Topic: Drought

Overview

Drought

Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom-and-bust patterns.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in other regions of the country.

Most of the West experiences what is classified as severe to extreme drought more than 10 percent of the time, and a significant portion of the region experiences severe to extreme drought more than 15 percent of the time, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Experts who have studied recent droughts say a drought occurs about once every 10 years somewhere in the United States. Droughts are believed to be the most costly of all natural disasters because of their widespread effects on agriculture and related industries, as well as on urbanized areas. One of those decennial droughts could cost as much as $38 billion, according to one estimate.

Because droughts cannot be prevented, experts are looking for better ways to forecast them and new approaches to managing droughts when they occur.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Board could approve study on new dam in Stanislaus County

The Del Puerto Water District is set to vote Wednesday on approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County. … According to proponents, the reservoir storing up to 82,000 acre-feet will provide more reliable water deliveries to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… Water pumped from the nearby Delta-Mendota Canal would be stored behind the dam.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Eastern Coachella Valley residents urge the state for action on the Salton Sea

On Sept. 30, we sent a letter to state officials requesting that restoration projects coming out of the Salton Sea Management Program consider impacts on nearby communities. We hope those officials will share in our vision of reforestation and green spaces around the Salton Sea, see the benefits of such projects in addressing the sea’s deteriorating environmental conditions, and act with the same urgency.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: La Niña: Is California heading into another drought?

A commonly held assumption among many Californians is that La Niña means a dry winter is coming, and in years when the opposite occurs, El Niño, a wet winter is considered more likely. So brown lawns and water rationing are just around the corner, right? Not necessarily.

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Aquafornia news Science

Distant seas might predict Colorado River droughts

In 2011, heavy snows in the Rocky Mountains filled the Colorado River, lifting reservoirs—and spirits—in the drought-stricken U.S. Southwest. The following year, however, water levels dropped to nearly their lowest in a century… Now, scientists say they may have come up with a potential early warning system for the Colorado’s water levels—by watching temperature patterns in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of kilometers away.

Aquafornia news CNN

Monday Top of the Scroll: A boiling summer is now a scorching fall in the West

The desert Southwest is a hot place to live, but imagine spending over half of the year with high temperatures of at least 100 degrees. Parts of California and Arizona did just that this year. … A series of high-pressure systems in unfavorable locations have not only allowed for temperatures to soar over the past few months, but have effectively blocked any large, rainmaking storms from moving through the area.

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Aquafornia news American Geophysical Union

Research tidbit: Where will snow survive in a warming world?

Even if mean annual snowfall decreases, an increase in the intensity of snowfall events could prevent snow ablation, or the loss of snow due to melting, sublimation or evaporation. … In this study, Marshall et al. (2020) analyze spatial patterns in snowfall using both observational data from snow networks across the Mountain West [from the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains to the Rockies] and outputs from climate change simulations.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Oceanside gets 2nd place in national water conservation challenge

Oceanside finished second in a national water conservation challenge among cities with populations between 100,000 and 299,999, behind only Lakeland, Florida, it was announced Wednesday. … Oceanside residents pledged to save water and protect the environment as part of the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

With dry La Niña conditions, persistent Western drought looms large in winter outlook

The forecast looks warm and continued dry this winter in California and the Southwest, which raises the disturbing prospect of a perpetual fire season. … If this scenario unfolds, it would exacerbate drought conditions in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and California, and worsen the wildfire outlook for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Desalination plant in Orange County will help ensure clean drinking water

California is facing an impending water shortage. With widespread fires, a COVID-19 provoked economic recession bringing widespread unemployment and a public health emergency, it would be easy, but not prudent, to forget that we face a water crisis around the next corner.

Aquafornia news Futurity

Multiple droughts can be a mixed bag for forests

Droughts usually leave individual trees more vulnerable to subsequent droughts. “Compounding extreme events can be really stressful on forests and trees,” says Anna Trugman, assistant professor in the geography department at the UC Santa Barbara. She compares the experience to a person battling an illness: You’ll be harder hit if you get sick again while you’re still recovering.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Linking critical zone water storage and ecosystems

Several years into the research at the California Critical Zone Observatories, a multiyear drought lasting from fall 2011 to fall 2015 hit the state, causing massive tree death in the southern Sierra, while in Northern California there was essentially none. The massive die-off in the Sierra was a wake-up call for land managers and researchers alike…

Aquafornia news 9news.com

$1 million research project tracking agricultural water savings

If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate their ranches on less H20…. Any water saved could be left in the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable, even as the West’s population grows and drought becomes more intense.

Aquafornia news Fox21News.com

Reservoir release pilot project on the Colorado River

A new experiment is looking into how drought conditions, like we’re currently in, can affect water traveling downstream in the Colorado River. The pilot project involved shepherding water from a high mountain reservoir to the Colorado-Utah state line.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: La Niña may signal scant relief from California’s seemingly endless loop of hot, dry weather

California just recorded its hottest September on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the state looks to be stuck in a nearly endless loop of hot, dry weather. With a strong La Niña developing, the dry pattern is looking ever harder to break, and could be settling in to stay for a while.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Vast new reservoir in south Orange County gets its first drops of water

It’s still dry as dirt, but promises to be a central component of future water supplies for the 165,000 people served by the Santa Margarita Water District. While the district currently imports 100% of its drinking water from the Colorado River and northern California, the new Trampas Canyon Reservoir is part of a plan to generate 30% of potable water supplies locally and to recycle more wastewater.

Aquafornia news Christian Science Monitor

Setting ‘good fires’ to reduce the West’s wildfire risk

Prescribed burning … targets brush, grasses, and other accumulated vegetation, along with dead and downed trees, to improve ecosystem health and reduce the fuels that power wildfires. … “We’re trying to encourage a cultural shift in our relationship with wildfire,” says Sasha Berleman, a fire ecologist who runs a prescribed burn training program based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Fire isn’t going away, so let’s change how we’re living with it.”

