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.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Despite Risk of Unprecedented Shortage on the Colorado River, Reclamation Commissioner Sees Room for Optimism
NOTEBOOK: Commissioner Brenda Burman, in address at Foundation’s Water Summit, also highlights Shasta Dam plan

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanThe Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.

During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

California’s plan to store water underground could risk contamination

As California begins handing out $2.5 billion in state funds for several new water management projects, a shift is taking place in the ways officials are considering storing water. To contend with the likelihood of future extreme droughts, some of these new strategies rely on underground aquifers — an approach far removed from traditional dam-based water storage.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Salt Lake mayor to join climate-change summit in California

[Mayor Jackie] Biskupski says Salt Lake feels the effects of climate change with low snowpack, drought conditions and wildfire smoke. She plans to join other mayors to sign the “Deadline 2020” pledge to reduce global emissions.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Climate change will be deadlier, more destructive and costlier for California than previously believed, state warns

Heat waves will grow more severe and persistent, shortening the lives of thousands of Californians. Wildfires will burn more of the state’s forests. The ocean will rise higher and faster, exposing California to billions in damage along the coast. These are some of the threats California will face from climate change in coming decades, according to a new statewide assessment released Monday by the California Natural Resources Agency.

Related Article:

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires

As temperatures rise in the U.S. West, so do the flames. The years with the most acres burned by wildfires have some of the hottest temperatures, an Associated Press analysis of fire and weather data found.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Trump officials steer clear of climate change issue in tour of Redding fire zone

Two top officials of the Trump administration, winding up a tour of fire-ravaged Redding, insisted Monday that removing dead trees and thinning forests, not addressing climate change, are the keys to dealing with California wildfires.

Related Articles:

New Leader Takes Over as the Upper Colorado River Commission Grapples With Less Water and a Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission

Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River CommissionAmy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires

Much of the heat that’s gripped California and hastened the spread of deadly wildfires recently is due to a strange but familiar shift in the jet stream — one that’s haunted the West with threatening fire conditions in the past and could cause more hot, dry spells in the future, especially with a changing climate.

Related Article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California fires rage, and Gov. Jerry Brown offers grim view of fiery future

As fire crews struggled to gain containment on more than a dozen wildfires raging across California on Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters that large, destructive fires would probably continue and cost the state billions of dollars over the next decade.

Related Article:

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Yosemite fire: Flames threaten park’s giant sequoia trees

As flames from the Ferguson Fire burn closer to some of the world’s oldest and largest trees, firefighters are racing to protect ancient sequoias on Yosemite National Park’s western edge. About 25 Yosemite firefighters have surrounded Merced Grove — whose immense trees tower more than 200 feet tall and date back 1,000 years — with fire hoses.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A tiny beetle has left Yosemite dangerously vulnerable to fire

If the Ferguson Fire currently burning in Mariposa County spreads to Yosemite National Park, a tiny bug resembling a mouse dropping would share some of the blame. An epidemic of bark beetles is devastating billions of pine trees across the West in what has been described as the largest forest insect outbreak ever recorded.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Massive tree die-off brings unprecedented danger as wildfire burns near Yosemite

On either side of the Merced River, hillsides are filled with trees that have been killed by five years of drought and a bark beetle infestation, according to state maps. The ground is carpeted with bone-dry pine needles, which are highly combustible.

Related Article:

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Great Sand Dunes Park was born out of cooperation. Is there a drought lesson for today in that?

Eighty percent of Colorado is experiencing some form of drought or dryness. … It’s also prompting a closer look by historians into how communities have survived and triumphed over water scarcity — instead of the old Western yarn that “water is for fighting.” … Historians at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center of the American West want to know why some communities rally around water resources, and others fail.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Why California fire season is off to worst start in 10 years

California’s wildfire season is off to its worst start in 10 years. … The reason behind this year’s ominous early trend is something many Californians thought was behind them: the 2012-2017 drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Fires menace US West, tornado touches Colorado wildfire site

An erratic wildfire charging through extremely dry land in the heart of Colorado ski country destroyed three homes and forced people to flee, authorities said Thursday. … Fires exploded in Northern California, Utah and other areas, where a prolonged and severe drought has desiccated forests.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Drought conditions spread over much of California

Sixteen days into summer, with wildfires raging over the bone-dry landscape and more scorching hot days ahead, it might feel as if California is on the verge of another drought. The official word from weather authorities shows much of the state trending in that direction.

Domino Effect: As Arizona Searches For a Unifying Voice, a Drought Plan for the Lower Colorado River Is Stalled
EDITOR'S NOTE: Finding solutions to the Colorado River — or any disputed river —may be the most important role anyone can play

Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.

Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.

As Colorado River Levels Drop, Pressure Grows On Arizona To Complete A Plan For Water Shortages
IN-DEPTH: A dispute over who speaks for Arizona has stalled work with California, Nevada on Drought Contingency Plan

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low.

If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.

Aquafornia news WIRED

LA is doing water better than your city. Yes, that LA.

The frantic phone calls to the Community Water Center began in the summer of 2014. In the 7,000-strong unincorporated community of East Porterville, nestled against California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, homeowners’ wells were failing amid a historic drought.

