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 Climate.gov

Blog: April 2020 temperature and precipitation outlook

For precipitation, it’s a wet forecast for much of the contiguous United States. April precipitation is favored to be among the wettest third of Aprils from 1981-2010 across much of the Plains, Gulf Coast, Tennessee and Ohio Valleys and West Coast. This would be a relief along the West Coast from northern California to Washington after a drier-than-average March.

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Blog: Wildlife Conservation Board funds stream flow enhancement projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board has approved approximately $24.3 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. … The approved projects will lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish or special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species, or to provide resilience to climate change.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: There was no March Miracle: California’s dry winter continues, Sierra snow survey shows

So much for the March Miracle. Despite a few March storms, the Sierra Nevada snowpack remains well below average, California officials reported Wednesday, suggesting that water supplies will be tight this summer and fall.

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Aquafornia news NASA

Blog: NASA, University of Nebraska release new global groundwater maps

NASA researchers have developed new satellite-based, weekly global maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions and one to three-month U.S. forecasts of each product. While maps of current dry/wet conditions for the United States have been available since 2012, this is the first time they have been available globally.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After a dry winter, the outlook calls for a wet start to April in all of California

An extended forecast for California shows an above-normal probability of precipitation during the week of April 6-10, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

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Aquafornia news KCRA TV

Below-average snowpack recorded across Sierra

Snow surveyors will head into the Sierra on Wednesday to take the most important measurements of the season. … Statewide, the snowpack and the water it holds is just 53% of average, according to the daily report on the California Data Exchange.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Futurity.org

How dead trees help forests tolerate drought

As the climate changes, forests have figured out a way to adapt to drought, a new study shows. … The results indicate that tree communities, particularly in more arid regions, have become more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Fourth Phillips Station snow survey of 2020 this week

On April 1, 2020, DWR will conduct the fourth Phillips Station snow survey of the season. Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and California Department of Public Health guidance to limit gatherings, DWR will be conducting the April Phillips Station snow survey without media present and will be providing video of the survey and the results via Facebook live.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

‘We’re in bad shape’: San Joaquin Valley lags in rainfall, despite storms this week

The past week brought much-needed showers to Tulare County — but not enough to catch up to the amount of rain the area should have by this time in the water year. … The past week brought about .78 inches, a decent amount, considering the average rainfall over the past 30 years for the entire month of March is 1.9 inches. But the rainfall broke an all-time record dry period for the season, as not a drop fell in February.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Early April precipitation is expected to be below normal where it is most needed in Northern California

While snow cover has increased thanks to a series of March storms, the Northern Sierra 8-Station Index stands at 56% of normal for the season. As of March 24, another 29.25 inches would be needed to reach the season normal of 54.52 inches. But the area normally gets just 9.42 inches from March 24 through June 30. So a daunting 310% of normal precipitation would be required to make up the deficit, according to Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

California edges toward a water-short summer and fall

After a very wet and snowy early 2019, which pumped up the state’s reservoirs, California has averaged less than half of average precipitation and snowpack so far in its rain year

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Building upon 50 years of interagency ecological science in the Bay-Delta

This year marks a significant milestone for the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) – now nine state and federal agencies that first joined forces 50 years ago for cooperative ecological monitoring and coordination in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay Estuary. As the IEP Lead Scientist, I have been reflecting on who we are, how we’ve evolved, and what we need to do to ensure we’re still working collaboratively for another 50 years.

Aquafornia news UCLA News

As climate change messes with temperature and precipitation, California newts suffer

Just three years after the 2011–2017 drought, one of the severest in recorded history for the state, the driest February in 150 years has spurred discussion of whether we’re in another drought — or if the last one even ended. That’s bad news for Los Angeles’ only newt, California newt, Taricha torosa, and other newts in the Taricha genus, particularly in the southern half of the state south of Big Sur.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Relentless storms continue to soak Golden State with rain, mountain snow

While California will not receive a soaking rain similar to what occurred at the beginning of the week, residents across the state can expect unsettled weather to stick around through Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona: Groundwater aquifers can expect a boost from March rains

March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as they’ve been in a decade. The utility is discharging water to make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying aquifers. The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than last year.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump pushes legal limits with virus disaster declaration

President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to approve requests for that designation from the governors of California, New York and Washington in their battles against COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Active pattern to bring rain and snow to the West in the week ahead

A pair of low-pressure systems will bring rain and mountain snow to the West, including communities in worsening drought, in the early part of the week ahead. The first of the low-pressure systems arrived on the California coast Sunday. The second system, the larger of the two storms geographically, will swing southward from the Gulf of Alaska through midweek.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: The West is in an expanding 20-year drought that a ‘March Miracle’ will do little to change

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows that although recent rains have provided some relief for Southern California, Northern California remains locked in moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions.

