch, near Rio Vista, California, the drought on Ryan Mahoney’s ranch feels just as bad. … In the contiguous United States, more than a third of available land is used for pasture. That means more than 15 million beef cattle are trying to graze this year on drought-parched grasses, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California budget – Newsom, Legislature have a deal

California lawmakers voted [Monday night] to approve a record-busting state budget that reflects new agreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand health care for undocumented immigrants, spend billions to alleviate homelessness and help Californians still struggling through the pandemic… The budget includes $1 billion over several years for wildfire prevention, $3 billion to alleviate drought and $3.7 billion over three years to mitigate dangers posed by climate change — but Newsom and legislative leaders are still figuring out how to spend the funds.  

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Climate change is creating hell on Earth

The record-breaking heat wave baking the West Coast is another painful sign that climate change is here, and we have to adapt. The Pacific Northwest has been sizzling, with conditions forecasters have described as unprecedented and life-threatening. Portland, Ore., hit 113 degrees Monday, breaking the previous all-time high of 112 degrees, set Sunday. … Seattle hit 107 degrees, also a record high. … And further north, the town of Lytton in British Columbia hit 116 degrees Sunday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona wildfires are hotter, bigger. How will the land recover?

Fueled by overzealous fire suppression, drier summers, rising temperatures and a relentless drought, wildfires across Arizona and the Southwest have been sparking more frequently, burning at greater severity and scorching more land. … This ongoing fire regime, which has intensified in the last three decades, is transforming the state’s once-dense forests. The long-term effect of these wildfires on plant regrowth, wildlife habitat, watershed health and forest fuels are at the forefront of many ongoing studies.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water?

In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Peak fire, Lava fire swell as California record heat surges

As the West contends with sweltering conditions and record-breaking heat, firefighters on Monday were battling three large wildfires in Kern, Siskiyou and San Bernardino counties. By Monday afternoon, 8,000 to 10,000 residents were under evacuation orders for the Lava fire, according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue. The fire was sparked by lightning Saturday morning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border. It was “very active” overnight, Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokeswoman Suzi Johnson said, and had mushroomed to 1,446 acres with 20% containment by Monday morning.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

As climate change turns up the heat in Las Vegas, water managers try to wring new savings to stretch supply

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.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

How much water goes into oil fracking in drought-stricken California?

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to ban hydraulic fracturing, a highly controversial method of oil and gas production more widely known as fracking, he focused primarily on climate change impacts. He may have a water conservation argument to make as well. … The practice of fracking entails injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressures in an attempt to crack open rock layers and release oil or gas trapped inside. 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: California budget surplus a rare opportunity to create climate strategy

There is no drought – the Los Angeles Times wrote in a recent editorial. The Times argued “if ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm.” That analysis has important implications for Stockton and other communities along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. As our precipitation increasingly swings between drought and flood, each extreme challenges our communities.
-Written by Douglass Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and a former San Joaquin County supervisor; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director and co-founder of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Eos

New research: The wildfire one-two – First the burn, then the landslides

After the record-breaking 2020 wildfire season in California, the charred landscapes throughout the state faced elevated risks of landslides and other postfire hazards. Wildfires burn away the plant canopy and leaf litter on the ground, leaving behind soil stripped of much of its capacity to absorb moisture. As a result, even unassuming rains pose a risk for substantial surface runoff in the state’s mountainous terrain.

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘We have a deal’: Biden, lawmakers reach tentative bipartisan infrastructure agreement

President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a nearly $1-trillion infrastructure plan Thursday, the culmination of months of negotiation over a proposal to fortify the nation’s roads, bridges and broadband internet access….The plan calls for $109 billion for road and bridge projects, $7.5 billion to build a new network of electric vehicle-charging stations, $55 billion to replace all lead pipes and upgrade water infrastructure….

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

The effects of climate change

Climate change has plunged the Western U.S. into its worst drought in two decades. And a record-breaking heat wave only made things worse. In Arizona and Nevada, it’s been so hot that doctors warned people they could get third-degree burns from the asphalt. Wildfires raged in Montana and Utah. Power grids in Texas strained as officials asked residents to limit appliance use to avoid blackouts. The levels in Lake Mead, which supplies water for millions of people, are at their lowest since the 1930s.

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Aquafornia news Slate Magazine

Heat dome and drought are promising another summer of wildfires

Wildfires erupted this past weekend across 10 states—including California, Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon—as record-high temperatures continue to bake many areas in the West and Southwest United States. By Monday, 7 million people were under fire danger warnings, as the record-shattering temperatures—stretching from Palm Springs to Tucson to Denver—migrate north into Oregon and Washington.

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Aquafornia news High Plains Public Radio

Another dry year on the Colorado River could force states, feds back to negotiating table

Colorado River water managers could be pulled back to the negotiating table as soon as next year to keep its biggest reservoirs from declining further. The 2019 Drought Contingency Plan was meant to give the U.S. and Mexican states that depend on the river a roadmap to manage water shortages. That plan requires the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, to drop to unprecedented levels before conservation among all the lower basin states — Arizona, Nevada and California — becomes mandatory. California isn’t required to conserve water in the reservoir until it drops to an elevation of 1,045 feet above sea level.