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Colorado River water supply is predictable owing to long-term ocean memory

A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Inverness and Bolinas step up water restrictions, warn of rationing

Residents of Bolinas and Inverness must take further steps to reduce their water consumption to stave off rationing. Both the Inverness and Bolinas utility Districts lack significant water storage in their systems; recently, they put increased pressure on their customers to cut water use and warned of mandatory restrictions should they fail to comply.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: A Craigslist for water trading? Learn how this new water management platform works

To inform landowners about their water budgets, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County partnered with EDF, Sitka Technology Group, WestWater Research and local landowners to co-develop a new online, open-source water accounting and trading platform. We asked general manager Eric Averett to answer a few questions about how the platform…

Aquafornia news KVOA TV

University of Arizona researcher leading project to model the nation’s groundwater

A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim, the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Happy New Water Year, where’d all that Colorado River water go?

Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet. That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less water.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Supervisors discuss Corning area groundwater levels

Tehama County Board of Supervisors received an update Tuesday … on groundwater levels and well depths following reports of south county wells going dry. … The majority of the calls come from areas west of Interstate-5 as far as Rancho Tehama, where at least two people have reported wells going dry. A few others have reported declining groundwater levels.

Aquafornia news The Current, UC Santa Barbara

Blog: Tapping into conservation

In a new paper, researchers from UC Santa Barbara reveal how a large-scale field experiment in messaging based on psychological science significantly reduced water consumption on the Central Coast of California.

Aquafornia news University of Texas

News release: Key indicators discovered of climate change’s impact on California water supply

In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists found that leading climate projections used by the state strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in ways that will make water management more difficult during the coming decades.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tess Dunham: California’s three-legged stool for improving groundwater quality

Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship… One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa “Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work together.

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

Droughts that start over the ocean? They’re often worse than those that form over land

A Sept. 21 study published in the journal Water Resources Research found that, of all the droughts that affected land areas globally from 1981 to 2018, about 1 in 6 started over water and moved onto land, with a particularly high frequency along the West Coast of North America….The current Western drought could soon rise to a crisis level, with federal water managers warning that … two key Colorado River reservoirs may drop to levels that could result in economically damaging cuts to water allocations in the Southwest and California. 

Aquafornia news Designboom.com

NUDES designs a towering rainwater harvesting concept for San Jose

in a bid to celebrate the importance of water in our lives, the collaborative design office NUDES has conceived a rainwater harvesting tower for San Jose in California. The soaring ‘rain water catcher’ is a design proposal that aims to address the global impact of climate change by advocating the need for water conservation.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water year starts with concerns about La Niña

Despite little precipitation and a small snowpack in the 2020 water year, which ended Sept. 30, California weathered the year on water stored in reservoirs during previous years’ storms. Going into 2021, farmers note that weather officials predict a La Niña climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which has brought drought conditions in the past.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In correcting misappropriation of water, Nevada must balance legal rights with existing use

In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater rights than there was water available. Today state officials say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which could mean cuts.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District candidates address funding, climate

Three first-time candidates and a 16-year incumbent are vying for two seats on the Marin Municipal Water District board in the November election.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Lawmakers pass technical fix to aid drought-stricken Klamath Basin

House lawmakers passed the bill Oct. 1, allowing irrigators to access up to $10 million for emergency drought relief in the basin straddling Southern Oregon and Northern California. The bill passed the Senate in July, and now heads to President Trump to be signed into law.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

New Drought Monitor map shows extreme dry conditions growing in Calif.

The new federal Drought Monitor map shows that localized drought conditions are increasing in Northern California. The Sept. 22 map had 3% of the state in extreme drought while the Sept. 29 map released Thursday shows 13%.

Aquafornia news Caiifornia WaterBlog

Blog: Happy 2021! Here’s to a new water year!

As we leave 2020, the soils are dry (and ashen) and most reservoirs and aquifers have been somewhat drawn down by the dry year.  Most major water storage reservoirs have below average storage, but some are above average.  We enter WY 2021 with less stored water than when we entered 2020.

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Aquafornia news UC San Diego

News release: Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Orange County desalination project doesn’t pencil out

Unfortunately, some Wall Street water companies are trying to take advantage of California’s drought fears by pushing through overpriced and unnecessary water projects. Poseidon Water Co. is one of those companies. Poseidon has been working for years to build a seawater desalination plant in Orange County, seeking a deal that would lock the local utility into buying their water for decades, regardless of need.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How groundwater managers can avoid the courts as they divvy up water

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this two-part question: Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their groundwater use and by how much? [Please note Oct. 20 webinar.]

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Madness and arrogance” forced lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer.

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego County Water Authority sets agricultural water discount in exchange for reliability

Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water, while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per acre-foot. Farmers who participate will receive a lower level of water service during shortages or emergencies. That allows the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits. In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water storage and supply reliability charges.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Conflict over U.S.-Mexico water treaty escalates as farmers take La Boquilla Dam

Tensions between Mexico and the United States over water intensified this month as hundreds of Mexican farmers seized control of La Boquilla dam in protest over mandatory water releases. The protesters came from parched Chihuahua state, nearly 100 square miles of land pressed against the U.S. border, where farmers are opposing the delivery of over 100 billion gallons of water to the United States by October 24.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for forest health projects

Four days before dry lightning ignited this year’s statewide wildfire siege, state and federal leaders signed an agreement to vastly expand vegetation management in California. This signals progress towards shared management of forests to reduce the risk of large severe wildfires and improve their resilience to the changing climate. … But are current funding sources enough to keep pace?

