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 Bakersfield Californian

Climate change report forecasts hard times for Kern ag

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

Aquafornia news NASA Earth Observatory

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Why is America running out of water?

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

Aquafornia news Phys.org

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

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

Aquafornia news KPBS

New study says forecasters are overestimating future demand for water

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

Aquafornia news SciLine

Quick facts: Drought and climate change

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

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

Aquafornia news UC Los Angeles

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

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

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Pinecrest Lake can drop lower during drought years

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

Aquafornia news Weather West

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Loss in hydropower hampered by drought will impact utilities

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

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Aquafornia news EurekAlert

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

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

Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

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

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

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

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

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

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news American Geophysical Union

Blog: The secret life of water after a wildfire

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

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City council discusses grant for desalination plant

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

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Report: An assessment of urban water demand forecasts in California

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Poseidon’s Huntington Beach desalination plant still in choppy waters

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

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Aquafornia news Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Blog: Projecting the future trade of virtual water

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

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

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

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

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Water policy expert Felicia Marcus joins Stanford

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

Aquafornia news Voice of Orange County

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

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

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine News

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

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

Aquafornia news UPI

Tiny dryland plants help protect dwindling water supplies

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

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

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

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

Aquafornia news LAist.com

Thirsty? This costly plant could let you drink the Pacific

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

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito groundwater basin levels still recovering from California drought

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

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

Boaters told to leave Folsom Lake Marina by mid-August

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Poseidon desalination proposal for Huntington Beach may face new requirements

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Can the Colorado River keep on running?

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

Aquafornia news InterestingEngineering.com

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

What is Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority? An overview

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

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

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

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

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

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

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Imperial Irrigation District files opening brief in lawsuit against Met

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

Aquafornia news KCLU

Could the central and south coasts be impacted by another La Niña, and below average rainfall?

Last rainfall season was a big one for the Central and South Coasts, with above average rainfall for many drought impacted local communities. … But, could we be headed back to a drought year? There are some early indications it’s a possibility, with a nearly 50-50 chance of us being impacted by a “La Niña” pattern of cooler ocean water in the Western Pacific.

Aquafornia news Mendocino Beacon

Stage 4 drought continues in Mendocino

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Vehicles burned in Mexico to protest US water payment

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

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Visalia prepares to clamp down on outdoor watering

Visalia’s groundwater has sunk by 7 feet since April, just one month into the summer season, and it’s not because people are home washing their hands more frequently and doing their dishes more often. … At its July 20 meeting, the City Council approved moving the city from Stage 1, its least stringent level of its water conservation ordinance, to Stage 3, just one level short of declaring a water emergency.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom lays out big dreams for California’s water future

Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Controversial Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach set for hearings this week

Poseidon Water’s seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, first proposed in 1998, could be getting closer to beginning construction after more than two decades. The Santa Ana Regional Water Board will hold online hearings this week and decide whether to issue Poseidon a permit.

Aquafornia news ABC News San Diego

La Niña watch means dry winter and longer fire season possible for Southern California

NOAA has issued a La Nina Watch, which means a dry winter and longer fire season are possible this year for Southern California. This stems from colder water along the equator in the Pacific which has a domino effect on other parts of the world…

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Poseidon’s desalination plant faces day of reckoning

After more than 20 years of developing plans for a Huntington Beach desalination plant and winding its way through a seemingly endless bureaucratic approval process, Poseidon Water comes to a key juncture as the Regional Water Quality Control Board votes on whether to grant a permit after hearings this week.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Zone 7 Water Agency to buy Napa’s surplus

Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: State Water Board has authority to implement temporary water curtailments without evidentiary hearing

The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water, and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Klamath water arrives, saving 50,000 ducklings from certain death

More than 50,000 ducklings and other newborn waterfowl and shorebirds were saved from certain deaths this week after an emergency delivery of water to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water examines state’s effort to preserve Salton Sea, California’s largest lake

The state of California, long derided for its failure to act in the past, says it is now moving full-bore to address the Salton Sea’s problems, with ambitious plans for wildlife habitat expansion and dust suppression.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

NOAA’s La Niña watch could signal a dry winter for Los Angeles

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a La Niña watch earlier this month, meaning that conditions are favorable for development of a La Niña in the next six months. A La Niña typically means a dry winter across the southern United States, including Southern California.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Thursday Top of the Scroll: River agreements stall amid focus on Delta litigation

With state and federal administrations fighting in court about delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Ranchers discuss challenges of drought on public lands

In a webinar hosted by the University of California, Davis, last week, three California ranchers shared challenges they face managing multiple-use public lands, and how they cope with drought.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmers doing more with less need help from above

Ceres Imaging, an Oakland-based startup company, is one of several high-tech aerial monitoring companies helping California farmers, including those in Kern County, increase their production, while decreasing their demand for water. It is a logical marriage between agriculture and innovators in California’s Silicon Valley.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California settles fight over hoarded dam water

As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says it will increase transparency and conduct heightened evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow limits for the state’s critical waterways. … Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Polls show public support for 2 Orange County desalination proposals

Public support for proposed desalination plants in Huntington Beach and Dana Point appears strong in two recent polls, although opponents call the surveys biased and say neither poll addresses key obstacles facing these very different projects.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Fields of gold: Sacramento Valley climate is ripe for producing quality olive oil

“We believe olives are California’s crop of the future,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center. “Because as the water supply tightens up, either through state policy or extended drought periods, we’re seeing a longer, warmer season — olives are really well-suited to manage that more than other crops…”

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Scientists predict dramatic increase in flooding, drought in California

Da Yang, an atmospheric scientist at UC Davis and his co-authors predict the entire West Coast will experience greater month-to-month fluctuations in extremely dry and wet weather, especially in California. The study explores the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), an atmospheric phenomenon that influences rainfall in the tropics…

Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: Extreme atmospheric rivers: What will California’s strongest storms look like in a warming climate?