Aquafornia news Longmont Times-Call

CU Boulder researcher harbors hope in face of recent wildfire trends

The U.S. record $18 billion wildfire season of 2017 was triggered by the coincidence of three primary factors that came into play or persisted longer than anticipated, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of Colorado. Those “switches,” according to study leader Jennifer Balch, were ignition, aridity and fuel. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: ‘Time for action’ on Colorado River, federal official says

The Colorado River has for years been locked in a pattern of chronic overuse, with much more water doled out to cities and farmlands than what’s flowing into its reservoirs. The river basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, has been drying out during what scientists say is one of the driest 19-year periods in the past 1,200 years.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Experts: ‘Alarming’ drought conditions hit US Southwest

Climatologists and other experts on Wednesday provided an update on the situation in the Four Corners region — where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. They say the area is among the hardest hit and there’s little relief expected, and even robust summer rains might not be enough to replenish the soil and ease the fire danger.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought on tap to intensify over US Southwest

Rivers are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest. … With the region’s water resources strained, a top federal official has resumed pressure on states in the Southwest to wrap up long-delayed emergency plans for potential shortages on the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the U.S. and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Calfire: Potential for big fire season ahead in Lake Tahoe Basin

After two heavy winters following five years of drought, grass and brush are thick in the Tahoe Basin, putting local firefighting agencies on high alert for the fire season ahead. “We will see more intense fire because there is more fuel. That’s the message we’re getting from our fire behavior analysts and fuel specialists,” said Brice Bennett, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Amador/El Dorado Unit.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Climate change is making droughts worse in the Western US

A new study from NASA reinforces the idea that droughts are getting worse and could become more frequent in the Western U.S. The culprit is human-caused climate change. Droughts aren’t just about precipitation, said NASA scientist and the study’s co-author Benjamin Cook.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Can an uneasy truce hold off another Klamath water rebellion on California’s northern border?

The last time water was this scarce in the Klamath Basin, a rugged agricultural area straddling the California-Oregon border, farmers clashed with U.S. marshals and opened locked canal gates with blowtorches so they could irrigate. … Now the stage is set for another round of conflict on the Klamath River, the result of a dry winter and a court ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Mexico, 2 US states could see Colorado River cutback in 2020

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the [Colorado] river, released projections showing a 52 percent chance the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada, will fall low enough in 2020 to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system. … The shortage projection prompted Bureau of Reclamation Chief Brenda Burman to prod the seven river states to finish long-delayed contingency plans for worsening conditions.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

State has ‘March Miracle’ in water conservation

There may not have been a “March Miracle” when it came to the snowpack in the state, but there was sure one when it came to water conservation. The State Water Resources Control reported that in March urban Californians used 24.8 percent less water than in March 2013, the benchmark year considered to be before the drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

King salmon arrives for a short, expensive stint in Bay Area markets and restaurants

Usually open from at least May to September, this year’s California commercial salmon season is very limited because the current batch of adult salmon were born during the drought in 2015, which made their Sacramento River spawning grounds too warm and killed off many juvenile salmon.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lake Mead desalination plant could cost millions to update

Anticipating years of drought, officials built the Yuma Desalting Plant in 1992 to treat agricultural runoff and conserve water in Lake Mead. Over the past 26 years, however, the plant has operated just three times while costing millions of dollars to maintain.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona utility tries to end multi-state Colorado River feud

Arizona’s largest water provider tried Tuesday to defuse a multi-state dispute over the Colorado River, saying it regretted the belligerent-sounding words it used to describe its management strategy for the critical, over-used waterway. … It also pledged to cooperate on drawing up a multi-state plan for possible shortages in the river, which appear more and more likely because of the drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

You no longer need a snorkel to see this Nevada ghost town

Now that the water level in Lake Mead has dropped — some 140 feet since the current drought began — St. Thomas is back on dry land, a ghost town that is gaining popularity among hikers and history buffs. … The story of St. Thomas is a cautionary tale of the scarcity of water in the Southwest and the vagaries of state boundaries during America’s westward expansion.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Another short salmon season means skimpy year, high prices

Salmon season is usually open from May 1 to September or October along most of the coast. But this year, lingering drought-related effects will again limit fishing dramatically in California and Oregon.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Can plants tell us when the next drought will happen?

In a few months, scientists, farmers and water managers will get answers to such questions as: Will a drought occur and if so, where? Which plants die first? Which species are adept at absorbing carbon dioxide, a gas that is overheating our planet? Who will they ask? The space botanist.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Arizona water agency’s manipulation of Lake Mead ignites water feud

A top official from the Southern Nevada Water Authority is calling on states that rely on the Colorado River to resolve their differences before a growing dispute derails decades of cooperation on the river. … The fight comes as Nevada, Arizona and California continue work on a drought contingency plan aimed at keeping Lake Mead out of shortage by voluntarily leaving more water in the reservoir.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Salmon season for West Coast approved

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approved reduced recreational and commercial ocean salmon seasons for the West Coast on April 10. The reduction in fishing days this season amounts to cuts of about a third for the ocean sport fishery and over half of the commercial fishery, compared to a normal season.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) April 11-13

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Announcement

Learn How New Data Can Strengthen Drought Preparedness at April 19 Workshop in San Pedro
Event to feature new research on tree rings and sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasting; a few tickets still left

Lake Cachuma in droughtThis winter’s wild swings in weather – an early lack of rain, then late-season Sierra snowstorms, followed by a torrent of subtropical moisture – shows the need in California for long-range tools to better manage water supply.

At a Paleo Drought Workshop in San Pedro on April 19, six experts will discuss research on centuries-long precipitation and streamflow records, new forecasting tools and planning strategies to help reduce Southern California’s vulnerability to drought. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Understanding what the ‘new normal’ means for water in the West

April is often a time of abundance in the mountains of the American West, when snowpack is at or near its peak, and forecasters work to determine how much runoff will course through our rivers and fill reservoirs later in the season. This year, across much of the West, particularly the Southwest, there’s little in the way of abundance. At Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the West, runoff is predicted to be only 43 percent of average.

