Topic: Climate Change


Climate Change

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California braces for heavy wildfire activity this fall

Experts are warning Californians to brace for a ‘very active’ wildfire season this fall as two back-to-back wet winters and forecasts for a warmer-than-normal summer are likely to prime the state’s landscape for fire. Even as recent blazes triggered evacuations in Los Angeles and Sonoma counties, those incidents may prove to be relatively tame compared with what the rest of the year could have in store, said Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist and extreme weather expert. … Climate change is also driving warmer global temperatures and a thirstier atmosphere, both of which can extract more water from the landscape and pave the way for hotter and faster fires in the West and other arid areas, Swain said. In fact, he said the state’s recent cycling between wet and dry conditions is in some ways the worst setup for wildfire activity in a warming world.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Water experts encourage partnerships to address climate change

Water experts say that officials must work closely with communities to efficiently manage groundwater systems amid climate change — despite growing animosity among landowners. Scientists and experts at the nonpartisan Water Education Foundation’s third international groundwater conference Tuesday said that, with so many styles of groundwater management, strong partnerships are the only way to sustainably handle water supplies within and beyond California. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California wildfires intensify: Post fire marches toward Pyramid Lake

A major wildfire in northern Los Angeles County continued burning Monday evening southeast toward Pyramid Lake, scorching more than 15,000 acres to become the state’s largest blaze of the year.… Since Saturday, more than 20 fires sparked across California, burning over 20,000 acres…. Such early-season fires are fueled by heat-dried grasses, and Southern California’s hillsides and mountains are dense with vegetation after two back-to-back wet winters. Because of that, more dangerous fires that engulf larger trees and plants are likely in store for later this year, according to Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA…. In particular, the forested, high-elevation areas that have endured some of the state’s worst wildfires in recent memory are still moist following two strong wet seasons and haven’t yet started to display much wildfire activity. That could change as conditions get hotter and drier for longer stretches of time…

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Only 8% of California rivers and streams have gauges tracking flow, study finds

In the face of climate change and worsening cycles of drought, California water managers have been increasingly focused on the precise tracking of water resources. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is measured with sensors and aerial images, reservoir levels are electronically logged, and the movement of water through aqueducts is apportioned based on rights and contracts. Yet there is another key water metric that California has never adequately measured: the flow of rivers and streams. New research by UC Berkeley scientists has found that only 8% of the state’s rivers and streams are equipped with gauges — devices that measure the level and rate of movement of water. The study … details the large portions of the state’s waterways that aren’t monitored and examines the consequences for humans and wildlife as climate change intensifies the water cycle, alters watersheds and threatens vulnerable fish and other species.

Aquafornia news CNN

A water war is looming between Mexico and the US. Neither side will win

Tensions are rising in a border dispute between the United States and Mexico. But this conflict is not about migration; it’s about water. Under an 80-year-old treaty, the United States and Mexico share waters from the Colorado River and the Rio Grande, respectively. But in the grip of severe drought and searing temperatures, Mexico has fallen far behind in deliveries, putting the country’s ability to meet its obligations in serious doubt. Some politicians say they cannot give what they do not have. It’s a tough argument to swallow for farmers in South Texas, also struggling with a dearth of rain. They say the lack of water from Mexico is propelling them into crisis, leaving the future of farming in the balance. Some Texas leaders have called on the Biden administration to withhold aid from Mexico until it makes good on the shortfall.

Aquafornia news Valley Water News

Blog: A Climate Resilience Bond must invest in California’s water future

… In the past 12 years, California has endured two multi-year droughts, including a stretch from 2020 to 2022 that was the state’s driest three-year period on record. California also experienced two of the wettest winters on record, fueled by a parade of atmospheric rivers that caused flooding in Santa Clara County and across the state. If we fail to invest in infrastructure now, we all will face serious challenges with disadvantaged communities bearing the worst through unaffordable water and increased flooding. That’s why Valley Water and the Association of California Water Agencies are advocating for a Climate Resilience Bond to be placed on the November ballot with two-thirds of the funding going to water infrastructure.
-Written by Rick Callender, Chief Executive Officer of Valley Water, and Dave Eggerton, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

Aquafornia news

Low snow on the Himalayas threatens water security: Study

Millions of people dependent on Himalayan snowmelt for water face a “very serious” risk of shortages this year after one of the lowest rates of snowfall, scientists warned Monday. Snowmelt is the source of about a quarter of the total water flow of 12 major river basins that originate high in the region, the report said. ”This is a wake-up call for researchers, policymakers, and downstream communities,” said report author Sher Muhammad, from the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). ”Lower accumulation of snow and fluctuating levels of snow pose a very serious increased risk of water shortages, particularly this year.” Snow and ice on the Himalayas are a crucial water source for around 240 million people in the mountainous regions, as well as for another 1.65 billion people in the river valleys below, according to ICIMOD.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: DWP’s new leader wants to shake things up. It won’t be easy

An honest-to-goodness map of the American West would show L.A.’s tentacles everywhere. You’d see canals — the Los Angeles Aqueduct, running along the base of the Sierra Nevada, carrying water from the Owens River; the State Water Project, meandering through the San Joaquin Valley, supplying many Southern California cities and farms; and the Colorado River Aqueduct, cutting through the desert on its mission to deliver water from desert to coast. You’d see electric lines too — a sprawling network of wires that over the decades have furnished Angelenos with power from coal plants in Nevada, Utah and Montana; from nuclear reactors in Arizona; and from hydropower dams in the Pacific Northwest. Los Angeles has reshaped the West. And the city’s Department of Water and Power has been the agent of change. Last month, Janisse Quiñones took the helm as the agency’s new leader, after being recommended by L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and confirmed unanimously by City Council.
-Written by Sammy Roth, climate columnist for the LA Times. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: California dams need repairs. But Newsom plans to cut grants in half

Several dozen dams throughout California could store up to 107 billion more gallons of water if they underwent repairs to fix safety problems. But facing a staggering state deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting funding for a dam repair grant program in half this year, while state legislators want the $50 million restored. California has an aging network of nearly 1,540 dams — large and small, earthen and concrete — that help store vital water supplies. For 42 of these dams, state officials have restricted the amount of water that can be stored behind them because safety deficiencies would raise the risk to people downstream from earthquakes, storms or other problems.  Owned by cities, counties, utilities, water districts and others, these dams have lost nearly 330,000 acre-feet of storage capacity because of the state’s safety restrictions. That water — equivalent to the amount used by 3.6 million people for a year — could be used to supply communities, farms or hydropower.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Western US faces snow drought as summer heats up

