The supply and demand of California water are geographically
and seasonally disconnected, a trend that could be exacerbated
by climate change. Agriculture, urban and environmental use
compete for limited supply in the state’s $1.1 billion water
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.
Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.
Smart investments in water supply and sanitation can benefit
both the climate and those living in poverty, finds a new
report from the Pacific Institute and Water.org. “Financing
Water Supply and Sanitation in a Changing Climate” explores the
connections between water, sanitation, and hygiene and climate
What geologists call vertical land motion—or subsidence and
uplift—is a key reason why local rates of sea level rise can
differ from the global rate. California offers a good example
of how much sea level can vary on a local scale. “There is no
one-size-fits-all rule that applies for California,” said Em
Blackwell, a graduate student at Arizona State University.
Most states are doing a mediocre job – and some even a poor one
– of managing shorelines and preparing for sea-level rise,
according to a new study by the Surfrider Foundation.
California, on the other hand, is a “shining example” and has
excelled in responding to changes along the coast, earning the
only “A” grade in the nation — but the report found there are
still areas that need improvement…
Working over the last year, construction crews expect to
complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It
will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres,
or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had
been diked and drained for agriculture and development during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn
whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can
succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s
uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.
Local environmentalists won a key victory this week when the
regional water board approved a $1.25 million study focused on
transforming much of Mission Bay’s northeast corner into
marshland, which could help San Diego fight sea level rise.
On Sept. 30, we sent a letter to state officials requesting
that restoration projects coming out of the Salton Sea
Management Program consider impacts on nearby communities. We
hope those officials will share in our vision of reforestation
and green spaces around the Salton Sea, see the benefits of
such projects in addressing the sea’s deteriorating
environmental conditions, and act with the same urgency.
A major analysis by California researchers projected that the
amount of area burned by wildfire could jump 77% by the end of
the century. Another study by UCLA warned that by 2050 fire on
average would scorch twice as much land in Southern California.
A doubling happened this year, instead of three decades from
In 2011, heavy snows in the Rocky Mountains filled the Colorado
River, lifting reservoirs—and spirits—in the drought-stricken
U.S. Southwest. The following year, however, water levels
dropped to nearly their lowest in a century… Now, scientists
say they may have come up with a potential early warning system
for the Colorado’s water levels—by watching temperature
patterns in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of
The solutions are not just about spending money, but changing
how we do coastal development — fewer expensive seawalls and
roads, and more “living shorelines” and coastal parks that can
The Los Angeles Basin is often thought of as a dry, smoggy,
overdeveloped landscape. But a new study led by NOAA and the
University of Colorado, Boulder shows that the manicured lawns,
emerald golf courses and trees of America’s second-largest city
have a surprisingly large influence on the city’s carbon
emissions…The green spaces within megacities provide numerous
benefits, including improving air quality, capturing runoff,
moderating temperatures and offering outdoor recreation.
California is facing an impending water shortage. With
widespread fires, a COVID-19 provoked economic recession
bringing widespread unemployment and a public health emergency,
it would be easy, but not prudent, to forget that we face a
water crisis around the next corner.
Even if mean annual snowfall decreases, an increase in the
intensity of snowfall events could prevent snow ablation, or
the loss of snow due to melting, sublimation or evaporation.
… In this study, Marshall et al. (2020) analyze spatial
patterns in snowfall using both observational data from snow
networks across the Mountain West [from the Sierra Nevada and
Cascade Mountains to the Rockies] and outputs from climate
A dialogue organized by Stanford that brought together
environmental organizations, hydropower companies, investors,
government agencies and universities has resulted in an
important new agreement to help address climate change… Dan
Reicher, a former U.S. assistant secretary of energy and board
member of the conservation group American Rivers, spoke with us
about brokering this new agreement…
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken a dramatic
step to encourage communities to use environmentally friendly
features such as wetlands for flood protection instead of
building sea walls and levees.
Droughts usually leave individual trees more vulnerable to
subsequent droughts. “Compounding extreme events can be really
stressful on forests and trees,” says Anna Trugman, assistant
professor in the geography department at the UC Santa Barbara.
She compares the experience to a person battling an illness:
You’ll be harder hit if you get sick again while you’re still
Several years into the research at the California Critical Zone
Observatories, a multiyear drought lasting from fall 2011 to
fall 2015 hit the state, causing massive tree death in the
southern Sierra, while in Northern California there was
essentially none. The massive die-off in the Sierra was a
wake-up call for land managers and researchers alike…
A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine
how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom
aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas
by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would
participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship
efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.
Off the coast of California this August a sea monster of record
size was spotted: a patch of warm water that grew to the size
of Canada, 9.8 million square kilometers simmering up to 4
degrees Celsius warmer than usual. … Researchers are now
scrambling to chart or anticipate the impacts…
The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and
several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement
Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from
hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in
a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides
to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but
contentious source of renewable power. The United States
generated about 7 percent of its electricity last year from
hydropower, mainly from large dams built decades ago, such as
the Hoover Dam, which uses flowing water from the Colorado
River to power turbines.