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Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Audio: The time for this water-saving grain in Nevada is now

Researchers with the University of Nevada, Reno, have been working to evaluate and commercialize crops that use less water. Professor John Cushman and his team think they’ve found an alternative. It’s called teff.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Cattle ranchers cope with dry pastures

California’s bone-dry February didn’t leave a lot of forage for Todd Swickard’s cattle—though mid-March rains should provide some help. … Swickard noted conditions on the hills were what one would expect in mid-April or later, with land gradually fading to brown and poppies everywhere.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: NRDC’s response to the climate resilient water portfolio

While the first draft of the governor’s draft Water Resilience Portfolio wasn’t the transformational vision many had hoped it would be, there is still time to deliver on a plan that will help us rise to the challenges ahead.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Groundwater management is a team effort at DWR

Besides reviewing and making final determinations on submitted plans that show how local agencies will manage their groundwater basins for long-term sustainability, DWR staff provide essential resources to local water agencies to help them better understand and manage their local basins. … Below are some examples of DWR staff contributions to groundwater management…

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘Miracle March’? Feet of Sierra snow beginning this weekend is just what California needs

Much-needed snow will blanket California’s Sierra Nevada high country this weekend into next week, bringing hope of a “Miracle March” that could replenish vital, water-providing snowpack after a record-dry February.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought expanding in California — nearly half the state now affected

Drought conditions continue to spread across California, with nearly half the state now affected, federal scientists reported Thursday, as recent rains weren’t enough to significantly slow a drying trend that has been growing more serious all winter. Overall, 48% of California is classified as being in moderate drought — up from 34% a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Western water reuse, conservation bills approved by House panel

The House Natural Resources Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to approve bills offered by California Democrats to reauthorize grant programs to provide reliable water supplies through reuse and desalination projects. Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he supported the water bills because Western states have been hit hard by drought conditions worsened by climate change.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Driving water conservation

Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water conservation campaigns.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Report predicts how water losses will hit SJ Valley

San Joaquin Valley farmers say they hope a newly released report will capture the attention of Californians about the potential impact of water shortages in the region. The report, released last week, said water shortages could cause 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland to be fallowed and cost as many as 85,000 jobs.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Atmospheric river to unleash heavy rain in Southern California

The storm— fed by a plume of subtropical water vapor at the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere — could bring 1 to 3 inches of rain to the area through at least Wednesday. … The heaviest rain is expected throughout Tuesday, upping the chances for both an ugly morning and evening commute.

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Monday Top of the Scroll: Southern California may see its biggest soaking this week since Christmas; some flooding, debris flows possible

We expect most of Southern California, including the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego metro area, as well as parts of Arizona, to pick up at least an inch of rain through Thursday. Some heavier amounts in higher terrain on southern- and southwestern-facing slopes are possible. Flash flooding of flood-prone, low-lying streets, freeways and normally dry washes and arroyos is possible in some areas.

Related articles;

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Collaboration is the new game in California water

If agriculture in the valley is going to survive, water leaders need to get cozy with new ideas and new allies. And, yes, that means environmentalists.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: The portion of California considered to be in moderate drought continues to expand

Drought conditions in California continued to expand, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor data released Thursday. After what experts are calling California’s driest February on record, slightly more than 34% of the state was deemed to be in moderate drought. That’s an increase of about 11% over figures released a week ago.

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Aquafornia news The Architect's Newspaper

Space Saloon, Designers on Holiday will host design festival addressing California’s water scarcity

The organizers of camp residency programs Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday have announced the launch of DeSaturated, an eight-day design-build festival in California’s Cuyama Valley, a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles. With the rugged high desert landscape as its backdrop, the “community-in-residence” program will draw attention to the state’s water scarcity.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: The dam truth about the Colorado River

If you followed the news about the Colorado River for the last year, you’d think that a political avalanche had swept down from Colorado’s snow-capped peaks and covered the Southwest with a blanket of “collaboration” and “river protection.” I won’t call it fake news, but I will point out errors of omission.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Cuyama Valley carrot growers get the stick

The Cuyama Valley is the driest agricultural region in the county; the valley floor gets just a little more rain than the Sahara. Yet for the past 75 years, this high desert region has been a mecca for water-intensive farming on an industrial scale — first alfalfa, and now carrots, a $69 million annual crop. … Now, to the rescue — belatedly — comes the state Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014…

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Helping the snow gods: Cloud seeding grows as weapon against global warming

The scramble for water has intensified as global warming has battered much of the West during the last 20 years with heat waves, droughts and wildfires. With projections for declining snowpack and river flows, cloud seeding is becoming a regional climate adaptation measure costing several million dollars each year.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Study: Fallowing cattle-feed farmland simplest way to alleviate western U.S. water shortage

An important new study finds that irrigated crop production accounts for 86 percent of all water consumed in the western US — and of all the water used on western farms, by far the largest portion goes to cattle-feed crops such as alfalfa and grass hay. To alleviate the severe shortage of water in the region, study authors suggest rotational fallowing farmland could be a simple and affordable means of dramatically reducing water use in the region.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Thursday Top of the Scroll: San Francisco could see its first rainfall since January as a potentially wetter California weather pattern takes shape

Much-needed rain will finally return to California and will likely end a month-plus dry streak in San Francisco and Sacramento. … The upper-level ridge of high pressure will slowly shift away from California this week. This will allow a cold front to move through Northern California Friday into Saturday.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California had its driest February on record. Here’s how bad it was

The lack of snow and rain in February comes after a January that was also drier than average, and a record dry autumn for much of Northern California. A series of storms dumped a considerable amount of snow in late December, raising hopes that this winter might proceed normally. But that now seems less likely.

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine News

Blog: Driven for desalinization

Fresh water shortages have made desalination a possible solution for supplementing the overall water supply. To address this issue, a team of industry professionals and researchers have formed National Alliance of Water and Innovation to jointly examine the critical technical barriers and research needed to lower the energy cost of desalination and other water processing methods.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: California’s inner-struggle for common sense on water

While this February could be the driest February on record, one year ago most farmers didn’t know when it would be dry enough to work their fields. This sums up the argument for additional water infrastructure for surface supplies…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: February among driest on record in California. Forecasters hoping for ‘miracle March’

Forecasters and water managers keeping a close eye on precipitation are hopeful that a wet month, a phenomenon known by weather experts as “miracle March,” may help bolster lackluster winter rain totals.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Climate change is threatening winter sports’ very existence

A warming planet has major ramifications on winter snowpack across the globe, including a long-term drying trend for many. That’s a concern for winter sports enthusiasts and communities that depend on snow throughout the year.