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: When it comes to droughts, the costs of climate change are too high for both birds and people

Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46% below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Study: Small farmers shortchanged by SGMA

When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

This year’s monsoon season in Las Vegas? More like a ‘nonsoon’

The monsoon season — that period from mid-June through September that each year brings rains to the Mojave Desert and other areas of the Southwest from the tropical coast of Mexico — has been a dud this year. Las Vegas is in the middle of a record-breaking stretch without rain, and residents should be prepared for it to stay that way, scientists say.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Students kayak the Salton Sea to raise awareness about lake’s plight

Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.

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Aquafornia news The Rolla Daily News

Research links sinking land to regions of high groundwater demand

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology … are using a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence – to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Opponents of Colorado River pipeline project view delay as progress

Regional water conservation groups and a Clark County commissioner welcomed a request by Utah officials Thursday to extend the federal environmental review of a controversial plan to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River to southwest Utah.

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Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

Opinion: Water has always posed a challenge for Santa Maria Valley

From the time when the pioneers first arrived, water, or the lack of it, was a major problem for the valley. The first water system was started by Reuben Hart, who came to the United States from Derbyshire, England, first settling in New Jersey with his brother, Thomas.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Monday Top of the Scroll: Does La Niña mean a drier, shorter winter for Southern California?

It’s been a couple of years since satellites and buoys detected the mass of cold water forming along the equator. National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy said when you average out the effect of La Ninas over the last few decades, they tend to indicate we’re in for less precipitation than what we’d get in an average winter. But, La Ninas can also bring surprises.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to sustain rivers and lakes long-term.

Aquafornia news Reuters

California outpaced Trump’s Forest Service in wildfire prevention work: data

While more than half of California’s forests fall under federal management, the U.S. Forest Service consistently spends fewer dollars than the state in managing those lands to reduce wildfire risks, a Reuters data analysis reveals. The relative spending by federal and state forest authorities undermines President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to blame deadly wildfires on a failure by California to clear its forests of dead wood and other debris.

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Aquafornia news Truthout

West Coast wildfires underscore ominous global trend: Forests are dying

Behind the apocalyptic wildfires in California and Oregon, another ominous trend is creeping across the globe: Everywhere in the world, trees are dying, with the biggest trees going first. Entire forests are threatened worldwide.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

News release: Newly identified ‘landfalling droughts’ start over ocean

Stanford scientists have identified a new kind of “landfalling drought” … that can potentially be predicted before it impacts people and ecosystems on land. …  They found that droughts that make landfall in the region have been associated with certain atmospheric pressure patterns that reduce moisture, similar to the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” pattern that was one of the primary causes of the 2012-2017 California Drought.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Collaboration on the Colorado River between Mexico and the US brings benefits for both countries

At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in water resource management, gave a presentation on how the United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship, the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look at the work currently in progress.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Heat and drought team up more frequently, with disastrous results

The combination of drought conditions and heat waves, which can make wildfires more likely, is becoming increasingly common in the American West, according to a new study. The results may be predictably disastrous.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Colorado River Basin states request a better forum to resolve concerns with Lake Powell pipeline

In Utah, there is a significant effort underway to build a water delivery pipeline from Lake Powell to transport part of Utah’s Colorado River entitlement to Utah’s St. George area. As the federal environmental review for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah continues, Utah’s six fellow Colorado River Basin states weighed in as a group, cautioning that unresolved issues remain.

Aquafornia news Climate.gov

Blog: U.S. drought vulnerability rankings are in: How does your state compare?

Despite facing recurring multi-year droughts (relatively high exposure), California ranks very low in drought vulnerability. Thanks to a strong economy and well-developed adaptation measures, it’s better prepared for an extreme drought when it occurs than most other states.

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Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reservoir-release pilot project in Colorado begins this week

Beginning Wednesday, Front Range water providers will release water stored in Homestake Reservoir in an effort to test how they could get water downstream to the state line in the event of a Colorado River Compact call….A compact call could occur if the upper basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico) can’t deliver the 7.5 million acre-feet of water per year to the lower basin states (Arizona, California and Nevada), as required by a nearly century-old binding agreement.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Ranchers discuss managing land, herds in drought

Don’t be a victim: That’s the advice of Joe Fischer, a seedstock cattle producer near Auburn, talking of ranchers dealing with drought in California. His position: Be proactive and plan ahead.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water article examines major report that tries to make sense of science vital to Colorado River management

Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows, canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of science attached to it. Our latest article in Western Water news examines a new report that synthesizes and provides context for that science and could aid water managers as they prepare to rewrite the operating rules for a river system so vital to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Writers on the Range

Opinion: A clear warning about the Colorado River

A crisis could be approaching. The two giant reservoirs on the Colorado River are both below 50 percent of capacity. If drought causes even more drastic drops, the Bureau of Reclamation could step in to prioritize the making of electricity by the hydro plants at lakes Mead and Powell. No one knows what BuRec would do, but it would call the shots and end current arrangements.

Aquafornia news SciTechDaily

OpenET: Transforming water management in the U.S. West with NASA data

California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than 25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: Investing in rivers is money well spent

Earlier this summer, American Rivers released a new report, Rivers as Economic Engines, detailing how the right investments in water infrastructure, natural infrastructure and river restoration can create jobs, strengthen communities and address longstanding injustices. … We are calling on Congress to invest $500 billion over 10 years to create the transformational change we need when it comes to ensuring clean water and healthy rivers for everyone.

Aquafornia news Microsoft

Blog: Microsoft will replenish more water than it consumes by 2030

By 2030 we will be water positive, meaning we will replenish more water than we use. We’ll do this by putting back more water in stressed basins than our global water consumption across all basins. … We will focus our replenishment efforts on roughly 40 highly stressed basins where we have operations….Our new Silicon Valley campus, opening later this year in California, features an on-site rainwater collection system and waste treatment plant to ensure 100% of the site’s non-potable water comes from onsite recycled sources.

