Topic: Climate Change

Overview

Climate Change

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Billions for climate protection fuel new debate: Who deserves it most?

The new infrastructure law signed by President Biden includes almost $50 billion to protect communities against climate change … But historically, it is wealthier, white communities — with both high property values and the resources to apply to competitive programs — that receive the bulk of federal grants. … More than half the money went to California, New Jersey and Washington State. The largest single recipient was a $68 million flood-control project in Menlo Park, Calif., where the median household income is more than $160,000, the typical home costs more than $2 million and only one in five residents are Black or Hispanic. 

Aquafornia news CA Energy Commission

News release: The Department of the Navy and the California Energy Commission partner on energy and water initiatives

The Department of the Navy (DON) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Dec. 1 that will help the Navy, the Marine Corps and the state collaborate on energy and water-related projects at DON installations. … The agreement supports Navy and Marine Corps efforts to address energy resilience issues, climate initiatives, fossil fuel reduction, greenhouse gas reductions, water consumption, and alternative-fuel vehicles. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Democrats eye massive shift in war on wildfires: Prevention

Democrats are proposing a potentially seismic shift in how the nation battles wildfires by dramatically increasing funding for efforts that aim to prevent blazes, rather than focusing on the tools to put them out. Under the social safety-net and climate bill passed by the House and now being negotiated in the Senate, Democrats would funnel $27 billion into the nation’s forests, including a sizable $14 billion over a decade for clearing vegetation and other dry debris that can fuel a fire.

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Aquafornia news Science Alert

‘Snow drought’ is threatening the western US, and that could become a massive problem

The western United States has built their water infrastructure on a melting foundation, and unless we do something about global warming, scientists worry the consequences will be catastrophic. According to new models, the snow season in states like California could be virtually nonexistent by the end of the century, impacting water supply systems as well as flora, fauna, rivers and even the wildfire season.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

A slow-motion climate disaster: The spread of barren land

Much of Brazil’s vast northeast is, in effect, turning into a desert — a process called desertification that is worsening across the planet…. Climate change is one culprit. But local residents, faced with harsh economic realities, have also made short-term decisions to get by … that have carried long-term consequences. Desertification is a natural disaster playing out in slow motion in areas that are home to half a billion people, from northern China and North Africa to remote Russia and the American Southwest.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A ‘no snow’ California could come sooner than you think

A new study led by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that dwindling snowpack across California and the western United States could shrink dramatically more — or in some cases disappear — before the end of the century. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, paints a worrisome picture of the “potentially catastrophic consequences” of a future with less snow, including the massive implications it holds for California’s water supply, as well as rippling effects on soil, plants, wildlife and even the increased frequency of wildfire.

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Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: Entsminger and D’Antonio on how dry a future Colorado River the upcoming negotiations should consider

Daniel Rothberg published a very helpful Q and A with John Entsminger of the Southern Nevada Water Authority that gets to the heart of one of the really important discussions now underway in the Colorado River Basin: Rothberg: You mentioned not that long ago, testifying in Congress, that “the river community is far from a consensus about how dry of a future to plan for.” What are some of the differing opinions right now? And where are people on establishing that baseline of what the future looks like for the river?

Aquafornia news NBC News

Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial water resource, could disappear in 25 years

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a major source of water for California, could largely disappear in 25 years if global warming continues unchecked, according to a recent study. The worrisome findings, published Oct. 26 in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, have serious implications for California’s water supply and add to a growing list of water woes in the western United States, which remains in the grips of a decades long megadrought.

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

New research: Headwater refuges – Combined effect of drought and fire on stream communities

Despite the importance of [watershed headwaters], scientists still don’t fully understand how they respond to fires. That’s why a team at UC Santa Barbara and the National Forest Service have studied wildfire impacts on streams over the past five years in parts of the Los Padres National Forest. The scientists’ new findings appear as the cover story in the December issue of Freshwater Science.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Utah’s water dilemma

Whites Valley is the prime candidate for a 30-year-old dam and reservoir proposal to tap and store, in the words of the Utah Legislature, “one of the last major sources of developable water in the state.” … Whether the Bear River project makes sense, though, is a focus of intensifying discussion in a growing state contending with worsening water scarcity. State authorities want to develop new sources of water. But public interest advocates assert that spending billions of dollars to build pipelines to transport water from distant sources is foolish. Utah, they insist, can do much more to conserve its existing freshwater reserves. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Global freshwater supplies are under increasing threat

Delegates and activists from nearly 200 countries returned from the COP26 global environmental forum in Glasgow, Scotland, with a long list of climate-related promises and targets to discuss and implement. While many countries made a renewed commitment to climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, some groups accused leaders at COP26 of not doing enough to improve water security globally.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The West is suffering climate hell. But there’s still hope

Though climate continued to polarize Washington, D.C. … there were at least some encouraging signs west of the 100th meridian. Take the Colorado River and its tributaries… In August, federal officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado, triggering cutbacks in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The shortage declaration, while scary-sounding, was the result of a landmark pact in which Southwestern states agreed to forgo some of the water to which they’d otherwise be entitled, in an effort to keep Lake Mead from falling even farther and prompting a true emergency.

Aquafornia news KTLA

Downtown L.A. sees no rain in November for 1st time in nearly 30 years

With just hours left to go in this month — and no precipitation in the forecast for Tuesday — downtown Los Angeles is set to experience its first rainless November in almost 30 years, according to the National Weather Service. The 11th month of the year is typically not a wet one for the area, with downtown’s average just a hair above three-quarters of an inch on average, NWS said. However, it’s still unusual for there to be no precipitation at all. In fact, that hasn’t happened since 1992, weather service data showed.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New map shows 400 toxic sites that could flood in California

When Lucas Zucker talks about sea level rise in California, his first thoughts aren’t about waves crashing onto fancy homes in Orange County, nor the state’s most iconic beaches shrinking year after year. What worries him most are the three power plants looming over the Oxnard coast, and the toxic waste site that has languished there for decades. There are also two naval bases, unknown military dumps and a smog-spewing port. Just one flood could unleash a flow of industrial chemicals and overwhelm his working-class, mostly Latino community.