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Editorial: Depending on vitality of a river

A major contributor to the Southern California water supply is the Colorado River, which pumps in about 26 percent of the region’s water supply via the Colorado Aqueduct, which was built in the 1930s. … There’s a problem, and it’s happening at the source. Years of multiple water allocations and persistent drought have put the Colorado River under stress.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

What is xeriscaping, and why you should try it

The idea was that people living in Mediterranean-type climates (moist winters and dry summers) should landscape with plants suited to dry landscapes rather than plants that need lots of water to survive… Unfortunately, the term “xeriscape” quickly became synonymous with austere landscapes.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Price of water going up as the snowpack shrinks

Another block of water has been offered for sale in Kern County at $950 per acre foot. With a dry January and extremely dry February, California’s water outlook has worsened. And that has bumped the price of water for those who have it to sell.

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Editorial: Depending on vitality of a river

A major contributor to the Southern California water supply is the Colorado River, which pumps in about 26 percent of the region’s water supply via the Colorado Aqueduct, which was built in the 1930s. … There’s a problem, and it’s happening at the source. Years of multiple water allocations and persistent drought have put the Colorado River under stress.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Monday Top of the Scroll: Northern California’s driest February since the Civil War an increasing drought concern; Any relief ahead?

Northern California has just concluded one of its normally wettest months without a drop of rainfall. Even with an extra day on the calendar, February – a month that usually brings 20% of San Francisco’s annual rainfall – just added to the streak of dry days dating back to late January.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bills that would strengthen rural groundwater rules die in Arizona Legislature

Two bills that would make it easier for state regulators and county officials to limit well-drilling and groundwater pumping have died in the Arizona Legislature despite support from lawmakers and pleas from county officials who are asking for help to protect their rapidly declining aquifers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: California snowpack: Sierra range below half of average statewide

Officials at Phillips Station recorded a snow-water equivalent of 11.5 inches, only 47 percent of average for the end of February, according to Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources… DeGuzman called the month’s minuscule rain and snow totals “quite disappointing,” noting that it will almost certainly go down as the driest February ever measured by DWR officials in the Northern Sierra Nevada range over 99 years of recorded history.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Without water we can’t grow anything’: Can small farms survive California’s landmark water law?

The Central Valley is America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of California’s $50bn agriculture industry. But the 2011-2017 drought raised serious questions about the future of that industry and forced the state to grapple with regulating the one thing fueling much of it: groundwater.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Water is life. It’s also a battle. So what does the future hold for California?

Scientists say climate change will bring more unpredictable weather, warmer winters and less snowpack in the mountains. These challenges and some ideas for remedies are outlined in a new plan, called the California Water Resilience Portfolio, released by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January to a mix of praise and disappointment. Below, an explanation of the state’s water development — as well as the challenges, today and tomorrow, of providing water for California’s people, places and things.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California abnormally dry after low precipitation winter

Drought has expanded to nearly a quarter of the state, mainly in central California, the heart of the state’s agricultural sector, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor map made public Thursday. The map shows 70 percent of the state is abnormally dry.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump promised CA farmers water. But he can’t overrule weather

Turns out President Donald Trump is no match for another California drought. Less than a week after Trump told San Joaquin Valley farmers in Bakersfield that he was taking bold steps to increase their water supply, his administration announced Tuesday farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may only receive about 15 percent of their contracted water supply for the upcoming growing season.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: SF expecting first dry February in 156 years, but rain possible Sunday

The lack of precipitation in downtown San Francisco this month is nearing a historic feat. The city has not had a February with no rainfall since 1864, according to the National Weather Service. There is a 20% to 30% chance of rain across the region Sunday… Of course, that would be March 1.

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Climate change threatens Colorado River and the water supply for 40 million people

Climate change has dramatically decreased natural flow in the Colorado River, jeopardizing the water supply for some 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland, according to new research from the USGS. The decline is expected to continue unless changes are made to alleviate global warming and the impacts of drier, hotter temperatures.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Oceanside leads county with plan to make recycled water safe to drink

Oceanside celebrated the start of construction Wednesday on a project that could make it the first city in San Diego County to be drinking recycled water by 2022. At least two other cities or water districts are close behind on similar projects, and several more agencies are considering plans to make potable recycled water a significant portion of their supply.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Western snowpack is in great shape, except the Sierra

The season has been looking very good for most areas, with the exception of the Sierra, where an extended period of recent dry conditions has brought up the “D” word – drought – again.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Trump OKs more California water for Valley farmers. Gavin Newsom promises to sue

Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a pre-emptive strike against President Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to sue Trump’s administration to block a controversial plan to increase water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley. Newsom’s office said he “will file legal action in the coming days … to protect highly imperiled fish species close to extinction.”

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

Online tool assesses drought risk for residents on private wells, public water systems

California is doing more to preserve its groundwater levels than ever before, but a new, interactive tool by a local water advocacy group suggests it may not be enough. Last Wednesday, Visalia-based Community Water Center … argued that California will experience longer, more severe droughts due to climate change.