Aquafornia news Marketplace

Water enters futures market, allowing buyers to lock in prices

There is a new product allowing businesses in California — mostly farms and other agricultural businesses that rely on water — to lock in prices for water. But there are plenty of questions as to how this will actually work. To state the obvious, it’s just not that easy to transact in water. It’s not a block of gold, or even a barrel of oil.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better

President Trump dismissed evidence pointed to by California’s governor of climate change’s role in the state’s continuing wildfires during a Fox News interview on Sunday… The president went on during the interview to attack California over its water management policies, which he blamed on efforts to protect the Delta smelt…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Tule agency to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Friday Top of the Scroll: First water futures contract is coming with the West on fire

If the record heat and wildfires ravaging California weren’t a clear enough sign that the climate is changing, then consider this: Wall Street is about to start trading futures contracts on the state’s water supply. … They are intended to both allow California’s big water consumers—like almond farms and municipalities—to hedge against surging prices and can act as a benchmark that signals how acute water scarcity is becoming in the state and, more broadly, across the globe.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA facilitates progress of national water reuse action plan

On Wednesday, at the virtual 35th Annual WateReuse Symposium, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency facilitated a “charrette” to identify challenges and map solutions to continue advancing the National Water Reuse Action Plan… “Water reuse must be a central theme in EPA’s efforts to meet 21st century demands for water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

What ‘eerie’ wildfire smoke is doing to Lake Tahoe

What is all this smoke from wildfires doing to Lake Tahoe itself? I called Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, to find out. Schladow is part of a group of scientists that measure and track Tahoe’s clarity. … To answer my question, Schladow gave a standard scientist’s response: It’s complicated.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

California wildfires may give way to massive mudslides

When fires burn up vegetation, the charred remains become hydrophobic—meaning they repel away any water. The soil is also very dry, which counterintuitively makes it harder for water to infiltrate. … Fires can also destroy the natural clumps in soil, increasing their erodibility. Altogether, this means that water is hitting the ground with more force and the soil is unable to suck it up.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Ending conflicts over water

In recent years, a wide range of water-related factors have contributed to political instability, human dislocation and migration, agricultural and food insecurity, and in more and more cases, actual conflict and violence.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Water wars at the Supreme Court: ‘It’s only going to get worse’

The U.S. Supreme Court kicks off its new term next month with a unique “original jurisdiction” water dispute—the likes of which could become more common as the climate changes. The justices are set to hear Texas v. New Mexico, virtually, on their first day of oral arguments Oct. 5. Here’s how original jurisdiction water cases work, what’s at stake this term, and what’s on the horizon.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Almond growers are committed to finding water solutions that work for people, farms, and fish

Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in supporting salmon health.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Deep Creek Cemetery searches for water

The last few years have been dry for one of the oldest cemeteries in Tulare County. The well at the Deep Creek Cemetery has been parched since 2014 and now they are in talks with the Farmersville City Council to potentially connect to the city’s water system.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Creek Fire ignites fire management debate on beetles, climate change

When the Creek Fire exploded to 160,000 acres in just 72 hours, ripping through a jewel of the Sierra Nevada just south of Yosemite National Park, California and the world looked on in horror and surprise. But the stage had long been set for the megablaze, one of a half-dozen transforming millions of acres of Golden State landscapes to ash. Droughts supercharged by climate change dried out vegetation, aiding its transition into fuel.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Groundwater externalities and the agricultural response to water pricing

Dr. Ellen Bruno is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. At a recent Silver Solutions webinar, she shared some of the preliminary results on a paper she is working on… The study considers the impacts of agricultural water pricing and the effect on water use and land use change.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Where groundwater gives way to warm springs, a fight continues over building a new desert town outside Las Vegas

The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a simple question: How much water is there? That answer is complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water board must establish a state water budget that California can afford

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the “political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse to make.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

University of Arizona researchers unveil new model for desert farming in warming world

A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild, native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Mexican farmers seize La Boquilla dam to protest water debt payments to U.S.

For 75 years, through tensions and disputes over immigration, narcotrafficking and trade, Mexico and the United States have sent each other billions of gallons of water annually to irrigate farms along the border under a treaty signed during World War II. But today, the 1944 agreement is facing increasingly violent opposition in drought-parched Chihuahua state, where protesters have seized control of a major dam to dramatize the plight of farmers…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Risk of Colorado River shortage is on the rise, could hit within 5 years, officials say

Following a hot and extremely dry spring and summer, the Bureau of Reclamation’s latest projections show that in a scenario of continuing drought between now and 2025, the chances of Lake Mead falling into a shortage has increased to nearly 80%. The odds of the reservoir dropping to critically low levels by 2025 under this scenario was estimated at nearly 20%.

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Aquafornia news Fast Company

This tool is mapping every tree in California to help stop megafires

Scientists at Salo Sciences, a startup that works on technology for natural climate solutions, began creating the tool after interviewing dozens of experts in California about the state’s challenges with wildfires: They need more detailed, up-to-date information about the forests so they can better predict how fast and in what direction fires will spread…

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

Changing patterns of ocean salt levels give scientists clues to extreme weather on land

New mapping of salt concentrations in the world’s oceans confirms what physics and climate models have long suggested: Global warming is intensifying Earth’s water cycle, speeding up the rate at which water evaporates in one area and falls as rain or snow somewhere else. That intensification has enormous implications because it worsens droughts and increases extreme rainstorms and flooding.

Aquafornia news Audubon

A disease outbreak in California has killed an estimated 40,000 birds

As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis, biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Is climate change worsening California fires, or is poor forest management to blame? Yes

In recent years, nearly 150 million trees died around the state as their roots delved fruitlessly for water and a devastating bark beetle infestation took hold. Both the drought and the insect spread that came with it were exacerbated by changing climate conditions linked to humans burning fossil fuels, scientists concluded. Now those trees, like so much else in the American West, are burning as California contends with a reckoning more than 100 years in the making.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mexican water wars: Dam seized, troops deployed, at least one killed in protests about sharing with U.S.