California just recorded its hottest September on record,
according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, and the state looks to be stuck in a nearly
endless loop of hot, dry weather. With a strong La Niña
developing, the dry pattern is looking ever harder to break,
and could be settling in to stay for a while.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently
launched an environmental justice community survey to gather
input to inform Delta Conveyance Project planning. The survey,
entitled, “Your Delta, Your Voice,” seeks direct input from
communities that may be disproportionately affected by the
Protecting intact peatlands [such as those in California] and
restoring degraded ones are crucial steps if the world is to
counter climate change, European researchers said Friday. In a
study, they said peat bogs, wetlands that contain large amounts
of carbon in the form of decaying vegetation that has built up
over centuries, could help the world achieve climate goals like
the limit of 2 degrees Celsius of postindustrial warming that
is part of the 2015 Paris agreement.
Prescribed burning … targets brush, grasses, and other
accumulated vegetation, along with dead and downed trees, to
improve ecosystem health and reduce the fuels that power
wildfires. … “We’re trying to encourage a cultural shift in
our relationship with wildfire,” says Sasha Berleman, a fire
ecologist who runs a prescribed burn training program based in
the San Francisco Bay Area. “Fire isn’t going away, so let’s
change how we’re living with it.”
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.
A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a
new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado
River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters
are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked
to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and
Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory.
For decades, salt has infiltrated wells in Point Reyes Station
during late summer, but this year the intrusion is higher than
ever due to a confluence of factors. Sea-level rise brings bay
water closer to freshwater aquifers, and a National Park
Service project to remove a series of dikes and dams by
Lagunitas Creek in 2008 stripped the watershed of protection
from high tides. Two bulk users, a construction company and
firefighters, consumed more water this year.
Water managers are underprepared for climate change in ways
that will leave the state simultaneously at increased risk of
water shortages and floods, according to a new analysis
released by the Union of Concerned Scientists and accompanying
peer-reviewed study in Climatic Change.
Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen
Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet.
That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per
year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction
should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why
hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less
Developing lithium from the Salton Sea in California can help
anchor a multi-billion dollar domestic electric vehicle battery
supply chain and inject thousands of jobs and billions of
dollars into California’s economically disadvantaged Imperial
Valley, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.
Newsom, who made the announcement in a walnut orchard 25 miles
outside of Sacramento, said innovative farming practices,
restoring wetlands, better managing forests, planting more
trees and increasing the number of parks are all potential
tools. The goal is to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and
coastal waters in the next decade as part of a larger global
In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at
Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists
found that leading climate projections used by the state
strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and
intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in
ways that will make water management more difficult during the
A Sept. 21 study published in the journal Water Resources
Research found that, of all the droughts that affected land
areas globally from 1981 to 2018, about 1 in 6 started over
water and moved onto land, with a particularly high frequency
along the West Coast of North America….The current Western
drought could soon rise to a crisis level, with federal water
managers warning that … two key Colorado River
reservoirs may drop to levels that could result in
economically damaging cuts to water allocations in the
Southwest and California.
in a bid to celebrate the importance of water in our lives, the
collaborative design office NUDES has conceived a rainwater
harvesting tower for San Jose in California. The soaring ‘rain
water catcher’ is a design proposal that aims to address the
global impact of climate change by advocating the need for
A federal judge ruled Monday that a sprawling collage of salt
ponds in Redwood City is subject to protection under the Clean
Water Act — going against a previous decision by the
Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased
development along the bay.
In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water
users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to
have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the
last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater
rights than there was water available. Today state officials
say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which
could mean cuts.
The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that its
low-interest loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency
has been approved, to be used toward construction of the Pure
Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion
Prevention Project. The loan, up to a maximum of $88.9 million
at an interest rate of 1.34%, is part of the Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding program.
In California’s Placer County, an unusual partnership between a
county water utility, the U.S. Forest Service and
environmentalists is taking on the work to prevent catastrophic
fires on more than 11,000 hectares in the northern Sierra
Nevada Mountains. The partnership arose from the ashes of
2014’s King fire.
As we leave 2020, the soils are dry (and ashen) and most
reservoirs and aquifers have been somewhat drawn down by the
dry year. Most major water storage reservoirs have below
average storage, but some are above average. We enter WY
2021 with less stored water than when we entered 2020.
Among the largest wildfires in California history, the LNU
Lightning Complex fires killed five people and destroyed nearly
1,500 structures — including whole blocks of the Berryessa
Highlands neighborhood where Kody Petrini’s home stood. Camped
out in a trailer on his in-laws’ nearby lot, the 32-year-old
father of two, along with all of his neighbors, was warned not
to drink the water or boil it because it could be contaminated
with dangerous compounds like benzene…
As Arizonans contemplate how to cast their votes on Nov. 3, the
issue of water should be part of the decision. In Arizona we
are in a climate-driven, 20-year drought with no relief in
sight. The aridification of the West coupled with record
temperatures and lack of monsoon this summer should make all of
us aware of the importance of water.