Since ARs are such a fundamental aspect of California’s historical climate, it’s critically important to understand how such events are changing in a warming world.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Reclamation’s Burman urges cooperation on water

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological opinions governing the management of their respective water projects.

Aquafornia news Treatment Plant Operator Magazine

Stanford researchers design a more efficient, affordable desalination process

Taking a new approach to an old problem, Stanford researchers have created a device that could make converting seawater to freshwater profitable and environmentally benign.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID seeks Salton Sea consideration in Colorado River water lawsuit

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its opening brief in a case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that it launched last year in an attempt to halt the implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River. IID wants to see it paused until the Salton Sea is also considered.

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Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Podcast focuses on new agriculture and California’s future

On a hot June evening, UC Merced Professor Josh Viers joined farm advocate and small farmer Tom Willey on his front porch near Fresno to talk about California’s water, disadvantaged communities, agricultural production and the future as part of the new “Down on the Farm” podcast that’s now available for all to hear.

Aquafornia news 5280.com

How did Colorado’s drought get so bad so quick?

To live in Colorado is to know drought. Since 2000, there has been only one month-plus-long period (from late May to mid July of 2019) when no drought has been desiccating the earth here. Other than that, at least one part of the state has been in a perpetual state of crisp.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Landmark groundwater act enters a crucial period

Sustainability plans developed by groundwater sustainability agencies outline how water users can restore depleted water sources. But fights have arisen and disputes about the reliability of those water sources have come to light.

Aquafornia news St. George News

Glen Canyon day: Is the dam a tombstone or a giver of new life?

To those who opposed the dam, Glen Canyon Dam’s history reads like an obituary about the loss of an incomparable sandstone and water wonderland… Those on the other side of the issue feel the dam has improved Glen Canyon – now providing greater access to its breathtaking contrast of towering crimson sandstone walls and vast expanses of crystal blue water.

Aquafornia news Vanderbilt University

Blog: Geochemical analysis from the last ice age may hold clues for future climate change and preparedness strategies

The large and rapid variations in rainfall recorded in the LSC stalagmites demonstrate that climate in Northern California is sensitive to changes happening elsewhere in the world, and that rainfall in this area may be capable of increasing or decreasing in response to relatively small changes in global climate.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Location, location, location: New tool shows where groundwater recharge will maximize benefits

With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge to secure these bonus benefits. The tool, called Recharge for Resilience, is available online and also can be downloaded by users with more technical expertise.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Phil Isenberg: Challenging conventional water wisdom

In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist, chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the myths and complexities of California water politics.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Watch for La Nina, federal forecast says

The federal Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch Thursday, indicating the odds favor the Pacific Ocean cooling in the next six months and enhancing the chances for a cold and wet upcoming winter in the Northwest.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District files opening brief in petition to suspend DCP

Imperial Irrigation District made the first notable follow-up to its petition to hit the brakes on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River with an opening brief filed Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Humpback chub ‘alien abductions’ help frame the future of the Colorado River

Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time, several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has become central to an ecosystem science program with implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In parched Southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’

Here at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide, only vestiges of the winter snowpack remain, scattered white patches that have yet to melt and feed the upper Colorado River, 50 miles away. That’s normal for mid-June in the Rockies. What’s unusual this year is the speed at which the snow went. And with it went hopes for a drought-free year in the Southwest.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Climate-change research provides tools for farmers

Tapan Pathak, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced, is doing applied research that farmers and ranchers can use to adapt to new conditions created by a variable and changing climate. “You don’t have to shift your practice tomorrow, but if you are thinking of making a 30-year investment, it’s important to know what risks there are for planting different crops,” said Pathak…

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Water supply dwindling for small districts

The streams and creeks that supply West Marin are running low after the extraordinarily dry winter, and local water system managers are sounding the alarm. The Bolinas Community Public Utility District and North Marin Water District have already imposed water-use reductions, and the Inverness Public Utility District may do so later this month.

Aquafornia news National Science Foundation

Blog: New software tool to model the economic and environmental impacts of California drought

In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, a National Science Foundation-funded team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the effects of a drought in California. The drought happened from 2012-2016 and was one of the worst in the state’s history. The scientists found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major utilities in the state.

Aquafornia news Little Hoover Commission

Report: Rebuilding healthy headwater forests 

Headwater forests are critical to California’s water supply, a fact made plain by recent state funding decisions…California’s water storage is concentrated in the alpine snowpack that accumulates during the wet season and releases water during the dry months. That snowpack is in jeopardy.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

News release: Arizona water community takes on new Colorado River challenges

Before the end of 2026, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior will develop new guidelines for the long-term management of the Colorado River system. The seven Colorado River Basin States are expected to play a leading role in the process to develop those new guidelines. The process will take many years and require multiple levels of discussion, negotiation and coordination within Arizona and among the Basin states.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Some new climate models are projecting extreme warming. Are they correct?

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world’s top climate modeling groups have been “running hot” – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: California megadrought? Not if you look at precipitation

If you want to know what climate change means for California’s water supply, consider the last two Februaries. In 126 years of statewide record-keeping, you can’t find a drier February than the one we just experienced. But February 2019 was the third wettest on record. The extremes underscore how global warming is exaggerating the year-to-year swings in California precipitation, which is naturally the most variable in the country.

