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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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…”
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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%.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
’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…
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.