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Aquafornia news Bill Lane Center for the American West

Car batteries are the goal. Lithium is the quickest way to make them. Does a global good require local sacrifice in the Southwest?

[T]he push for a future free from fossil fuels is igniting a new rush to extraction: getting resources out of the ground for the batteries needed to decarbonize transportation. … The conundrum – to mine or not to mine – has roiled several rural western communities, from the outskirts of California’s Death Valley to northern Nevada and western Arizona. The arguments vary by location, but belong to a larger debate over how to balance the need to slow global warming with the need to protect endangered species, preserve groundwater and support tribal rights while maintaining heritage sites.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: Climate change to harm Sierra snow pack in California

Could climate change destroy the Sierra Nevada snowpack? A team led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory says the snowpack — a critical piece of California’s delicate water delivery system, not to mention a source of winter recreation for Northern Californians — could essentially vanish for years at a time as the warming climate erodes snowfall. The scientists’ newly-published study doesn’t say snow would disappear forever. Instead, it predicts that much of the Sierra would experience five straight years of “low-to-no snow” starting in the late 2040s.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Billy Barr’s research in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is a boon to climate change scientists

As world leaders gathered across the globe this month to discuss a climate crisis that is rapidly heating the Earth, Billy Barr, 71, paused outside his mountainside cabin to measure snow. His tools were simple, the same he’d used since the 1970s. A wooden ruler plunged into white flakes accumulating on his snow board — an old freezer door affixed to legs of plastic piping and wood — showed two inches. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: California is going back to nature to confront climate change

California’s latest state budget recognizes the importance of nature-based climate measures and increases our commitment to working with nature. It elevates making ecosystems more resilient as a key part of our climate strategy. … The budget includes $3.7 billion for climate resiliency, $1.5 billion for wildfire prevention and $4.7 billion for water and drought relief. We are allocating $208 million to state conservancies, including the San Francisco Bay Conservancy, to expedite wildfire prevention work…
-Written by Bob Wieckowski, representing the 10th District in the California State Senate. He was part of the California Senate delegation at the COP 26 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Scotland.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

California 1st of its kind heat ranking system

After California experienced the hottest summer in the state’s history this year, according to NOAA figures, lawmakers in the Golden State have responded by proposing a new ranking system for heat waves. The proposed ranking system, which would include three levels ranging from least to most dangerous, would be the first of its kind in the United States for heat waves, and would be similar to the ranking system that already exists for hurricanes. It will be formally introduced to the legislature in January 2022.

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Aquafornia news KTLA

Why can’t we just move water to solve a drought?

[I]f there’s plenty of water in reservoirs to the East, why not just move around resources and share the goods as one big happy country? A candidate in California’s gubernatorial recall election recently suggested building a pipeline from the Mississippi River to the Golden State. We asked two drought experts. It turns out it would be stupidly complicated.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: After wildfire, how do we rebuild for a “resilient recovery”?

At least one in 12 California homes is at high risk of burning in a wildfire. Rebuilding for a Resilient Recovery—a report released earlier this year—found that state and local land use policies are currently incentivizing rebuilding in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), rather than driving development away from fire-prone areas. We spoke with one of the report’s authors—Robert Olshansky, Professor Emeritus of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—about the study.

Aquafornia news Newswise

News release: University of California team’s research suggests more than 400 hazardous sites in California face flooding

Unless climate change is slowed significantly, more than three feet of sea level rise (SLR) is expected in California by the end of the century, potentially flooding communities that are currently home to more than 145,000 residents. In addition to the threat to residential neighborhoods, new research suggests sea level rise will expose over 400 industrial facilities and contaminated sites in California, including power plants, refineries, and hazardous waste sites, to increased risk of flooding. 

Aquafornia news Payson Roundup

Forecasters warn of a warm, dry winter in Arizona

October came out on the dry side in much of Arizona. That’s not surprising: October’s one of the driest months of the year. But bad news lurks right around the corner — especially for ski bums and snow lovers. The surface of the Eastern Pacific continues to cool more than usual — which usually means a dry winter in Arizona and much of the Southwest…. The projected dry winter will likely have a big impact on the Colorado River …. The result will likely extend and deepen the rationing of Colorado River water next year.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada could disappear in just 25 years

As the climate continues to warm, more and more of the snow falling on California’s mountains will be replaced by rain. Already in recent decades, the snow season has shrunk by a month, according to one estimate, while snow levels have moved upward by 1,200 feet, according to another. Scientists and water managers say that at some point California’s snowpack could simply disappear. This would leave the state without the crucial spring and summer melt-off that fills rivers and streams, nourishes plants and animals, and provides a huge chunk of the water supply.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Big rains bring king salmon back to Bay Area

Autumnal rain has sent a surge of Chinook salmon swimming up Bay Area creeks, a sharp reversal in fortune for an iconic species that has struggled after years of drought. A living link between our mountains and coast, the fish responded to late October’s fierce atmospheric river by rushing up the region’s once-parched rivers, say biologists, frequenting spots where they’ve never been seen. … In recent years, populations of Chinook, also known as king salmon, have collapsed with astonishing speed — and even this current run is unlikely to end well if more rain doesn’t come.