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Barbara seals 50-year deal to sell water to Montecito

Signing off on a historic deal with its wealthiest — and thirstiest — neighbor, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-0 to ship a supply of the city’s drinking water to Montecito every year for the next 50 years, rain or shine.

Aquafornia news KDRV.com

Lawmakers herald ‘critical fix’ for Klamath water troubles

Members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation announced that the U.S. Senate has passed a “critically needed fix” to existing law intended to provide drought relief for farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin.

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Aquafornia news KJZZ

Two Arizona rivers found to be more drought resistant than the Colorado River

A major water source for the Valley is considerably more drought resistant than previously thought. New research shows the water that flows into the Salt and Verde rivers is four times less sensitive to climate change than the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: California-Chile water nexus 1: Urban drought solutions

Experts are predicting another serious drought for California and the western United States this summer, going as far to portend a rare “megadrought.” Diminishing snow cover and an extremely dry winter in the north are stoking fears and leaving policymakers, farmers, businesses and residents looking for urgent solutions. On the other side of the globe, Chile is in the midst of its own 11-year megadrought.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

One-third of Colorado is now in a severe drought, mostly in the south

Drought conditions are setting in across most of Colorado, and that has top state officials worried about wildfire, crop losses and water restrictions.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: We’ve stabilized the Colorado River – for now. But much tougher work lies ahead

We are preparing now for the tougher negotiations that lie ahead to develop new operating rules for the Colorado River. Last week, Arizona’s water community began work preparing our state’s vision of what Colorado River management should look like after the current set of rules expire in a little more than six years.

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Aquafornia news KEYT

Montecito water district agrees to connect with Santa Barbara for 50-year water supply

After years of crunching the numbers and looking at options for reliable water supplies, the Montectio Water District is connecting to nearby Santa Barbara as part of its “drought-proof” plan. It involves a multi-phased agreement to insure an adequate supply of water for Montecito which, like other South Coast communities, saw its storage and delivery options dry up a few years ago after a prolonged period of little or now rain.

Aquafornia news Kronick

Blog: Court of Appeal reaffirms State Water Board’s authority to regulate unreasonable use through emergency regulations and curtailment orders

On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“State Water Board” or “Board”) authority to regulate what it deems to be an unreasonable use of water, in this case through adoption of emergency regulations establishing minimum instream flow requirements to protect migration of threatened fish species during drought conditions.

Aquafornia news Nevada Today

Blog: Plant tissue engineering improves drought and salinity tolerance

After several years of experimentation, scientists have engineered thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, to behave like a succulent, improving water-use efficiency, salinity tolerance and reducing the effects of drought. The tissue succulence engineering method devised for this small flowering plant can be used in other plants to improve drought and salinity tolerance with the goal of moving this approach into food and bioenergy crops.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: Here’s what climate change means for wildfires in the West

While there are numerous factors that can lead to increased wildfire risk, a growing body of scientific evidence finds that climate change is a wildfire “threat multiplier,” amplifying both natural and human risk factors. But how climate will influence western communities and ecosystems varies considerably. Two recent studies in California and the Pacific Northwest help to bring some of this into better focus.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea: Imperial County hits feds with pollution violation notice

As the Salton Sea retreats, leaving the dry playa exposed, dust particles become airborne and mobilize lung-damaging toxins from agricultural runoff. Red Hill Bay, located near the southeastern corner of the sea, would restore habitat by flooding the area, but it’s one of several mitigation projects that have taken flack for progressing so slowly.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta science needs, Part 2: What do managers need to know to effectively make decisions in the future Delta?

The Delta is changing much faster than we can respond to, and if we want to start to get ahead of things, we need to think about what changes lie ahead and what managers and decision makers will need to manage those changes. That was the topic for the second Science Needs Workshop hosted by the Delta Science Program which brought together Jennifer Pierre with the State Water Contractors, Paul Souza with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Campbell Ingram with the Delta Conservancy…

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Appellate court upholds State Water Board’s drought emergency regulations and curtailment orders issued for Deer Creek

On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s determination that the State Water Resources Control Board lawfully adopted emergency regulations and curtailment orders … in 2014 and 2015 during a period of severe and persistent drought conditions.

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Opinion: Cal Am is blocking the Pure Water Monterey expansion

It seems some are willing to wait forever for a new water supply. After 25 years of failure, they still trust Cal Am to come up with a solution. But the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is clearly done waiting. Last Monday, the district board withdrew its support for Cal Am’s proposed desal plant.

Aquafornia news KUER

Lake Powell reached capacity 40 years ago. But what do the coming decades hold in store?

The water has made development possible and is used for farms, homes and businesses. Meanwhile, recreation has risen to over 4 million annual visitors in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, with tourists bringing in over $420 million to local communities. But climate scientists studying the Colorado River find the lake’s water source is quickly declining.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

St. Helena City Council declares Phase I water emergency

The St. Helena City Council declared a Phase I water emergency on Tuesday after a critically dry rainfall season. Phase I prohibits customers from adding landscaping and appliances that will increase water use, limits the watering of ornamental landscapes or turf to two days a week, prohibits the use of potable water to irrigate landscaping between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and imposes other conservation measures.