Aquafornia news Eos

New research: Better subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasts for water management

The considerable variability of precipitation within given water years [in California] and from year to year poses a major challenge to providing skillful long-range precipitation forecasts. This challenge, coupled with precipitation extremes at both ends of the spectrum—extremes that are projected to increase across the state through the 21st century as a result of climate change—greatly complicates smart management of water resources, upon which tens of millions of residents rely.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wildfires threaten urban water supplies, long after the flames are out

When wildfires blaze across the West, as they have with increasing ferocity as the region has warmed, the focus is often on the immediate devastation — forests destroyed, infrastructure damaged, homes burned, lives lost. But about two-thirds of drinking water in the United States originates in forests. And when wildfires affect watersheds, cities can face a different kind of impact, long after the flames are out.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Amid clamor to increase prescribed burns, obstacles await

In the 1950s, when University of California forestry professor Harold Biswell experimented with prescribed burns in the state’s pine forests, many people thought he was nuts. “Harry the Torch,” “Burn-Em-Up Biswell” and “Doctor Burnwell” were some of his nicknames from critics, who included federal and state foresters and timber groups. Six decades after Biswell preached an unpopular message to those who advocated full-on fire suppression, he is seen not as crazy but someone whose ideas could save the U.S. West’s forests and ease wildfire dangers.

Aquafornia news ABC15 Arizona

Groups come together to fund Arizona water conservation program impacting Colorado River

As the federal government prepares to declare a first-ever water shortage at Lake Mead, Arizona state leaders, Native American tribes, and philanthropic and corporate foundations are stepping up to help conserve water. This week, these entities committed to funding an $8 million gap to complete a landmark water conservation project with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the state of Arizona.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Where did Sierra snow go this spring? Not into California rivers and water supplies

California’s severe drought was made worse this year by a shocking surprise. Every year, much of the drinking water that flows through the taps of millions of Californians begins in the Sierra Nevada. Snow and rain fall on the vast mountain range during the winter months, and the water moves downhill into streams, rivers and reservoirs in the spring and summer. But this year, in a trend that startled water managers, much of that runoff simply vanished. … [T]he ground was so dry that the water soaked in before making it down the mountain.  

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: CA must abandon hydro power and embrace offshore wind energy

High temperatures are returning again this week — with the hottest months still ahead — and that means the demand on electricity will keep spiking. The answer to our problems is not in rivers or lakes but in the ocean. Last month, the Biden administration announced plans to build roughly 380 wind turbines in federal waters off the California coast. Eventually, the turbines will generate 4,600 megawatts — enough to power 1.6 million homes.

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Aquafornia news SFist

Nearly all of California’s giant sequoias are in ‘exceptional drought’ areas

As California’s drought worsens, over 93% of all known giant sequoia trees currently exist in areas experiencing “exceptional drought” conditions — the most severe drought classification established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). … [H]uman activity and climate change threaten their continued existence. And now with drought conditions worsening across the West Coast, virtually every single one of the massive trees is now rooted in an area under exceptional drought conditions, leaving them prone to damage from wildfires.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom’s wildfire plan may have a problem when it comes to fighting big blazes

Before last year’s devastating fire season, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed firefighters to clear huge lines of trees and shrubs near more than 200 communities to help stop or slow a potential blaze. Much of the work was done in the Bay Area. These widely promoted fuel breaks, a centerpiece of the governor’s billion-dollar strategy to protect California from catastrophic wildfire, however, have had limited success, according to data reviewed by The Chronicle.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: What’s a 100-year flood? A hydrologist explains

A 100-year flood, like a 100-year storm, is one so severe it has only a 1% chance of hitting in any given year. Unfortunately, many people believe that if they experienced a 100-year flood this year, they will not see another one like it for 99 years. It just doesn’t work that way. In reality, the chance of being flooded next year, and the year after that, is the same as it was when the house flooded the first time – 1%.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline, meandering its way inland and providing a natural border between The City’s Bayview and Dogpatch neighborhoods. There’s a nice little park there, tucked under a bridge, that locals visit. But it’s not the kind of place most people think about much. Environmentalists and urban planners, on the other hand, think about it a lot. Here’s why: Rising sea levels and flooding.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Watershed restoration is key to a climate-smart future 

California is in a megadrought, with its key reservoirs falling to their lowest points in history. Wildfire season is already here, and officials are bracing for yet another catastrophic year. Meanwhile, rural communities remain in desperate need of viable, sustainable economic futures. One climate-smart solution that addresses all these needs is watershed restoration.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: As sea levels rise, California must increase Coastal Commission funding