Announcement

Learn What New Tree-Ring Studies Reveal about Drought Patterns in Southern California
Also hear about efforts to improve weather forecasting, drought preparedness at April 19th workshop in San Pedro

University of Arizona research professor removes tree core sample from bigcone Douglas fir tree.Learn what new tree-ring studies in Southern California watersheds reveal about drought, hear about efforts to improve subseasonal to seasonal weather forecasting and get the latest on climate change impacts that will alter drought vulnerability in the future.

At our Paleo Drought Workshop on April 19th in San Pedro, you will hear from experts at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Arizona and California Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Californians are back to using about as much water as before the drought

Since Gov. Jerry Brown called off California’s drought emergency a year ago, we Californians seem to have gotten a little lazy when it comes to water conservation. We’ve started watering our lawns more often.

Announcement

Learn About Efforts to Improve Weather Forecasting at San Pedro Drought Workshop
Agenda for April 19 event just posted; check out other topics, speakers

Dramatic swings in weather patterns over the past few years in California are stark reminders of climate variability and regional vulnerability. Alternating years of drought and intense rain events make long-term planning for storing and distributing water a challenging task.

Current weather forecasting capabilities provide details for short time horizons. Attend the Paleo Drought Workshop in San Pedro on April 19 to learn more about research efforts to improve sub-seasonal to seasonal precipitation forecasting, known as S2S, and how those models could provide more useful weather scenarios for resource managers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The ‘nightmare’ California flood more dangerous than a huge earthquake

California’s drought-to-deluge cycle can mask the dangers Mother Nature can have in store. During one of the driest March-through-February time periods ever recorded in Southern California, an intense storm dumped so much rain on Montecito in January that mudflows slammed into entire rows of homes.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Budget deal includes wildfire disaster fund to end borrowing

[Idaho Rep. Mike] Simpson, who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, called the wildfire fund one of the most significant pieces of legislation he has worked on in Congress. The concept is simple, he said: Treat catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters.

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) - March 14-16

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Arizona debates conservation as Colorado River shortage looms

Arizona will be hardest hit if 17 years of drought keep drying up a reservoir serving much of the Southwest, but the state’s lawmakers and governor don’t agree on how to keep water in the lake or who should be in charge. Lake Mead, a man-made reservoir fed by the Colorado River, is an essential water supply for several western states that will take a hit if lake levels dip much lower.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

In Sierra, snowstorms evoke ‘March Miracle’

A pair of storms moving across the Bay Area this week and into the Sierra Nevada could dump eight feet of snow at higher elevations, said Mike Kochasic, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento. And although rain and snow are expected to remain far below average for the season after a bone-dry January and February, it’s still a relief to everyone from skiers to the state’s drought monitors.

Announcement

Improve Drought Preparedness By Digging into the Past at April 19th Workshop in San Pedro
Learn new details about historic droughts in Southern California watersheds and how they provide insight on water management today

Cracked dirt as in a droughtCalifornia’s 2012-2016 drought revealed vulnerabilities for water users throughout the state, and the long-term record suggests more challenges may lie ahead.  

An April 19 workshop in San Pedro will highlight new information about drought durations in Southern California watersheds dating back centuries.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Last California drought one of worst since Columbus landed in New World

Just how bad was California’s last drought? For most of Southern California, it was either the worst or second worst since the century Columbus landed in the New World, the Ottoman empire was started and Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Despite recent storm, California’s ‘drought map’ depicts same bleak outlook

Despite the recent storm that pummeled the Sierra with snow and scattered rain in the valleys and along the coast, California remains unseasonably dry with 47 percent of the state experiencing at least “moderate drought” conditions, according to the federal government’s Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Amid rains, drought fears loom

After a historically wet season last year, relatively little precipitation has fallen this year in California during two of the three historically wettest months. Officials are urging stricter water conservation and caution drier months ahead. After last week’s rains, the Sierra snowpack — a critical factor in water availability — climbed to just 39 percent of normal.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Fewer salmon at the Golden Gate may mean less fishing in Northern California rivers

Anglers hoping to catch Chinook salmon this year along the San Francisco Bay and in the Central Valley’s rivers are likely to see curtailed fishing seasons, due to poor fish numbers linked to California’s historic five-year drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Navajo Nation issues new emergency drought declaration

Dry conditions and the prospect of limited precipitation later this year have forced officials on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation to approve an emergency drought declaration.

Paleo Drought Workshop
Using the Past to Improve Drought Preparedness Now

This April 19th workshop in San Pedro was focused on helping Southern California water agencies and others to gain information for improving drought preparedness and updating Urban Water Management Plans. The workshop was sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Water Education Foundation.

DoubleTree by Hilton (Madeo Ballroom)
2800 Via Cabrillo-Marina
San Pedro, CA 90731
Aquafornia news The Washington Post

‘Cloud seeding’ may make it snow, but will it reduce droughts in the West?

Machines that prod clouds to make snow may sound like something out of an old science fiction movie. But worsening water scarcity, combined with new evidence that “cloud seeding” can work, is spurring states, counties, water districts and power companies across the thirsty West to use the strategy.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Commentary: The next big front in California’s water war

After one year of torrential respite, drought may have returned to California, and with it, a renewal of the state’s perpetual conflict over water management. State and federal water systems have told farmers not to expect more than a fifth of their paper allocations, the state Water Resources Control Board is weighing a new regime of mandatory conservation, and supporters of more reservoirs are complaining about the glacial pace of spending $2.7 billion set aside in a water bond for more storage.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

What a dry 2018 will mean to Stanislaus County farmers and homeowners

Irrigation season was delayed in 2017 as storm after storm kept farm and garden soil moist. Fast-forward to 2018, which has started out very dry and brought calls to fill the canals early. So are we back to serious drought in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, which endured one from 2012 to 2016?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California weighs permanent restrictions for water wasters

Members of the state Water Resources Control Board are scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to bring back what had been temporary water bans from California’s 2013-2017 drought and make them permanent.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water use climbs in California enclaves as drought returns

Overall water use is climbing in Southern California as that part of the state plunges back into drought, driving state and regional water managers as they consider permanently reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Californians voted to spend billions on more water storage. But state government keeps sitting on the cash.