Aquafornia news KSBY

‘This is unacceptable.’ Paso Robles leaders demand action to clean up riverbed

Local and state leaders are sounding the alarm to get the green light to clear the Salinas Riverbed of dry brush and vegetation. … This comes after a fire Monday in Paso Robles which started in the riverbed and quickly moved into a neighborhood destroying two homes and badly damaging nine others.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District offers rebates

The Palmdale Water District has rebates to help customers who would like to save water by converting their thirsty lawns into water-wise landscaping. The District may provide up to $2,000 in cash rebates for replacing lawns with xeriscaping as part of the 2020 Water-Wise Landscape Conversion Program

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Opinion: Losing Carrizo

Water and the question of what constitutes its sustainable use is becoming an increasingly important subject everywhere with each passing year, but in few places is it more crucial than in the Carrizo Planning Area of California Valley

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona starts talks on addressing dwindling Colorado River

Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada have been operating under a set of guidelines approved in 2007. Those guidelines and an overlapping drought contingency plan will expire in 2026. Arizona water officials are gathering Thursday to start talking about what comes next, while other states have had more informal discussions.

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Aquafornia news KGO TV

As potential mega-drought looms, Stanford researchers explore desalination system

Researchers at Stanford are working on a technology that may be needed more than ever over the next decade, especially if new predictions are accurate. … “To us, desalination is kind of the wave of the future,” says Stanford researcher William Tarpeh, Ph.D. Tarpeh and colleagues have been refining a technology that could eventually make widespread desalination cheaper, and safer for the environment.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s 21st century megadrought

A recent paper on climate change in California and the West has been in the news and raising concerns. Based on extensive analysis of tree ring data—a good measure of summer soil moisture—the authors postulate that most of the region is in an unfolding “megadrought” that began in 2000 and is the second worst in the past 1,200 years. … If the state is in a megadrought, it means a great deal. We should plan accordingly.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California still benefits from wet 2018-19

Reservoirs still relatively flush from the wet winter of 2018-19 have so far saved California from having to formally declare another drought, a veteran National Weather Service forecaster says.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future, even as more sources of renewable energy are added to the grid.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Monday Top of the Scroll: Heat and drought to stifle West through end of June

The heat that got going over the weekend will become even worse early this week, and is likely to continue through most of the days left in the month of June.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Scott River notice of water unavailability

With dry conditions resulting in low flows and threatening the survival of coho salmon, the State Water Board today sent notices of water unavailability to110 junior water right holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging them to stop diverting.

Aquafornia news North Carolina State News

News release: How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future…

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Remarkable drop in Colorado River water use a sign of climate adaptation

States have grappled in the last two decades with declining water levels in the basin’s main reservoirs — Mead and Powell — while reckoning with clear scientific evidence that climate change is already constricting the iconic river… For water managers, the steady drop in water consumption in recent years is a signal that conservation efforts are working and that they are not helpless in the face of daunting environmental changes.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Under new groundwater plans, report estimates 12,000 domestic wells could run dry

Under current SGMA proposals, known as groundwater sustainability plans, the study estimates that as many as 12,000 domestic wells could run dry by the year 2040. Commissioned by the Water Foundation and put together by a group of drinking water advocacy organizations, the study estimates that as many as 127,000 residents could lose their water, and that the costs of repairing these wells could run up hundreds of millions of dollars.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

Feds seek input on Friant-Kern Canal fixes

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the Friant-Kern Canal, is seeking public input on plans to repair a 33-mile stretch of canal between Lindsay and McFarland. This stretch of the canal has lost 60% of its original conveyance capacity due to subsidence—a sinking of the earth from groundwater extraction – which was accelerated during California’s historic drought from 2012-2017.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Colorado River water battle comes to a boil in California

There’s a reckoning coming, unless cities and farm districts across the West band together to limit consumption. The coming dealmaking will almost certainly need to involve the river’s largest water user, the Imperial Irrigation District. But at the moment, it’s unclear to what extent the district actually controls the Imperial Valley’s Colorado River water. That was the issue debated in a San Diego courtroom last week

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Reclamation rescinds ‘Shasta-critical’ designation for CVP deliveries

Projected higher inflows to Shasta Lake caused the Bureau of Reclamation earlier this month to rescind its “Shasta Critical Year” designation after hydrologic conditions changed sufficiently. … For growers with senior water rights under the Exchange and Settlement contracts with the Central Valley Project, this means full allocation water deliveries will be forthcoming.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Farmers to get more water, but not enough

Tulare County farmers will get more water than expected from a dry winter but far less than needed to avoid depleting an aquifer that is already drying up. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project announced the Friant Division … will receive 60% instead of 55% of its Class 1 water supply thanks to improved hydrologic conditions and the forecasted snowmelt runoff in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion-PPIC: San Joaquin Valley’s big problem remains declining groundwater

In these extraordinary times, managing groundwater for long-term sustainability may not seem like a top priority. But in the San Joaquin Valley — where groundwater supplies have been declining for decades — excess pumping is a critical problem, with major implications for public health, jobs, the environment and local economies.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: The past, present and future of California’s groundwater

The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority of groundwater. … A new paper published in Society and Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year history of California’s role in groundwater management…

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Water Agency

News release: Third driest year on record leads to reduced Russian River flow request

The Sonoma County Water Agency filed a Temporary Urgency Change Petition with the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce Russian River minimum in-stream flows this summer. With the Ukiah region facing its third driest water year on record, Lake Mendocino’s water supply is projected to reach critically low levels due to dry conditions and reduced water transfers from the Potter Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Bureau of Reclamation confirms water supply to Klamath Project

Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project are breathing a sigh of relief after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday it will not further reduce this year’s water allotment, which is already less than half of demand. … On the other hand, tribal members that depend on ample salmon runs for their way of life argue the runs will continue to suffer in warm, low rivers without enough flow for them to migrate and spawn.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Interior

News release: Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty Named Co-Chair of National Drought Resilience Partnership

The Department of the Interior announced that Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Timothy Petty, Ph.D., is the new co-chair of the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP), an inter agency task force that enhances Federal drought resilience coordination.