Another winter without enough snow and rain has left much of the western United States parched for water, according to scientists monitoring a snow drought.  Thanks to below-normal precipitation during the water season, snow drought conditions persist across most of the West, according to a June 12 report from scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While some regions such as the Sierra Nevada range, improved over the winter, scientists say many places will see further drought development or intensification this summer. Many locations in Washington and the northern Rocky Mountains received less than 15% of the average rainfall, with eight weather stations in Montana and two in Washington reporting record low rainfall values. In Idaho, Montana and Washington, snow drought developed early in the season and persisted, bringing snow water equivalent — the water contained in a mountain’s snowpack — to 55 to 75% of the normal amount.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Grand jury report faults San Francisco climate threat plans

As climate change unleashes ever-more powerful storms, worsening floods and rising sea levels, San Francisco remains woefully unprepared for inundation, a civil grand jury determined in a report this week. The critical assessment — written by 19 San Franciscans selected by the Superior Court — found that the city and county lacked a comprehensive funding plan for climate adaptation and that existing sewer systems cannot handle worsening floods. Among other concerns, the report also concluded that efforts toward making improvements have been hampered by agency silos and a lack of transparency. Members of the volunteer jury serve yearlong terms and are tasked with investigating city and county government by reviewing documents and interviewing public officials, experts and private individuals.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How California climate bond could boost lithium, aid Salton Sea

… The Salton Sea region is facing economic pressure to become a substantial domestic supplier of lithium, placing greater challenges on lower-income communities that already face significant disparities – yet contribute so much to the prosperity and quality-of-life of others. … This year, state leaders have a chance to place a climate bond on the November ballot, which would give voters an opportunity to approve important environmental protections and clean energy projects. This bond can benefit all areas of the state, while also providing $400 million to the Salton Sea region and $15 million to establish a conservancy. 
-Written by Silvia Paz, executive director of Alianza Coachella Valley, and former chair of California’s Lithium Valley Commission.​

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California escalates legal battle against oil companies

California Attorney General Rob Bonta intensified his legal fight against five of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies Monday, filing an amended complaint that accuses Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute of engaging in a prolonged campaign of deception about the realities of climate change and the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. In the amended complaint, filed Monday afternoon in San Francisco County Superior Court, the attorney general introduces new evidence of false advertising and greenwashing by the companies and seeks the disgorgement remedy provided by Assembly Bill 1366, which was enacted earlier this year. The remedy would require the defendants to surrender profits obtained through their alleged illegal activities, with the funds being directed to the newly established Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund. Related article:

Aquafornia news BBC

Brazil wildfires: Parts of Pantanal wetlands ablaze amid drought

Firefighters are battling wildfires in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland. The Pantanal is home to jaguars, giant anteaters and giant river otters. Close to 32,000 hectares have already been destroyed by the fires in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, local media report. Climate experts say this year’s wildfire season has started earlier and is more intense than in previous years. Firefighters said their efforts to extinguish the flames were being hampered by high winds over the weekend. The region has also seen less rain than in other years, which has made it easier for the fires to spread.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Amid budget shortfall, lobbyists push for multibillion-dollar climate bond

Dozens of environmental groups, renewable energy companies, labor unions, water agencies and social justice advocates are lobbying state lawmakers to place a multibillion dollar climate bond on the November ballot. Sacramento lawmakers have been bombarded with ads and pitches in support of a ballot proposal that would have the state borrow as much as $10 billion to fund projects related to the environment and climate change. “Time to GO ALL IN on a Climate Bond,” says the ad from WateReuse California, a trade association advocating for projects that would recycle treated sewage and storm runoff into drinking water. … Negotiations are ongoing in closed-door meetings, but details emerged recently when two spreadsheets of the proposed spending, one for an Assembly bill known as AB 1567 and the other for the Senate’s SB 867, were obtained by the news organization Politico. The two plans, which would be combined into a single ballot measure, include money for wildlife and land protection, safe drinking water, shoring up the coast from erosion and wildfire prevention.

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Aquafornia news Snow News

Blog: Defining the ’snow deluge’ and projecting its future

For California’s Sierra Nevada, the winter of 2022-2023 delivered an epic snowpack that broke many records and busted a severe drought. … Both hazardous and helpful, the banner year was also of interest to snow scientists, such as Adrienne Marshall, an assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. Marshall was lead author of a paper published in April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that introduces the term “snow deluge” to describe extreme snow years like the one California weathered.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: 2024’s first major heat wave highlights the important topic of Sierra snowpack during July Headwaters Tour

With temperatures spiking across California this week, now is a great time to reserve your spot on our Headwaters Tour July 24-25 when we’ll explore the role of the Sierra Nevada snowpack in the state’s water supply and how heatwaves can accelerate snowmelt. The state’s critical ‘frozen reservoir’ was slightly above average at the end of the 2024 snow survey season, following an epic snowpack in 2023 that prompted widespread flooding and the resurrection of Tulare Lake. During the July tour, we’ll also learn how snowpack is measured and translated into forecasts of California’s water supply for the year. … The 2-day, 1-night tour with an overnight in Lake Tahoe travels up the Sierra foothills and into the mountains within the American River and Yuba River watersheds. Meadow restoration, climate change, wildfire impact and more will be discussed as we pass through Eldorado and Tahoe national forests.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The end of the great northern forests? The tiny tree-killing beetle wreaking havoc on our ancient giants

The giant sequoia is so enormous that it was once believed to be indestructible. High in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains, the oldest trees – known as monarchs – have stood for more than 2,000 years. Today, however, in Sequoia national park, huge trunks lie sprawled on the forest floor, like blue whale carcasses stranded on a beach. Many of these trees were felled by a combination of drought and fire. But among the factors responsible for the rising toll is a tiny new suspect: the bark beetle. Along with wildfires and rising temperatures, scientists fear that the insects could contribute to the breakdown of Earth’s northern conifer forests, including the potential dieback of the taiga, the vast ecosystem that stretches across Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia and Alaska.