Mexico’s water wars have turned deadly. A long-simmering dispute about shared water rights between Mexico and the United States has erupted into open clashes pitting Mexican National Guard troops against farmers, ranchers and others who seized a dam in northern Chihuahua state.

Aquafornia news Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror

Yucaipa Valley Water District moves ahead with a second recycled water fill station

The plan, approved by the board of directors, will help serve more customers who use recycled water for irrigation, construction grading, fire department usage. Additionally, the board approved temporarily closing the Recycled Water Fill Station No. 1 to move it, upgrade it and add better security for the grounds.

Aquafornia news ASU Now

Blog: Arizona State University water policy expert addresses new concerns about state’s precious resource

The cuts are a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels have precipitously dropped as a result of historic overallocation and a drought that started in 2000. … ASU Now checked in with Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute on how these new developments will impact the Copper State and its residents.

Western Water Gary Pitzer 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.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: La Niña may worsen Southwest drought this winter

Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, said that as a result of La Niña, Southern California, as well as most of Arizona and New Mexico, could “tilt toward dry” this winter. Southern California, which gets most of its rainfall from late fall to early spring, is already abnormally dry…

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Study of ocean salinity reveals amped-up global water cycle

There is something in the water on planet Earth. A study published Wednesday reveals climate change has amplified the water cycle, which explains the more frequent extreme weather patterns in recent years.

Aquafornia news Voice of America

2 die in gunfight with Mexican police in US water transfer dispute

The Mexican National Guard said Wednesday that two people had died in a gunfight with military police near a protest at a dam that diverts water away from an area hit by drought to the United States. … The protest comes amid plans to divert more to the United States due to a “water debt” Mexico has accrued under a 1944 water-sharing treaty between the countries.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Report: Great Salt Lake shrinking more than a foot annually

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is shrinking every year, but experts are implementing measures to slow the water loss, a new report said.

Aquafornia news Oregon Public Broadcasting

Audio: Plan to remove 4 Klamath River dams may stall again

In 2010, tribes joined the company that owns the dams and other stakeholders in an agreement to remove the dams in 2020. The plan was later delayed to 2022, and now it may stall again because of a recent decision by federal regulators.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: ‘Ground zero’ for dead trees: How California mega-drought turned Creek Fire into inferno

By killing millions of trees in the Sierra National Forest, the historic drought that ended in 2017 left an incendiary supply of dry fuel that appears to have intensified the fire that’s ravaged more than 140,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada, wildfire scientists and forestry experts said.

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: DWR releases draft guidebook for 2020 Urban Water Management Plans

The Guidebook is designed to assist urban water suppliers with preparing UWMPs that are due to DWR on July 1. DWR also released its draft 2020 Agricultural Water Management Plan Guidebook related to long-term water supply and demand strategies for agricultural water planning.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

‘Until the Last Drop’ documentary explains California water wars

The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of blood.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Fort Bragg’s water shortage means steep cuts, no watering of lawns; climate scientists say to expect more

Starting in mid-July, the flows in the Noyo River began dropping faster than in any other summer on record. The river flow is below 2015 low flows, when the entire state was in a drought emergency. John Smith, director of Fort Bragg Public Works, said staff had never before seen water levels in the Noyo drop so precipitously.

Aquafornia news The Packer

Opinion: Growers must solve California’s water challenges

I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will require of growers in the years ahead.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California sets record with 2M acres burned so far this year

Wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres in California this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions. The most striking thing about the record is how early it was set, with the most dangerous part of the year still ahead…About 30 houses were destroyed in the remote hamlet of Big Creek, … [but] a school, church, library, historic general store and a major hydroelectric plant were spared…

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona endorses GSC Farm LLC’s plan to sell Colorado River water to Queen Creek

Arizona’s top water regulator has endorsed a company’s proposal to take water from farmland near the Colorado River and sell it to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek. The plan, which still would require federal approval, has generated a heated debate about whether transferring water away from the farming community of Cibola could harm the local economy, and whether the deal would open the gates for more companies to buy land near the river with the sole aim of selling off the water for profit.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: California/Nevada Tahoe Science Advisory Council elevates efforts to protect and restore Lake Tahoe

Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens in drought-prone California

According to the 21-page complaint, Foster Farms’ Livingston, California, plant uses 3-4 million gallons of drinkable water daily, more than all the other water users in the rural city of 14,000 combined. The main reason, the Animal Legal Defense Fund argues, is Foster Farms’ water-intensive slaughter system.

Aquafornia news American Chemical Society

News release: Regional variations in freshwater overconsumption

With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse. Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science & Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional capacities.

Aquafornia news University of Colorado Boulder

Blog: New grant supports interdisciplinary research on ‘the critical zone’ and the future of Western water

CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and two federal partners to better understand how water, trees, soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and chemical perspectives.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Regional Change

Report: Sustainable for whom? The impact of groundwater sustainability plans on domestic wells

Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As fire burns, activists sneak into Point Reyes to bring water to parched elk. Should they?

As darkness fell and a thick Pacific fog crept in over the Point Reyes peninsula on Sunday, a small band of animal activists waited for a National Park Service official to leave his check-post… At 6 p.m., as his shift came to a close and he drove away, the small bucket-brigade crept in. They were transporting roughly 200 gallons of water to the park’s tule elk…

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Aquafornia news Montgomery & Associates

Blog: Keep calm & SGMA on!