Aquafornia news California State University

News release: Steady streams: Bringing safe water to California communities

Over the years, much attention has been given to California’s drought, but less is known about the more than one million Californians in more than 300 communities who don’t have access to clean drinking water. To address this crisis, CSU faculty and students are performing community assessments, conducting research and assisting local engineering projects, often with support from Water Resources & Policy Initiatives. Take a look at some of the CSU’s ongoing work.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Some water restored for Klamath Basin farmers

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is backpedaling on a plan to further slash water deliveries to Klamath Basin farmers this summer, as the agency is reverting to an earlier allocation of 140,000 acre-feet. The bureau in May signaled plans to cut its allocation to 80,000 acre-feet as part of a three-year operating plan, initiated under an agreement with the Yurok Tribe.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta dispute casts shadow on water supplies

With supplies curtailed from California’s largest water projects, farmers have been reducing acreage, water districts have been working to secure additional supplies, and everyone has been keeping an eye on the continued dispute between state and federal governments on managing the Delta.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: ‘Megadrought’ and ‘aridification’ — understanding the new language of a warming world

After nearly two decades of declining water flows into the Colorado River Basin, scientists have decided the word drought doesn’t cut it anymore. We need different terms, they say, to help people fully grasp what has happened and the long-term implications of climate change — not just in the Southwest, but across the country. The term that’s caught the most attention lately is “megadrought.”

Aquafornia news BNamericas

Mexico poised to breach 75-year water treaty with US

Under the 1944 treaty, the US is committed to sending 1.5mn acre-feet of water from the Colorado River basin to Mexico in 12-month periods, which represents 10% of the river’s average flow, according to the US Congressional Research Service. Meanwhile, Mexico must send 1.75mn acre-feet in five-year cycles from the Rio Grande’s six major tributaries that cross its territory.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In Nevada, investors eye underground water storage as a path to profits

Across the Southwest, investors are banking on water scarcity. They are buying up farms and ranches as states explore new programs that could make it easier to sell and transfer water. … Today a new type of investor has started eyeing water in the basin, less intent on building a new community than on supporting existing ones within one of the nation’s fastest growing states.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Disaster experts develop COVID-19 guidelines for water-related emergencies

In May, Cyclone Amphan made landfall in Bangladesh and eastern India. The category 5 storm forced around 3 million people to flee their homes. With this scenario in mind, a group of disaster experts published guidelines for political leaders and emergency managers so that they can prepare before the storms hit.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: Saving the Colorado River doesn’t have to mean hurting farmers

The imbalance on the Colorado River needs to be addressed, and agriculture, as the biggest water user in the basin, needs to be part of a fair solution. But drying up vital food-producing land is a blunt tool. It would damage our local food-supply chains and bring decline to rural communities that have developed around irrigated agriculture.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: 2,000 attend Klamath rally demanding answer to water problems

By the thousands, they rolled through the Southern Oregon countryside in tractors, hay trucks, log trucks, pickups and minivans, their hand-painted signs greeted by supportive passers-by who agreed with the message of Friday’s “Shut Down and Fed Up” rally: the water problems that for decades have plagued the region and its farmers must be resolved.

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County weighs fallowing program for Paso basin farmers

Paso Robles has an oversupply of wine grapes, according to growers and winemakers. That’s an existing problem that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19. … According to Jerry Lohr, owner of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and some others in the wine industry, there’s never been a better time to talk about creating a fallowing program for the North County region, which overlies the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Dry winter spurs water managers to cut Russian River flows to retain reservoir supplies

In a stark reminder that drought has once again taken hold on the North Coast, Sonoma County is preparing to ask state water regulators for permission to reduce water levels in the Russian River this summer to conserve water stored in Lake Mendocino and ensure minimal late-season flows for fish.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

US Southwest in grip of historic ‘megadrought’, research finds

A recent study published in the journal Science helps explains why, revealing that the south-western US is in the grip of a 20-year megadrought – a period of severe aridity that is stoking fires, depleting reservoirs and putting a strain on water supplies to the states of the region.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Almond orchard recycling a sustainable and beneficial strategy for growing almonds

This practice entails on-site grinding of whole, removed trees and the incorporation of the wood chips back into the almond fields before the next replanting. … In terms of soil health, the [University of California] researchers found a 58% increase in soil carbon as well as a 32% increase in water holding capacity compared to conventional burning practices. Overall productivity of the trees increased by 20% as well.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Mapping dry wildfire fuels with AI and new satellite data

Anticipating where a fire is likely to ignite and how it might spread requires information about how much burnable plant material exists on the landscape and its dryness. Yet this information is surprisingly difficult to gather at the scale and speed necessary to aid wildfire management. Now, a team of experts in hydrology, remote sensing and environmental engineering have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Lean but still green

Drive through new developments across the Capital Region like East Sacramento’s McKinley Village or Folsom’s Folsom Ranch … and one will see a distinctly different landscape than ones installed just 10 years ago. Low- to medium-water-use plants are surrounded by bark mulch with little or no grass, irrigated primarily with a drip system.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: 2020 is a dry year on the Colorado River. What happens next year will be more important

This winter’s decent snowfall has turned into an abysmal runoff on the Colorado River, thanks to the dry soils heading into the winter, along with a warm spring. … Our bigger concern is what happens next year. Are we headed for a multi-year drought?