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Aquafornia news United Nations

Blog: Leaders at World Water Forum urged to prioritize drought resilience

Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster. That is, provided all communities are adequately equipped before it strikes. At the 10th World Water Forum, held in Bali from 18 to 25 May, experts urged decision-makers to prioritize drought resilience in the face of climate change, drawing inspiration from success cases around the globe. Representatives from the scientific, non-profit, and technical sectors made the case for building resilience to the world’s costliest and deadliest hazard at an event featuring partners of the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA.) … “Drought and desertification are not just problems for the Sahel region of Africa and for developing countries,” said UNCCD policy officer Daniel Tsegai before an international audience. “We already see impacts in highly productive and populated parts of the developed world like California, Spain, and Australia.”

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: The nation’s weather forecasting must rise to the challenges of climate change

There is a critical need to improve and expand precipitation forecasting in the Western United States. Access to reliable forecasts at timeframes longer than seven days is long overdue, especially in the West, where conditions can rapidly swing between extreme droughts and floods.  Advancing and updating our precipitation forecasts is beyond necessary for our decision-makers, water agencies, agricultural producers, energy suppliers, tribes and others, so they can take accurate and necessary mitigation actions and put contingency plans in place to protect our cities and our local communities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for weather forecasts, provided through the National Weather Service (NWS) and weather and climate research produced by the Office of Atmospheric Research. Together, these agencies support the National Weather Service’s goal of having a “weather-ready nation,” preparing communities for extreme weather, water, and climate events.
-Written by Rep. Grace Napolitano, who serves as the representative for California’s 31st District.   

Aquafornia news USA Today

Tuesday forecast shows brutal temperatures to Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada

The first rounds of dangerous heat have arrived this summer. Millions of Americans will endure extreme heat throughout California and Texas on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Excessive heat warnings, excessive heat watches and heat advisories have been issued across both states and the desert Southwest. Extreme heats will impact the Great Basin and Intermountain West toward the end of this week continuing into next week. The Lower Rio Grande Valley can expect record-breaking temperatures and dangerous heat indices through Wednesday. The heat index could reach 117 degrees in the valley, while Corpus Christi can expect a heat index of 111 degrees on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Valley Ag Voice

Placing Central Valley’s dairy industry and wetlands in focus 

Wetlands are the Earth’s largest natural source of methane — a potent greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere — according to the Department of Energy’s Larence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Methane is a key point of controversy among dairy producers and the environmental justice community given that dairy and livestock are responsible for over half of California’s methane emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board.   However, a peer-reviewed paper recently published by CABI Biological Sciences argues that the state’s dairy sector can reach climate neutrality in the coming years through aggressive methane mitigation which almost no other sector can achieve.  

Aquafornia news E&E News

Geoengineering faces a local vote with global consequences

The fate of the nation’s first outdoor experiment of the potential to limit global warming by altering clouds will be determined this week by a handful of local officials in the San Francisco Bay Area. But before the city council of Alameda, elected by a community of 77,000 people, decides on whether to allow the resumption of the internationally significant research, it will discuss replacing the roof of a senior center and other municipal issues. The consideration of the marine cloud brightening study — official, agenda item “7-B” — stands to be one of the first consequential public hearings on solar geoengineering in the nation. The unusual situation set to play out Tuesday night illustrates just how hard it is to test technologies that might be used in the future to brighten clouds or spray aerosols in the stratosphere — promising but ethically fraught ways to turn down the planet’s thermostat by reflecting sunlight back into space.

Aquafornia news Politico

Mexico’s new president is a climate scientist. That could be a boon for California.

California officials are cheering Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum’s victory as one for the California climate, too. “Having an engineer whose background is working on climate, it’s a big deal,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat representing California’s inland border region who was in Mexico City with Sheinbaum’s team on Sunday to witness her landslide victory. … California politicians already enjoy close relationships with their Mexican counterparts and have agreements in place to work on a host of climate issues, including drought, land conservation, recycling and cross-border truck emissions. … Josué Medellín-Azuara, an environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Merced said he was hoping for more collaboration on water infrastructure and drought resiliency in particular.

Related background article: 

Aquafornia news Living on Earth

Listen: US-Mexico Water Treaty

Amid extreme drought affecting Rio Grande tributaries, Mexico is struggling to make water deliveries to Texas as required by an 80-year old treaty. Martha Pskowski is a reporter with Inside Climate News and spoke with Living on Earth’s Paloma Beltran about how the situation is linked to climate change and farmer livelihoods in both the US and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Can the U.S. Drought Monitor keep up with climate change?

Known for its glowing swaths of yellow, orange and red, the U.S. Drought Monitor has warned farmers, residents and officials throughout the nation of impending water scarcity every week since 1999. Backed by data on soil moisture, temperature, snow cover, meltwater runoff, reservoir levels and more, the map has become an essential instrument for determining the outlook of water supplies, declaring drought emergencies and deciding where and when government aid should be distributed, among other things. But this critical diagnostic tool is also struggling to keep pace with climate change as longer and more persistent dry spells plague the American West and take an increasing toll on groundwater reserves and the Colorado River, according to a recent study published in the journal AGU Advances. One problem, researchers say, is that the monitor was launched just as one of the driest periods in the history of the Southwest began, and it has never been adjusted for the region’s growing aridity.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California has underestimated the epic potential of future flooding

For well over a century, the Great Flood of 1862 has remained among California’s worst natural disasters — a megastorm that’s been used as a benchmark for state emergency planners and officials to better prepare for the future. A dreaded repeat of the flood — which killed at least 4,000 people and turned the Central Valley into a 300-mile-long sea — would probably eclipse the devastation of a major California earthquake and cause up to $1 trillion in damage, some experts say. Yet even as California scrambles to cope with the effects of climate whiplash and increasingly extreme weather, new research suggests the potential magnitude of such events could be far greater than that of the 1862 deluge. After analyzing layers of sediment at Carrizo Plain National Monument, researchers at Cal State Fullerton say they have identified two massive, unrecorded Southern California flood events within the last 600 years.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature Magazine

On the Russian River, a slow road to good fire

Ukiah Fire Chief Doug Hutchison knew what kind of hassle the city was getting into by acquiring some 763 acres of overgrown, fire-starved forest on the city’s western edge—but it seemed worth it. There, Doolin Creek’s two forks merge and run through a steep canyon, eventually heading straight through the city and emptying into the Russian River. Steelhead trout, which swim most of the way up the Russian River’s 110 miles to spawn in its tributaries, and year-round resident native fishes like sculpins and roaches, are kept cool by big trees shading the creek. California nutmeg, fragrant like sandalwood, has been spotted here, and spiky chinquapin. Also, the manzanita and chamise are so thick in places that it’s hard to walk through. If a big hot fire rolled through here, it would be very bad for the wildlife, the forest, and the community. The city has taken on the property to mitigate those fire risks and protect the watershed.