Government at all levels moves at a glacial pace, especially when it’s trying to deal with the complex and contentious issue of water. Four years ago in the midst of a scary, five-year drought — one of the state’s driest periods in recorded history — voters eagerly approved a $7.5-billion water bond proposal, Proposition 1. The vote was a lopsided 67% to 33%.

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,’ Climate Change and the Future of California’s Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Climate scientist Daniel Swain

Daniel SwainEvery day, people flock to Daniel Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from California, intensifying the drought.

Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the western United States. In a recent interview with Western Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may lie ahead for the state’s water supply. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Is California entering another drought? Experts answer your questions.

The lack of rain and snow in California has people wondering if we’re headed into another drought. … To find out what the lack of precipitation means for the state, we asked our social media audience for questions. And we reached out to experts across the state to answer them.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California’s wildfire risk is rising. Congress missed a chance to help.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress from California and other Western states had been pushing a policy fix that would create a new funding stream to fight fires, leaving more money for the U.S. Park Service to manage forests and prevent fires. Under current law, firefighting is not funded out of the same natural disaster account used to respond to hurricanes or tornadoes.

Aquafornia news The Porterville Recorder

Phase II of East Porterville water project complete

A partnership of state and local agencies working to help homeowners affected by California’s multi-year drought finished connecting 755 homes to a safe, reliable, permanent water supply. All households participating in the East Porterville Water Supply Project have now been connected to the City of Porterville’s municipal water system.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: What’s the chance for a ‘normal’ rain year now? Grim, if history is a gauge

Hoping for a March Miracle to bail out California’s dry winter? It’s not likely. A review of more than 100 years of rainfall records of major cities in California — including San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Rosa, Redding and Fresno — shows that none have ever finished the rainy season with normal rainfall totals after ending January with the amount of rain they’ve had so far this winter.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Water, water everywhere can’t quell a Western drought

Many Western reservoirs are full, and downpours have triggered floods and deadly mudslides in parts of California. But all that water isn’t enough to save the West from another drought. Most of the region has slipped back into the drought conditions that have plagued it on and off for the past two decades—alarming water managers across several states.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Southern California’s brief escape from drought ends

California’s brief escape from severe drought ended Thursday after scientists declared more than 40 percent of the state in moderate drought and water officials confirmed lower-than-normal snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: With storms skipping state, nearly half of California is back in a drought

The T-shirt-wearing temperatures and lack of winter rain have combined to push nearly half of California into all-too-familiar territory: a state of drought. … At Phillips Station south of Lake Tahoe, where state water officials base their monthly snow surveys, hydrologists on Thursday found just 13 percent of average snowpack.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Study suggests California grapevines can weather searing drought

The drought could be crippling but the wine will be good. That is the happy conclusion of a study published today in the journal, Science. … That means farmers may not need to water their vineyards as much as previously thought during a dry spell.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California drought returning?

Hampered by hot weather and a stubborn high-pressure ridge that has blocked winter storms, California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack — a key source of the state’s water supply — on Tuesday was a paltry 30 percent of normal. The last time there was so little Sierra snow at the end of January was in 2015, when it was 25 percent of its historic average.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Specter of drought looms as California’s weather turns dry again

The storms have passed and California’s dry winter has returned, raising the specter that the state could be entering another drought less than a year after the last one officially ended.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Could a major California city run dry like drought-stricken Cape Town?

A dystopian drama is unfolding in Cape Town, a popular tourist destination of nearly 4 million on the coast of South Africa that in April is expected to become the modern world’s first major city to run out of water after three years of drought. For Californians, who panted through five years of record drought before last winter and have seen a fairly dry winter so far this year, it raises the worrisome question: Could it happen here?

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Amid rains and mudslides, drought concern remains

Despite the fierce rains and deadly mudslides that have struck California, water officials are concerned about the possibility of a renewed drought. But they caution that is too early to tell.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Struggle to manage future wildfires as climate grows more unpredictable

California’s recent wildfires have been nearly unprecedented in terms of their destructiveness and size and the season in which they burned. The Thomas Fire, for example, has grown into one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, devouring thousands of acres daily as it moves from Ventura to Santa Barbara at a time of year more prone to gray skies and cold rain than burning forests.

River Reports

Winter 2017-18 River Report
A Warmer Future and Increased Risk

Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read the latest River Report to learn more about what’s happening, and how water managers are responding.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How craft brewers are embracing new water technologies

With the country and the world facing increasing strain on water resources, beer companies, including craft brewers, are learning how to do more with less water. … Craft brewers have recently struggled with water shortages in the American West. During the California drought, the city of Chico asked Sierra Nevada Brewing to reduce its water usage by more than 30 percent.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Is California heading back into a drought?