Californians are understandably focused on the wildfires that
have charred more than 3 million acres and darkened our skies –
forcing us to find masks that protect us from both COVID-19 and
smoke. But Californians should also pay attention to the
multiple hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast this
season. These disasters have much in common.
Linking floating solar panels with hydropower could produce the
equivalent of 40% of the world’s electricity, according to a
new study by researchers at the Department of Energy. … The
study provides the first global look by federal researchers at
the technical potential of the hybrid concept.
Unfortunately, some Wall Street water companies are trying to
take advantage of California’s drought fears by pushing through
overpriced and unnecessary water projects. Poseidon Water Co.
is one of those companies. Poseidon has been working for years
to build a seawater desalination plant in Orange County,
seeking a deal that would lock the local utility into buying
their water for decades, regardless of need.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in
a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a
remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with
climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the
understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San
Assessments of the worst-case scenario predict the Bay may rise
a damaging 1.9 feet by 2050 and as much as nearly 7 feet by
2100. Restoring even a fraction of the Bay’s lost wetlands
would provide long-lasting benefits.
Tensions between Mexico and the United States over water
intensified this month as hundreds of Mexican farmers seized
control of La Boquilla dam in protest over mandatory water
releases. The protesters came from parched Chihuahua state,
nearly 100 square miles of land pressed against the U.S.
border, where farmers are opposing the delivery of over 100
billion gallons of water to the United States by October 24.
Four days before dry lightning ignited this year’s statewide
wildfire siege, state and federal leaders signed an agreement
to vastly expand vegetation management in California. This
signals progress towards shared management of forests to reduce
the risk of large severe wildfires and improve their resilience
to the changing climate. … But are current funding sources
enough to keep pace?
Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water,
while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per
acre-foot. Farmers who participate will receive a lower level
of water service during shortages or emergencies. That allows
the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial
and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits.
In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water
storage and supply reliability charges.
Climate change is affecting natural resources in California,
with water being one of the most important in the state. Water
source is critical for municipalities, agriculture, industry,
and habitat/environmental purposes. Will future supply meet
future demand? How will the economic value of water change over
Clean air, clean water and a functioning ecosystem are
considered priceless. Yet the economic value of nature remains
elusive in cost-benefit analysis of climate policy regulations
and greenhouse-gas-reduction efforts. A study published Monday
in the journal Nature Sustainability incorporates those
insights from sustainability science into a classic model of
climate change costs.
The monsoon season — that period from mid-June through
September that each year brings rains to the Mojave Desert and
other areas of the Southwest from the tropical coast of Mexico
— has been a dud this year. Las Vegas is in the middle of a
record-breaking stretch without rain, and residents should be
prepared for it to stay that way, scientists say.
Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology
… are using a form of artificial intelligence known as
machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence –
to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To
carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan
Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from
satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western
U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Regional water conservation groups and a Clark County
commissioner welcomed a request by Utah officials Thursday to
extend the federal environmental review of a controversial plan
to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River
to southwest Utah.
Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton
Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological
crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to
shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.
Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County
farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the
north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time
around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening
their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water
Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working
Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights
case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to
ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to
sustain rivers and lakes long-term.
Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute
extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their
multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in
California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46%
below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.
While more than half of California’s forests fall under federal
management, the U.S. Forest Service consistently spends fewer
dollars than the state in managing those lands to reduce
wildfire risks, a Reuters data analysis reveals. The relative
spending by federal and state forest authorities undermines
President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to blame deadly
wildfires on a failure by California to clear its forests of
dead wood and other debris.
Behind the apocalyptic wildfires in California and Oregon,
another ominous trend is creeping across the globe: Everywhere
in the world, trees are dying, with the biggest trees going
first. Entire forests are threatened worldwide.
Climate change is driving the scale and impact of recent
wildfires that have raged in California, say scientists. Their
analysis finds an “unequivocal and pervasive” role for global
heating in boosting the conditions for fire. California now has
greater exposure to fire risks than before humans started
altering the climate, the authors say.
No California communities are more shaped by water than those
in the Delta. Water surrounds communities like
Stockton. Water shaped our history and still shapes our
economy, quality of life, culture, and is essential for a
healthy environment. And for our communities,
water-related disasters are devastating. We see proof of that
The combination of drought conditions and heat waves, which can
make wildfires more likely, is becoming increasingly common in
the American West, according to a new study. The results may be
In Utah, there is a significant effort underway to build a
water delivery pipeline from Lake Powell to transport part of
Utah’s Colorado River entitlement to Utah’s St. George area. As
the federal environmental review for the proposed Lake Powell
Pipeline in Utah continues, Utah’s six fellow Colorado River
Basin states weighed in as a group, cautioning that unresolved
At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and
Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in
water resource management, gave a presentation on how the
United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship,
the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look
at the work currently in progress.