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Aquafornia news KCLU

How drought and climate change will force Ventura County to transform its water infrastructure

Every drop matters, when [Ventura] county is experiencing ‘exceptional drought’ — essentially when you look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map, it’s the most severe drought The city of Moorpark is part of the Calleguas Municipal Water District. Other cities like Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley also get their water from Calleguas. It adds up to 75 percent of the county’s residents — that’s over 650,000 people. But that water supply is challenged.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California wildfire fallout: Timber industry confronted by too many dead trees, warns of damaged forests

This year’s mega-fires may be contained, the fire fronts extinguished and late flareups tamed by early season rain. But a secondary disaster has only just begun among the acres and acres of dead trees left behind. While the giant firestorms of 2017 and 2018 destroyed more homes and killed more people, the wildfires in 2020 and 2021 killed more trees. And those losses pose an existential threat to 32 million acres of territory blanketed by forests and the people who live and work there.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Investors are buying up Arizona farmland for the valuable water rights

In fields on the Arizona-California border, farmers draw water from the nearby Colorado River to grow alfalfa, irrigating crops as they have for decades. That could change soon. An investment company has purchased nearly 500 acres of farmland and wants to strip it of its water and send it 200 miles across the desert to a Phoenix suburb, where developers plan to build thousands of new houses. Similar deals could follow as the demand for water in the growing Southwest outpaces the dwindling supply.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Global freshwater supplies are under increasing threat

Delegates and activists from nearly 200 countries returned from the COP26 global environmental forum in Glasgow, Scotland, with a long list of climate-related promises and targets to discuss and implement. While many countries made a renewed commitment to climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, some groups accused leaders at COP26 of not doing enough to improve water security globally …. California’s persistent droughts, for instance, give water conservation methods new urgency — as the state’s massive agricultural industry accounts for 80 percent of California’s water usage.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Did drought, wildfire affect California Christmas tree industry?

Consumers should prepare to pay more than usual for live and fake Christmas trees this year because of climate change and supply chain issues, according to the American Christmas Tree Association. The real Christmas tree harvest was impacted by wildfires, floods and extreme weather in Oregon, which is the number one producer of Christmas trees in the nation and where many West Coast sellers buy their trees.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Yosemite enviro law conference: How Tribal partnerships can help attain national conservation goals

Amy Cordalis is a fisherwoman, attorney, mother, and member of the Yurok Tribe, the largest federally recognized Tribe in California. From 2014-2016, she was General Counsel for the Tribe, the first woman and first Yurok tribal member to serve in that position. She is also the principal of the Ridges to Riffles Conservation Fund, a non-profit fund representing Native American tribes in natural and cultural resource matters.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Seizing the Drought

After a year of extreme drought, massive wildfires, and even a brief spate of record-breaking rainfall, Californians no longer question whether the climate is changing—climate change is here. The escalating crises add urgency to the issue of how Californians manage their water. From November 15–17, the PPIC Water Policy Center convened three expert panels (as part of our annual water priorities conference) to discuss how we can “seize the drought” to meet the challenges we’re already facing. 

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

These four metrics are used to track drought, and they paint a bleak picture

Drought has tightened its grip on the Western U.S., as dry conditions tick on into their second decade and strain a river that supplies 40 million people. Experts agree that things are bad and getting worse. But how exactly do you measure a drought, and how can you tell where it’s going? Brad Udall is an expert on the subject, studying water and climate at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center. Lately, his forecasts for the basin haven’t been particularly uplifting.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona farmers must use less water. Here’s how they can do it

A profound reduction in the Colorado River water earmarked for Arizona’s crops has at last triggered the rationing that irrigation farmers have dreaded. The Tier 1 shortage will prompt a 512,000-acre-foot reduction in Arizona’s Colorado River deliveries. That amounts to about 30% of Central Arizona Project’s normal supply. … Farmers will need to expand their horizons and tighten down their faucets, even more than they have done over the last three decades, as they successfully cut average per-acre water use by a fifth.
-Written by Gary Paul Nabhan, the W.K., Kellogg endowed chair for food and water security at the University of Arizona. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Citing climate risks, California is denying fracking permits in droves

Oil companies that blast water and chemicals into the earth to extract fossil fuels are having trouble getting new permits for their California operations even sooner than expected. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged the state would stop issuing new permits for fracking by 2024, but California has already begun to ban the controversial oil extraction method in practice by denying permits in droves with little fanfare. … [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

Aquafornia news USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Blog: Can we coordinate water sources to recover more water sustainably?

In many places, including Southern California, climate change has increased the threat of drought and the need for new and continuous water resources. Higher salinity water streams, and sometimes seawater, come into consideration to alleviate such scarcity, but require higher energy investment due to the need to desalinate these streams. The proximity of some desalination facilities to wastewater reclamation facilities provides an opportunity to coordinate the two different water resources. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Cloud seeding gains steam as West faces worsening droughts

As the first winter storms rolled through this month, a King Air C90 turboprop aircraft contracted by the hydropower company Idaho Power took to the skies over southern Idaho to make it snow. Flying across the cloud tops, the aircraft dropped flares that burned as they descended, releasing plumes of silver iodide that caused ice crystals to form and snow to fall over the mountains. In the spring, that snow will melt and run downstream, replenishing reservoirs, irrigating fields and potentially generating hundreds of thousands of additional megawatt hours of carbon-free hydropower for the state. 

Aquafornia news Western Water

California spent decades trying to keep Central Valley floods at bay. Now it looks to welcome them back

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. … The hope, shared by stakeholders who have traditionally fought over water and land, is to rebuild habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife while simultaneously providing benefits, like improved flood protection and groundwater recharge, for towns and farms.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

As winter wildfires burn, will they forever alter Colorado’s forests, water?

The megafire era gripping the West isn’t just a threat to human development. Fires now burn so intensely that they literally reshape forests, shift tree species, and turn calm waterways into devastating mudflows. A 2017 University of Colorado study analyzing 15 burn scars left from fires in Colorado and New Mexico found that as many as 80% of the plots did not contain new seedlings.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

The Great Salt Lake is dying. It’s time to make our maps show it

Today’s Great Salt Lake bears little resemblance to how it’s depicted on maps, which show a familiar blue footprint spreading across northwest Utah. The maps conceal the urgency of our water woes by drowning out how climate change and allocation issues have impacted one of the West’s iconic bodies of water. The Salt Lake Tribune and AccuWeather will update their Utah maps to show the lake as it really is, a puddle of its former self, rimmed by vast reaches of exposed lake bed.