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

News release: Metropolitan launches new water waste campaign

What’s scarier than a malevolent clown under your bed? More tragic than the story of Romeo and Juliet? More offensive than a comedian with terrible jokes? Wasting water. That is the message of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s new digital and social media campaign “Wasting Water Is…”

Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program

The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack barely half of normal

The National Weather Service tweeted satellite images of the Sierra on Tuesday, showing the stark difference between this year and the above-average snowfall from 2019. The mountain snowpack — a crucial element in the state’s annual water supply — is 53 percent of normal for this time of year, according to the Department of Water Resources.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news WBUR

Driven by climate change, desalination researchers seek solutions to water scarcity

Extracting salt from water seems like an easy fix to a global problem, but the process of desalination can be expensive, and it can also have a huge impact on the environment. That’s why some researchers are looking into how to lower the cost and improve efficiency.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

City of Oceanside to break ground on Pure Water Oceanside

Marking a historic moment for the city of Oceanside and the region, city officials and water industry leaders will break ground on Pure Water Oceanside on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility. Scheduled to be completed before the end of 2021, Pure Water Oceanside will be on the map as the first operating recycled water project in San Diego County.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California agriculture in 2050: Still feeding people, maybe fewer acres and cows

Water supply concerns, regulations, labor issues, tariffs, climate change, and other challenges have prompted some rather dire predictions about the future of California agriculture. We talked to Dan Sumner—director of the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about his research on California agriculture in 2050.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?

A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means more dry weather for California. But did the drought in California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired in a two-decade drought…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Arizona weighs water bills, farms push back against reporting data

While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that would require owners of large wells across the state to measure and report how much water they’re pumping.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Time to act is now on California’s water system

Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately, many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of California residents.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?

A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means more dry weather for California. But did the drought in California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired in a two-decade drought…

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Aquafornia news Patch.com

Water use remains low in Santa Cruz County, report finds

As the county reports advances in water protection and conservation technologies, water use continues to remain lower that previous years, the Santa Cruz County Water Resources Management Status Report shows.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California may be sliding back into drought; lawmakers and advocates warn now is the time to prepare

New federal data show that California may be sliding back into drought, just as the Legislature is starting to pursue ways to make sure residents are prepared for water shortages. Due to weeks of dry weather about 10 percent of California and more than half of Nevada are in drought mode, the federal government reported Thursday.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Rockies snowpack good, but dryness could threaten Colorado River flow

Warren Turkett, a natural resource analyst for the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, told commissioners Tuesday that a warm summer and lack of precipitation in the upper Colorado River Basin last year left soil drier than normal, which is expected to cut the amount of water flowing into Lake Powell to 20 percent below average based on current projections.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought

This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in California so far, according to climate change experts. Now, there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a drought hits.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California is dry with no rain in sight. Should we start worrying about drought and wildfire?

California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

There are rivers in the sky drenching the U.S. because of climate change

Climate change is spurring a new, deep dive into a complex, little-studied weather system blamed for creating billions of dollars in flood damage across the western U.S. Atmospheric rivers are narrow ribbons of concentrated moisture that originate in the Pacific and can flow thousands of miles before dropping rain and snow on land.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A February without rain could boost wildfire danger in Northern California

Meteorologists say much of Northern California likely will not see a drop of rain in February, heightening concerns that summer will arrive with below-average rainfall and tinder-dry hillsides susceptible to wildfire.

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Aquafornia news National Parks Traveler

Traveler special report: As goes the Colorado River, so go the parks

A warming climate has been linked to human activity around the world, and has affected the Colorado River System as well. The impacts are substantial, from reduced water flows, threats to indigenous species and the influx of new invasive species along the river system.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Friday Top of the Scroll: What happened to the rain? California in a dry rut, snowpack shrinks

California is stuck in a dry spell amid what is historically the wettest time of the year. But while the Sierra snowpack is dwindling and rainfall totals are below normal, weather watchers are not concerned about a drought. “One dry year doesn’t make a drought,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do

Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Reducing reliance on the Delta and improving regional self-reliance: Two sides of the same coin

One of the top priorities outlined in the Newsom Administration’s recently released draft Water Resilience Portfolio is reducing reliance on any one water source and diversifying supplies – key strategies for making our water supply systems more flexible, adaptable, and resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Ecologists see little difference between unimpaired and (truly) functional approaches to flow

From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want native species to survive.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

To study atmospheric rivers, scientists need to get close. So they fly to them

The Air Force research crew on the WC-130J Super Hercules airplane was cruising at 28,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, preparing to deploy 25 weather-sensing devices over a long band of water vapor known as an “atmospheric river” when the hazards of air travel got in the way of science.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Four Corners drought in 2018 was worsened by human-caused climate change, researchers say

The Four Corners drought of 2017 and 2018 caused $3 billion in losses and prompted the Navajo Nation to issue an emergency drought declaration. Now, new research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society suggests a sizable portion of the drought’s impacts stemmed from human-caused climate change.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Vast amounts of valuable energy, nutrients, water lost in world’s fast-rising wastewater streams

Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and water could potentially be recovered from the world’s fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Some droughts are ‘perfect.’ Here’s why

Connie Woodhouse and David Meko, professors at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, found the most recent span of 100 years, when five perfect droughts hit California, was not unusual compared to past centuries.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

As forests burn around the world, drinking water is at risk

The situation in Australia illustrates a growing global concern: Forests, grasslands and other areas that supply drinking water to hundreds of millions of people are increasingly vulnerable to fire due in large part to hotter, drier weather that has extended fire seasons, and more people moving into those areas, where they can accidentally set fires.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: The California Environmental Flows Framework

One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is “how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question and others.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Water levels in South Bay reservoirs well below average

In the South Bay, Santa Clara County’s 10 reservoirs combined are at about two-thirds of their normal levels at this point in the year. Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos is just half full. Water managers say local groundwater supplies remain strong so the reduced Sierra snowpack is not yet of critical concern.