Despite facing recurring multi-year droughts (relatively high
exposure), California ranks very low in drought vulnerability.
Thanks to a strong economy and well-developed adaptation
measures, it’s better prepared for an extreme drought when it
occurs than most other states.
Beginning Wednesday, Front Range water providers will release
water stored in Homestake Reservoir in an effort to test how
they could get water downstream to the state line in the event
of a Colorado River Compact call….A compact call could occur
if the upper basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New
Mexico) can’t deliver the 7.5 million acre-feet of water per
year to the lower basin states (Arizona, California and
Nevada), as required by a nearly century-old binding agreement.
Results from the model showed potential increases in large flow
events and sediment transport over the next century. While
increased suspended sediment loads may have some negative
effects, such as contaminant transport, increased sediment can
improve fish habitats and help sustain wetlands in the
Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows,
canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of
science attached to it. Our latest article in Western
Water news examines a new report that synthesizes and
provides context for that science and could aid water managers
as they prepare to rewrite the operating rules for a river
system so vital to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
Earlier this summer, American Rivers released a new report,
Rivers as Economic Engines, detailing how the right investments
in water infrastructure, natural infrastructure and river
restoration can create jobs, strengthen communities and address
longstanding injustices. … We are calling on Congress to
invest $500 billion over 10 years to create the
transformational change we need when it comes to ensuring clean
water and healthy rivers for everyone.
A House Agriculture subcommittee this week will examine the
response to Western wildfires, less than three months after its
chairwoman predicted the COVID-19 pandemic would make this fire
season like no other.
A crisis could be approaching. The two giant reservoirs on the
Colorado River are both below 50 percent of capacity. If
drought causes even more drastic drops, the Bureau of
Reclamation could step in to prioritize the making of
electricity by the hydro plants at lakes Mead and Powell. No
one knows what BuRec would do, but it would call the shots and
end current arrangements.
California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible
for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than
25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of
farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an
exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.
California is one of America’s marvels. By moving vast
quantities of water and suppressing wildfires for decades, the
state has transformed its arid and mountainous landscape into
the richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation.
But now, those same feats have given California a new and
unwelcome category of superlatives.
By 2030 we will be water positive, meaning we will replenish
more water than we use. We’ll do this by putting back more
water in stressed basins than our global water consumption
across all basins. … We will focus our replenishment efforts
on roughly 40 highly stressed basins where we have
operations….Our new Silicon Valley campus, opening later this
year in California, features an on-site rainwater collection
system and waste treatment plant to ensure 100% of the site’s
non-potable water comes from onsite recycled sources.
President Trump dismissed evidence pointed to by California’s
governor of climate change’s role in the state’s continuing
wildfires during a Fox News interview on Sunday… The
president went on during the interview to attack California
over its water management policies, which he blamed on efforts
to protect the Delta smelt…
Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the
Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development
Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year
300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada
and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the
pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.
The Embarcadero faces severe threats, with regionwide
repercussions from both earthquakes that could undermine the
city’s seawall and a rise in bay waters that could flood
downtown streets and inundate BART and Muni tunnels, according
to an exhaustive new study from the Port of San Francisco.
The CZU Lightning Complex Fire badly damaged seven and a half
miles of water supply lines made of polyethylene, a plastic, in
northern Santa Cruz County. That triggered the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District, State Water Resources Control Board, and
Santa Cruz County Health Department to issue a Do Not Drink -
Do Not Boil water advisory for over 3,000 households in
Northern Santa Cruz County in late August.
There is a new product allowing businesses in California —
mostly farms and other agricultural businesses that rely on
water — to lock in prices for water. But there are plenty of
questions as to how this will actually work. To state the
obvious, it’s just not that easy to transact in water. It’s not
a block of gold, or even a barrel of oil.
What is all this smoke from wildfires doing to Lake Tahoe
itself? I called Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC
Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, to find out.
Schladow is part of a group of scientists that measure and
track Tahoe’s clarity. … To answer my question, Schladow gave
a standard scientist’s response: It’s complicated.
When fires burn up vegetation, the charred remains become
hydrophobic—meaning they repel away any water. The soil is also
very dry, which counterintuitively makes it harder for water to
infiltrate. … Fires can also destroy the natural clumps in
soil, increasing their erodibility. Altogether, this means that
water is hitting the ground with more force and the soil is
unable to suck it up.
In recent years, a wide range of water-related factors have
contributed to political instability, human dislocation and
migration, agricultural and food insecurity, and in more and
more cases, actual conflict and violence.