Californians are beginning to wonder: Is the state heading back into a drought? While experts say it’s still too early in the winter rainy season to say for sure, the evidence is accumulating, and the rain is definitely not.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Sierra peaks an inch taller after California drought, NASA finds

California’s already towering Sierra Nevada summits rose to new heights during the drought, albeit by just a hair. A study by NASA scientists published Wednesday found that the granite peaks of the 400-mile range were pushed nearly an inch upward between 2011 and 2015, a phenomenon linked not only to known tectonic forces but the expansion of the land as it dried out and shed water weight.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water loss caused Sierra Nevada to grow an inch during California drought, researchers say

The Sierra Nevada mountains grew nearly an inch taller during the recent drought and shrank by half an inch when water and snow returned to the area, according to new research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. Researchers used 1,300 GPS stations throughout the mountain range to closely observe how its elevation changed during the drought.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News Arizona PBS

Progress on new binational drought plan in Colorado basin slow going

States, federal and Mexican officials hailed a binational agreement this fall that they said could lead to a radical shift in how the region prepares for and responds to drought. But three months later, they appear no closer to a drought contingency plan, as negotiations have pitted states and water districts against one another, as the U.S. tries to hammer out details of the plan.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California losing 2 million trees a month as drought-related plague drags on

California’s forests are seeing a continued die-off of trees even a year after last year’s heavy rains ended the state’s crippling drought. The U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that 27 million trees died over the past 13 months after five dry years left them severely dehydrated and vulnerable to bark beetle attack.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Living with Risk, Avoiding Curtailment
Fall 2017

This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Second La Niña winter could extend drought across the West

Winter is off to a dry start across the West, raising the specter of ongoing drought in many locations. The culprit could be La Niña – a periodic cooling of Pacific Ocean waters near the equator that often brings drought. And not just any La Niña, but a “double whammy” effect, which latest research concludes may cause even worse water shortages.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In a warming California, a future of more fire

Severe wildfire seasons like the one that has devastated California this fall may occur more frequently because of climate change, scientists say. … The reason is an expected impact of climate change in California: increasing year-to-year variability in temperature and precipitation that will create greater contrast between drought years and wet years.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Just subtract water—how a dry spell allowed winds to lash California with flames

Hot, dry Santa Ana winds will likely whip up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California on Thursday, forecasters said. The gales have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Why 2017’s record wildfire season keeps getting worse

Even before the dramatic Southern California wildfires began their harrowing path this week, California was already experiencing its deadliest and most destructive fire season ever. And it’s only getting worse. … For Californians who welcomed one of the wettest, drought-busting winters early in 2017, the fury of the fires is startling. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California

California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

No place like home for Mokelumne River salmon

It could be a record year for salmon on the Mokelumne River, but not without some extraordinary human intervention. More than 15,200 adult salmon had returned to the fish hatchery below Camanche Dam as of last week. … This year’s strong return is good news in part because it shows how changes in hatchery operations can help fish survive the aftermath of a devastating drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Higher than expected number of Chinook Salmon return to American River

It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River. The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

The drought may be over, but California still wants residents to act like it’s on forever

For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use. Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties. The situation turned critical during the 2012 to 2016 drought, when reservoirs sank to alarmingly low levels. 

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary Pitzer

The Drought May Be Over, But California Still Wants Residents to Act Like It’s On Forever
State considers adopting permanent wise water use rules starting in April

For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use.

Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018
Field Trip - April 11-13 (Sold out, please sign up for the waitlist in case tickets are available)

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

Explore the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Measures to boost salmon are working, but some fear they could backfire

Last spring, the outlook for California’s 2017 Chinook salmon fishing season was dire. Years of drought had taken a toll on the rivers where salmon spawn, reducing them to lukewarm trickles. As a result, the number of adult fish was seriously depleted, reported scientists with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: $4 billion California bond will help with droughts and floods

Droughts and floods are both a part of life in California as 2017 has so clearly demonstrated: It took one of the wettest winters on record to pull the state from the depths of a five-year drought. The state has invested funds in bulking up drought and flood protection in the past, but recent events highlighted the necessity of rejuvenating those efforts.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Better Forecasting Is Key to Improved Drought and Flood Response

Marysville flooding

In a state with such topsy-turvy weather as California, the ability of forecasters to peer into the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and accurately predict the arrival of storms is a must to improve water supply reliability and flood management planning.

The problem, according to Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager with the state Department of Water Resources, is that “we have been managing with 20th century technology with respect to our ability to do weather forecasting.”

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Federal vacancies would impede recovery from next drought, Natural Resources secretary says

California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, who lives in Santa Cruz, said the state will be in trouble if another drought strikes as federal support remains uncertain. Key U.S. departmental vacancies could hamper negotiations for emergency relief, Laird said after the Democratic Women’s Club of Santa Cruz County meeting Saturday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How climate change is affecting California

California could one day be uninhabitable. Fire. Heat. Floods. … Decamping for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, California academics and political leaders were mulling how to better deploy the distressing projections to give unwary citizens a better understanding of what’s at stake and compel them to see the wisdom of embracing sustainability.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Climate change sucks moisture from the West, adding to droughts, fires, federal study reveals

The Trump administration released a sweeping report Friday that pegged man-made climate change to droughts and wildfires in California and the West, but for reasons you may not expect.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Governor vetoed 2016 bill aimed at power line, wildfire safety

Now, as a series of deadly fires rages in Wine Country, serious questions are once again being asked about the safety of overhead electrical wires in a state prone to drought and fierce winds. On Wednesday, Cal Fire said that investigators have started looking into whether toppled power wires and exploding transformers Sunday night may have ignited the simultaneous string of blazes.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

‘Dice were really loaded’ for wildfires exploding in California

A cascade of extreme weather events fed Northern California’s wildfires that exploded Sunday: Unusually high winds blew flames through unusually dense and dry vegetation, which sprung up following last winter’s heavy rains and then were toasted by months of record hot temperatures.