It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and we are happy to share some of what we learned. We are pleased to present our top 10 SGMA lessons learned:

Aquafornia news EOS.org

New tool quantifies and predicts snow droughts

Laurie Huning, a hydrologist at California State University, Long Beach, said snow droughts have been understudied relative to other types of drought, which is why she and her colleague Amir AghaKouchak sought to create a framework for monitoring and describing the phenomenon around the world.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Abandoned water park in California’s Mojave Desert may reopen in 2023

The Lake Dolores Waterpark in California’s Mojave Desert has been abandoned three times since it first opened to the public in 1962. A private firm recently secured the rights to revive the derelict site.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and also approve findings that the programs are exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review — meaning the programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the environment.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Park service, activists watch water supply for tule elk in Marin

“The thirsty elk are currently beset by drought and wildfire smoke and caged into the preserve by a fence which prevents them from accessing alternative water sources,” the groups said, asserting that most or all the ponds the elk should be able to use have dried up.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Third driest year on record for Lake Mendocino, Army Corps declares

With Lake Mendocino losing about a foot of water every five days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that 2020 is the “third driest year on record for the basin.” Though 2019 “was one of the wettest years over the past 25 years, this year is stacking up to be one of the driest,” the Army Corps explained…However, the Army Corps said a new forecasting model for storms developed over the last few years has definitely helped maintain the lake’s water levels.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: CalEPA’s Jared Blumenfeld on grounding COVID recovery in climate action

As California grapples with record-breaking heat, wildfire, pandemic, and a $54 billion budget deficit, TPR spoke with CalEPAgency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld to discuss how his agency’s priorities have been impacted… Blumenfeld reiterates Gov. Newsom’s commitment to ensuring safe and affordable rural drinking water and opportunities to propel the state’s post-COVID economic recovery with clean jobs.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Why CA spends billions but is vulnerable to big wildfires

Michael Wara, a climate and energy expert at Stanford University who’s advised the state Legislature on wildfire issues, said the state is still grappling with a legacy of spending money on fighting fires instead of on forest health, such as thinning overgrown brush and removing millions of drought-killed trees, building fire breaks around communities and intentionally setting fires when conditions safely allow it…

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Adapting to flood, fire, and drought: A case study of the American River

At ACWA’s virtual conference held in July of 2020, a panel comprised of agencies described the experience of the American River region in evaluating climate impacts on their watershed in a new cutting-edge study and the comprehensive suite of projects designed to address increasing threats from more frequent and intense floods, fires, and droughts.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Saltwater intrusion at North Marin wells reaches historic high

North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is important for plants, animals and people.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Canal piping OK’d

Despite opposing views among board members and objections from the public, on a 3-2 vote the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors voted Monday to approve piping the Upper Main Ditch, also known as the El Dorado Canal.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Tom Philpott predicts the end of farming as we know it

The veteran food writer’s new book warns that the current trajectory of farming in California’s Central Valley and the Corn Belt could be setting us up for collapse.

Aquafornia news EcoWatch

We can solve water scarcity in the U.S., new study says

The study … says that some of the most water-stressed areas in the West and Southwest have the greatest potential for water savings. The paper attributes nearly half the potential to simply improving how water is used in agriculture, specifically in growing the commodity crops, corn, cotton and alfalfa.

Aquafornia news Innovation Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions

News release: State-funded research collaboration surveys California stakeholders about climate resilience challenges

The Innovation Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions (CECS), a state-funded collaboration between eight California research institutions, is working to develop innovative solutions to managing California’s wildlands to reduce negative impacts of drought and climate change. The Center’s goal is to identify land management practices that simultaneously enhance carbon sequestration, reduce wildfire severity, protect watersheds and increase ecological and community resilience. The center is conducting a survey to better understand stakeholder needs and develop data/information solutions for active ecosystem management. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Lake Mead and Lower Colorado River to remain in tier Zero shortage for 2021

Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57% runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: New $15.9b Delta tunnel cost estimate: Revisiting DWR’s 2018 analysis with updated costs shows it is a bad investment

Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in 2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to 0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse than that.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Bruce Babbitt: Gov. Newsom must clarify his Delta tunnel plan

Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer is: we will leave that to the experts.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Lower Basin use of main stem Colorado River water dropping to levels not seen since 1980s

A friend last week pointed out something remarkable. Arizona, California, and Nevada are forecast this year to use just 6.8 million acre feet of their 7.5 million acre foot allocation of water from the main stem of the Colorado River. And that’s not just a one-off.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Major California water agencies partner with Scripps to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management

The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management before, during and after those seasonal storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District, Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation District, and Yuba Water Agency.]

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Aquafornia news ScienceAlert.com

Blog: Up to half the world’s water supply is being stolen, a troubling report reveals

There is some debate about what counts as water theft – or even if it exists at all, as water is a natural resource that we all have access to. But the team looked at three separate case studies involving improper water use: growing marijuana in California, strawberries in Spain, and cotton in Australia.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Basin replenishment fee passed

The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the sole no vote. The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the number of protest votes received…

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

California and Colorado fires may be part of climate-driven transformation of wildfires around the globe

The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in California and Colorado show clear influences of global warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Springs Gazette

Colorado mulls joining massive water conservation project

A statewide public effort to determine whether Coloradans should engage in perhaps the biggest water conservation program in state history — a Lake Powell drought contingency pool — enters its second year of study this summer.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Wildlife refuges battle devastating botulism outbreak, worsened by water shortages

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water, Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

’The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, three days before the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority public hearing on a controversial replenishment fee. The fee would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local community towards extinction,” according to the campaign…

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

What’s driving Northern California’s freak ‘fire siege’?

The weekend’s record-bursting heat wave and freak summer lightning storm have left an already parched Northern California with a rash of rapidly spreading wildfires — more than 300 blazes — something rarely seen before and possibly unprecedented in scope, climate scientists say.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California’s largest water body shrinking as goals remain unmet

California still hasn’t met habitat restoration and dust suppression goals for the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake that has long been plagued by a shrinking coastline, rising salinity numbers, insect infestations, and dying fish populations. State Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot acknowledged during a workshop Wednesday that “we’re coming from behind”…

Aquafornia news Boulder City Review

Opinion: Utah pipeline plan an affront to Nevada

Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our most valuable resource

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California still hasn’t found analyst to study Salton Sea water import proposals

Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.

