For years, the health of Lake Tahoe was best understood by
means of an annual dropping of a white disk — known as a Secchi
disk — in the middle of the lake and measuring the depth at
which it could still be seen.
By 2050, parts of Los Angeles County are forecast to experience
triple or quadruple the number of days of extreme heat if
nothing is done to control greenhouse gas emissions, placing
further demand on the region’s drinking water and electricity,
according to two new reports by UCLA scientists.
Scientists have discovered that the diversity of a threatened
native trout species will likely decrease due to future climate
change. … Researchers with the USGS, University of
Montana and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service examined whether
bull trout genetic diversity was related to climate
vulnerability at the watershed scale, which was determined on
the basis of current and future predictions of stream
temperature and flow and existing habitat conditions.
When Andy Wirth became the CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Resort in
November 2010, he did so amid a precipitation-laden winter that
saw enormous snow loads give skiers at Lake Tahoe plenty of
coveted powder days.
The plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls for
improving 23 miles of levees, from Mosher Slough in the north
to French Camp Slough in the south. This is intended to protect
much of Stockton from catastrophic floods worsened by climate
Pat Mulroy, a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy
Program at Brookings and a senior fellow for climate adaptation
and environmental policy at UNLV’s Brookings Mountain West,
discusses the water scarcity issues that have developed over
the last few decades and the realistic future of water in the
U.S. … During her tenure at SNWA [Southern Nevada Water
Authority], the region faced a huge crisis when one of the
worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River hit the
After 40 years of working on California water issues, it
sometimes feels to me [George Miller] as if we haven’t learned
anything. … The policies of the past century won’t work
in a future where we will face continued population growth and
the effects of climate change.
In a new study, published in the March 2 issue of the journal
of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
researchers led by Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh examined
the role that temperature has played in California droughts
over the past 120 years. They also examined the effect that
human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
are having on temperature and precipitation, focusing on the
influence of global warming upon California’s past, present and
future drought risk.
Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is altering Earth’s
most important atmospheric weather cell, drawing more moisture
into the deep tropics and broadening areas of drought at higher
latitudes, according to a new study.
A panel of scientists, including several from the Bay Area,
have pinpointed levels of a key heat-trapping gas long blamed
for wild swings in the weather. … The fresh facts have an
important role to play.
Scientists are so concerned about global warming that they’re
now calling for tests to find ways to cool the planet — the
first step toward exploration of a highly controversial field
that sounds like science fiction.
The Colorado River faces a dual threat from climate change as
rising temperatures increase the demand for irrigation water
and accelerate evaporation at the river’s two largest
reservoirs. So says a new report from the U.S. Bureau of
Explaining warmer temperatures can be complex. … But after
interviews with scientists, urban policy experts and a review
of reports, what made 2014 the warmest year on Earth, as well
as in the western United States, was a mix of powerful forces
that pushed the mercury up especially inside the heat lamps
known as cities.
Former University of Arizona chemistry professor and science
adviser to two secretaries of state under President George W.
Bush, George Atkinson believes the scientific method is
working. … For the next six weeks, he’s bringing his method
to Whittier, asking chosen representatives of the city of
86,000 to serve as a model for any town Southern California and
discuss, debate and agree on a plan to address global climate
change as well as droughts and energy use.
A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows how plants’
vulnerability to drought varies across the landscape; factors
such as plant structure and soil type where the plant is
growing can either make them more vulnerable or protect them
from declines. Recent elevated temperatures and prolonged
droughts in many already water-limited regions throughout the
world, including the southwestern U.S., are likely to intensify
according to future climate model projections.
By next year work should be underway on National Park Service
property at Stinson Beach to gird against rising seas that are
predicted to swallow part of Marin’s coast sometime this
century. The threat of sea-level rise is the primary reason why
the park service is planning a $2.3 million revamp of a
wastewater treatment system …
Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed
modeling tools that integrate climate data with rigorously
developed regional and local environmental data to understand
the hydrologic response to climate change and the effects on
regional and local watersheds and landscapes.
We should be building more low-elevation, off-stream storage
such as the San Luis Reservoir in the Pacheco Pass west of Los
Banos (which could be enlarged) or the proposed Sites reservoir
in the foothills west of Colusa, which would hold about a
million acre-feet of water.