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

Northstate lawmakers urge Newsom to reconsider proposed cuts to Paradise Irrigation District

Northstate lawmakers and local leaders gathered in Paradise, Tuesday, urging Governor Gavin Newsom to reconsider proposed state budget cuts that would impact the Paradise Irrigation District. … Earlier this month, Newsom proposed cutting the second year of backfill funding to the district meant to help them stay afloat after the Camp Fire decimated the ridge’s water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara’s water outlook foresees sufficient supply to meet demands through fall 2022

The availability of water from Gibraltar Reservoir, upstream on the Santa Ynez River, in the past few years as well as Santa Barbara’s desalination plant operation and water conservation have enabled the city to accumulate a significant amount of stored water in Lake Cachuma… The water-supply planning positioned Santa Barbara to continue resting its groundwater basins through fall 2022.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: When life dries up: Klamath Basin faces renewed conflict, as drought saps the water and farmers run out of time

The Klamath Project, a U.S. government-operated waterworks that steers runoff from the towering Cascades to more than 200,000 acres of potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, onions and other produce on both sides of the state line, is running low on supplies. The local water agencies served by the project say they may not have water to send to farms beyond next month.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State Water Project allocation increases to 20 percent

The State Water Project now expects to deliver 20 percent of requested supplies in 2020 thanks to above-average precipitation in May, the California Department of Water Resources announced. An initial allocation of 10 percent was announced in December and increased to 15 percent in January. Today’s announcement will likely be the final allocation update of 2020.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Snow-water equivalent still down despite recent storms

Though the last couple of weekends have seen wet weather, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the yearly average in time for summer in California. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is tested regularly by employees of the California Department of Water Resources, has yielded some grim results so far in 2020 in terms of snow-water equivalent.

Aquafornia news KDRV

Klamath farmers and ranchers plan ‘convoy’ to protest water limits

Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin are reportedly planning a rally to protest the water use limits enforced by the federal government to protect fish populations.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Nut of the future?

With droughts inevitable, more farmers are switching from almonds to pistachios, but not everyone is happy about it. Around the Central Valley, as far north as Colusa but mostly south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, pistachio production is rapidly accelerating. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Looming drought concerns Arizona water group

The Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona likes to say it represents Arizona agriculture “from ditch bank to dinner plate” indicative of the fact that its members range from farmers and ranchers to irrigation groups and trade associations — all of them concerned about water flow along the 1,450-mile-long Colorado River.

Aquafornia news KALW Radio

Audio: How climate change is fueling megadroughts in the western US

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’re discussing a new study from Columbia University about an emerging climate-driven megadrought in the Western US. Researchers used hydrological modeling and tree-ring reconstructions of summer soil moisture to show that the period from 2000 to 2018 was the driest 19-year span since the late 1500s.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation updates 2020 Central Valley Project water allocations

Following spring storms, the Bureau of Reclamation today issued updated allocations for Central Valley Project contractors for the 2020 contract year. … The allocation for south-of-Delta agricultural water service contractors is increased from 15% to 20% of their contract total. Municipal and Industrial water service contractors south-of-Delta are now allocated 70% of their historic use, up from 65%, or health and safety needs, whichever is greater.

Aquafornia news Cornell Chronicle

Complex dynamics of water shortages highlighted in study

Cornell engineers have used advanced modeling to simulate more than 1 million potential futures – a technique known as scenario discovery – to assess how stakeholders who rely on the Colorado River might be uniquely affected by changes in climate and demand as a result of management practices and other factors.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Agency petitions state water board for temporary change

South Feather Water & Power Agency proposes to transfer the water from July through November 2020 to participating agencies of the State Water Contractors and the Central Valley Project (CVP). The transfer would involve up to 5,000 AF of water previously stored in Little Grass Valley Reservoir under Permit 1267, and up to 5,001 AF of water previously stored in Sly Creek Reservoir under Permit 2492.

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

What does drought mean for endangered California salmon?

Increased frequency and severity of droughts threatens California’s endangered salmon population — but pools that serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life and death for these vulnerable fish, according to a study by researchers from UC Berkeley and California Sea Grant…

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Aquafornia news UC Riverside

Blog: Shrub encroachment on grasslands can increase groundwater recharge

A new study led by Adam Schreiner-McGraw, a postdoctoral hydrology researcher at University of California, Riverside, modeled shrub encroachment on a sloping landscape and reached a startling conclusion: Shrub encroachment on slopes can increase the amount of water that goes into groundwater storage. The effect of shrubs is so powerful that it even counterbalances the lower annual rainfall amounts expected during climate change.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Water resources management: Developing a water budget

A water budget is an accounting of the rates of the inflows, outflows, and changes in water storage in a specific area; however, as simple as that might sound, developing an accurate water budget can be a difficult and challenging endeavor. To address this problem, the Department of Water Resources has developed a water budget handbook…

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Regulators express concerns about Huntington Beach desalination project

The Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach could be facing rough waters ahead, as several regulatory officials on Friday expressed concerns over the controversial plan.. During a Regional Water Quality Control Board workshop held online, three of the agency’s six board members persistently pressed local officials about the need, consumer cost and environmental harm of the $1 billion project.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Marchlike storm could be last of the season to bring needed rain, Sierra snow to California

Northern California will have its most soaking rain from this storm into Monday. Through Tuesday, with the cold upper-level air in the jet stream trough overhead, showers and thunderstorms, some possibly with small hail, can be expected in Northern California.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Questions simmer about Lake Powell’s future as drought, climate change point to a drier Colorado River Basin

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Cal State Fullerton biologist looks into how native plants survive in the driest soil

This interdisciplinary study by plant biologists and physicists is important because it potentially explains how plants take up water in very dry soil — such as drought-tolerant plants in Southern California and in the desert — and survive, said Cal State Fullerton plant biologist H. Jochen Schenk, a co-author of the paper.