Aquafornia news Forbes

How much is water worth? Why a billionaire-owned stake in a California water bank could be worth more than $1 billion

I’m your host Michela Tindera, and this is Priceless. In this episode, we’re headed West to the epicenter of one of the most productive farming regions in the world—California’s Central Valley—where the area is in the throes of a megadrought that has been drying up wells and damaging crops across the western United States. It’s there in the Central Valley, where a billionaire couple own a majority stake in one of California’s largest water storage facilities.  

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Adjusting past hydrology for changes in climate

Many water management and regulation decisions require an understanding of current and future hydrology. These include regulatory decisions on new water rights, plans and design for habitat restoration projects, long-lived water infrastructure (conveyance, storage, and levees, etc.), water demands (orchards and vines), groundwater sustainability plans and policies, negotiating long-term agreements and contracts among water agencies and water users, etc. 

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.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Number of Sierra Nevada fires could increase by at least 19% over the next two decades

The amount of fire activity in the Sierra Nevada region may be on track to considerably increase, according to new research on the effects of the hottest summer days on fire risk. In an article published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers predicted the ramifications associated with hotter summer days increasing in frequency. They estimate the number of fires in the Sierra Nevada could increase by at least 19% and as much as 83% by the 2040s.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

This spot on Donner Summit is key to state’s water future

At the top of Donner Summit, an old cabin rests in a thicket of tall trees. … The cabin is the home of an obscure laboratory, called the Central Sierra Snow Lab, that holds records of snowfall on Donner Summit dating back to 1878. That makes the laboratory’s measurements one of the longest sets of data on snowfall in the world — and many of those records were written by hand, in long-form cursive penned on dated entries in small red notebooks.

Aquafornia news NASA

Blog: Tracking water in the face of drought – climate change: vital signs of the planet

Farmers, ranchers, and community resource managers know all too well that climate change can contribute to increased drought in the western United States. A new web-based platform called OpenET puts NASA data on water in 17 western states into the hands of users, helping them better calculate crop water requirements, use water more efficiently, and better plan irrigation. The “ET” in OpenET stands for evapotranspiration, which is the process through which water leaves plants, soils, and other surfaces and returns to the atmosphere.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

‘No Fish Means No Food’

Keeping salmon in her children’s diet is “an entire job,” says Georgiana Gensaw, a Yurok Tribe member and mother of four in Klamath Glen, a community whose only easily accessible food store is a fried chicken shop attached to a gas station a few miles away. … The salmon [the Yurok people have] long depended on as both dietary staple and cultural cornerstone have become scarce. Combined with the lack of food sovereignty, it has prompted the need to fight for their main sources of nutrition and for their very way of life, they say.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘We are struggling’: US mountain states battle wildfires despite impending winter

Wildfires spread by strong winds tore across Wyoming, Montana and Colorado, rocking the mountain states even as they prepare for winter. … In decades past, fire season in the mountainous west wrapped up in the months before the winter storms, typically concluding its siege by August or September. But the climate crisis has delivered hotter days and drier landscapes, with the risks extending deeper into spring and autumn.

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Aquafornia news PR Newswire

Report: Water desalination equipment market size worth $22.79 billion by 2028

The global water desalination equipment market size is expected to reach USD 22.79 billion by 2028, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. It is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 to 2028. Increasing water scarcity, depletion in freshwater reserves, and fast-paced advancements in desalination technologies are anticipated to have a positive impact on the market growth.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

State addresses urgency to prepare roads, water systems for rising sea

Guidelines for how cities and local agencies should adapt roads, railways and water systems to accommodate rising seas were unanimously approved Wednesday by the state Coastal Commission. The 230-page document sets a controversial benchmark by urging communities to prepare for the Pacific Ocean to rise 10 feet by 2100, a projection so far beyond current calculations that climate scientists haven’t yet determined the probability of it occurring. … Ten of the 16 public speakers, including representatives of eight environmental groups, called on the commission to include desalination plants as among the “critical infrastructure” addressed, particularly since the guidance was designed to address water facilities.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Proposed California ballot measure would fast-track construction of dams, desalination plants and other water projects

California has not built enough new reservoirs, desalination plants and other water projects because there are too many delays, too many lawsuits and too much red tape. That’s the message from a growing coalition of Central Valley farmers and Southern California desalination supporters who have begun collecting signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would fast-track big water projects and provide billions of dollars to fund them — potentially setting up a major political showdown with environmentalists next year shaped by the state’s ongoing drought. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden signs historic $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

President Biden on Monday signed a historic $1-trillion bipartisan bill that he said will overhaul the nation’s infrastructure and boost the nation’s economy, which has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Touting the legislation as a job creator, the president said it was also an example of him fulfilling a campaign promise to reach across the aisle to get things done. … California is set to receive about $3.5 billion to eliminate lead water pipes and take other steps to improve drinking water. It should also receive more than $80 million to help mitigate wildfires and other natural disasters.

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Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Foster City levee improvement project finishes first year of construction

Foster City has completed the first year of construction of its Levee Improvement Project, a milestone for the major infrastructure project being built to protect the city during storms and high tides and from future sea level rise. … The project also includes redevelopment and widening of the Levee/Bay Trail, which will provide the community with an enhanced, more inviting recreation destination. The overall project timeline is from October 2020 through 2023. Measure P, the $90 million general obligation bond for the project, was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Trees drill into deep bedrock for water surprisingly often

Naturalists have long noted isolated examples of tree roots boring far down through loose soil and into the unforgiving bedrock below—rare incursions that were deemed a mere curiosity. But in 2013 hydrologist Daniella Rempe probed deep into a northern California hillside and found tree roots extracting substantial amounts of moisture from pores and crannies in the rock, where groundwater had seeped in and become trapped.