Sea level rise is not some future dystopian fantasy. It is here on the California coast. At high tide, water gushes over stairways leading down bluff trails to beaches and up to some oceanfront homes. Seawater routinely sloshes over Highway 1 between Eureka and Arcata along the northern coast. Homes in some towns already flood. Others perch precariously on crumbling bluffs. Sea walls erected to protect oceanfront homes (for a while) end up accelerating the erosion of public beaches on the other side of those walls.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

The Coast Whisperer

After two decades at the helm of the California State Coastal Conservancy, Sam Schuchat retires on June 25. His replacement is yet to be named. But the emotional and political intelligence he brought to the job will be missed. In the coming years, Schuchat says he hopes to spend more time riding his bike and playing music, not to mention travelling post shelter-in-place. But he also expects to keep his finger on the pulse of the California coast and to delve more deeply into national climate change work.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Israel’s water conservative policies far exceed California’s

When Donald Trump referred to the COVID pandemic as a “plague,” he was implying that it was an act of God that couldn’t be blamed on the government. We are now told that the acute water shortage in California is the result of a “drought” that has, once again, lead to water restrictions. This biblical term obscures the responsibility that our local governments bear for this crisis. Countries facing far harsher climates and much scarcer water supply, like Israel, have adopted straightforward policies to avoid such crises. We should learn from their example.
-Written by Ron E. Hassner, the Helen Diller Family chair in Israel Studies and the co-director of the Helen Diller Institute for Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If Lake Powell’s water levels keep falling, a multi-state reservoir release may be needed

Lake Powell’s water level is the lowest it’s been in decades, and the latest 24-month projections from the Arizona and Utah reservoir show that it’s likely to drop even further — below a critical threshold of 3,525 feet by next year. A 20-year megadrought and a hotter climate has contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River. If Lake Powell’s levels continue to dwindle, it could set off litigation between the seven states and the 40 million people that all rely on the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Klamath Trinity spring chinook salmon added to California endangered species list

The California Fish and Game Commission ruled unanimously to add Upper Klamath Trinity Spring Chinook to the California Endangered Species List.

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Aquafornia news ABC News

Las Vegas weighs tying growth to conservation amid drought

Record-breaking heat and historic drought in the U.S. West are doing little to discourage cities from planning to welcome millions of new residents in the decades ahead. From Phoenix to Boise, officials are preparing for a future both with more people and less water, seeking to balance growth and conservation. Development is constrained by the fact that 46% of the 11-state Western region is federal land, managed by agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that are tasked with maintaining it for future generations.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

When is it too hot to grow food in California?

Kou Her’s family has run the 12-acre Herr Family Farms in Sanger, just east of Fresno, for the last 20 years, raising a variety of vegetables for Bay Area produce and farmer’s markets. In those 20 years, Kou and his parents haven’t seen anything like the heat wave gripping the Central Valley this week. “I am terrified,” Her said by phone Wednesday evening. “I’ve never experienced three days of 110 before. I hope we don’t have significant damage by the end of the weekend.”

Aquafornia news Vox

2021 wildfire forecasts for the western US: heat, drought, uncertainty

Summer has not officially started yet, but wildfire season has already arrived in the US. Now an intense heat wave coupled with extreme drought is threatening to make things worse. Large wildfires have already burned 981,000 acres this year to date, more than the 766,000 acres burned by the same time last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In Arizona, more than 208,000 acres have burned, sending smoke into Colorado.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change batters the West before summer even begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, … At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water….And it’s not even summer yet.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Supreme Court allows San Francisco, Oakland lawsuits against big oil companies to proceed

Two more ambitious lawsuits would be hard to image: in 2017 the cities of Oakland and San Francisco filed separate public nuisance lawsuits against five of the world’s biggest energy companies, seeking to hold them responsible for the local effects of sea level rise. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to throw the suits out of court, although the cases still face many daunting obstacles ahead.

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Blog: Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

The intensive engineering of the river exacted a huge toll on its native ecosystems. No species suffered more than the Chinook salmon, whose epic migration from the Pacific Ocean to its spawning grounds in the High Sierra was cut short by numerous choke points, not the least of which was Friant’s impenetrable barrier of concrete. … Rife with compromises, [a 1988] settlement mandated that a mere half of the San Joaquin’s original flow be restored. The river’s many dams would remain, but alternative passages would be built and new spawning areas added in the lower river.

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Aquafornia news Grist

Living shorelines could help California coasts adapt to rising sea levels

[Scientists] are setting out to test an alternative path to protecting coastlines — one that involves using the ecosystems that already exist or once existed along the coast, instead of squeezing them out. [Katie] Nichols oversees Coastkeeper’s living shorelines program, a project in partnership with California State University, Long Beach, and California State University, Fullerton, that restores ecosystem structures like oyster beds and eelgrass meadows, which protect shorelines from waves, erosion, and sea-level rise.