Aquafornia news KOBI 5 News

Water crisis looming on Klamath Project

Water could soon be shut off to farmers in the Klamath Basin, triggering major financial losses. Klamath Project farmers began hiring, and ordering supplies based on Bureau of Reclamation forecasts of 140,000 acre feet of water. Gene Souza of the Klamath Irrigation District says that water allocation has changed.

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Aquafornia news Sustainable Waters

Blog: Let’s refill lakes Mead & Powell now

As of Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast for this year’s expected water supplies in the Colorado River is at 59% of average. That’s not good news. If that prediction proves true, this will be one of the driest water years since Lake Powell was constructed nearly 60 years ago.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Double-whammy weather

Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced changes, a new study finds. The analysis, published in Geophysical Research Letters, finds a link between droughts followed by heavy rain events, along with an increased rate of these successive extreme weather occurrences.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Small water systems across Monterey County are bracing for the inevitable next drought

In March, the California Department of Water Resources released a nearly completed draft report on the risk of water shortage in rural areas and the drought vulnerability of small systems. … Across the state, Monterey County is among the most vulnerable counties, with one of the largest numbers of highly impacted rural communities, according to the report. Also, the county’s small water systems are on average the 13th most vulnerable out of those of 58 counties.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Changing snowmelt threatens San Joaquin Valley ag, way of life

A new study published in Nature Climate Change indicates that about 50 percent of current runoff comes directly from Sierra snowmelt, and the Valley stands to lose between 13 percent and 50 percent of snowmelt runoff as the climate warms.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Storm chasers: Real-time weather forecasting is helping to balance the need to store more water while still preventing floods

The event was the first weather balloon launch from a Yuba Water Agency site near Beale Air Force Base. But it will not be the last. During atmospheric rivers, scientists plan to release a balloon every three hours from this point to collect data. And the more data, the better, because understanding the structure of these storms can help with forecasting and flood control.

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

Blog: Rethinking (waste)water and conservation

As a result of compliance with conservation measures through lower indoor water use, the amount of wastewater effluent was reduced. This reduction means less water for recycling and reuse — a source of water often thought of as drought-proof — and less water for stream augmentation, with a consequence of potentially impacting streamflow and downstream water quality…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Drought, water shortages return to much of state

The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in 4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion – Bruce Babbitt: Here’s how less than 10% of farmland could solve the Colorado River’s water deficit

There is a better, more equitable pathway for reducing the deficit without forcing arbitrary cuts. It involves 3 million acres of irrigated agriculture, mostly alfalfa and forage crops, which consume more than 80% of total water use in the basin. By retiring less than 10% of this irrigated acreage from production, we could eliminate the existing million acre-foot overdraft on the Colorado River..

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: The tale of two pipelines for desert cities

Nevadans and Utahns won a major economic and environmental victory in mid-April that will help protect air quality along the Wasatch Front and the Great Basin’s fragile water supply –– including Great Salt Lake.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Beneficial rain to quench parched Northern California, Oregon

An abnormally dry and warm spring has led to widespread drought across Northern California and Oregon, but beneficial rain is expected to help quench the parched area early this week.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

‘A disaster on our hands’

The Klamath Project had already been anticipating an extreme shortfall in available water in 2020 but is now facing a possible water shutoff by or before July.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Southern California doesn’t have decades to figure out water recycling. We need it now

What we in Los Angeles should want from the Met is a continuing flow of clean water from the faucet — but this time with planning and infrastructure that reduce reliance on diminishing imports, minimize damage to our fellow Californians in the delta and elsewhere, and sustain iconic species like migrating salmon.

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Study: Southwest U.S. in midst of megadrought like no other

Southern Nevada has been in a drought for about 20 years. But now, we’re learning this isn’t just drought – it’s a megadrought. That’s a one in 500 years drought.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s shrinking snowpack raises concerns for wildfire season

After an extremely dry winter in Northern California, the window is closing for additional rain that could delay large summer fires. In fact, this week, the state is baking under a spring heat wave, while snow is vanishing from mountain slopes. It is shaping up to be a busy summer fire season not only in California, but in many parts of the West.

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Agriculture

Blog; The Fox Canyon water market: A market-based tool for groundwater conservation goes live

Following passage of SGMA, The Nature Conservancy received a $1.8 million Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop the Fox Canyon Water Market. TNC, supported by project partners Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency and California Lutheran University, sought to establish a market-driven approach to reduce groundwater pumping.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Term 91 curtailments expected; other water rights curtailments unlikely

During the May 5, 2020 State Water Resources Control Board Meeting, Staff and Board members provided an update on prospective water rights curtailments for 2020.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: The benefits of headwater forest management

At a virtual event last week, PPIC researcher Henry McCann described how improved management can make Sierra forests more resilient and avoid major wildfire-related disasters, and summarized the findings of a new report that identifies the benefits and beneficiaries of such management practices.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Western megadrought: Worsened by climate change, most severe in centuries

Since 2000, the West has been stricken by a dry spell so severe that it ranks among the biggest “megadroughts” of the past 1,200 years. But scientists have found that unlike the decades-long droughts of centuries ago, this one has been supercharged by humanity’s heating of the planet.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Funding opportunity available to build drought resiliency through WaterSMART