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: California’s forest roads and rivers

The Sierra Nevada mountains are the source of more than 60% of California’s water, with much of that originating in small headwater streams. Unfortunately, the water supply and water quality coming from these streams is at risk from record setting wildfires, climate change, loss of riparian habitats, and the extensive network of forest roads.

Aquafornia news KRDO - Colorado Springs

A Water Crisis: Colorado agriculture facing changes as drought continues

An estimated 40 million people rely on water that originates in the Colorado River Basin, but the river can no longer keep up with demand, and it’s raising serious questions about the future of water in the west. Surrounded by bright orange pumpkins and empty shanks of corn outside his store east of Pueblo, Shane Milberger surveys his field.

Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

America’s infrastructure struggles with new weather forecast

A 22-foot-high floodwall was supposed to protect Aqua Pennsylvania’s water-treatment facility near the Schuylkill River from a 100-year storm. But when the remains of Hurricane Ida barreled through the area near Philadelphia in September, the 18-inch-thick wall proved no match for the record rains. Waters breached the barrier and inundated the plant. Mud and debris coated offices. Employees rushed to shut down the facility. They barely got out in time, some rolling down car windows in case they got caught in the rising waters and had to leap out…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What La Niña means for California’s drought

For California, the arrival of winter means the beginning of our rainy season, at least relatively speaking. However much precipitation California is going to receive in a year, the bulk of it typically falls between December and March. And given the severity of our state’s ongoing drought, the amount of rain we get this winter couldn’t be of more importance. A recent outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that the northern and southern halves of the state may experience diverging water fortunes this winter because of something you may already be familiar with: La Niña.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Which species will survive? Climate change enhances the vulnerability of California freshwater fishes to severe drought

As I write this on an October weekend, rain is falling steadily in Davis and has been for most of the day. This is the first real rain we have had in over seven months. But it is not the end of the drought. Multiple storms are needed. The landscape is a dry sponge, reservoirs are empty, water rationing is in place or expected to be, and aquatic species are in decline.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California could start ranking extreme heat waves

Hurricanes, tornadoes and even atmospheric river storms are ranked, based on their intensity, to help people prepare. Now, legislation that’s expected to be proposed in Sacramento would add heat waves to that list of dangerous-weather rankings. State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said Friday that he will sponsor a proposal by two Southern California legislators to develop a scale for heat waves with categories based on heat intensity and health impacts. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. communities face growing peril from fire, heat, floods

Crenshaw is one of at least 47 communities where the worsening impacts of climate change will be felt most acutely, according to a groundbreaking new L.A. County report, which outlines in stark detail how some of the Southland’s most vulnerable residents could bear the brunt of extreme heat, wildfires, drought and floods. … Many of those communities are home to low-income people and people of color. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: A mandate from California to achieve full decarbonization

Countries across the world are coming together in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss how the world will address our climate crisis. …The time for action is now, and as the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to reach net zero emissions by or before 2050. … In California, we are facing a nearly year-round threat of wildfires that has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change. This year, we are entering a new drought, which will only increase the threat of these fires.
-Written by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a Democrat from Santa Monica representing the 50th Assembly District.​

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California’s drought, heat waves causing lower citrus yield, smaller fruit

Don’t be surprised if the citrus you find at the grocery store this season is smaller than in years past. Growers say early navel varieties generally are running smaller this year, putting a premium on larger offerings. Matt Fisher, a Central California farmer who has citrus groves from Orange Cove to Bakersfield, said multiple factors come into play, including the state’s ongoing drought and triple-digit heat waves.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: In a disastrous drought, a grim milestone: California could see its first big reservoir run dry

Lake Mendocino, once a plentiful reservoir nourishing the vines and villas of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, today is little more than a large pond, cowering beneath the coastal hills. … State officials warn that Lake Mendocino could be the first major reservoir in modern times to go dry. While rain over the past few weeks has lifted the lake above its October low, the reservoir, a few miles northeast of Ukiah, remains at less than 20% capacity. Officials worry that the looming wet winter season won’t bring enough inflow to meet next year’s water demands.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: The U.S. infrastructure plan – water components 

On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed President Biden’s major infrastructure bill, HR 3684, the $1.2 trillion ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.” The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill is the largest single federal investment in infrastructure in a generation, with the funds to be expended over five years. It aims to rebuild and replace failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. 

Aquafornia news The Aggie

UC Davis researchers awarded $10 million to optimize groundwater, agricultural irrigation sustainability in long-term project

Amid the unpredictable impacts of climate change, UC Davis has been recently awarded $10 million in grant funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Researchers from a wide range of fields — from socioeconomics to agricultural groundwater and soil health — will collaborate to optimize groundwater and agricultural irrigation sustainability in the Southwest for farmers to improve crop yield and cost efficiency.

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Aquafornia news Berkeley Lab

Blog: Improved Earth system model could help better predict impact of extreme events

This year alone Texas froze over and the Sierra Nevada forests that help sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere burned on and on from the Caldor Fire – two sure signs of the need to better predict extreme events caused by climate change, and the effect these events have on ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration by plants and soils. Doing so requires realistic, high-resolution simulations of environmental changes taking place across oceans, land, and ice generated by Earth system models running on the most powerful, advanced computers.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Barbara

New research: Managing water resources in a low-to-no-snow future

Mountain snowpacks around the world are in decline. And as the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks will shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States. A new study by researchers at several institutions, including UC Santa Barbara and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), analyzes the likely timing of a low-to-no-snow future, what it will mean for water management, and opportunities for investments now that could stave off catastrophic consequences.

Aquafornia news Idaho Capital Sun

‘Climate change is fundamentally altering the Colorado River’: States, tribes deal with drought

States in the Colorado River Basin are adjusting to the reality that their rights outstrip the available water by nearly one-third, state and tribal leaders told a congressional panel last month. The situation is likely only to worsen as the climate changes, leaving states and tribes in competition for their most vital resource.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Is California’s fire season over?