Aquafornia news Marketplace

Water managers look to new ways to save (with audio)

A lot of people and jobs in the Southwest rely on water from the Colorado River. According to a University of Arizona study, the river system contributes more than $840 billion to the Gross State Products of Arizona and California alone. But the region’s in a long-running drought.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Record low number of salmon expected to return to fish hatchery

The number of salmon returning to spawn at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson could reach historic lows this year — a legacy of the five-year drought that ended last year. At this time of year dozens of salmon would normally be teeming in the waters of Battle Creek near the hatchery.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

With drought restrictions long gone, California keeps conserving water

Good habits die hard, it seems, after five years of epic drought – for most Californians, anyway. The historic dry spell from 2012 to 2016 prompted many state residents to reduce their water consumption, as did strict regulations imposed by state agencies and individual water districts.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Science report: Who gets hotter, wetter with climate change

SOUTHWEST (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) -The average annual temperature has already gone up 1.56 degrees since 1901-1960 and is projected to rise another 4.8 degrees by mid-century and 8.65 degrees by the end of the century if carbon pollution continues unabated.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost

East Porterville took by far the hardest hit in the [San Joaquin] valley during the drought, state officials say. … The State Water Resources Control Board has responded with $35 million to connect East Porterville’s 300-plus dry homes to Porterville’s system. Another 400 homeowners who didn’t lose their wells have opted into the Porterville hookup to prevent future water problems.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

State’s June water savings down to 17.4 percent

Statewide water savings slipped in June to 17.4 percent of that in the same month in 2013, the state Water Resources Control Board announced Tuesday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Poll: Californians support climate change policies

Since the state’s drought officially ended earlier this year, there’s also been a precipitous drop in Californians worrying about having enough water. Last July, 62 percent said water supply was a big problem for the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Complaints pour in over planned East Bay water rate hike

A plan to raise East Bay water rates by nearly 20 percent partly to make up for all the lost revenue from customers who were responsible during the drought was facing a deluge of outrage Monday. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Senate committee to hear conservation bills

Several recently amended bills on long-term conservation and drought planning are set for hearing July 11 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Bark beetle infestation continues to threaten Tahoe-Truckee forests

Visitors to North Lake Tahoe this summer will notice the steady flow of the Truckee River, the high water level of Lake Tahoe, and dense green growth that has sprung up across the region thanks to record snow and rainfall this winter. But they’ll also see an increasing number of dead trees.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After the drought, the ‘Killer Kern’ river is a different monster, volunteer rescuers say

Several years of drought had severely depleted the Kern, a popular whitewater rafting destination known for its dramatic rapids. But this year’s wet winter created a record Sierra Nevada snowpack, and the melt has engorged the river with swift, frigid water. 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Toilet to tap? Some in drought-prone California say it’s time

As drought and water shortages become California’s new normal, more and more of the water that washes down drains and flushes down toilets is being cleaned and recycled for outdoor irrigation. But some public officials, taking cues from countries where water scarcity is a fact of life, want to take it further and make treated wastewater available for much more — even drinking.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Skiers hit the slopes in bikini tops as California’s endless winter endures a heat wave

The seemingly contradictory weather conditions — a heat wave and mountains still piled high with snow — are one final legacy of a historic winter that brought the most rain ever recorded in Northern California. Months of back-to-back storms finally pulled California out of its five-year drought. But they left behind up to 200 inches of snow.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Drought’s Impact on Fiscal Planning Highlights PPIC Report
Suppliers need “proactive” drought pricing to prevent cash crunch

During drought, people conserve water. That’s a good thing for public water agencies and the state as a whole but the reduction in use ultimately means less money flowing into the budgets of those very agencies that need funds to treat water to drinkable standards, maintain a distribution system, and build a more drought-proof supply.

“There are two things that can’t happen to a water utility – you can’t run out of money and you can’t run out of water,” said Tom Esqueda, public utilities director for the city of Fresno. He was a panelist at a June 16 discussion in Sacramento about drought resiliency sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Climate change could burn a hole in Forest Service budget

Climate change appears to be fueling more wildfires as forest service officials are increasingly concerned they don’t have the funds to effectively handle another devastating season.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farewell to the pines

People came here for the forest, to live among 200-foot-tall pine trees that shaded their mountain cabins and scented the air. But in the span of two short years, tens of thousands of those trees are gone, ravaged by bark beetles until their green needles turned orange.

Aquafornia news PolitiFact/Capital Public Radio

Lawmaker misleads with claim governor has axed funds for California’s dying trees

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno recently claimed Gov. Jerry Brown has slashed nearly all the money in the state’s budget to help local governments remove dead and dying trees in California’s forests. More than 100 million trees have died in the forests due to drought and bark beetle infestations since 2010.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Where have all the salmon gone? State committee discusses impacts of low runs

Already faced with unprecedented low numbers of returning salmon and drastically reduced fishing allowances, California’s fishing fleets and communities are not expected to find any relief in the next few years, according to testimony by a host of experts and regulators at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

You could fill Shasta Lake 7 times with farm groundwater lost during state drought

The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater levels back into balance.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Trout, salmon and steelhead: A massive die-off coming for these California fish?

Researchers have issued a dire warning for California’s native trout and salmon: Three-quarters of them will be extinct in the next 100 years unless urgent action is taken. This bleak assessment came Tuesday from biologists at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and from California Trout, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz County’s drying timber increases threat of 2017 wildfires

From the Central Coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills, spring winds have dried timber and brush after a historically wet winter that isn’t expected to relieve the 2017 wildfire threat, a Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit official said. Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proclaimed Wildfire Awareness Week, citing a rise in dangerous wildfires in recent years.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Record winter rainfall raises potential for summer tragedy (video)

The drought is over, but that doesn’t mean the end of calamity for Northern California – the abundance of rain and snow could produce more wildfires and drownings, officials say.