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a funding opportunity for communities to take a proactive approach to drought through building projects that increase water supply reliability, improve water management, or provide benefits for fish, wildlife and the environment.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought makes early start of the fire season likely in Northern California

Expanding and intensifying drought in Northern California portends an early start to the wildfire season, and the National Interagency Fire Center is predicting above-normal potential for large wildfires by midsummer. Mountain snowpack has been below average across the High Sierra, southern Cascades and the Great Basin, and the agency warns that these areas need to be monitored closely as fuels continue to dry out.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Tribes need a seat at the Colorado River negotiating table

There are 29 federally recognized tribes across the Colorado River Basin. Together, these tribes have water rights to roughly 20% of the water that flows through the river annually. In Arizona, the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) and the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) were critical partners in making the Drought Contingency Plan possible.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Season’s last snowpack survey confirms dry winter. California inching toward statewide drought

The last Sierra Nevada snowpack measurement of the season on Thursday confirmed what California officials have feared for months: The state has suffered through a dry winter. … A broader measurement taken by 130 electronic sensors throughout the Sierra revealed an average snow water equivalent of 8.4 inches, or 37 percent of average for this time of year.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

‘Borrowing from the future’: What an emerging megadrought means for the Southwest

It’s the early 1990s, and Park Williams stands in the middle of Folsom Lake, at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California. He’s not walking on water; severe drought has exposed the lakebed. “I remember being very impressed by the incredible variability of water in the West and how it’s very rare that we actually have just enough water,” said Williams, who went on to become a climate scientist at Columbia University.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Fair water

Fairness – or at least the perception of fairness – could play a determining role in the future of California’s groundwater, according to new research. The study, published in Society and Natural Resources, evaluated 137 surveys of Yolo County farmers to gauge their perceptions of fairness for groundwater allocation strategies and dispute resolution options.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

Watching the flow of water through oak woodlands at Arbor Creek Experimental Watershed

To understand how these beloved woodlands will fare in a rapidly warming climate, UC Santa Cruz researchers are putting a headwaters stream in the Diablo Range under a hydrological microscope.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water district considers ‘very aggressive’ water purchase

Following poor rainfall this winter and rising water demand in recent years, the Marin Municipal Water District is considering a major purchase of Sonoma County water as insurance for a potential dry period.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta Herald

County once again faces severe drought

As Siskiyou County slips back into severe drought, members of Siskiyou County’s Groundwater Advisory Committees met last week to continue drafting groundwater management plans as conservation groups, farmers and other special interest groups brace for another dry summer.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Oregon Water Resources Dept. takes charge of Upper Klamath Lake

Oregon Water Resources Director Thomas Byler sent a letter to Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office manager Jeff Nettleton on Thursday, confirming it has taken exclusive charge of Upper Klamath Lake… The order said it prohibits U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from diverting stored water in Upper Klamath Lake through Link River for purposes of a 50,000 acre-feet flushing flow without a water right.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath water allocation short of demand for farmers, ranchers

As expected, irrigators in the Klamath Project are getting less water than they will likely need this summer thanks to a combination of dry weather and more water being kept in-stream to protect threatened coho salmon.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Sterling mid-project update

As of March, the East Valley Water District’s Sterling Natural Resource Center construction project reached the halfway point to scheduled completion⎯about 18 months in and 18 months left to work. The water recycling plant will be capable of treating up to 10 million gallons per day, depositing the clean water into percolation ponds in order to recharge the Bunker Hill Basin groundwater.

Aquafornia news NBC Los Angeles

Opinion: Spring rain and heat add up to heavy vegetation growth and a potentially explosive fire season

Recent rains and now rising temperatures will promote fuel growth throughout California, adding up to an explosive fire season. But while firefighters focus on the national emergency, there is another deadly danger ready to spread – wildfire. Wildfire season is around the corner, and COVID-19 creates even more challenges for the fire service, requiring our communities’ help and cooperate more than ever.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Wet spring provides a big boost to Santa Barbara County’s water supply

It wasn’t exactly a “March Miracle,” but the precipitation Santa Barbara County received this spring rescued what otherwise had been a fairly sorry rain season, and gave a healthy boost to local water supplies. As of Monday, the county as a whole had received 95 percent of its average rainfall to date, according to the county Flood Control District.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

California ranks small water agencies for drought vulnerability

To develop the rankings, the state took into account numerous factors, including each water system’s vulnerability to climate change and projected temperature changes, projected sea level rise, recent water shortages, whether the system is in an overdrafted groundwater basin or was located in an area with underlying fractured rock.

Aquafornia news KXTV

‘Extreme’ drought conditions popping up in far Northern California

The US Drought Monitor update released Thursday morning lists far Northern California as the most impacted by a lackluster rain and snow season. Some areas such as Eureka and Mount Shasta are down more than 15″ of rain from their averages for the season so far.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

UC researchers study Valley drought in Canada

Samantha Ying and Michael Schaefer, both from the Department of Environmental Sciences at University of California (UC) Riverside, are part of a team set on untangling the mystery of a practice upon which farmers have relied for centuries to reduce water use—cover crops.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Water availability for San Joaquin Valley farms: A balancing act

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation updates 2020 Central Valley Project water allocation for Friant Division

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation updated the water supply allocation for Friant Division Central Valley Project contracts for the 2020 contract year. The Friant Division provides water for 15,000 family farms and several cities in the Central Valley. … Given the current hydrologic conditions, Reclamation is increasing the Class 1 allocation from 40% to 55%; Class 2 remains at 0%.

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