You probably know that California’s recent torrential storms were not enough to end the drought. The state has been so parched for so long that the rains, while welcome, did not provide much more than a few drops in the metaphorical bucket. But the downpour did help quash two of the year’s worst fires and nourish lands that had been tinder-dry for months. So, you might be wondering, did the showers at least save us from a severe fall fire season?

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Lake Mead could get an extra 500,000 acre-feet from states each year

Arizona, California and Nevada are moving forward with a plan to save another 500,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead annually until 2026. We’re talking 500,000 acre-feet over and above the mandatory cuts that are spelled out in the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Each year. For five years. Just to keep the lake from tanking.
-Written by columnist Joanna Allhands.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

How transgenic crops could help agriculture’s water woes

John Cushman knows that succulents have tricks up their sleeves. He believes those tricks could shape the future of farming. Geneticists have long tried to understand the biochemical marvel of the succulent, and there is still much they don’t know. But these botanical curiosities have two important things in common. They’re really good at storing water. And they work at night. Now, Cushman and his team want to build off the lines of genetic code that give desert plants their superpowers.  He wants to make soybeans behave a little more like succulents.

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Aquafornia news Berkeleyside

A wellness check for Tilden’s Western pond turtles

Former UC Berkeley postdoctoral scholar Max Lambert is part of a team of wildlife experts who spent much of the pandemic checking in on the health of the Bay Area’s Western pond turtles, including a population living right next door in Tilden Regional Park. Despite being California’s only native freshwater turtle, the Western pond turtle is struggling to survive the combined effects of climate change, habitat destruction and urban development — not to mention competition with the larger, more aggressive red-eared slider turtle, an invasive species. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Reimagining coastal cities as sponges to help protect them from the ravages of climate change

As an environmental officer in Samoa, Violet Wulf-Saena worked with the Lano and Saoluafata Indigenous peoples to restore coastline mangrove ecosystems that could slow incoming waves and protect communities from storm and flood damage. Two decades later, in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she’s the director of a nonprofit called Climate Resilient Communities that works on the same issue: restoring marshlands and wetlands to better protect vulnerable neighborhoods in low-lying areas from sea level rise.

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Aquafornia news Scientific American

Climate change is acidifying and contaminating drinking water and alpine ecosystems

Climate change is raising temperatures and increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts in those high-elevation alpine environments, where mines typically are located. A growing body of research links these hotter, drier conditions to increasingly acidic water, which causes rocks to shed more minerals into waterways. And the list of what’s entering those waters continues to grow. These trends could potentially compromise water quality in watersheds anywhere in the world where mountains contain high concentrations of minerals…

Aquafornia news Audubon

Opinion: Audubon’s Marcelle Shoop submits testimony in support of saline lakes bill

In the arid West, saline lakes and their wetlands form an irreplaceable network of habitats that support millions of migrating shorebirds, waterfowl and other waterbirds throughout their annual travels. These lakes and their wetlands – from emergent marshes to playas and mudflats – are part of the habitat mosaic essential to many bird species. Saline lakes are sometimes referred to as terminal lakes because they are situated at the bottom of a watershed basin.
-Written by Marcelle Shoop, Audubon’s Saline Lakes Program Director.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: The Colorado River poses stark example of climate crisis

As world leaders meet in Scotland this week to discuss efforts to address the climate crisis, experts are urging greater focus on adapting to fundamental shifts in the planet’s water supplies — and they’re pointing to the Colorado River as a prime example. The river, a vital water source for about 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has continued to shrink and send reservoirs declining toward critically low levels after years of extremely dry conditions compounded by hotter temperatures. … [T]he river’s plight stands out as one of the world’s starkest cases of a major water source that is being ravaged by the altered climate…

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Aquafornia news Green Matters

‘River’s End’ documentary is about water conservation in a warming world

In recent years, rising global temperatures and shifting weather patterns have created water scarcity in many places. In 2020 and 2021, for example, California has experienced record-breaking droughts and dry spells that have emptied river beds and forced people to make some hard choices about water usage. River’s End is a documentary that explores the root causes of California’s water problems and the influence of the agricultural industry in relation to them.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Opinion: Gratitude for our imperiled Sonoma Coast

If Fifth District residents passively let development interests lead the way, expanded viticulture and associated sales, planned communities, depletion of groundwater, traffic, gravel mining, etc, will overtake our landscape. We will lose the beauty of open space, natural habitat and the bit of solitude still left to very early risers. The bridge now being built over Scotty Creek at Gleason Beach is a glaring example of things to come, as cement and pavement, rather than natural methods for shoreline stabilization, is apparently the County’s preferred solution—economically and politically—to sea level rise.
-Written by local activists Richard Retecki and Laura Morgan. 

Aquafornia news CNBC

Why water is the next net-zero environmental target

To date, the discussion around companies and governments moving to net-zero has mostly centered on greenhouse gas emissions goals. … But there is another environmental pledge that several companies are now taking, focused on water. Often called “water positive,” it centers on making water-intensive processes more efficient and putting more water back into a geographic area where a company operates than it takes out …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California must act urgently on climate

A delegation of 15 state lawmakers is joining a conference of world leaders in Scotland to discuss climate change solutions. As leaders of the world’s 5th largest economy, their participation is important, but it’s more urgent for them to act once they return. … The climate is already changing. This summer was California’s hottest on record, after the 2010s were the hottest decade ever. California just experienced its driest year in a century. Every corner of the state faces severe drought.
-Written by Mike Young, the political and organizing director for California Environmental Voters.

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Aquafornia news JSTOR Daily

How drought could make sea-level rise worse

In the first decade of the Cold War, California was in a drought. The coastline north of Los Angeles retreated inland by several hundred feet. Less water flowing to the ocean meant less sediment swept down rivers to replenish the beaches that the waves, left to their own devices, would eat away over time. … [R]esearch published last year by earth scientists Julie Zurbuchen, Alexander Simms, and Sebastien Huot … revealed that on timescales of decades, the southern California coastline often grew and shrank with natural cycles of drier and wetter periods …

Aquafornia news Geophysical Research Letters

New research: How will baseflow respond to climate change in the Upper Colorado River Basin?