Aquafornia news Water Online

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

With harmful algal blooms (HABs) being forecast to increase, in part due to the effects of climate change, more water systems can expect to face problematic cyanotoxin conditions more frequently and for more days per year. In its efforts to mitigate the negative effects of such increases, the U.S. EPA has enhanced its information resources for water utilities by issuing a new Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Heat wave bringing triple-digit temperatures to L.A. area

A heat wave blanketing Southern California is driving blistering temperatures from the beaches to the mountains, triggering excessive-heat warnings and sparking fears that the hot, dry conditions are ripe for wildfires. With temperatures expected to reach triple digits in some areas, the National Weather Service issued an excessive-heat warning from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 9 p.m. Friday in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, not including the Santa Monica range.

Aquafornia news NBC News

‘Dying of thirst’: The Cucapá in Mexico fight against climate change and oblivion

Lucía Laguna carries her fate tattooed on her face — from the corner of her mouth to her chin, black lines surf across her coppery skin — the tribal art honoring her people will also serve an important function later on. … But under the merciless sun, Laguna, 51, worries about the fate of the river and its impact on the Cucapá, her Indigenous people. A searing drought is exacerbating the deadly heat in a region that long ago saw its river flow diminished, after almost a century of U.S. engineering projects, as well as a focus on water for agriculture.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies. Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

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Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Local JPA working to enlist private capital for forest restoration

While fuel reduction can play an important role in limiting the severity of wildfire, lack of funding often hinders forest management efforts. The Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority (UMRWA), a joint powers authority comprised of Alpine, Amador and Calaveras counties and six water districts, recently initiated a novel funding approach to improve forest resilience to wildfire and safeguard communities and water resources.

Aquafornia news NBC News

The West is the driest it’s been in 1,200 years – raising questions about a livable future

Water is increasingly scarce in the Western U.S. — where 72 percent of the region is in “severe” drought, 26 percent is in exceptional drought, and populations are booming. Insufficient monsoon rains last summer and low snowpacks over the winter left states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada without the typical amount of water they need, and forecasts for the rainy summer season don’t show promise. … The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Clock is ticking on dreams of saving Salton Sea with water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Coachella Valley-based architect Nikola Lakic knows how to fix the withering Salton Sea. Or, at least he says he does.  Lakic believes it’s possible to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez — or, perhaps, from the Pacific Ocean off the California coast — through a multi-billion-dollar system of pipes. He would construct mangrove habitat for natural water filtration, send desalinated water to geothermal plants and, amid all this, restore California’s largest lake. … Lakic is the author of one of 11 formal proposals for a “sea-to-sea” solution that the state of California is currently evaluating.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Equity through adaptation

In Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson’s December blog on the Delta Adapts Initiative, she wrote that “anticipating and preparing for the climate crisis has always been integral to pursuing our agency’s mission” and recognized that, due to socio-economic inequities, not all communities will be impacted equally by the climate crisis. In phase one of our Delta Adapts Initiative, the Vulnerability Assessment, we sought to understand the factors driving increased climate change vulnerability and to identify the most vulnerable communities. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Lake Mead declines to new low as Colorado River crisis deepens

Lake Mead has declined to its lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam, marking a new milestone for the water-starved Colorado River in a downward spiral that shows no sign of letting up. The reservoir near Las Vegas holds water for cities, farms and tribal lands in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. Years of unrelenting drought and temperatures pushed higher by climate change are shrinking the flow into the lake, contributing to the large mismatch between the demands for water and the Colorado’s diminishing supply.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin officials: Bridge water pipeline could be permanent

Officials are raising the prospect of a permanent water pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as a potential drought-fighting strategy for Marin County. … [Ben] Horenstein, the general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District, was among the participants of a teleconference on drought and wildfires organized by Assemblyman Marc Levine on Wednesday. … For Marin, Horenstein said, the focus now is on promoting as much conservation as possible through mandatory water use restrictions and rebates for water-efficient appliances and landscaping.

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Aquafornia news Fox 40

UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Susan Tipton likes to talk about her award-winning wines produced at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo just outside Lodi, but these days she keeps a close watch on the current drought conditions as well.  Tipton took a big hit last year when winter rains didn’t materialize. … Coming into 2021, the vines were watered early with well water, and groundcover crops are used to retain water. But the water table in the area is dropping, adding to Tipton’s concern.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead to reach lowest levels in decades as drought grips the region

A crippling drought in the western US is dropping the water level at Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam to a historically low level, putting pressure on the region’s drinking water supply and the dam’s electric capacity. By Thursday, Lake Mead’s water level is expected to sink to the lowest it’s been since it began filling during construction of the Hoover Dam, according to Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patricia Aaron.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water: Amazing new map shows the path of every raindrop that hits the United States

Water is like electricity. Most people don’t think about it much until it’s gone. Now, as California and other Western states find themselves heading into a severe and worsening drought, a new interactive map is providing a breathtaking journey that shows where America’s water comes from and ends up. The project is called River Runner. It allows anyone to click on any place where a raindrop would fall in the United States, and then track its path through watersheds, into creeks, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean.