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Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

City of Ventura faces calls to drop legal action, water adjudication

People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium recently after thousands received legal notices or a court summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the city faced legal action over its own water use.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Stanford student’s invention gives her a worldwide platform to advocate change

Kiara Nirghin, ’22, developed a unique polymer that can keep crops hydrated during dry spells. The innovative research has garnered her global recognition, including top honors at the Google Science Fair.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California ag faces a decade of challenges

On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more than doubled in the past 10 years…

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Placer County continues work on French Meadows restoration project

Placer County, along with the U.S. Forest Service will continue restoration efforts at the French Meadows reservoir, 30 miles south of Soda Springs, with plans to treat over 3,800 acres of forest this year. … This year they expect to remove 9 million board feet of timber, three times the amount removed last year, and 15,000 green tons of biomass that will be chipped, hauled and used for energy production.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

After a dry January, California snowpack is trending below normal

The California Department of Water Resources conducted the second monthly snow survey of the year Thursday morning at Phillips Station snow course in the Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe. Snowpack across the state is averaging 72 percent of what’s normal for the start of February.

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Aquafornia news Santa Monica Daily Press

City Council approves water rate hike to fund water self-sufficiency projects

The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42 million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California by 2023.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

As California preps for more ‘horizontal hurricanes,’ Air Force gathers intel over Pacific

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s mission over the coming months: C-130s — departing from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii; or from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield — will each release 25 sensors called dropsondes into a forming atmospheric river system. As the dropsondes fall from 25,000 feet along two V-shaped paths covering hundreds of miles, they send back readings on the gathering storm’s water vapor content, temperature, wind speed and direction.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Less turf, fewer pools shrink per-home water use in Phoenix area

Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Program preps communities for next drought

In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises … has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and earthquake. The program will also help families receive urgent access to clean water, help with water well replacement and water filtration services as needed.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must include desalination in water portfolio

Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we need to include desalination in the water supply equation to help make up an imported water deficit.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Wildfires a hot topic during national weather conference at Stateline

Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority…

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California water department must face reality of climate change

As we enter a new decade, California faces increasing environmental challenges caused by climate change, creating an uncertain future for our water resources. … It is time for California’s Department of Water Resources to implement water policy for the state that shores up our precious waterways and diversifies water supplies in the face of these imminent threats.

Aquafornia news Good Beer Hunting

Changing tides: How breweries are combating water shortages and working towards sustainability

For many businesses in drought-ridden states like California, water supply issues aren’t a problem for the future—they’re happening right now. … For the Cloverdale-based Bear Republic Brewing Company, the impact was especially devastating, due to the city’s heavy reliance on the water supply of the Russian River. 

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: Water plan should focus on the future, not the past

Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019 witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts, or reports could do – unite water management and develop collaboration.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The final demise of unimpaired flows

The concept of unimpaired flows has endured (much longer than reasonable in my opinion). While it was argued that unimpaired flows would allow resource assessments to be founded on the “natural” hydrology of the stream network, this had fundamental drawbacks.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Ontario sets 0% water conservation goal

Despite growing concerns of a below-average rainfall season, the city of Ontario revoked mandatory conservation measures this week, setting a 0% water conservation target with state regulators. … The City Council approved the change from mandatory Stage 2 water conservation to voluntary conservation on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

January will end on a dry note in Southern California as the jet stream locks into a zonal pattern

January’s rainfall has been unimpressive to date, and Jan Null, veteran meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, agrees that the last week of the month looks relatively dry. Seasonal precipitation totals for Northern and Central California continue to fall behind normal.

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Aquafornia news Smart Water Magazine

Scientists connect 2018’s Four Corners drought directly to human-caused climate change

The 2018 Four Corners drought — centered on the junction between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico — put the region deep in the red. An abnormally hot spring and summer indicated that climate change was clearly at work, but that was about as much as most people could say… Climate scientists from UC Santa Barbara have now distilled just how strong an effect human-induced warming had on that event.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Birds in California’s desert are dying

These networks of habitat and water that run under and across our desert are essential to stop the loss of bird species diversity. These linkages, flowing through our communities, under our highways, bubbling up in the livestock allotments of our public lands or pulsing within renewable energy development zones, are not easily replaced. The loss and degradation of these connected lands and waters are contributing to the current crisis.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Between wildfires, land in the US West has short 10- to 15-year reprieve

In wildland forest locations, they found that drought-ridden and drier locales like Idaho and Colorado have longer stretches of post-burn protection (about 20 years) because the woody debris in those forests require extreme drought to carry fires and the land lacks grassy fuels. Coastal California, however, receives more moisture and grassy fuel grows quickly, increasing the risk for reburn, seeing that negative feedback disappear after about 10 years.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline

Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Controlled burns prevent California wildfires, study says. Why aren’t there more?

Landowners are afraid of going bankrupt if a prescribed burn escapes control, the interviewees told researchers. Meanwhile, state and federal workers see little praise for successful controlled burns, and face fears and possible backlash from a risk-averse public, wary of wildfire smoke and mishaps. The Stanford experts suggested those perceptions among the public aren’t accurate.

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Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: As water agencies balk at the tunnel’s price tag, DWR turns to a desperate ransom strategy

Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in approach.

Aquafornia news Rancho Santa Fe Review

Santa Fe Irrigation approves rate increases, protest level not reached

The Santa Fe Irrigation District approved three percent water rate increases for the next three years at a Jan. 16 hearing. … The rate increases aim to help meet the district’s objectives to ensure equity across customer classes, encourage conservation and maintain financial stability as it faces challenges such as the rising costs of imported water.