The U.S. Supreme Court kicks off its new term next month with a
unique “original jurisdiction” water dispute—the likes of which
could become more common as the climate changes. The justices
are set to hear Texas v. New Mexico, virtually, on their first
day of oral arguments Oct. 5. Here’s how original jurisdiction
water cases work, what’s at stake this term, and what’s on the
Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we
are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good
stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a
state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how
agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in
supporting salmon health.
Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own
well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new
groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct.
1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a
public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…
If the record heat and wildfires ravaging California weren’t a
clear enough sign that the climate is changing, then consider
this: Wall Street is about to start trading futures contracts
on the state’s water supply. … They are intended to both
allow California’s big water consumers—like almond farms and
municipalities—to hedge against surging prices and can act as a
benchmark that signals how acute water scarcity is becoming in
the state and, more broadly, across the globe.
On Wednesday, at the virtual 35th Annual WateReuse Symposium,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency facilitated a
“charrette” to identify challenges and map solutions to
continue advancing the National Water Reuse Action Plan…
“Water reuse must be a central theme in EPA’s efforts to meet
21st century demands for water,” said EPA Assistant
Administrator for Water David Ross.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that
a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the
“political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects
to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult
regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse
The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked
into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in
hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a
simple question: How much water is there? That answer is
complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River
tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the
future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.
A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has
developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild,
native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers
from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a
sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health
and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.
We recommend issuing “Do Not Use” orders in the wake of major
fires to protect the public before water testing results are
available. We believe it is acceptable to use water for fire
fighting and toilet flushing, but not for purposes that involve
ingestion, skin exposure or inhalation, such as bathing or
When the Creek Fire exploded to 160,000 acres in just 72 hours,
ripping through a jewel of the Sierra Nevada just south of
Yosemite National Park, California and the world looked on in
horror and surprise. But the stage had long been set for the
megablaze, one of a half-dozen transforming millions of acres
of Golden State landscapes to ash. Droughts supercharged
by climate change dried out vegetation, aiding its transition
Following a hot and extremely dry spring and summer, the Bureau
of Reclamation’s latest projections show that in a scenario of
continuing drought between now and 2025, the chances of Lake
Mead falling into a shortage has increased to nearly 80%. The
odds of the reservoir dropping to critically low levels by 2025
under this scenario was estimated at nearly 20%.
Scientists at Salo Sciences, a startup that works on technology
for natural climate solutions, began creating the tool after
interviewing dozens of experts in California about the state’s
challenges with wildfires: They need more detailed, up-to-date
information about the forests so they can better predict how
fast and in what direction fires will spread…
For 75 years, through tensions and disputes over immigration,
narcotrafficking and trade, Mexico and the United States have
sent each other billions of gallons of water annually to
irrigate farms along the border under a treaty signed during
World War II. But today, the 1944 agreement is facing
increasingly violent opposition in drought-parched Chihuahua
state, where protesters have seized control of a major dam to
dramatize the plight of farmers…
President Donald Trump, arriving in Sacramento for a
briefing on Western wildfires, continued to downplay the role
of climate change in California’s horrific fire season, claimed
the earth will soon begin cooling — and told California and
other states to solve the problem by managing their forests
more wisely. Trump’s comments belied the broad consensus
among scientists that climate change is contributing heavily to
the worsening of wildfire seasons — and that the problem will
get worse over time, not better.
New mapping of salt concentrations in the world’s oceans
confirms what physics and climate models have long suggested:
Global warming is intensifying Earth’s water cycle, speeding up
the rate at which water evaporates in one area and falls as
rain or snow somewhere else. That intensification has enormous
implications because it worsens droughts and increases extreme
rainstorms and flooding.
Mexico’s water wars have turned deadly. A long-simmering
dispute about shared water rights between Mexico and the United
States has erupted into open clashes pitting Mexican National
Guard troops against farmers, ranchers and others who seized a
dam in northern Chihuahua state.
In recent years, nearly 150 million trees died around the state
as their roots delved fruitlessly for water and a devastating
bark beetle infestation took hold. Both the drought and the
insect spread that came with it were exacerbated by changing
climate conditions linked to humans burning fossil fuels,
scientists concluded. Now those trees, like so much else in the
American West, are burning as California contends with a
reckoning more than 100 years in the making.
The cuts are a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the
Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels have
precipitously dropped as a result of historic overallocation
and a drought that started in 2000. … ASU Now checked in with
Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison
Institute on how these new developments will impact the Copper
State and its residents.
As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record
highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis,
biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different
disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can
remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows, canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of science attached to it. Snowpack, streamflow and tree ring data all influence the crucial decisions that guide water management of the iconic Western river every day.
Dizzying in its scope, detail and complexity, the scientific information on the Basin’s climate and hydrology has been largely scattered in hundreds of studies and reports. Some studies may conflict with others, or at least appear to. That’s problematic for a river that’s a lifeline for 40 million people and more than 4 million acres of irrigated farmland.