Aquafornia news Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon

House Natural Resources Committee backs bill protecting transmission lines

A bill intended to prevent dying trees damaged by drought from falling onto utility lines on publicly owned federal land, sparking wildfires and electricity blackouts, passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Despite drought’s end, conservation rules were still in place in California – until now

First the drought ended. Now the last vestiges of mandatory conservation rules are over, too. California’s main water regulatory agency ended mandatory conservation regulations for urban residents Wednesday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s official declaration that the drought ended April 7.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

New study: California drought boosted electricity bills, smog

California’s brutal five-year drought did more than lead to water shortages and dead lawns. It increased electricity bills statewide by $2.45 billion and boosted levels of smog and greenhouse gases, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought raised electric rates as hydro power dried up

Californians’ electricity costs jumped by a combined $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016 because of severe shortages of cheap hydroelectricity, according to an estimate released Wednesday by the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy think tank.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

What a difference! How drought-buster winter has changed Northern California

The Great California Drought is over, Gov. Jerry Brown declared earlier this month, but it’s too early to parade in our rain, scientists say.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

How the drought changed California forever

California’s historic five-year drought is officially over, washed away with the relentlessly drenching rains, floods and snowstorms of this winter. But just as tougher building codes and better emergency planning follow major earthquakes, the brutally dry years from 2012 to 2016 are already leaving a legacy, experts say, changing the way Californians use water for generations to come.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

For some Californians, effects of punishing drought not over

Knee-high tufts of grass dot the streets of Hardwick, a rural neighborhood with a few dozen homes hemmed in by vineyards and walnut and almond orchards in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Commercial salmon season slashed by lingering California drought impacts

California’s commercial salmon industry is being slashed this year because of lingering environmental impacts from the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

From extreme drought to record rain: Why California’s drought-to-deluge cycle is getting worse

California’s climate has long been dominated by cycles of intense dry conditions followed by heavy rain and snow. But never before in recorded history has the state seen such an extreme drought-to-deluge swing.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California likely to shorten chinook salmon season

For the second year in a row, California officials are likely to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and possibly beyond. … The low numbers are due to lingering effects of the drought, because impacts on the population are felt about three or four years behind years with little rain.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Permanent water conservation rules coming to San Diego, rest of state

After one of the wettest winters on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared Friday that California’s historic drought is officially over for all but a handful of areas in the Central Valley. But after five years of severely dry conditions, California also is pressing forward with a dramatic overhaul of its conservation ethic for farms to cityscapes.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Governor lifts drought emergency

Gov. Jerry Brown declared the end of California’s drought emergency on Friday, stressing that water conservation must be a permanent part of life as the state adapts to climate change and prepares for the next drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Governor declares California drought emergency is over

tartlingly green hills, surging rivers and the snow-wrapped Sierra Nevada had already signaled what Gov. Jerry Brown made official Friday: The long California drought is over. Brown issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all but a handful of San Joaquin Valley counties where some communities are still coping with dried-up wells.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Breaking News: California drought officially over, Jerry Brown declares

A deluge of wet weather this winter and unprecedented water conservation prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to end California’s drought emergency on Friday.


 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Six images show what happened to California’s drought

California looks to be resuscitated this spring, with green stretching the length of the state and the desert erupting in a colorful mosaic fueled by a super bloom of flowers. The state’s wet winter has erased a surface drought more than five years in the making. Now, many reservoirs have been topped off, rivers are running and the snowpack – so meager just two years ago as to be almost unmeasurable – is piled 50ft (15m) high in some places.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought may be nearly over, but Californians are still saving water

Californians are still conserving substantial amounts of water even as Gov. Jerry Brown appears ready to rescind or relax his drought declaration.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Will California farms find enough workers amid Trump’s immigration crackdown?

Farmers employ tens of thousands of people in the San Joaquin Valley and run a $35 billion industry producing grapes, milk, oranges, almonds and dozens of other commodities sold in stores around the globe. Many of them supported Donald Trump for president, calculating that his promise to deliver more water to drought-starved valley farms would help them despite his hard-line stance on immigration.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Stunning turnaround: Once-empty San Luis Reservoir now full

Last summer it was a jarring symbol of California’s historic five-year drought. San Luis Reservoir — the vast lake along Highway 152 between Gilroy and Los Banos, the state’s fifth-largest reservoir and a key link in the water supply for millions of people and thousands of acres of Central Valley farmland — was just 10 percent full.

Aquafornia news New York Times

When is a drought over? A wet California wants to know

Why hasn’t the drought been declared over? Here are some answers for Californians — and everyone else who has watched this story unfold — about what is going on

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California water regulators expand focus on climate change

California’s water regulators are looking to strengthen their focus on climate change, adopting policies aimed at helping the state prepare for more severe floods, more extreme droughts and shrinking snowpack.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: New report — Just 9 percent of California still in drought

One year ago, just 5 percent of California was classified as free from drought. That number has been turned nearly upside down, and as of Thursday, 91 percent of the state is no longer in drought condition, according to federal scientists.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

California faces another bleak salmon-fishing season, a holdover from the drought

California salmon anglers are looking at another bleak fishing season, despite the remarkably wet winter – a lingering impact from the state’s five-year drought. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Yes, California’s drought is all but over, and dramatically revived Cachuma Lake proves it

Heading into February, things were looking grim here in the rugged hills north of Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Skiing on July 4. More rain than Seattle. Yes, California’s drought is receding.

How much precipitation has fallen on Northern California this winter? So much that Squaw Valley expects to be open for skiing July 4.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

New report: Drought finally over in nearly every part of California

The historic drought that plagued California for five years is finally over in nearly every part of the state, federal scientists reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Only 11 percent of California remains in severe drought

Going, going, but not gone yet. About 47 percent of California still faces a drought, and the conditions are severe in 11 percent of the state, according to the most recent weekly report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought And Floods Taxing California’s Water System

Both drought and floodwaters are testing California’s aging water infrastructure. A new NASA analysis shows too much groundwater pumping during the drought has caused the California Aqueduct to sink more than two feet near Avenal in Kings County.