Aquafornia news Cannabis Now

Climate change puts spotlight on the drought resistance of marijuana

Mediterranean climates include California, and dry-farming of cannabis is catching on in the Emerald Triangle as a part of the general trend toward sun-grown and organic product.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Rain and snow return, but it won’t be enough to quench Northern California’s needs

More rain and snow area headed to Northern California on Tuesday, although the storm won’t be nearly enough to make up for what’s been a relatively dry January. … The Department of Water Resources’ precipitation index was at 63 percent of normal for the Valley and Sierra. The Sierra snowpack is 82 percent of normal.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Beetles and fire kill dozens of ‘indestructible’ giant Sequoia trees

The deaths of the trees, some of which lived through the rise and fall of hundreds of empires, caliphates and kingdoms – not to mention the inauguration of every US president – have shocked researchers in their speed and novelty.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

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Aquafornia news Brentwood Press

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration seeks input on water plan

As Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration attempt to establish a comprehensive and cohesive water policy for the state, officials are seeking public input on the draft water resilience portfolio released earlier this month. The document was issued in response to Newsom’s April 2019 executive order directing his administration to inventory and assess a wide range of water-related challenges and solutions.

Aquafornia news KRON TV

New radar system in San Jose will make more accurate weather predictions

Inside the dome on top of the Penitencia Water Treatment plant in San Jose is the first permanent x-band weather radar system in the Bay Area. “The radar system that you see up there is collecting crucial data as we speak,” said Norma Camacho, CEO of Valley Water.“ Camacho joined the San Francisco P.U.C., Sonoma Water and other partners in unveiling the new system, which will improve weather forecasting across the region.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

Here’s how much better last fire season was than the previous two

Last year, with those recent calamities haunting the state, officials took some unprecedented steps to avert a devastating repeat. Did they work? Well, judging by the results tallied at the end of the year, something went right.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Newsom administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio puts California on course to climate resilience

While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Wildfire and water challenge solutions featured in documentary to air on KVIE

UC Merced researchers outline solutions to the severe wildfire problems in California’s mountain forests and closely linked water resource challenges in a documentary premiering on KVIE, the Sacramento affiliate of PBS, later this month. The new film “Beyond the Brink: California’s Watershed” highlights the critical need to reverse a century of fire suppression in Sierra Nevada forests…

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: An ounce of prevention: Australia and California could benefit from forest management

The fires raging in Australia present a sadly recognizable scenario, a new normal that, after two years of devastating wildfires in California, we in the United States have become all too familiar with. Policies intended to return forests to a more “natural” state with less proactive human management have created disastrous conditions…

Aquafornia news Futurity.org

Blog: ‘Perfect droughts’ hit California water sources 6 times a century

Severe droughts have happened simultaneously in the regions that supply water to Southern California almost six times per century on average since 1500, according to new research. The study is the first to document the duration and frequency of simultaneous droughts in Southern California’s main water sources—the Sacramento River basin, the Upper Colorado River Basin, and local Southern California basins.

Aquafornia news The Grocer

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating… However, the environmental reputation of the almond sector is much less favourable. It was once labelled a “horticultural vampire” by US magazine New Republic for its perceived role in California’s most recent droughts.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

The Colorado River had a stellar 2019, but this year’s forecasts are below average

Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Despite last year’s excellent river flows, most experts also say the Colorado still faces long-term supply issues…

Aquafornia news Morgan Hill Times

Opinion: District updates groundwater charge zones

Because the amount of groundwater pumped out far exceeds what is naturally replenished by rainfall, Valley Water’s groundwater management activities are critical to maintaining healthy groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Opinion: Save the Chinook and Coho salmon

Every year since 2014, I have petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to end the widespread practice of irrigation, especially of cattle pastures, outside the legal irrigation season. So far, however, State Water Board staff have not taken effective action to end the illegal water use and the resulting degradation of Scott River stream ecosystems…

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Teamwork will be key to balancing the overcommitted Colorado River

Along with long-term drought and climate change, the overcommitment of the Colorado River is a big reason why Lake Mead has dropped to historic levels in recent years. Fixing it could be a big problem for Arizona.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water portfolio lays out state’s long-term plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Sites Reservoir proposal receives $6M in federal funds

Sites Reservoir will receive $6 million from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed by President Trump at the close of 2019.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA panel: Establishing groundwater allocations under SGMA

As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. … At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production allocation programs, and potential pitfalls …

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Westlands backs governor’s Delta water strategy

Consistent with the science developed over the last three decades, the Newsom administration is pursuing comprehensive, watershed-wide solutions that address the numerous factors that limit the abundance of native fish in the Delta. These types of solutions are the ones that are most likely to achieve the state’s co-equal goals of the 2009 Delta Reform Act…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Myth about huge California fines for shower and laundry usage won’t die. Here’s what’s true

California will impose new limits on water usage in the post-drought era in the coming years — but a claim that residents will be fined $1,000 starting this year if they shower and do laundry the same day isn’t true. It wasn’t true when the state’s new conservation laws were enacted in 2018, and it isn’t true now — despite a recent report on a Los Angeles television station …

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County adopts plan to avoid pumping too much groundwater

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan on Tuesday meant to maintain groundwater and keep users from pumping too much from underground basins. … Officials said the plan also lays out efforts to try to recharge groundwater — in other words, replace water sucked out from underground.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Rapid changes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta both diminish scientific certainty and increase science’s value

These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be important for California to develop a scientific program that can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and decision-making through these challenges.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Colorado River overcommitted on water availability

In the early years of the 20th century, leaders across the West had big dreams for growth, all of which were tied to taking water from the Colorado River and moving it across mountains and deserts. In dividing up the river, they assigned more water to users than the system actually produces.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A change of plans

Governor Newsom’s administration recently released a draft Water Resilience Portfolio plan… This plan also emphasizes diverse relatively precise policy initiatives for state agencies, often in support of local and regional water problem-solving and with some aspirations to bring state agencies together. It is a good read, clearly reflecting intense and diverse discussions over several months.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California Democrat rolls out green new deal to fight climate change, poverty

Citing a lack of action by Congress and the Trump administration, a group of California Democrats said it’s up to the state to continue fighting the “existential” threat of climate change by simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving the standard of living for low-income communities and people of color.