Delaying emissions reductions now and having to deploy carbon
removal at large scale in the coming decades could worsen water
stress at the same time that water is already expected to
become scarcer in some regions and seasons due to warming
temperatures, said Andres Clarens, one of the study authors.
California’s average temperature of 79 degrees last month was
5.3 degrees above normal in the state for August. August heat
will have “a carryover effect” in California, University of
Colorado fire scientist Jennifer Balch said, making forests and
grasslands drier than normal and primed for ignition when the
state’s peak wildfire season begins next month with the arrival
of strong winds.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
California is on track to get drier over the coming decades.
But that doesn’t mean the golden state’s water woes come only
from too little rain. In a new study, researchers at UC Santa
Barbara and UCLA warn that flooding potential associated with
extreme precipitation events is set to sharply increase.
“When a forest burns in a wildfire, should we expect it to
return as it was before?” Research scientist Jonathan Coop and
his team pose this question. It addresses a critical conundrum
in ecology: How do ecosystems recover from disturbance and why?
There is something in the water on planet Earth. A study
published Wednesday reveals climate change has amplified the
water cycle, which explains the more frequent extreme weather
patterns in recent years.
While California’s climate has always made the state prone to
fires, the link between human-caused climate change and bigger
fires is inextricable, said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist
at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Less than two years after the most destructive fire in
California history tore through Paradise, the same region was
under siege from a second monster firestorm that quickly grew
to more than 250,000 acres, sweeping through mountain hamlets
and killing at least three people. … Across the state, 28
major wildfires have prompted more than 64,000 people to
In 2010, tribes joined the company that owns the dams and other
stakeholders in an agreement to remove the dams in 2020. The
plan was later delayed to 2022, and now it may stall again
because of a recent decision by federal regulators.
The project proposes to cover 3,600 acres near the town of
Ducor with enough solar panels to … provide 100% of the power
needed for 180,000 homes… The Tulare County Farm Bureau did
submit a letter reminding the board of the law’s intent to
preserve farm land and not to create solar farms, but
ultimately agreed the project would give landowners with sparse
access to irrigation water options to make their lands
The Guidebook is designed to assist urban water suppliers with
preparing UWMPs that are due to DWR on July 1. DWR also
released its draft 2020 Agricultural Water Management Plan
Guidebook related to long-term water supply and demand
strategies for agricultural water planning.
If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands
could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea
level rise, a destructive predicament that would threaten both
the sensitive habitat and the critical infrastructure in the
nature preserve. To prepare for rising tides, the city is
moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation
By killing millions of trees in the Sierra National Forest, the
historic drought that ended in 2017 left an incendiary supply
of dry fuel that appears to have intensified the fire that’s
ravaged more than 140,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada,
wildfire scientists and forestry experts said.
The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a
just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last
Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to
the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a
combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of
Wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres in California
this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens
of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that
strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for
millions. The most striking thing about the record is how early
it was set, with the most dangerous part of the year still
ahead…About 30 houses were destroyed in the remote hamlet of
Big Creek, … [but] a school, church, library, historic
general store and a major hydroelectric plant were spared…
Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other
potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study
in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes
research articles and commentaries providing a broad
understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.
Arizona’s top water regulator has endorsed a company’s proposal
to take water from farmland near the Colorado River and sell it
to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek. The plan,
which still would require federal approval, has generated a
heated debate about whether transferring water away from the
farming community of Cibola could harm the local economy, and
whether the deal would open the gates for more companies to buy
land near the river with the sole aim of selling off the water
Starting in mid-July, the flows in the Noyo River began
dropping faster than in any other summer on record. The river
flow is below 2015 low flows, when the entire state was in a
drought emergency. John Smith, director of Fort Bragg Public
Works, said staff had never before seen water levels in the
Noyo drop so precipitously.
I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San
Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San
Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner
at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera
Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will
require of growers in the years ahead.
With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages
already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse.
Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science &
Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of
about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that
one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional
As the North Bay continues to deal with thick smoke from
still-smoldering wildfires, some experts are already beginning
to wonder about this winter. They’re concerned about endangered
salmon in the Russian River watershed. Ground zero is the Warm
Springs Fish Hatchery just below Lake Sonoma, at the top of the
Dry Creek Valley.
Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared
priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a
long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to
restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake
Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of
collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on
domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because
domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive
to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable
groundwater management has an important role to play in
safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the
achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.
CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and
two federal partners to better understand how water, trees,
soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and
drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has
chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a
variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not
only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and
Recent research looking at projected global temperature
increases and large-scale oceanic and atmospheric processes
contains alarming news for California water and flood planners.
According to this emerging science, intense precipitation and
flooding from “pineapple express”-style winter storms could
both shift eastwardly landward and intensify by up to 40% by
the latter half of the century.