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Aquafornia news Surfrider

Blog: Plastic pellets spilled along Southern California coast

“Have you ever heard of nurdles?” I have posed this question countless times while tabling at events and giving talks across San Diego County.  “They are pre-production plastic pellets,” I explain while pouring a few out of a jar into the palm of my hand, adding, “Just about everything made out of plastic starts with nurdles. They are melted down and poured into molds to create plastic cutlery, beach toys, milk jugs…you name it!” I then reveal that I collected the nurdles on display from North County San Diego beaches, emphasizing that ”they easily escape during manufacturing and can also be lost when transported in trucks, shipping containers, and freight trains.” Despite sharing this information with people of all ages for years, it hadn’t occurred to me that the nurdles I find might originate from the rail corridor that transects the beach communities that I frequent in Northern San Diego. 

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Opinion: Is climate action on extreme heat a human right?

Is climate action on extreme heat a human right? It was a provocative opening question that I posed to the science education graduate students in my climate justice course at San José State University. Put another way: Is a government’s failure to take action on the climate crisis a violation of human rights? The question of human rights, climate justice, and vulnerable groups recently emerged in the news in two different cases an ocean apart, with drastically different outcomes. However, they were connected by an ever-pressing issue: extreme heat and human health. In one case, a group of women known as the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection argued before the European Court of Human Rights that by failing to meet climate sustainability goals and create accountability measures, the Swiss government had violated their human rights.
-Written by Tammie Visintainer, an assistant professor of science education at San José State University.

Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

Blog: Arizona’s summer monsoons – It can get wild and wooly, so let’s all be aware

Monsoon Awareness Week – the annual effort by state, local and federal agencies to prepare the public for these awesome, often dangerously powerful storm patterns – is nearly upon us. As for the monsoon storms themselves? Well, they will arrive. Eventually. Maybe later than usual this year. But, nevertheless, the message remains: Be prepared. Oh, sure, they make some fun of our appropriation of the term “monsoon” in India where rainfall at the peak of the summer monsoon season in June and July averages 16-20 inches and where one uniquely situated village averages 107 inches in July alone. But the often fierce winds driving moisture from the Mexican tropics into our arid Sonoran Desert region have a character and power of their own.

Aquafornia news Stanford University News

Blog: Model simulates urban flood risk with an eye to equity

Rising seas and extreme storms fueled by climate change are combining to generate more frequent and severe floods in cities along rivers and coasts, and aging infrastructure is poorly equipped for the new reality. But when governments and planners try to prepare communities for worsening flood risks by improving infrastructure, the benefits are often unfairly distributed. A new modeling approach from Stanford University and University of Florida researchers offers a solution: an easy way for planners to simulate future flood risks at the neighborhood level under conditions expected to become commonplace with climate change, such as extreme rainstorms that coincide with high tides elevated by rising sea levels. The approach, described May 28 in Environmental Research Letters, reveals places where elevated risk is invisible with conventional modeling methods designed to assess future risks based on data from a single past flood event.

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Aquafornia news Oaklandside

How Bay Area scientists and environmentalists are prepping for future harmful algal blooms

Every two years, scientists, legislators, and community members meet to discuss the health and future of our beloved San Francisco Bay.  At this year’s State of the Estuary Conference, which is taking place this week at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center across from Lake Merritt, harmful algae blooms, wetland restoration, and emerging contaminants are a few of the items up for conversation.  According to event organizers, the conference will serve as a hub for in-depth, timely conversations about the concerns, interests, and hopes of those “who are impacted by and working to improve, conserve, and monitor the health of the estuary.” … One of the key topics discussed at Tuesday’s conference was the study and understanding of harmful algal blooms, often referred to as HABs within the scientific community.

 Related water quality articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

How River Partners finds climate solutions in river restoration, funded by public-private partnerships

We often talk about water infrastructure as it relates to reservoirs, aqueducts, levees, and other means of water storage and flood protection. But California’s water infrastructure isn’t just made of concrete. Floodplain restoration is fast becoming a key part of California’s water puzzle. Dos Rios Ranch Preserve – near Modesto at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers – became Dos Rios Ranch State Park in April, and officially opens to the public in June. It’s California’s newest state park, and the first since 2014. It’s what’s known as a multi-benefit project; Dos Rios supports wildlife from fish to birds, is a place for recreation, and also a place for floodwater to go during wet winters.

Related floodplain restoration article: 

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Opinion: With half of the $99 million secured for prized Shoshone water rights on Colorado River, now the feds need to pitch in

Hey, Congress: Colorado is doing its part, now we need you to do yours.  As someone who was raised on the Western Slope, I have always felt a deep connection to water. Whether it is snow on the slopes, rapids in the river or irrigation on our fields, water is the common thread that weaves together the future of our communities across geographic, political and socio-economic divides. Now, as the state senator who represents the headwaters of the Colorado River, addressing my constituents means prioritizing our state’s water interests, which is becoming increasingly important. 
-Written by Dylan Roberts, a Democratic state senator for District 8.

Aquafornia news E&E News

California mulls expanded water storage to combat drought

…Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is looking for new places to store water and preparing to prevent saltwater from creeping into California’s main water hub as part of long-term drought planning outlined in a report published Thursday. The report was prompted in part by last year’s state audit that determined that the state Department of Water Resources did not adequately factor climate change into its forecasts. It lists several ongoing efforts to revamp the State Water Project but does not propose any significant changes in operations … Climate change is likely to further constrict deliveries by the State Water Project, the state-run system of pipes, pumps and reservoirs that provides water to 27 million Californians and irrigates 750,000 acres of farmland.