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Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino Hills named in lawsuit for not submitting water reports

The city of Chino Hills was named with three other entities in a class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 17 in San Bernardino Superior Court by the Natural Resources Defense Council for not submitting a water conservation report required by the state for three consecutive years. The other entities were San Bernardino County, Rancho Cucamonga and Redlands.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Time to move faster on cutting Colorado River use, conservationist warns

The Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada need to cut total water use by 18% from their 2000-2018 average to bring Lakes Mead and Powell into a long-term state of balance, says Brian Richter. Richter is president of the nonprofit group Sustainable Waters and a former director and chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water program.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

State agencies release draft water resilience portfolio

State agencies on Friday released a draft water resilience portfolio with a suite of recommended actions to help California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure and other challenges.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona Legislature could stop the state’s next water war. Will they?

Another water war is getting underway. This time we are not fighting California. It’s a family feud right here in Arizona. Urban versus rural. Phoenix and Tucson ganging up on the rural communities along the Colorado River in western Arizona.

Aquafornia news Maricopa Monitor

Drone on the range: Farmers take to the skies to save water and money

Farmers for decades have used huge machines to plant, grow and harvest their crops, but more and more Arizona farmers today are using tiny, remote-controlled aircraft to boost yields and save water and money.

Aquafornia news KSBY

San Luis Obispo County leaders test cloud seeding to raise Lopez Lake Reservoir levels

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a winter cloud seeding project that could add millions of gallons of water to the Lopez Lake Reservoir and supply thousands of homes.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California can solve its water shortage with the water we have. Here’s how

California is at a water crossroads. We can continue our costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of using – and reusing – what we already have.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California water cutbacks could take large area of farmland out of production

California is increasing regulations on groundwater. For many farmers in the state, it is a step too far. The law’s critics say it could lead to a loss of half a million acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. As Kerry Klein of member station KVPR in Fresno reports, some farmers are so worried, they’re quitting.

Aquafornia news KCBX

Local professor’s fog research catches attention of the Defense Department

The Department of Defense recently awarded a $266,589 grant to a California State University Monterey Bay professor to continue his research into fog. Reporter Michelle Loxton spoke with Daniel Fernandez about how this grant will take his research to the next level.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pajaro Valley water project balances ag and saltwater intrusion

The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water, is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area, so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.

Aquafornia news KESQ TV

County board approves $350K to support Salton Sea rehab

The supervisors authorized the disbursal from the Coachella Valley Air Quality Enhancement Fund to help pay for the planned north end restoration of the 360-square mile lake, which will include the establishment of a lagoon to overlay exposed playa and mitigate the resulting atmospheric impacts.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Providing safe drinking water in the face of disasters: Lessons from Lake County

Climate change is already affecting water management across the state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a special district administrator from Lake County, about how the county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially devastating string of natural disasters.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Foes seek to block permanent water contract for Westlands

Environmental groups, tribes and upstream water users in California yesterday sought to block a permanent water delivery contract between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District. At issue is a proposed deal between Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and the Bureau of Reclamation in which Westlands pays off its debt to the government to guarantee deliveries in perpetuity without future contract renewals.

Aquafornia news KUNC

With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations

In theory, a demand management program would pay users to conserve in the midst of a crisis in order to boost the river’s big reservoirs. How it would work, who would participate and how it would be funded are still unanswered questions. Another concern is how to make the program equitable — so it doesn’t burden one user over another.

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Aquafornia news Roll Call

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

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Aquafornia news Popular Mechanics

Water desalination just got a lot better

A mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new, micro-thin material to make membrane water desalination even better. Amir Barati Farimani, with fellow researchers Zhonglin Cao and Vincent Liu, has calculated how much better his metal organic framework (MOF) works than the traditional membrane method.

Aquafornia news Quartz

Drought is crippling small farmers in Mexico—with consequences for everyone else

This isn’t just a problem for Mexico. These growers are the custodians of rare varieties of maize that may hold the secret to more sustainable agriculture. If they lay down their tools, their crops could begin to vanish.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Rural development loan aids Sites Reservoir Project in California

In a recent exclusive interview, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Western Farm Press that the low-interest loan will help fund projects associated with the off-stream storage site in western Colusa County. … “The USDA is putting up almost $500 million in rural development funds,” Perdue said.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

Exploring Different Approaches for Solving the Colorado River’s Myriad Challenges
EDITOR’S NOTE: We examine a debate that emerged from our Colorado River Symposium over whether incrementalism or grand vision is the best path forward

Jenn Bowles, Water Education Foundation Executive DirectorEvery other year we hold an invitation-only Colorado River Symposium attended by various stakeholders from across the seven Western states and Mexico that rely on the iconic river. We host this three-day event in Santa Fe, N.M., where the 1922 Colorado River Compact was signed, as part of our mission to catalyze critical conversations to build bridges and inform collaborative decision-making.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

A model for the future of water

With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the Valley. Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.