Aquafornia news University of Southern California

Blog: Predicting drought in the American West just got much more difficult

A study led by scientists at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences found that Earth’s dynamic atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states. The study was published Aug. 7 in Science Advances.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Water district seeks drought proof supply

The development of a groundwater sustainability plan has begun and will help ensure we can manage the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin sustainably, which is an important shared resource for the Carpinteria Valley. In addition, the Carpinteria Advanced Purification Project, now under development, will allow us to diversify our water portfolio so that we can be resilient in future periods of drought.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Forecast: Plenty of CAP water for Tucson and AZ for now despite overheated drought

The latest forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, released last week, predicts that by the end of 2020, Lake Mead, which furnishes Central Arizona Project water, will be at 1,085 feet elevation. While that’s 5 feet lower than the lake stood at the end of 2019, it’s still 10 feet higher than the water level that would trigger the first major shortage, slicing more than 520,000 acre feet of water, roughly one-third of the state’s total supply.

Aquafornia news Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

Blog: Forecast informed reservoir operations using ensemble streamflow predictions for a multi‐purpose reservoir in Northern California

Sonoma Water Engineer Chris Delaney led development of a forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) decision support system for Lake Mendocino… Center For Western Weather And Water Extremes… A proof-of-concept model was originally developed by Chris in 2015 as a personal research project, and has been refined over the past 5 years with research and real-time testing…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

In California’s brutal climate loop, heatwaves raise fire risk

The current heatwave broiling Californians like no event in decades is also elevating the risk for another potential disaster in the weeks ahead: wildfires. … As a result of climate change, California sees more than twice as many fall days with “fire weather” as it did a generation ago.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Opinion: Over a century of agriculture research and extension

The University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (UC DREC) was established in 1912 and is the oldest research and extension center in the UC system. For the past 108 years, UC DREC has conducted innovative and relevant agricultural, natural resources, and environmental research and extension in arid desert regions.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Fish surveys in the estuary: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish populations. These surveys help scientists understand how fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to the Estuary.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada, West face reckoning over water but avoid cuts for now

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip 16 feet and 5 feet, respectively, in January from levels recorded a year earlier. Despite the dip, Lake Mead would stay above the threshold that triggers severe water cuts to cities and farms, giving officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for the future when the flow will slow.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Extreme heat waves almost always have ‘human fingerprint’ on them now

It may not be the biblical end of times, but the searing heat and humidity, rain, thunder and lightning thrashing California could be the beginning of the end of the region’s dry Mediterranean climate and a prelude of more surprises to come, scientists said Monday.

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Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Opinion: New water efficiency standards being developed in California

In 2018, two laws were passed to aid California in making water conservation a way of life: SB 606 and AB 1668. These two laws highlight water efficiency and conservation and are meant to outline certain roles and actions to be carried out by the California Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resource Control Board and water suppliers.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: As Lake Mead remains low, Arizona and Nevada face more water cutbacks

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will again receive less water from the Colorado River next year under a set of agreements intended to help boost the level of Lake Mead… The federal Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday showing that Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, will be at levels next year that continue to trigger moderate cutbacks in the two U.S. states and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Harder, Feinstein collaborate to keep snowpack readings accurate

A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always important, but especially during drought years. A new bill introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lightning sparks new wildfires across California

A rare summer thunderstorm brought lightning that sparked several small blazes in Northern California on Sunday and stoked a huge wildfire that has forced hundreds of people from their homes north of Los Angeles.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Climate change report forecasts hard times for Kern ag

A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable and intense. The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring profitability.”

Aquafornia news NASA Earth Observatory

Blog: A third of the U.S. faces drought

As the United States moves into the last weeks of climatological summer, one- third of the country is experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are living in drought-affected areas.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: US West faces reckoning over water but avoids cuts for now

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip slightly in 2021. … Despite the dip, Lake Mead’s levels are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when the flow will slow.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

New study says forecasters are overestimating future demand for water

A new report by the Pacific Institute suggests Californians have learned to conserve so well that water forecasters need to rethink their approach to estimating future water demand.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Why is America running out of water?

Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a third, warn scientists. … Shortages won’t affect only the regions we’d expect to be dry: With as many as 96 out of 204 basins in trouble, water shortages would impact most of the U.S., including the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest, central Rocky Mountain states, as well as parts of California…

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers propose climate-smart desert food production model for land and human health

Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass over a decade with far less water than that used by conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the soil to mitigate climate change…

Aquafornia news SciLine

Quick facts: Drought and climate change

Human-caused global warming is increasing drought risk across much of the United States as rising temperatures accelerate evaporation, increase water uptake by heat-parched plants, and reduce the amount of winter snowpack available to refresh regions during dry summer months.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

Completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources, and now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.

Aquafornia news UC Los Angeles

News release: A warming California sets the stage for future floods

By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state, according to a new study by UCLA climate scientists.

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Pinecrest Lake can drop lower during drought years

The state has approved a change that will give Tuolumne County more water security during drought periods.

Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: A warmer second half of August, and some tropical moisture in the mix? Plus: thoughts about (a dry?) autumn

Recent conditions across California over the past 3-5 weeks have been pretty typical by mid-summer standards. … California’s boon, however, has been Arizona’s misfortune: a near-total failure of the North American Monsoon…

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Loss in hydropower hampered by drought will impact utilities

The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5 billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be forced to bear.

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Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: Predicting drought in the American West just got more difficult

People hoping to get a handle on future droughts in the American West are in for a disappointment, as new University of Southern California-led research shows El Niño cycles are an unreliable predictor. Instead, they found that Earth’s dynamic atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states.

Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

Opinion: Facts show holes in Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline plan

We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

In Colorado’s climate change hot spot, the West’s water is evaporating

This cluster of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope — along with three counties just across the border in eastern Utah — has warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius, double the global average. Spanning more than 30,000 square miles, it is the largest 2C hot spot in the Lower 48, a Washington Post analysis found. … The average flow of the Colorado River has declined nearly 20 percent over the past century, half of which is because of warming temperatures, scientists say.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought continues to expand as the monsoon in the Southwest has been largely a no-show

Hot and dry conditions pushed portions of Arizona, southern Nevada and Southern California either into drought or further into drought, data from the U.S. Drought monitor show. … The North American Monsoon, which provides about half of the annual rainfall in parts of the Southwest, has been a “nonsoon” this year … The portion of California deemed abnormally dry grew by almost 7%, mainly in eastern San Bernardino County.

Aquafornia news American Geophysical Union

Blog: The secret life of water after a wildfire

In California, many of the wildfires occur in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which are the source of 70% of California’s water resources. Understanding the feedbacks and implications of disturbances on the hydrological cycle can help watershed managers plan for future scenarios with wildfires and climate extremes.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City council discusses grant for desalination plant

The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion Tuesday to introduce and subsequently adopt an ordinance authorizing a grant funding agreement with the State Department of Water Resources in the amount of $10 million for reactivation of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.

Aquafornia news Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Blog: Projecting the future trade of virtual water

Crops require water to grow. By importing water-intensive crops, countries essentially bring in a natural resource in the form of virtual water. Agricultural virtual water is the amount of water needed to grow a particular crop in a given region. Now research led by scientists at PNNL has projected that the volume of virtual water traded globally could triple by the end of the century.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Report: An assessment of urban water demand forecasts in California

Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Poseidon’s Huntington Beach desalination plant still in choppy waters

As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach project…

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Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara council accepts $10 million grant to operate desalination plant

The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to accept a $10 million grant — with the understanding that it will run the plant at full capacity for at least 36 out of the next 40 years. Some environmentalists objected to the council’s decision, citing environmental concerns.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Water policy expert Felicia Marcus joins Stanford

The Program on Water in the West at Stanford University is pleased to announce that Felicia Marcus, a preeminent water policy expert and the previous chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board, is joining the program as this year’s William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow.

Aquafornia news Voice of Orange County

Questions over water official who took money from interests pushing desal project she’s voting on

Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by a company and interest groups she took money from during past political campaigns.

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine News

News release: UC Irvine engineers evaluate snow drought in different parts of the world

Environmental engineers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts around the world. Using this tool to analyze conditions from 1980 to 2018, the researchers found a 28-percent increase in the length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western United States during the second half of the study period.

Aquafornia news UPI

Tiny dryland plants help protect dwindling water supplies

New research suggests these living crusts — an amalgamation of mosses, lichens, cyanobacteria and other kinds of microscopic organisms, including bacteria and fungi — have a significant influence on the ability of drylands to hold water.

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

Boaters told to leave Folsom Lake Marina by mid-August

The water level at Folsom Lake is dropping by nearly half a foot each day, and soon boaters who rent a slip at Folsom Lake Marina will have pull their boats out. Marina managers told the tenants they should plan on removing their boats from the water by around Aug. 16…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Fixing the Colorado River is tough. Good thing Arizona started early

The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Poseidon desalination proposal for Huntington Beach may face new requirements

After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.

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Aquafornia news National Geographic

Can the Colorado River keep on running?

The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19 percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent. The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious trouble.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, 2012–2016: Environmental review and lessons

Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had no less precipitation and was no longer than previous historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.

Aquafornia news LAist.com

Thirsty? This costly plant could let you drink the Pacific

Poseidon Resources wants to build a $1.4 billion desalination plant near a power plant that is about to be shut down. They say it could produce 50 million gallons of water per day, enough for about 100,000 Orange County homes. Friday marked the second day of hearings before the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. Its approval is needed for the plant to discharge salty brine left over from the treated water.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito groundwater basin levels still recovering from California drought

The district’s spring groundwater monitoring program, using 55 public and private wells, found that the levels rose 3-to-18 feet in each storage area of the basin since last year. That’s progress, but still far below historic wet weather levels, groundwater specialist Nick Kunstek said.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

What is Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority? An overview

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley, but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

News release: Bishop Paiute Tribe pumping water at reduced capacity; pump failure & high-demand

The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, water usage has gone up significantly.

Aquafornia news InterestingEngineering.com

How over-pumping of underground aquifers can cause land to sink

All the static and dynamic forces from the land and rock above start adding up and eventually that now-dry soil starts compacting down and down. While this may not seem like a big deal on a small scale, what we’ve seen in California (and other parts of the world too) is the dropping of the surface elevation over a period of years, often by hundreds of feet or meters.

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Aquafornia news Mendocino Beacon

Stage 4 drought continues in Mendocino

District Superintendent Ryan Rhoades reported that conditions have not changed and that the district remains in a Stage 4 drought. He commended the community for their cooperation by reducing their water use. Customers should strive for 50 gallons per person per day and cut overall use by at least 40 percent, he said.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Vehicles burned in Mexico to protest US water payment

Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the United States.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California has a new plan to protect its water supply from climate change, but some say it’s based on old thinking

Water is a big deal in California, and climate change is threatening the precious resource. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom finalized a broad plan this week to help prevent future water challenges … The Water Resilience Portfolio outlines 142 actions the state could take to build resilience as the effects of warming temperatures grow.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Imperial Irrigation District files opening brief in lawsuit against Met

Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a monumental water case in California’s appellate court against Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the opening brief against the other large water district is Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.

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