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Aquafornia news KneeDeep Times

Marin County: 100+ easements for one flood wall?

Gina Solomon bought her house in part for what lies just outside the back door. The property in [the] northern San Rafael [community of Santa Venetia] includes a small private dock extending out over marshland into Gallinas Creek, a winding tidal slough that meets San Pablo Bay about a mile and a half away. … But for Solomon and many of her neighbors, Santa Venetia’s greatest asset is also its greatest threat. All that protects her home and hundreds of others from Gallinas Creek waters that rise and fall twice a day – and by extension the whole of San Pablo Bay – is a short, timber-reinforced earthen berm constructed in 1983. Already well past its useful life and failing in numerous spots, the berm is also increasingly threatened by storm surge and sea level rise. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California climate programs would lose billions in Newsom’s budget

Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to support a bond measure to help pay for billions of dollars in climate programs endangered by the state’s record deficit and deepening budget cuts. … Climate and public health advocates say cutting or delaying spending on programs that reduce greenhouse gases or help California adapt to climate change will exacerbate natural disasters and weather emergencies and allow air pollution to continue for years to come. California’s climate spending includes programs to enhance coastal resilience as sea levels rise, prepare for wildfires, ensure water security and develop solar and wind energy projects.

Related climate change/water scarcity articles: 

Aquafornia news Reuters

Mexico front-runner Sheinbaum aims to reform water-heavy agriculture sector

Claudia Sheinbaum, front-runner in Mexico’s presidential race, aims to overhaul water governance in the agriculture sector, the top user of the country’s scarce supply, with a potential investment of 20 billion pesos ($1.2 billion) per year. Julio Berdegue, a member of Sheinbaum’s campaign team focused on water and the agricultural sector, told Reuters the candidate’s six-year plan will review existing water concessions, crack down on illegal use, update irrigation technology and revamp national water entity CONAGUA. He cautioned the plan, details of which have not previously been reported, was still in development and could change. Sheinbaum has said she plans to reform the National Water Law and develop a strategy to confront pervasive issues in Mexico, which is suffering from crippling drought, widespread water shortages, and heat waves in recent days so severe that howler monkeys are dropping dead from trees.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How much worse will extreme heat get in U.S. by 2050?

The next quarter of a century will bring considerable climate danger to millions of Americans living in disadvantaged communities, who will not only experience increased exposure to life-threatening extreme heat but also greater hardships from reduced energy reliability, a new nationwide report has found. The report, published Wednesday by the ICF Climate Center, examines global warming projections in Justice40 communities — those identified by the federal government as marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution. The Justice40 Initiative was established under President Biden’s strategy to tackle the climate crisis, which aims to funnel 40% of benefits from certain federal climate, energy and housing investments into these communities. 

Aquafornia news Audubon California

Blog: California’s revised budget highlights critical need for a climate bond

California has prided itself on its bold leadership on climate change. In the past twenty years, it has made unprecedented commitments and investments to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. Unfortunately, amid a dire state budget crisis, California leaders are struggling to ensure that the state will continue its leadership in meeting the challenge of climate change. Immediate and large-scale climate action is essential to protect people and birds. Audubon’s Survival by Degrees report found that 389 species of North American birds are likely to see significant population declines due to climate change if global temperature increased beyond 3 degrees Celsius, which now seems almost unavoidable. As the world’s fifth largest economy and a global leader on climate policy, California’s climate action will have direct impacts on birds and their habitats well beyond the state’s borders.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Indigenous Brazil community stays on flooded land in dispute with developer

Stranded for nearly three weeks by record flooding in southern Brazil, one tiny Indigenous community is determined not to evacuate what they consider sacred ancestral lands that are in dispute with real estate developers. The Mbya Guarani people have been living since 2018 on a peninsula in far southern Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul.  The community has long been at odds with Arado Empreendimentos Imobiliarios, the firm that has been planning a residential development on nearly 426 hectares (1,053 acres) in the area for over a decade, part of which is in dispute. Heavy rains have battered Rio Grande do Sul since late April, causing historic floods that have killed over 160 people, while nearly 100 residents are still missing and more than 500,000 have been displaced. Even with the devastating floods, community leaders say they would not consider leaving.

Related Brazilian floods articles: 

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Sites with radioactive material more vulnerable as climate change increases wildfire, flood risks

As Texas wildfires burned toward the nation’s primary nuclear weapons facility, workers hurried to ensure nothing flammable was around buildings and storage areas. When the fires showed no sign of slowing, Pantex Plant officials urgently called on local contractors, who arrived within minutes with bulldozers to dig trenches and enlarge fire breaks for the sprawling complex where nuclear weapons are assembled and disassembled and dangerous plutonium pits — hollow spheres that trigger nuclear warheads and bombs — are stored. … There’s the 40-square-mile Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where a 2000 wildfire burned to within a half mile (0.8 kilometers) of a radioactive waste site. The heavily polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Southern California, where a 2018 wildfire burned 80% of the site, narrowly missing an area contaminated by a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Wildfire smoke has covered up to 70 percent of California in recent years, affecting land and water: Study

Wildfire smoke covered as much as 70 percent of California in recent years — wreaking havoc not only on land, but also in the state’s vast freshwater ecosystems … according to [a UC Davis] study published on Wednesday in Communications: Earth & Environment. … What [researchers] found was that while wildfire smoke does change light, water temperature and oxygen levels, it does so to a different extent — depending on lake size, depth, smoke cover and nutrient levels. Subsequent decreases in photosynthesis and respiration rates can then influence everything else, [said Adrianne Smits, the lead author of the study] “Food webs, algal growth, the ability to emit or sequester carbon — those are dependent on these rates,” she added. “They’re all related, and they’re all being changed by smoke.”