Aquafornia news U.S. News & World Report

Friday Top of the Scroll: U.S. water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges

States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s top water official. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring that more painful cuts aren’t required.

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Opinion: Don’t go into the tunnel

Votes of support by local jurisdictions bring the project one step closer to reality. Reality is a costly giant tunnel that would divert Sacramento River water bound for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and transport the water directly to Central Valley farms and urban users in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Editorial: Essential ingredient for living

There are a number of very evident reasons, however, that Vandenberg Air Force Base is at the top of the Pentagon’s water-scarcity list…

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Can recharge net metering contribute to sustainable groundwater management?

Dr. Michael Kiparsky is the founding director of the Wheeler Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy, and Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Dr. Kiparsky discussed a pilot project in the Pajaro Valley designed to incentivize private landowners to do groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Conservation key as decades-long drought continues

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said Wednesday that Nevada has been a national leader in water conservation by reducing demand on the Colorado River and investing in infrastructure over the past two decades. In Las Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association’s annual conference, Burman declined to say, however, whether she sees Nevada’s share of the river’s water increasing…

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

A year later, ‘water grab’ plan settlements still stuck

A year later, issues triggered by a contentious plan by state water regulators to increase unimpaired river flows for the benefit of fish remain firmly mired in red tape.

Aquafornia news Valley Citizen

Blog: Draining the last great aquifer: A group project

Environmentalists who had high hopes Gavin Newsom would lead the way to sustainable water use in the San Joaquin Valley are waking up to the knowledge that the new governor isn’t going to be any more effective than the old governor. Sustainability is just too big a lift.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona will soon start getting less water from the Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP…

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Golf course, CVWD cooperation key to keeping groundwater control local

There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state — the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado River Basin that is already badly over allocated.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California voters call climate change their top priority

Pummeled by fires, drought and floods, California’s Democratic primary voters put fighting climate change at the top of their list of issues for the next president to tackle. Nearly half of likely Democratic primary voters call the issue the No. 1 priority for the next president, according to a new statewide poll…

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Baja California water supplies remain at critical levels

Tijuana and Rosarito residents may have gotten a brief reprieve from scheduled water shut-offs, but the delivery of water throughout Baja California is a vulnerable system in need of urgent repairs, state and water officials stressed this week.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Trump takes aim at trickle-down toilets, faucets

President Donald Trump said on Friday he has directed his environmental regulators to find answers to what he said is a big problem – water-conserving showers, faucets and toilets.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Standing too close to the elephant: addressing scales in restoration and fisheries conservation

Dr. Rachel Johnson is a research biologist with the NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Davis with over 15 years’ experience working on various aspects of conservation and fisheries biology. In this presentation from the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance of developing a holistic framework among aquatic ecosystems and management authorities.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Planned Palm Springs arena has big water needs, adds to climate footprint

The planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment arena, like many desert projects, is a thirsty one, requiring almost 12 million gallons of water each year to accommodate an American Hockey League affiliate team and other visitors.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly

Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California urged to rethink 40 years of ‘piecemeal’ freshwater protections

The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in the face of climate change. … A report released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater ecosystems.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: One Delta, one estuary; Connecting California through water

In her address to the State of the Estuary conference, Felicia Marcus spoke about the connections of the Delta to all Californians and the importance of working together and more broadly to solve the challenging problems before us.

Aquafornia news News 4

Multiple agencies take part in restoration project for the Lake Tahoe Basin

With the new strategy, land management agencies will increase the pace and scale of restoration actions, including forest thinning, prescribed fire, and meadow, aspen, and stream restoration. It will also provide a science-based framework to guide continued forest and watershed restoration over the next two decade.

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon

Rather than physically move water hundreds of kilometers across earthquake country between Northern California and San Bernardino, the plan involves reallocating water virtually, just as you would electronically transfer funds from one bank account to another. Once the Chino Basin Program is operational, in times of drought the southern region can draw water from the new reserve instead of from the State Water Project… That will mean water impounded by Oroville Dam can be released into the Feather River, benefitting endangered chinook.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Finished Paso Robles groundwater sustainability plan awaits final approval

The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29 percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fishing groups sue federal agencies over latest water plan for California

The fracas over California’s scarce water supplies will tumble into a San Francisco courtroom after a lawsuit was filed this week claiming the federal government’s plan to loosen previous restrictions on water deliveries to farmers is a blueprint for wiping out fish.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California should take over PG&E and possibly other utilities, former top regulator says

Following a string of utility-sparked wildfires that have killed scores of Californians and destroyed billions in property, the former top regulator of California’s electric grid says it’s time for sweeping change — a public takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric and possibly other private utilities, which would be transformed into a state power company.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news Military.com

More than 100 military bases now at risk of water shortages, GAO finds

The list of bases cited by the report was not limited by geographical area and ranged from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in the East to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Camp Pendleton, California in the West.

Aquafornia news CNBC

Christmas tree prices rise as drought and fire hit crops, farms close

Last year, the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, California, and burned a Christmas tree farm to the ground. The fire occurred just months after three other Christmas tree farms were wiped out in Northern California.

Aquafornia news KMJ Radio

State is forecasting small water allocation

The California Department of Water Resources announced an initial State Water Project allocation of 10% for the 2020 calendar year. According to a DWR announcement, the initial allocation is based on several factors, such as conservative dry hydrology, reservoir storage, and releases necessary to meet water supply and environmental demands.

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