President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request of $13.2
billion for the Department of the Interior continues the
Administration’s strong support for Interior’s core missions,
protecting the nation’s cultural and natural heritage,
responsibly managing energy development on public lands and
waters, investing in science, and honoring the nation’s trust
responsibilities to Native Americans and Alaska Natives and our
special commitments to affiliated island communities.
For as long as I can remember, my days have begun with a hot
decaf and the morning paper, much of it filled with headlines
of man’s inhumanity to man. But more and more these days, those
headlines are sharing space with stories of man’s inhumanity to
Amid growing concern about global weather patterns, a rocket
roared into space Saturday carrying a NASA satellite that will
give scientists new tools to forecast weather, track drought
and monitor climate change.
If you listen to climate change skeptics, Earth’s surface
hasn’t warmed appreciably in the last 15 years, and any
“record” set last year is just the result of the planet doing
what the planet naturally does. It turns out they’re right, but
for the wrong reasons, according to a study published online
Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Earlier this month, the Public Policy Institute of California
held a half-day conference in Sacramento focusing on how the
state can manage through another dry year and become more
drought resilient. Is the current drought a sign of things to
come? Michael Anderson, state climatologist with the Department
of Water Resources, kicked off the PPIC conference, Managing
Drought, with a presentation addressing that question.
The state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation, the two agencies that operate most of California’s
large dams, are in the early stages of studying possible rules
changes to accommodate shifts in hydrology expected with a
Sacramento State plans to launch a new institute that will
merge environmental science and policymaking, particularly
concerning climate change and water-related issues that
challenge California and the world.
On Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will join the X
Games in Aspen, Colo., to bring attention to the extreme
weather impacts of climate change. A strong economy and a
strong environment go hand in hand, which makes acting on
climate necessary to protect tourism, recreation and the
Melting glaciers are not just impacting sea level, they are
also affecting the flow of organic carbon to the world’s
oceans, according to new research that provides the first ever
global-scale estimates for the storage and release of organic
carbon from glaciers.
For [Courtney] James, restoration coordinator for the Coastal
Commission and the Coastal Clean Up director for Orange County
Coastkeeper, keeping tabs on the environment is something to do
every day. But on Monday, she was joined by people from around
the state who had volunteered to participate in the California
King Tides Project …
Today, we face climate change as our biggest environmental
challenge, and these lands are more important than ever.
Drought and extreme weather already impact California’s
communities and economy; rising sea levels already erode our
The recent flooding and near closure of Highway 101 during
storms and high tides is a preview of things to come. …
Sea-level rise will happen, no matter what actions we take to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Water
Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center today to help
communities across the country improve their wastewater,
drinking water and stormwater systems, particularly through
innovative financing and by building resilience to climate
Cars stranded in high waters, traffic backups and the potential
for damage to hybrid buses are among the fallout from the
low-lying interchange just steps from San Francisco Bay — an
area that may provide a glimpse of what’s to come for much of
the coastline as sea levels rise amid global warming.
Driven by climate change and a persistent ridge of high
pressure over the Pacific Ocean that caused California’s
drought, 2014 was the state’s hottest year ever recorded.
… On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown made climate
change a centerpiece of his inaugural address.
What society can do in the face of climate change, both on a
global and more localized scale, is just one of the topics up
for discussion at this week’s meteorologist conference at Lake
Tahoe’s South Shore.
Sacramento plodded through its hottest year on record in 2014,
with an average high temperature a full degree above the city’s
next-hottest year, according to a Bee analysis of records from
the National Climatic Data Center.
Gov. Jerry Brown kicked off his unprecedented fourth term
Monday with an appeal to lawmakers to confront California’s
greatest challenges … Overall, Brown had little to say about
his more costly and controversial projects including high-speed
rail and his two-tunnel plan for redirecting water resources to
the Central Valley.
The most welcome words in Gov. Jerry Brown’s combined inaugural
and State of the State speech Monday morning came at the
beginning and the end, in which Brown urged caution with
California’s “precariously” balanced budget, saying lawmakers
must “build for the future, not steal from it.”
As he was sworn in for a record fourth term, Gov. Jerry Brown
charted an ambitious new goal on Monday for California in its
fight against climate change, challenging the nation’s most
populous state to increase renewable energy use to 50 percent
in the next 15 years. … Brown spoke of the state’s need
to address long-term water issues …
Gov. Jerry Brown, sworn in Monday for a fourth and final term,
called in his inaugural address for sweeping changes to fight
climate change and for renewed spending on California’s aging
Earth is in a remarkable transition from a world in which human
influence on climate has been negligible to one in which our
influence is increasingly dominant. One of the most active
research areas in the climate sciences is the field of
detection and attribution: the effort to see and identify the
fingerprint of climate change in our extremes of weather.