Related watershed articles: 

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Blog: Alaska’s rusting waters – Pristine rivers and streams turning orange

Dozens of Alaska’s most remote streams and rivers are turning from a crystal clear blue into a cloudy orange, and the staining could be the result of minerals exposed by thawing permafrost, new research in the Nature journal Communications: Earth and Environment finds. For the first time, a team of researchers from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, the University of California, Davis, and other institutions have documented and sampled some of the impaired waters, pinpointing 75 locations across a Texas-sized area of northern Alaska’s Brooks Range. These degraded rivers and streams could have significant implications for drinking water and fisheries in Arctic watersheds as the climate changes, the researchers said.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California sequoia is world’s largest tree. It may face a new threat

California wildfires aren’t the only thing killing the state’s majestic giant sequoia trees. So is a little-known bark beetle. Researchers in the Sierra Nevada, the only place where the giant sequoia naturally grows, have found several of the world’s largest trees unexpectedly infested with beetles, some dying from the attacks. While the mortality numbers are small, especially when compared to the toll of the wildfires that wiped out as many as 20% of all mature sequoias in 2020 and 2021, the emergence of another lethal threat to the titans — this one also tied to the warming climate — is hugely worrisome. That’s why research teams at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are climbing into the towering canopy of the Giant Forest this week and assessing the condition of the biggest tree on Earth, the 275-foot General Sherman Tree.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Predicting a fierce U.S. wildfire season: What you need to know

As the 2024 wildfire season approaches, experts predict a more intense season than usual for the United States. Parts of Lahaina, Maui are still recovering from last year’s catastrophic fires and communities in parts of the U.S. are already inhaling smoke from Canadian wildfires, the urgency to understand and prepare for potential wildfire impacts has never been greater. The National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) latest outlook suggests that significant wildfire activity is expected across various regions, including portions of southern California, parts of the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Factors contributing to this heightened risk include prolonged drought conditions, higher-than-average temperatures, and persistent winds.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Meteorologists fume over relocation of L.A. weather station

A nasty storm is brewing over the meteorological heart of Los Angeles. A decision by government forecasters to relocate downtown L.A.’s official weather observation station from USC to Dodger Stadium is generating extreme heat and wind gusts from some local climate experts. They insist the move will cast fog on local efforts to document the effects of climate change. “It contaminates the record,” said Jan Null, a veteran California meteorologist who runs the Golden Gate Weather Service. “It changes the ballgame.” The station — a curious array of poles, metal boxes and shiny cylinders that weather wonks know affectionately as “KCQT” — is slated to move from USC to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s training center on the south side of the stadium in Elysian Park on Monday. The last time the key monitoring station moved was 25 years ago.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Commentary: Changes up and down San Diego’s coast trigger familiar battles

San Diego’s identity is inextricably tied to its coastline, a widely cherished wonder that is in a constant state of change. Depending on one’s perspective, the region’s seashore has been enhanced or diminished by human endeavors for generations, all the while being shaped by natural forces. Those elements currently are coming together in a big way, changing — or potentially changing — the San Diego coast. Numerous projects touch on issues involving coastal protection and access, climate change and sea-level rise, and public safety and transportation. Most have touched off familiar conflicts of varying intensity. Some of the projects are completed or will be soon, while others are years away or still on the bubble. Taken collectively, the changes could be transformational.
-Written by Michael Smolens, columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Commentary: California’s weather was made for demagogues

California’s weather was made for demagogues. For as long as records have been kept, the state has typically experienced a series of dry years followed by a series of wet years. The weather lines up conveniently with election cycles. A few years of drought will prompt an excitable politician to declare that projections clearly show the end of the world is upon us unless California takes immediate action. Depending on the circumstances, that action can be the election of that politician to office, or re-election to office, or an oppressive law that takes effect after the perpetrators are out of office, or voter approval of borrowed money for an overpriced project that might be a state-of-the-art boondoggle. In 2018, as Gov. Jerry Brown prepared to head into the sunset of his colorful political career, he signed two new laws that imposed permanent drought-emergency restrictions on the people of California.
-Written by Susan Shelley, columnist with the LA Daily News. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Level of the Great Salt Lake is higher than past years, but still low

Two years ago, the Great Salt Lake became an omen for the risks of climate change: The water level dropped to a record low, threatening the ecosystem, economy and even the air quality of the area around Salt Lake City, home to a majority of Utah’s population. Now, after two unusually wet winters and a series of conservation measures, the lake has gained about six feet. Despite that increase the lake is still below the minimum levels considered healthy. And environmentalists and policymakers are concerned that the increase might reduce the pressure to save the lake. “I worry about complacency,” said Bonnie Baxter, director of the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster University. “We need to really be cautious about being optimistic.” Increased water levels in the lake are primarily the result of higher-than-normal snowfall, according to Hayden Mahan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Wildfire weather increasing in California and West, report finds

Wildfire weather has become more frequent in the Western United States over the past five decades, with some of the largest jumps in California, according to a new report by Climate Central, a nonprofit news outlet that reports on climate change. The report looks at three key weather conditions — heat, dryness and wind — that, when combined, load the dice for wildfires to spread quickly and grow large, said Kaitlyn Trudeau, senior research associate with Climate Central. … The report serves as a good reminder that the Western U.S. has become warmer and drier in ways that tend to promote more large wildfires, said Park Williams, climate scientist and professor in the UCLA Department of Geography, who was not involved in the analysis.

Related wildfire articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC News

US dedicates $60 million to saving water along the Rio Grande as flows shrink and demands grow

The U.S. government is dedicating $60 million over the next few years to projects along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and West Texas to make the river more resilient in the face of climate change and growing demands. The funding announced Friday by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland marks the first disbursement from the Inflation Reduction Act for a basin outside of the Colorado River system. While pressures on the Colorado River have dominated headlines, Haaland and others acknowledged that other communities in the West — from Native American reservations to growing cities and agricultural strongholds — are experiencing the effects of unprecedented drought.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Summer 2023 was the northern hemisphere’s hottest in 2,000 years, study finds

The summer of 2023 was exceptionally hot. Scientists have already established that it was the warmest Northern Hemisphere summer since around 1850, when people started systematically measuring and recording temperatures. Now, researchers say it was the hottest in 2,000 years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature that compares 2023 with a longer temperature record across most of the Northern Hemisphere. The study goes back before the advent of thermometers and weather stations, to the year A.D. 1, using evidence from tree rings. … Extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels are responsible for most of the recent increases in Earth’s temperature, but other factors — including El Niño, an undersea volcanic eruption and a reduction in sulfur dioxide aerosol pollution from container ships — may have contributed to the extremity of the heat last year.