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week
said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven
parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing
oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a
“breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to
expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by
climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air
Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul
how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile
tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the
Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the
delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue
to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate
change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to
act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of
shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The
tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s
never-ending water wars.
As darkness fell and a thick Pacific fog crept in over the
Point Reyes peninsula on Sunday, a small band of animal
activists waited for a National Park Service official to leave
his check-post… At 6 p.m., as his shift came to a close and
he drove away, the small bucket-brigade crept in. They were
transporting roughly 200 gallons of water to the park’s tule
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted
unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and
also approve findings that the programs are exempt from
California Environmental Quality Act review — meaning the
programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the
Laurie Huning, a hydrologist at California State University,
Long Beach, said snow droughts have been understudied relative
to other types of drought, which is why she and her colleague
Amir AghaKouchak sought to create a framework for monitoring
and describing the phenomenon around the world.
We discuss innovative water solutions with Cynthia Koehler,
executive director of the Water Now Alliance, a nonprofit that
works with water providers to help them address climate change
and other challenges facing our water systems. Topics include
water conservation, green infrastructure, tiered water pricing,
big data and new technologies.
The Twentynine Palms Water District will pay the consulting
firm of Kennedy Jenks $84,660 to create a new Urban Water
Management Plan for the district. … The plan, General Manager
Ray Kolisz told directors, helps with long term planning of
water resources and existing and future needs. This year’s
plan,he said, will need to address issues related to climate
New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows
that by the years 2045-2049 future temperatures will have more
of an effect on when cool-season crops, such as broccoli and
lettuce, can be grown than on where, while for warm-season
crops (cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots) the impact will be
greater for where they can be grown versus when.
Michael Wara, a climate and energy expert at Stanford
University who’s advised the state Legislature on wildfire
issues, said the state is still grappling with a legacy of
spending money on fighting fires instead of on forest health,
such as thinning overgrown brush and removing millions of
drought-killed trees, building fire breaks around communities
and intentionally setting fires when conditions safely allow
As California grapples with record-breaking heat, wildfire,
pandemic, and a $54 billion budget deficit, TPR spoke with
CalEPAgency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld to discuss how his
agency’s priorities have been impacted… Blumenfeld reiterates
Gov. Newsom’s commitment to ensuring safe and affordable rural
drinking water and opportunities to propel the state’s
post-COVID economic recovery with clean jobs.
With Lake Mendocino losing about a foot of water every five
days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that 2020 is
the “third driest year on record for the basin.” Though 2019
“was one of the wettest years over the past 25 years, this year
is stacking up to be one of the driest,” the Army Corps
explained…However, the Army Corps said a new forecasting
model for storms developed over the last few years has
definitely helped maintain the lake’s water levels.
Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can
be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are
low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is
important for plants, animals and people.
North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with
periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the
wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially
dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.
The study … says that some of the most water-stressed areas
in the West and Southwest have the greatest potential for water
savings. The paper attributes nearly half the potential to
simply improving how water is used in agriculture, specifically
in growing the commodity crops, corn, cotton and alfalfa.
At ACWA’s virtual conference held in July of 2020, a panel
comprised of agencies described the experience of the American
River region in evaluating climate impacts on their watershed
in a new cutting-edge study and the comprehensive suite of
projects designed to address increasing threats from more
frequent and intense floods, fires, and droughts.
The Innovation Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions (CECS), a
state-funded collaboration between eight California research
institutions, is working to develop innovative solutions to
managing California’s wildlands to reduce negative impacts of
drought and climate change. The Center’s goal is to identify
land management practices that simultaneously enhance carbon
sequestration, reduce wildfire severity, protect watersheds and
increase ecological and community resilience. The center is
conducting a survey to better understand stakeholder needs and
develop data/information solutions for active ecosystem
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57%
runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that
remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier
zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought
Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona,
Nevada, and Mexico.
A new report issued today by the California Environmental
Protection Agency shows that at least half of California’s
landfill-bound food waste could be processed at the state’s
wastewater treatment plants and serve as an innovative power
The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is
partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC
San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve
water management before, during and after those seasonal
storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District,
Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation
District, and Yuba Water Agency.]
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
Most scientists in the field agree that sea levels should have
risen more than they did over most of the past century. In this
new effort, the researchers have taken another look at the
problem and suggest the reason for the discrepancies was water
being captured in reservoirs by dams.
There is some debate about what counts as water theft – or even
if it exists at all, as water is a natural resource that we all
have access to. But the team looked at three separate case
studies involving improper water use: growing marijuana in
California, strawberries in Spain, and cotton in Australia.
Men and women from Native American tribes in Northern
California stood in a circle, alongside university students and
locals from around the town of Mariposa. … For the next two
days, the group would be carefully lighting fires in the
surrounding hills. Also sprinkled through the crowd were
officials from the state government, which a century ago had
largely prohibited California’s tribes from continuing their
ancient practice of controlled burns.