The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on a draft
Reclamation Manual release for climate change adaptation. This
policy establishes how Reclamation will address climate change
impacts upon Reclamation’s mission, facilities, operations and
Gov. Jerry Brown and the other West Coast leaders – Oregon Gov.
John Kitzhaber, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia
Premier Christy Clark – who have pledged to solve global
warming deserve a heartfelt “thank you” from the people of
California and around the world, especially as Congress stalls
on climate change.
Hotter days mean less cold cash for Americans, according to a
new study matching 40 years of temperatures to economics. …
This is not from storms, drought or other weather disasters -
just the sweat of daily heat.
Sometimes it takes a crisis like climate change to reveal a
golden opportunity. Our rice farmers in Northern California
have long been exemplary stewards of their land, both in terms
of providing habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and for
their ongoing efforts to work with environmental and research
organizations to improve their farming practices.
Last year, our four governments — the states of California,
Oregon and Washington and the Province of British Columbia —
reached a landmark agreement to align climate and energy
strategies for 54 million Americans and Canadians. … And we
believe it can be a blueprint for other regions to take action.
Overall rainfall amounts in the Los Angeles region will remain
the same in coming decades, according to a new study that
examined the effects of a warming climate on Southern
California precipitation. The third in a series of UCLA studies
on the impact of climate change on Los Angeles, the report is
good news for the city’s efforts to develop more local water
A new report on water governance and climate change through the
lens of the current California drought has just been released
by Stanford University’s Water in the West Program. This
report, authored by Water in the West visiting scholar
Jacqueline Peel and research analyst Janny Choy, summarizes the
insights, lessons and key findings of a workshop hosted by
Water in the West in September 2014, which brought together
participants who have played central roles in managing water
during California’s current drought.
In order to help students understand the science of climate
change, KQED, the University of California Museum of
Paleontology and the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford
University have partnered on a new iBooks Textbook series and
iTunes U course, called Clue into Climate. … The Clue
into Climate iBooks Textbooks are available for iPads and Macs,
and can be downloaded for free from the iBooks Store.
Don’t blame man-made global warming for the devastating
California drought, a new federal report says. A report issued
Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
said natural variations – mostly a La Nina weather oscillation
– were the primary drivers behind the drought that has now
stretched to three years.
The public is invited to participate in the meeting on Tuesday,
Dec. 9, 2014, from 1:30-4:00 p.m. at the Bureau of Reclamation
Regional Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Cafeteria Conference Room
C1003 (adjacent to the Cafeteria), Sacramento, CA 95825.
Interested individuals, agencies and stakeholders may
participate person or online. … Reclamation will present a
summary of climate change impacts and findings identified in
the Sacramento and San Joaquin Basins Climate Impact
Assessment, released on Sept. 22.
As climate change exacerbates the most severe weather and
speeds sea-level rise, deficiencies in wastewater
infrastructure will become harder to ignore—and increasingly
costly to clean up after failures.
Dr. Dan Cayan is the director of the Climate Change Center at
Scripps and also concurrently holds a research position in the
USGS Water Resources division. At the November meeting of the
Delta Stewardship Council, he gave an overview of California’s
climate variability and of the current state of knowledge of
the potential impacts of climate change on the state’s water
Do scientists at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of
Oceanography believe that global warming will wipe out
civilization? I’ve never heard anyone utter those words in the
nearly 30 years I’ve followed Scripps.
Freaky seasons and drastic weather anomalies do little to
convince most people that climate change is real – political
ideology does much more, according to a study published online
Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Next month, the Bureau of Reclamation will hold the fourth in a
series of public meetings designed to inform stakeholders and
the public about the Sacramento and San Joaquin Basins Study.
The public is invited to participate in the meeting on Tuesday,
Dec. 9, 2014, from 1:30-4:00 p.m. at the Bureau of Reclamation
Regional Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Cafeteria Conference Room
C1003 (adjacent to the Cafeteria), Sacramento, CA 95825.