Related climate articles: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Book Review: Seek Higher Ground

Flooding is a natural phenomenon that we humans keep assuming can be controlled with enough effort and engineering. But this simply is not possible, as floods across the globe repeatedly demonstrate. People continue to be surprised when landscapes become waterscapes. This brings loss of life and enormous costs of repairing damaged infrastructure and constructing bigger levees and dams for flood control. As Tim Palmer says in his new book (2024) local to global failures of current flood management practices: “The age of denial is over. The time has come to take a different path  (p 140)”. 

Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: Coastal wetlands offer needed haven for imperiled birds

Imagine a world devoid of bird calls, with mountains, rivers, beaches, and forests missing a soundtrack that has sustained for 150 million years. Although such a scenario, reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s influential book “Silent Spring,” remains highly unlikely, scientists are sounding alarms about the dramatic decline in bird populations worldwide. A 2019 study published in Science documented those declines, including the loss of nearly 3 billion birds in North America alone since 1970. Habitat loss and degradation, driven by coastal disturbance, pollution, and rising sea levels, are the primary culprits. And along the world’s shorelines, coastal wetlands play an outsize role in sustaining bird populations. By providing feeding, breeding, and nesting areas for a wide variety of avian species, these ecosystems—in particular salt marshes and mangroves—are sanctuaries for migratory birds facing significant challenges. 

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Here’s what you need to know about proposals to save the Colorado River

The Colorado River is in trouble. More than two decades of megadrought fueled by climate change have sapped its supplies, and those who use the river’s water are struggling to rein in demand. Now, with current rules for river sharing set to expire in 2026, policymakers have a rare opportunity to rework how Western water is managed. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom touts billions in climate spending through California’s cap-and-trade program

Over the past decade, a signature California program that charges polluters for their planet-heating emissions has generated billions of dollars for state initiatives, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that these revenues are effectively helping to reduce pollution and combat climate change. … The program has also supported projects intended to reduce wildfire risk by thinning vegetation and restoring degraded forests. … Another issue that has generated criticism is the fact that about 65% of the annual cap-and-trade revenues must be dedicated each year to several programs, with 25% going to high-speed rail and the remainder split between affordable housing, transit and rail, low-carbon transit operations, and safe drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Colorado River study says future flows could increase

A new study found that the Colorado River may experience a rebound after two decades of decreased flows due to drought and global warming. “Importantly, we find climate change will likely increase precipitation in the Colorado headwaters,” Professor Martin Hoerling, the study’s lead author, wrote to The Salt Lake Tribune in an email. “This will compensate some if not most of the depleting effects of further warming.” Recently published in the Journal of Climate, the study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science used data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. … The study’s climate projections forecast that there is a 70% chance that climate change will lead to increased precipitation in the Upper Basin between 2026 and 2050. That precipitation increase could boost the river’s flows by 5% to 7%.

Related Colorado River articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water managers advise multipronged approach in face of climate change

State water management officials must work more closely with local agencies to properly prepare California for the effects of climate change, water scientists say. Golden State officials said in the newly revised California Water Plan that as the nation’s most populous state, California is too diverse and complex for a singular approach to manage a vast water network. On Monday, they recommended expanding the work to better manage the state’s precious water resources — including building better partnerships with communities most at risk during extreme drought and floods and improving critical infrastructure for water storage, treatment and distribution among different regions and watersheds.

Related climate change articles: 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Study says California’s 2023 snowy rescue from megadrought was a freak event. Don’t get used to it

Last year’s snow deluge in California, which quickly erased a two decade long megadrought, was essentially a once-in-a-lifetime rescue from above, a new study found. Don’t get used to it because with climate change the 2023 California snow bonanza —a record for snow on the ground on April 1 — will be less likely in the future, said the study in Monday’s journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, who wasn’t part of the study but specializes in weather in the U.S. West, said, “I would not be surprised if 2023 was the coldest, snowiest winter for the rest of my own lifetime in California.”

Related snowpack articles: 

Publication Colorado River Basin Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin
Updated 2024

Cover of Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Basin

Learn the history and challenges facing the West’s most dramatic and developed river. 

The Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin introduces the 1,450-mile river that sustains 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland spanning seven states and parts of northern Mexico.

The 28-page primer explains how the river’s water is shared and managed as the Southwest transitions to a hotter and drier climate.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As climate hazards converge, health risks rise in California

State health officials know that extreme heat can cost lives and send people to the hospital, just like wildfire smoke. Now, new research finds that when people are exposed to both hazards simultaneously — as is increasingly the case in California — heart and respiratory crises outpace the expected sum of hospitalizations compared to when the conditions occur separately. … The study joins a growing body of research about the intersection of different climate risks. Last month, California-based think-tank the Pacific Institute published a report about how converging hazards — including wildfires, drought, flooding, sea level rise and intensifying storms — are harming access to drinking water and sanitation in California and other parts of the world. The deadly 2018 Camp fire in Butte County impacted an estimated 2,438 private wells, the report said.

Colorado River Shortages Drive Major Advances in Recycled Sewage Water Use
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Phoenix, Southern California betting on purified sewage to fill drinking water needs

After more than two decades of drought, water utilities serving the largest urban regions in the arid Southwest are embracing a drought-proof source of drinking water long considered a supply of last resort: purified sewage.

Water supplies have tightened to the point that Phoenix and the water supplier for 19 million Southern California residents are racing to adopt an expensive technology called “direct potable reuse” or “advanced purification” to reduce their reliance on imported water from the dwindling Colorado River.

Tribes Gain Clout as Colorado River Shrinks
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Tribes hold key state-appointed posts for first time as their water rises in value

A CAP canal in North PhoenixThe climate-driven shrinking of the Colorado River is expanding the influence of Native American tribes over how the river’s flows are divided among cities, farms and reservations across the Southwest.

The tribes are seeing the value of their largely unused river water entitlements rise as the Colorado dwindles, and they are gaining seats they’ve never had at the water bargaining table as government agencies try to redress a legacy of exclusion.