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

With new law, Las Vegas water agency bets on ‘aggressive municipal water conservation measure’ to remove decorative turf, conserve Colorado River supply

With Lake Mead approaching critically-low levels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority recently turned to the Legislature to double-down on its existing strategy for using less water: turf removal. … [Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager John] Entsminger, in a recent interview, said the prohibition would result in significant water savings. The removal of an estimated 3,900 acres of decorative turf could save roughly 9.3 billion gallons of water annually — about 10 percent of the state’s entire Colorado River allotment.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State funding is crucial for restoring San Francisco Bay

Five years ago Bay Area voters wisely approved Measure AA, a nine-county, 20-year, $12 per parcel annual tax to restore San Francisco Bay and guard against the threat of rising sea levels due to global warming. … An estimated 355,000 Bay Area residents live within a 100-year flood plain that includes 800 miles of roads and highways, 70 miles of critical rail lines, 46 wastewater plants, 35 schools and 15 hospitals.

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Aquafornia news KRQE News 13

As drought grips western U.S. cuts to water supply expected

A punishing drought is gripping much of the western U.S. Scientists are calling it a “mega-drought” brought on by climate change. It’s taking a dramatic toll on the Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people in seven states. For more than eight decades, the Hoover Dam has relied on water from Nevada’s Lake Mead to cover up its backside. But now at age 85 it finds itself uncomfortably exposed. Much of the water the dam is supposed to be holding back is gone.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Why upcoming storms may do more harm than good in West

Storms from the Pacific set to swing into the rain-starved West Coast this week may end up turning detrimental, AccuWeather forecasters say, by whipping up gusty winds and heightening the risk of lightning-induced wildfires. With over 87% of the Western states in moderate to exceptional drought, the news of Pacific storms poised to sweep onshore may sound good on the surface. However, the pattern will be a double-edged sword. Each storm is expected to arrive with “very limited moisture,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Las Vegas’s new strategy for tackling drought – banning ‘useless grass’

In Sin City, one thing that will soon become unforgivable is useless grass. A new Nevada law will outlaw about 40% of the grass in the Las Vegas area in an effort to conserve water amid a drought that is drying up the region’s primary water source: the Colorado River. Other cities and states around the US have enacted temporary bans on lawns that must be watered, but legislation signed Friday by the state’s governor, Steve Sisolak, makes Nevada the first in the nation to enact a permanent ban on certain categories of grass.

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Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Battle over Southern California water czar is clash between old vision and new, observers say

The most important thing to understand: If you’re reading this, you live in a desert. And you can live in this desert because politicians, scientists and engineers have moved mountains, almost literally, to bring you life-giving water. The latest brawl in Water World plays out on this backdrop, and what comes out of your tap may well depend on the result. Will it come from recycled waste water? Desalination plants? A giant tunnel or two under the Delta? The answers will, in large part, depend on who’s chosen to lead the gargantuan Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people from Ventura County to the Mexican border. 

Aquafornia news CBS News

“Mega-drought” takes dramatic toll on Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people 

Drought is taking a dramatic toll on the Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people in seven states – and may force the federal government to make a drastic and historic decision. For more than eight decades, the iconic Hoover Dam has relied on water from Nevada’s Lake Mead to cover up its backside. But now, at age 85, it finds itself uncomfortably exposed. Much of the water the dam is supposed to be holding back is gone.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 News

$10 million effort to assess San Diego’s aging dams

The City of San Diego plans to spend $10 million to carefully assess the structural needs of its aging dams, which are among the oldest in California. San Diego has nine dams that play an important role in the city’s water supply. By 2022, four will have stood for a century or more. Only three of the nine dams are rated in “satisfactory” condition by the state. The comprehensive assessment will span five years, giving city officials an itemized forecast of future repair needs and costs.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

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Aquafornia news The Spectrum

How do Washington County residents feel about the Lake Powell Pipeline?

The WCWCD, along with the Utah Division of Water Resources, … started making plans [in the 1990s] to import Colorado River water from Lake Powell via a buried pipeline that would stretch 140 miles through rocky desert terrain, crossing some tribal lands and sensitive habitats. The project has inched its way forward over the decades since, finally advancing its federally-required Environmental Impact Statement through the public review process during the Trump administration, which identified the pipeline as one of its infrastructure priorities.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Scientists said the West was entering a megadrought. Now it’s twice as bad

Lake Powell is within just a few feet of its low level ever observed since it was first filled. Early season fires have already torched over 400,000 acres in Colorado and California’s reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they should be at this time of year before summer has even officially begun. A year after the skies over San Francisco glowed a hazy red as wildfires choked the Bay Area, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of real climate reckoning with drought in the western US at historic levels.

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Aquafornia news Rensselaer News

New research: World’s lakes losing oxygen rapidly as planet warms

Oxygen levels in the world’s temperate freshwater lakes are declining rapidly — faster than in the oceans — a trend driven largely by climate change that threatens freshwater biodiversity and drinking water quality. Research published today in Nature found that oxygen levels in surveyed lakes across the temperate zone have declined 5.5% at the surface and 18.6% in deep waters since 1980. 