A friend last week pointed out something remarkable. Arizona,
California, and Nevada are forecast this year to use just 6.8
million acre feet of their 7.5 million acre foot allocation of
water from the main stem of the Colorado River. And that’s not
just a one-off.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
Developers submitted dueling bids for the right to revamp a
48-acre triangular stretch of land off Sports Arena Boulevard
in San Diego’s Midway District. Critics are fixated on whether
to replace the old, grain bin-looking sports arena. … But
whatever stands there in the end could be up to its ears in
seawater in the second half of this century.
The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells
Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday
afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the
sole no vote. The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee
protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the
number of protest votes received…
It will take time to conduct a thorough autopsy of the
blackouts. Some observers have said the shutoffs were actually
unnecessary, that the state had enough power to make it through
the heat wave. Gov. Newsom has called for an investigation into
The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in
California and Colorado show clear influences of global
warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming
and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires
from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains.
A statewide public effort to determine whether Coloradans
should engage in perhaps the biggest water conservation program
in state history — a Lake Powell drought contingency pool —
enters its second year of study this summer.
Kristen Averyt, PhD, is Nevada’s first State Climate Policy
Coordinator and offered a 42 minute presentation on climate
change and what it means for the environment and economics of
the Lake Tahoe Basin, region, and planet. On this edition of
the Wild Hare we take you on a tour of Dr. Averyt’s comments…
Under the plan, California agencies and the U.S. Forest Service
will use brush clearing, logging and prescribed fires to thin
out 1 million acres a year by 2025 — an area larger than
Yosemite National Park every 12 months, and roughly double the
current rate of thinning, which already is double rates from a
few years ago.
California still hasn’t met habitat restoration and dust
suppression goals for the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake
that has long been plagued by a shrinking coastline, rising
salinity numbers, insect infestations, and dying fish
populations. State Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot
acknowledged during a workshop Wednesday that “we’re coming
’The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, three days
before the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
public hearing on a controversial replenishment fee. The fee
would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by
nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local
community towards extinction,” according to the campaign…
The weekend’s record-bursting heat wave and freak summer
lightning storm have left an already parched Northern
California with a rash of rapidly spreading wildfires — more
than 300 blazes — something rarely seen before and possibly
unprecedented in scope, climate scientists say.
In the new study, researchers modeled the effects of rising sea
level along the entire California coastline. While results
varied with local topography, the study indicates rising sea
levels could push inland water tables higher, resulting in
damage to infrastructure and increased severity of flooding.
Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted
and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only
one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our
most valuable resource
Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain
stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on
Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to
study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.
We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests
to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of
firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new
tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation
can increase water yield.
Last year, California passed a law establishing a fund for safe
and affordable drinking water. Using money from the state’s
cap-and-trade program, it allocates up to $130 million to
solutions each year for a decade.
A report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office has
sobering reminders of what sea-level rise will do to our
coastline, our economy and to our public and private property.
The report urges local and state governments not to get
distracted by COVID-19 from planning ahead for the rising seas.
Last month, an international team of scientists, including
Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update
on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon
Project. … They built one of the computer models that allows
scientists to quantify these methane emissions from wetlands at
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the
Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday
afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on
the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from
the ailing Klamath River.
The current heatwave broiling Californians like no event in
decades is also elevating the risk for another potential
disaster in the weeks ahead: wildfires. … As a result of
climate change, California sees more than twice as many fall
days with “fire weather” as it did a generation ago.
Sonoma Water Engineer Chris Delaney led development of a
forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) decision support
system for Lake Mendocino… Center For Western Weather And
Water Extremes… A proof-of-concept model was originally
developed by Chris in 2015 as a personal research project, and
has been refined over the past 5 years with research and
The latest forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,
released last week, predicts that by the end of 2020, Lake
Mead, which furnishes Central Arizona Project water, will be at
1,085 feet elevation. While that’s 5 feet lower than the lake
stood at the end of 2019, it’s still 10 feet higher than the
water level that would trigger the first major shortage,
slicing more than 520,000 acre feet of water, roughly one-third
of the state’s total supply.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday that
suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip 16 feet and 5 feet,
respectively, in January from levels recorded a year earlier.
Despite the dip, Lake Mead would stay above the threshold that
triggers severe water cuts to cities and farms, giving
officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for the
future when the flow will slow.
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
One of the hottest air temperatures recorded anywhere on the
planet in at least a century, and possibly ever, was reached on
Sunday afternoon at Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert
where it soared to 130 Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius).
The University of California Desert Research and Extension
Center (UC DREC) was established in 1912 and is the oldest
research and extension center in the UC system. For the past
108 years, UC DREC has conducted innovative and relevant
agricultural, natural resources, and environmental research and
extension in arid desert regions.