Interested individuals, agencies and stakeholders may
participate person or online.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping the Redwood
Valley County Water District, in Mendocino County, Calif.
assess the risks they face from climate change and to take
actions that increase resilience. The Water District and more
than 20 other communities nationwide will each receive up to
$30,000 in training and technical assistance to identify
assets, threats, and adaptation options to reduce their risk
from climate change.
Bureau of Reclamation’s Principal Deputy Commissioner Estevan
López has released the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for
Reclamation. In line with President Obama’s Climate Action
Plan, the strategy provides a framework in which Reclamation
managers can develop and adopt innovative solutions that
provide a more reliable water supply in a changing climate.
Climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is already
affecting life on every continent and in the oceans, and the
window is closing rapidly for governments to avert the worst
damage expected to occur later this century, scientists warned
in one of the loudest alarms yet sounded by the international
In my last blog, I discussed how low rainfall and
higher-than-average temperatures are worsening the drought and
causing severe water shortages. The changes that are affecting
the drought in the Southwest – lower-than-average rain, higher
temperatures, and changes in snowpack and runoff patterns – are
consistent with the changes we expect to see with climate
My work at NRDC has brought me to the front lines of the
climate crisis. … The book is a clarion call for the
United States to become carbon neutral in our lifetime — to
ensure that even as our economy grows, our fossil fuel
pollution does not rise, and instead, decreases at an
In his first policy speech as California’s Senate leader, Kevin
de León said one of his key priorities will be combating
climate change by setting policies that promote energy
efficiency. … In his speech to the water officials Thursday,
de León also stumped for Proposition 1 …”
In the midst of a historic drought, public health officials are
searching for clues as to why cases of West Nile virus have
exploded statewide since last year, making this season the
worst for human infections in California since 2005.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored two Bay Area
chemical companies Thursday for products and processes that
reduce or eliminate hazardous substances and may save water and
reduce greenhouse gases too.
Drought is rampant these days in many parts of
the American West, so consider this a pretty sweet gift:
You’ve just been given the rights to some water. … Your
job is to turn around and use that resource in the most
valuable way possible.
Can ordering a locally sourced, grass-fed steak and an expertly
made cocktail in a trendy restaurant actually combat climate
change? That’s the goal with the Perennial, a Mid-Market
restaurant experiment due in the spring that’s the first of its
kind in the Bay Area, if not the country.
As this year’s El Niño sets in, early signs are pointing toward
the possibility of a rare occurrence: back-to-back El Niño
years. If it happens, it would virtually guarantee a new global
heat record in 2015 and could help usher in a decade or more of
This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting
water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next
door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the
last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.
A coalition of advocacy groups on Monday challenged the
government’s denial of federal protections for the snow-loving
wolverine, arguing in a lawsuit that officials disregarded
evidence a warming climate will eliminate denning areas for the
so-called “mountain devil.”
Defense officials say a report slated for release Monday will
lay out plans for the Pentagon to get a better handle on how
climate change will affect the military, and determine how best
to deal with the challenges.
Fewer than half of American states are working to protect
themselves from climate change, despite more detailed warnings
from scientists that communities are already being damaged,
according to a new online clearinghouse of states’ efforts
compiled by the Georgetown Climate Center.
The stubborn high-pressure systems that block California rains
are linked to the abundance of human-caused greenhouse gases
that heat the oceans, according to a major paper released
Monday by Stanford scientists. But two other new studies
disagree — saying there’s no evidence that warming ocean waters
are to blame for our drought.
Scientists looking at 16 cases of wild weather around the world
last year see the fingerprints of man-made global warming on
more than half of them. … The California drought, though,
comes with an asterisk.
Hot off the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, the head of the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency kept up the Obama
administration’s push for significant changes in the rules on
carbon pollution – an overhaul she said would help, not hinder,
A report released this week shows that many Sierra Nevada
forests are in critical condition, and that natural benefits
they provide — such as clean air and water — are at risk from
large, intense fire.
A new report released today [Sept. 22] by the Department of the
Interior’s Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor finds that
projected changes in temperature and precipitation, combined
with a growing population, will have significant impacts on
water supplies, water quality, fish and wildlife habitats,
ecosystems, hydropower, recreation and flood control, in
California’s Central Valley this century.
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.
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.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
Water 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
Climate change involves natural and man-made changes to weather
patterns that occur over millions of years or over multiple
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.