Baseflow (groundwater flowing to streams) is estimated to contribute over 50% of the total streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin and is thus crucial for sustaining ecological and human water needs in this highly managed area. Baseflow may be sensitive to changing climate, but the sensitivity is not well constrained. To estimate baseflow response to climate change, we tested how warm/wet, median, and hot/dry future climate scenarios affect baseflow in the basin using a hydrologic model.

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Does the Bay Area have the water it needs to grow?

It seems as though the two things the Bay Area has the least of are housing and water. The region has a shortfall of 699,000 housing units, which has driven housing costs to astronomical heights, and pushed 35,000 of our neighbors into temporary housing or onto the streets. Our colleagues at San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR),a public policy think tank, have found that the region needs to build an astonishing 2.2 million homes by 2070 to meet future demand and make up for the present shortfall.
-Written by Laura Feinstein, sustainability and resilience policy director at SPUR, a Bay Area public policy think tank; and Anne Thebo, a senior researcher for Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Opinion: Conservation is critical during drought, but not the only solution

Gov. Gavin Newsom has extended the drought emergency statewide and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water. His call to action is critical even with the storms that recently soaked California, because we know that a lot more rain and snow will be needed to lift the state out of the drought. The Governor’s approach to statewide conservation is laudable, as well, because it continues to empower water managers with matching local water supply conditions with conservation, rather than relying on statewide mandates.
-Written by Steve LaMar, President of the Association of California Water Agencies; and Sean Bigley, chair of the Regional Water Authority and Assistant Environmental Utilities Director for the City of Roseville.

Aquafornia news Berkeleyside

Berkeley Marina’s last full-time salmon fisherman plans to abandon the sea

It’s a Saturday in September and [Yvette] Hudson can expect to sell all her fish, as she does three times a week. It’s good money, but it isn’t enough, and by the end of the year she and her husband, Mike, will be quitting the commercial fishing business after 25 years. … Water diversion and habitat loss continue to threaten the population of wild salmon migrating between freshwater and saltwater. An even more serious problem is looming. This year’s heat wave and extended drought imperiled the Chinook population as warm rivers killed salmon eggs.

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Aquafornia news Financial Times

Water stress drives investor interest to address supply shortage

As heat and wildfires ravaged the US in the summer of 2020, Wall Street spotted an opportunity. In December last year, Nasdaq and the CME Group launched a new futures index that allowed farmers, hedge funds and municipalities to bet on the forward cost of water in California — and hedge against any price rises.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Lake Tahoe’s grim outlook is all the more reason to fight climate change

While Las Vegas residents watch nervously as the water level falls at Lake Mead, our fellow Nevadans are also seeing the alarming effects of climate change on Lake Tahoe. In both cases, it’s a call for action on reducing global warming. Southern Nevadans are well aware of the situation at Lake Mead, which has reached historically low levels, but they may not be as familiar with the problems at Lake Tahoe. In a nutshell, climate change has disrupted weather patterns there to the point of causing the lake to drop below its natural rim … 

Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

Cloud seeding in Colorado could make waves in the West

On a ridge overlooking [Lake Irwin], a lone, cylindrical contraption — perched atop a steel tower — periodically belches out flames. The device is a remotely operated cloud seeding generator. When the conditions are right, it shoots a vaporized chemical solution into the atmosphere, catalyzing ice crystal formation and, subsequently, snowfall. The generator at Lake Irwin, along with its 15 counterparts around Gunnison County, together contributed an estimated 19 billion gallons of water into the Colorado River watershed last season.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Drought to downpour: California weather whiplash is climate change sentinel

It had been completely dry in Sacramento for six months. Then the heavens opened and a record-breaking amount of rain fell in one day. Such extreme shifts are becoming more frequent in California and are a harbinger of what is to come for the rest of a warming planet, scientists say.

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Aquafornia news ITV News

Eyewitnesses to climate change: The Californian tribe battling drought, wildfires and dust storms

The Paiute tribes of eastern California have a deeply alarming insight into the future. We must listen to their story, for soon it may be our story too. The indigenous people here are being encircled by three inter-connected threats: drought, dust storms and wildfires. The history of the Paiute is already one of heartbreak and betrayal. In the 19th century, their land was stolen. In the 20th century, their water was stolen. Now in the 21st century, their environment is being stolen – by the relentless forces of climate change and by political indifference to their plight.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Capturing water from atmospheric rivers will help build drought resilience in California. Here’s how

As scientists have been predicting, climate change is causing more dramatic extremes in weather — both wet and dry — and that pendulum swung very dramatically to the wet side over the weekend. Consequently, it’s critical we prepare now to capture and store water during these shorter, intense wet periods so that more water is available during the inevitable increasingly severe drought years ahead.

Aquafornia news U.C. Santa Cruz

New research: Survivor salmon that withstand drought and ocean warming provide a lifeline for California Chinook

In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California’s Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. They are among the few salmon that survive in those difficult years and return to spawning rivers to keep their populations alive, according to a study published October 28 in Nature Climate Change.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

The Mission Bay mud that could be worth millions  

 It may look like a weedy mud flat, and yes, sometimes it burps a bit of sulfuric-scented gas, but the Kendall-Frost marsh in Mission Bay could be worth millions in terms of its ability to help slow global warming.   New research ascribes a dollar value to one of San Diego’s remaining coastal wetland’s ability to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it underground, a process known as carbon sequestration. Viewing ecosystems this way could help governments like the city of San Diego weigh the cost and benefits of rebuilding wetlands over developed land it once occupied. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Was the big storm the start to a rainy winter in Bay Area?

A historic moisture-packed atmospheric river that swept California on Sunday into Monday delivered much-needed rain and snow to a drought-plagued state that could face severe challenges if it sees another dry winter. The question on everyone’s minds now is, could this be the start to a wet winter? Here’s what three experts had to say:

Aquafornia news Ensia

As floodwaters rise, who can afford to pay the cost?