Aquafornia news San Clemente Times

Opinion: SCWD continues push for self-reliant water sources, desalination

How long could you last if water supply was cut off in the event of an emergency? Our region is nearly entirely reliant on water that is imported from hundreds of miles away. In the event of a catastrophe that would prevent water delivery from outside sources, experts recommend that there be at least 60 days’ worth of water supply. As of now, South Coast Water District could provide roughly 11 days’ worth.
-Written by Lillian Boyd.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s drought response will worsen harmful algae

Climate change has created new “seasons” that challenge communities across the nation. California now has a “fire season,” and sadly, we are embarking on harmful algal bloom (HAB) season again. NRDC has updated its national map of state-reported freshwater HABs, which tracks the HABs reported by states from 2008-2020 and shows that these toxic outbreaks are increasing across the country, making our rivers, lakes, and beaches unsafe for swimming, boating, and drinking. Between 2008 and 2020, over 44,000 HAB events were recorded across 38 states. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Amid dire Colorado River outlook, states plan to tap their Lake Mead savings accounts​

A complex and arcane water banking program in the lower Colorado River basin, adopted in 2007 and later amended, was designed to incentivize water conservation, prevent waste, and boost storage in a waning Lake Mead. The program has already proved its worth, lifting Lake Mead dozens of feet higher than it otherwise would have been…In the next two years, the program will be tested in another way, becoming a small but important source of water for Arizona and California even as the lake continues to fall to levels that haven’t been witnessed in several generations.

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Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: New strategy applies local knowledge and science to salmon and steelhead recovery in Northern California

Salmon and steelhead in Northern California have been in trouble for more than 100 years, primarily because of habitat damage and loss resulting from human activities. Climate change has only worsened these habitat problems. For the last 50 years, communities have worked to restore this habitat in hopes of reversing the fortunes of these fish. Scientists and local restoration communities are seeking new ways to maximize the benefits of habitat restoration so that rivers and streams can support healthy fish populations again.

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

News release: Faced with massive juvenile salmon infection and year after year of drought, Karuk Tribe declares a climate change state of emergency

In response to record low precipitation in the Klamath Basin, the Karuk Tribe has declared a state of emergency. This emergency declaration acknowledges the reality that climate change is upon us, and the dangers that it poses to rivers, forests, wildlife and communities. 

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Bay Area builds regional drought resilience

It feels like California’s 2011-2016 drought, our worst on record, had barely ended when the next one began. This is our second dry year in a row and, according to the state Department of Water Resources, the past winter tied for the third-driest on record. … [UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain] calls this our second major drought within a decade and, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if we’ve done anything since the last one to help keep water flowing from our taps. The answer is yes.

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Aquafornia news Source Magazine

Yuba-Feather Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations: Reducing flood risk and refining water operations in Yuba County

Already one of the most productive watersheds in the state in terms of runoff per square mile, the Yuba River watershed is especially vulnerable to the impacts of atmospheric rivers and the heavy, prolonged rainfall they bring. … Recognizing the central role that atmospheric rivers play in both flood risk and water supply — two of Yuba Water’s core mission areas – the agency is investing in new research and tools to better understand, forecast and manage these powerful storms.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: The numbers California’s drought manager wants you to see

With California’s rivers running low after two consecutive dry winters, state officials and local water agencies have pumped out a steady stream of drought declarations and calls for water conservation in recent weeks. It’s clear the Golden State is in a drought and it could escalate to a crisis, but, you may be wondering, just how bad is it?

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Aquafornia news PBS

2021 could be one of the driest years in a millennium, and there’s no relief in sight

Nearly half of the country — from the Pacific coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions. That’s expected to get worse throughout the summer. … UCLA climatologist Park Williams: “This drought is far from over. 2021 is shaping up to potentially be the driest of all of the drought years in the last century, and definitely one of the driest of the last millennium.”

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Aquafornia news Idaho Falls Post Register

Opinion: When will major push to desalinate water in American Southwest begin?

As reality plays out, I continue to read how the drought in the American West is causing levels in Lake’s Mead and Powell to plummet. I also continue to see no action or accountability to take bold action to resolve the issue as uncontrolled development continues in the greater Phoenix and Las Vegas areas. … There are 17 desalination plants operating in California and the one in Carlsbad — the Claude Bud Lewis Desalination Plant — is the largest in the U.S. 
-Written by R.B. Provencher, a former manager for the U.S. Department of Energy and retired in Idaho Falls.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Amid historic drought, a new water war in the West

The brewing battle over the century-old Klamath Project is an early window into the water shortfalls that are likely to spread across the West as a widespread drought, associated with a warming climate, parches watersheds throughout the region. In Nevada, water levels have dropped so drastically in Lake Mead that officials are preparing for a serious shortage that could prompt major reductions in Colorado River water deliveries next year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed 41 counties under a state of emergency.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Epic drought tests Hoover Dam as water levels in Lake Mead plummet

Hoover Dam towers more than 700 feet above Black Canyon on the Arizona-Nevada state line, holding back the waters of the Colorado River. … Since 2000, the water level in the reservoir, which is the largest in the country, has dropped about 140 feet. Lake Mead is now just 37% full, headed for a first-ever official shortage and sinking toward its lowest levels since it was filled.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought spurs worry, opportunities for water solutions in California

[D]uring a panel discussion about water issues in the Golden State hosted by California state Senator Josh Becker… the discussion was surprisingly upbeat. “We can do this,” said Felicia Marcus, a fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program and former chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We just have to build more efficient communities and use technology to track every drop.”