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

California Water Plan

Every five years the California Department of Water Resources updates its strategic plan for managing the state’s water resources, as required by state law.

The California Water Plan, or Bulletin 160, projects the status and trends of the state’s water supplies and demands under a range of future scenarios.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater By Nick Cahill

New California Law Bolsters Groundwater Recharge as Strategic Defense Against Climate Change
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Designates Aquifers 'Natural Infrastructure' to Boost Funding for Water Supply, Flood Control, Wildlife Habitat

Groundwater recharge in Madera CountyA new but little-known change in California law designating aquifers as “natural infrastructure” promises to unleash a flood of public funding for projects that increase the state’s supply of groundwater.

The change is buried in a sweeping state budget-related law, enacted in July, that also makes it easier for property owners and water managers to divert floodwater for storage underground.

Headwaters Tour 2024
Field Trip - July 24-25

FILLING UP QUICKLY - Click here to register!

On average, more than half of California’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada and the southern spur of the Cascade Range. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

Join us as we head into the Sierra to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

Upper Colorado River States Add Muscle as Decisions Loom on the Shrinking River’s Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Upper Basin States Seek Added Leverage to Protect Their River Shares Amid Difficult Talks with California and the Lower Basin

The White River winds and meanders through a valley.The states of the Lower Colorado River Basin have traditionally played an oversized role in tapping the lifeline that supplies 40 million people in the West. California, Nevada and Arizona were quicker to build major canals and dams and negotiated a landmark deal that requires the Upper Basin to send predictable flows through the Grand Canyon, even during dry years.

But with the federal government threatening unprecedented water cuts amid decades of drought and declining reservoirs, the Upper Basin states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are muscling up to protect their shares of an overallocated river whose average flows in the Upper Basin have already dropped 20 percent over the last century.

They have formed new agencies to better monitor their interests, moved influential Colorado River veterans into top negotiating posts and improved their relationships with Native American tribes that also hold substantial claims to the river.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2024
Field Trip - March 13-15

Tour participants gathered for a group photo in front of Hoover DamThis tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

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

Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South
7830 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Tour Nick Gray

Eastern Sierra Tour 2023
Field Trip - September 12-15

This special Foundation water tour journeyed along the Eastern Sierra from the Truckee River to Mono Lake, through the Owens Valley and into the Mojave Desert to explore a major source of water for Southern California, this year’s snowpack and challenges for towns, farms and the environment.

Grand Sierra Resort
2500 E 2nd St
Reno, NV 89595

In One of the Snowiest Places in the West, A Scientist Hunts for Clues to the Sierra Snowpack’s Future
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Central Sierra Snow Lab Manager Andrew Schwartz Aims to Help Water Managers Improve Tracking of Snowpack Crucial to California's Drought-Stressed Water Supply

Photo of Andrew Schwartz, manager and lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory.Growing up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Andrew Schwartz never missed an opportunity to play in – or study – a Colorado snowstorm. During major blizzards, he would traipse out into the icy wind and heavy drifts of snow pretending to be a scientist researching in Antarctica.  

Decades later, still armed with an obsession for extreme weather, Schwartz has landed in one of the snowiest places in the West, leading a research lab whose mission is to give California water managers instant information on the depth and quality of snow draping the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

As Colorado River Flows Drop and Tensions Rise, Water Interests Struggle to Find Solutions That All Can Accept
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Chorus of experts warn climate change has rendered old assumptions outdated about what the Colorado River can provide, leaving painful water cuts as the only way forward

Photo shows Hoover Dam’s intake towers protruding from the surface of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, where water levels have dropped to record lows amid a 22-year drought. When the Colorado River Compact was signed 100 years ago, the negotiators for seven Western states bet that the river they were dividing would have ample water to meet everyone’s needs – even those not seated around the table.

A century later, it’s clear the water they bet on is not there. More than two decades of drought, lake evaporation and overuse of water have nearly drained the river’s two anchor reservoirs, Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border and Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Climate change is rendering the basin drier, shrinking spring runoff that’s vital for river flows, farms, tribes and cities across the basin – and essential for refilling reservoirs.

The states that endorsed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 – and the tribes and nation of Mexico that were excluded from the table – are now straining to find, and perhaps more importantly accept, solutions on a river that may offer just half of the water that the Compact assumed would be available. And not only are solutions not coming easily, the relationships essential for compromise are getting more frayed.

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

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

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

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Metropolitan Water District's wastewater recycling project draws support from Arizona and Nevada, which hope to gain a share of Metropolitan's river supply

Metropolitan Water District's advanced water treatment demonstration plant in Carson. Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.  

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2023
Field Trip - March 8-10

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

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

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Western Water Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

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

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

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

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

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

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

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

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

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

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

Sierra Nevada

The Sierra NevadaStretching 450 miles long and up to 50 miles wide, the Sierra Nevada makes up more than a quarter of California’s land area and forms its largest watersheds, providing more than half of the state’s developed water supply to residents, agriculture and other businesses.*

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

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

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

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

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

Headwaters Tour 2023
Field Trip - June 21-22 (optional whitewater rafting June 20)

On average, more than 60 percent of California’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada and the southern spur of the Cascade Range. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

This tour ventured into the Sierra to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Groundwater Education Bundle Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2018

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

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Jenn Bowles Colorado River Basin Map Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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


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

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

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


Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

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

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

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

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

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

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

Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources

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

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the world’s most beautiful yet vulnerable lakes. Renowned for its remarkable clarity, Tahoe straddles the Nevada-California border, stretching 22 miles long and 12 miles wide in a granitic bowl high in the Sierra Nevada.

Tahoe sits 6,225 feet above sea level. Its deepest point is 1,645 feet, making it the second-deepest lake in the nation, after Oregon’s Crater Lake, and the tenth deepest in the world.


River Report Examines Climate Change Impact on Colorado River Basin

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

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

River Reports

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Aquapedia background


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

Aquapedia background

Natural Variability

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Aquapedia background


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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

Brad Udall

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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


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

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


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

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

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

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

Maps & Posters

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

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


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

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

The State Water Project is best known for the 444-mile-long aqueduct that provides water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and southern California cities. The guide contains information about the project’s history and facilities.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

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

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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

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

Climate Change

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

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

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

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