Flooding, particularly on coasts, threatens families and communities. In a recent study published in the academic journal Earth’s Future, researchers looked at the costs of coastal flooding through an equity lens, finding that flooding comes with both monetary and social risks, suggesting that many people who own or rent homes at risk from rising sea levels may not have enough money to pay for the associated damages. … The study, which analyzed counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, projected flooding impacts from 2020 to 2060, determining that coastal flooding disproportionately impacts lower-income households.

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Aquafornia news Fox 40 (Sacramento)

Historic rain causes problems for some San Joaquin County farmers

Despite the historic rainfall totals from the weekend, that much rain in such a short amount of time caused problems for some Central Valley farmers.  Bruce Blodgett with the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau said the record rainfall from last weekend was encouraging but it’s not enough to move the needle on the statewide drought. … According to the farm bureau, growers won’t know the true impact of the rain for months.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Climate change is distressingly real. But it’s not behind all major weather events

It rained so hard in California in 1862 that a 300-mile-long lake was created in the Central Valley, stretching from Bakersfield to Red Bluff. … Yes, climate change is distressingly real. The melting Arctic ice cap and rising seas are evidence enough. So are higher average summer temperatures. The warming is exacerbated by humans burning fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean global warming is the mother of every freak of nature. Not all major events are caused by climate change, regardless of what Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly asserts about the extremes of wetter and windier storms, dryer droughts and hotter wildfires.
-Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California should create more water – much more

Wouldn’t you know it? Just like washing your car, almost the moment I finished writing this article, the skies opened up.  I’d write one every day if it meant ending our water woes. But it tells you everything you need to know about California’s dire water situation – that the atmospheric river that recently pummeled Northern California and other parts of the state doesn’t even begin to make a dent in our drought. And it highlights the urgency for California to create more water. Much more.
-Written by Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a nonprofit public policy organization.

Aquafornia news CapRadio

Sacramento went from record drought to record rain. Climate change may make that more common

California has always been a state known for its weather variability. There have been other instances of intense precipitation, like the heavy rainfall in 2017 that led to the Oroville dam crisis.  But [UCLA climate scientist Daniel] Swain said that particularly intense precipitation during periods of dryness are expected to become the norm due to climate change. 

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Aquafornia news ABC10 - Sacramento

How atmospheric river forecasting can help California drought

Atmospheric rivers can bring dangerous flooding, but, without them, California can head into drought. Improving forecasts for these huge storms is a focus for the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes to keep water flowing in the state. Marty Ralph remembers living in Los Angeles in the 1980s when a huge rainstorm dropped nearly half the rainfall for the whole year in 12 hours. It was at that moment he realized he wanted to study these kind of storms

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: It’s just nuts – big almond and pistachio will likely make a killing despite the epic drought

For farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley—the Saudi Arabia of nuts—2021 brought many challenges. Scant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range delivered almost no irrigation water to the region’s vaunted complex of dams and aqueducts. Record-high temperatures baked farm fields. Before this past weekend’s furious storms, California endured its driest year in recorded history.  Yet the region’s ever-expanding and very thirsty almond and pistachio operations are thriving anyway.
-Written by Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent for Mother Jones.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Climate insurance? California Department of Insurance releases report to re-imagine insurance

With so many extremes hitting California, the state is now talking about Climate Insurance. The next disaster – combined with a lack of insurance that many can’t afford and is getting even more expensive – has the state considering a new community-based approach to lower risk, and make sure more people are protected against catastrophic weather events. … Ideas to lower risk include building wetlands to store water in floods, creating statewide hazard maps so residents are clear on the risks where they live, and naming heatwaves like hurricanes so people properly prepare.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Rains helped, but drought is part of California’s ‘new normal’

Far from being rescued from drought by recent storms, the state needs to prepare for a “new normal” of restricted water supplies, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said Tuesday, Oct. 26. To do that, Crowfoot said California must accelerate conservation efforts to deal with current drought conditions and continue to build on long-term water-management strategies, such as the $5.2 billion Water and Drought Resilience Package announced in September by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Crowfoot made his case to the executive committee of the Metropolitan Water District …

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Climate research project may change how we forecast water in the West

Eight white shipping containers, instruments spouting from the tops of some and a generator humming away in another, sit in the East River valley, on the outskirts of this mountain town [Crested Butte], pulling data out of the air. The containers, a “mobile atmospheric observatory,” will gather bits of information over the next two years about the winds and clouds and rain and snow and heat and cold above the silvery and serpentine waterway as it slides past the gray granite dome of Gothic Mountain on its way to the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: The Southwest must fight for its water and its future

For over 30 years, I’ve been a climate scientist who has focused intensely on the causes and consequences of drought and climate change. I’ve done my research all over the planet, but my No. 1 focus has been on interactions of drought and climate change in the Southwest United States and on how drought and climate change are impacting the Colorado River. Seven states in the U.S. and Mexico depend on the Colorado River for water, yet I worry most about one state: Arizona.
-Written by Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., is a climate scientist, professor and dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. 

Aquafornia news Berkeley Lab

New research: Managing water resources in a low-to-no-snow future

Mountain snowpacks around the world are on the decline, and if the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks could shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States, at some point in the next century. A new study led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) analyzes the likely timing of a low-to-no-snow future, what it will mean for water management, and opportunities for investments now that could stave off catastrophic consequences.

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

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

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

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

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

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

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

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

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

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

Foundation Event

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Groundwater Education Bundle Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Optional Groundwater Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2018

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

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcement

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.

Tour

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
Announcement

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.

Announcement

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.

Announcement

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

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

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

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

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

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

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

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

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

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

Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources

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

Aquapedia background Lakes

Lake Tahoe

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

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

Announcement

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

Weather

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

Meadows

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

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

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

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

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

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

Publication

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

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

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

Publication

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

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.