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

‘Worse-case’ CAP shortages threaten the Tucson aquifer’s delicate balance

Back in 1977, President Jimmy Carter wanted to put the Central Arizona Project on a hit list of 17 water projects he found too expensive and environmentally destructive. … [N]ow, as CAP’s first water shortages draw near, a more subtle, long-term threat to the Tucson area’s water future is emerging because of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Big Think

Interstate water system: a national pipeline for water

California’s water woes are severe and worsening. A second dry year in a row has diminished the state’s water supply, and almost three-quarters of the state is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest categories. With the rainy season over and a hot, dry summer ahead, water shortages and brushfires are imminent. …

Aquafornia news USDA

Blog: ARS scientists tackle California climate woes

A team of USDA agricultural scientists in the Golden State are helping farmers make the most out of a natural resource that is becoming ever more precious – water. California produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and one-third of its vegetables, but above average temperatures and long-term drought have put a strain on the water resources it takes to grow these crops. Most of California’s precipitation falls during the winter, which means summertime irrigation is required to produce many of the state’s crops. Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns increase water demand and reduce supply.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Mississippi River pipeline won’t save Arizona. But these ideas might

Every time I write about water, I get a similar email from different folks. It argues that if we can build pipelines to move oil, we should be able to capture and pipe enough floodwater from the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Snake or (insert your river here) to resolve shortages on the Colorado River. I appreciate the big thinking. But I wish we could move past this idea. Because we’ve studied this before, in multiple iterations. Each solution has been projected to cost multiple billions of dollars. Most would not produce enough water to fix our problems. And trust me, someone’s going to fight several hundred miles of pipe being laid across their land to make this happen. 
-Written by Joanna Allhands, an Arizona Republic columnist.

Aquafornia news Pacifica Tribune

New county agency takes on flooding, sea level rise

A new local district aimed at combating the effects of sea level rise and flooding is making waves this year starting with a series of public meetings as it works to define its budget and priorities. The San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District, known as OneShoreline, was founded in early 2020 by the California Legislature to work to prevent and to address the effects of flooding and sea level rise throughout the county and on its shores, both on the Bayside and the Coastside.

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Aquafornia news Desert Research Institute

New research: Does cold wildfire smoke contribute to water repellent soils in burned areas?

After a wildfire, soils in burned areas often become water repellent, leading to increased erosion and flooding after rainfall events – a phenomenon that many scientists have attributed to smoke and heat-induced changes in soil chemistry. But this post-fire water repellency may also be caused by wildfire smoke in the absence of heat, according to a new paper from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Congress seeks long-term solutions for drought crippling Western US

A crippling drought — largely connected to climate change — is gripping the Western United States, affecting over 70 million people and around 40% of the U.S.  … Farmers, scientists, tribal officials, foresters and other groups affected by the worsening drought testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife hearing on Tuesday, asking lawmakers for both short-term relief and long-term solutions from the worsening conditions.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Opinion: How infrastructure plan can accelerate resilience

Passing President Biden’s infrastructure bill would be the most significant step we’ve taken as a nation to start to address climate change head on. Greenbelt Alliance believes this infrastructure bill is a great start. Yet, so far there is no path to guide how we can equitably shift away from rebuilding in the most climate-vulnerable areas and instead build for a more resilient future. That’s why we’re recommending this infrastructure bill and related actions adopt these three principles as a simple yet transformational way forward…
-Written by Amanda Brown-Stevens, the San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

As sea level rise threat grows, SF officials don’t have public plan to save sewers

Because Bay Area low-lying sewage treatment plants remain vulnerable to rising sea levels, government regulators told sewage facility managers to “provide a written plan for coping with SLR by the fall of 2021 – or they will be given a plan.”  The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reached out to 10 “at risk” sewage treatment plants to see those plans. All except one provided extensive documents of their proposals, the cost to address them, and even provided tours of completed work. San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission replied to the Investigative Unit’s public records request that after a “diligent search for records…no records were found.”

Aquafornia news Cronkite News - Arizona PBS

Arizona’s current historic drought may be ‘baseline for the future’

Arizona and other Western states just lived through the driest year in more than a century, with no drought relief in sight in the near future, experts told a House panel Tuesday. The period from last April to this March was the driest in the last 126 years for Arizona and other Western states, witnesses said. It caps a two-decade stretch that was the driest in more than 100 years that records have been kept – and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years based on paleohydrology evidence, one official said.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Drought conditions could worsen California wildfires that have already burned 5 times more land this year than same time last year

Wildfires have burned roughly 14,000 acres in California this year as a deepening drought grips the Southwest — more than five times the acreage charred by the same time last year. It’s a worrying trend that has fire officials taking a proactive approach — from more funding to wildfire prevention to hiring additional crews — after the state saw its worst fire season ever in 2020. Only five months into the year, a total of 2,340 fires have burned 14,340 acres, an increase of 1,284 fires and 11,793 acres over the same period in 2020, according to new data from Cal Fire.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Lack of water efficiency funding undercuts fight against drought

With the current drought already impacting over 90 million people in the U.S. and with water scarcity likely to get worse because of population growth and climate change, there is an urgent need to invest in water efficiency. This threat goes well beyond the arid west. Thirty-three states have been hit by drought since 2000, including ones located in the Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. And scientists warn that most of the country is on pace to experience water shortages if we don’t manage water better.
-Written by Ron Burke, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and Mary Ann Dickinson, founding president and CEO of AWE. 

Aquafornia news Patch

Opinion: The case for investing in our water infrastructure

Infrastructure is rightly enjoying its spot in the national limelight these days, with the Biden Administration busily unveiling its plans. However, being well intentioned is as important as being pragmatic. After all, the warning signs have been there for all to see when it comes to lack of investment in infrastructure—impacting communities from Los Gatos to Washington, D.C.
-Written by Andy Gere, president and chief operating officer of San Jose Water.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Bureau of Reclamation has already studied Mississippi pipeline

The Arizona Legislature wants to look into the feasibility of pumping water from the Mississippi River to Arizona. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has already studied the idea, and weighed in on the project in 2012. The agency studied factors such as cost, legal issues, power use and the amount of time the project would take. A report estimated the project could cost up to $14 billion; the timetable was around 30 years. 

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California drought hits extreme levels, wildfire threat grows

California’s drought, already rated “severe” to “extreme” for most of the state, is expected to worsen throughout the summer, combining with higher-than-average temperatures and dry vegetation to steadily increase the risk of wildfires, according to the interagency National Integrated Drought Information System. That assessment comes in the wake of the state’s worst wildfire season on record, 2020, which saw five of California’s six largest recorded infernos and extended the trend of wildfire seasons here growing longer and more intense. 

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Aquafornia news U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman

News release: Huffman introduces water infrastructure bill to improve drought preparedness and water supply reliability

[On May 20, 2021] Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) reintroduced his FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act (FUTURE Act), an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that is the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development. This bill would develop more resilient water infrastructure, expand the use of modern water management tools and technologies, and assist underserved areas in meeting their drinking water needs.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: What’s causing California’s drought?

California’s new drought is worsening. After two severely dry winters, reservoirs are shrinking, fire danger is rising and water supplies are looking more tenuous. The past two years have been the driest in nearly half a century, since 1976-77. How did the state find itself in a new crisis just as the COVID pandemic is fading? Scientists say California’s parched plight largely comes down to two words: “atmospheric river.” An increasing body of research is showing that the state’s water supply each year depends almost entirely on a handful of big make-or-break storms. And the last two winters, too few arrived.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought intensifies and expands in the American West

The scale of the drought hitting the American West is beginning to crystallize as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona experienced their driest year in terms of precipitation on record, according to the National Center for Environmental Information. In Utah and California, it was the second-driest winter on record. For Wyoming, it was the third-driest ever. For Colorado, only three winters were ever drier in the 127-year history of record-keeping at the center.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Where California regions rank on the fire danger ‘Burning Index’ right now

The 2020 fire season was brutal for California. Wildfires wreaked havoc across the state, burning more than 4.2 million acres, the most in recorded history, and resulting in the deaths of 33 people and the destruction of more than 10,000 structures. The outlook for the 2021 fire season isn’t any more promising. A Chronicle analysis shows multiple measures of fire danger all pointing in the same direction — California is headed toward alarming, perhaps record-setting, dryness, and heightened risk of wildfires.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Governance and collaboration

The California Water Commission is in the process of completing the task assigned to them in the Water Resilience Portfolio of examining the state’s role in funding conveyance projects.  At the April meeting, the last two speakers on the panel discussed governance issues and collaboration.  First, Sharon Farrell … discussed how to build and sustain integrated regional networks and how they can help advance state priorities, such as resilient conveyance and water management.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California’s budget surplus can help achieve a climate-safe future

California is becoming ground zero for the climate crisis. Intensifying drought and wildfire emergencies caused by climate change are the harbingers of a great gamble that risk the loss of California as we know it. The drought is not an anomaly but part of a multi-decadal pattern caused by climate change, threatening dust bowl-like impacts to California’s agricultural heartland. It fueled the largest wildfires in state history. More than 4.2 million acres burned last year, causing a toxic smoke storm that smothered much of the state.
-Written by Nayamin Martinez, the executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, and Judith Mitchell, who served for seven years on the California Air Resources Board, and 10 years on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.