 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How California’s South Coast is still coping with severe drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that less than 2 percent of California is still experiencing severe drought impacts, but that small area is concentrated in southern Santa Barbara County and parts of neighboring Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

State regulators to consider ending emergency drought rules following storms

California’s top water cops will decide Wednesday whether to extend the state’s emergency drought rules. 

Aquafornia news ABC 30

California water board to reevaluate emergency drought regulations

A healthy snow pack and steady rain have offered a fresh outlook to over five years of drought in California but the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to extend emergency regulations due to water supply problems in areas such as the Central Coast.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

North state lawmakers call to end water restrictions

As sections of California experience flooding due to heavy rains, a group of Northern California lawmakers want Gov. Jerry Brown to end the emergency drought declaration.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Desalination of aquifers offers drought-weary California new hope

California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply: removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s surface.

Aquafornia news VICE News

The water level at America’s largest reservoir is dangerously low (with video)

Lake Mead, one of the most critical water sources in the country, is at dangerously low levels and federal employees are struggling to manage the depleted reserves.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Shrinking Lake Mead water levels could trigger official shortage

Water levels in Lake Mead, which stores water for Arizona, California and Nevada, have plunged in recent years.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought eases thanks to storms

Roaring storms that brought California almost a year’s worth of snow and rain in a single month should make state water managers’ Sierra snowpack survey Thursday a celebration, marking this winter’s dramatic retreat of the state’s more than 5-year-drought, water experts say.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada

The ponderosa pine had taken root decades before the Revolutionary War, making a stately stand on this western Sierra Nevada slope for some 300 years, Nate Stephenson figures. Then came the beetle blitzkrieg.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County Water Authority declares drought over in region

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Thursday declared an end to drought conditions in the region, citing heavy local rainfall and snow in western mountain areas.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California groundwater levels remain critically low (with audio)

January’s heavy rains are erasing years of extreme drought in many areas of California, when it comes to the state’s surface supplies of water.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

‘Exceptional drought’ is over in California

For the first time in three years, not a single area of California is considered in “exceptional drought,” the most severe category, according to a U.S. government estimate released Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought is over in nearly half of state, feds say

Hammered with record rainstorms and snow blizzards, nearly half of California is no longer in a drought, and the rest saw dramatic improvement over the past week, federal scientists reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow

California’s top water regulator has strongly suggested the state will keep drought conservation rules in place despite winter storms that have waterlogged many communities.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Governor’s funding plan for climate, drought

Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and battling climate change. … Although state money represent only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending (13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important piece of the funding pie. 

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time since 2011

San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos is on its way to filling for the first time since 2011 as rain and snow bring the state additional relief from a punishing drought. Statewide, a series of storms over the past two weeks have allowed water managers to fill major reservoirs to above-normal levels for this time of year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

When will soggy California drop water restrictions?

Much of California has gone from withered to water-logged this winter, but the state’s top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the drought. … Water districts have been lobbying the board to back down.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drenched: How Los Angeles went from bone-dry to 216% of normal rainfall in four months

According to the latest maps, Southern California is still in a drought. But the dry conditions that have mired the region for more than five years have definitely shifted — at least for now.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Mountain snows that feed Colorado River look good so far

Snowpack in the mountains that feeds the Colorado River is slightly above the long-term average this winter — welcome news in the drought-stricken Southwest.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California grapples with pivot from drought rules to long-term water strategy

With storms drenching much of California and snow blanketing the Sierra Nevada, the state’s top water regulators are grappling with how to shift from conservation rules devised during more than five years of drought to a long-term strategy for using water more sustainably. 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought continues to shrink, federal government says

With major reservoirs nearly full, the Sierra Nevada snowpack well above average and flood warnings in place for some rivers, federal scientists reported Thursday a continued weakening of California’s drought. … Even as state officials urged caution, they announced Wednesday that cites [sic] and farms will receive at least 60 percent of the maximum amount of water they are contracted to buy in the coming year from the State Water Project, up from just 20 percent two months ago. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Should California drought rules be lifted? State ponders question as storms roll in

A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California’s chief drought regulator, to allow the state’s emergency conservation rules to expire.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

First of 3 more storms hits California as drought retreats

The worst area of drought in California has significantly narrowed to a small region northwest of Los Angeles that has stubbornly failed to benefit from Pacific storms that have drenched much of the state since the fall and were lining up again Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California proposing to continue water conservation (with audio)

Water conservation would continue in California until at least May under a proposal regulators are considering.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: State conservation rules to stay for now

Despite drenching rains and heavy snowfall this winter, California moved Tuesday to keep in place its statewide water conservation rules — at least for another three months or so.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big storms end drought across much of Northern California

Deluged with a series of relentless storms this winter, more than 40 percent of California — including the Bay Area — is no longer in a drought for the first time in four years, a stark turnaround after one of the worst natural disasters in state history, a new federal report said Thursday morning.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Northern California has escaped the drought. Can it carry the state?

After five years, is the drought over? The feds seem to think so, at least as far as Sacramento and most of Northern California are concerned.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Storms make significant dent in California drought, new federal records show

A week of powerful storms in Northern California has significantly eased the state’s water shortage, with a large swath of the state emerging from drought conditions, officials said Thursday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Flooded California residents rescued as major storms recede

Rescue workers used boats and firetrucks to evacuate dozens of Northern California residents from their flooded homes Wednesday as a drought-busting series of storms began to move out of the region after days of heavy rain and snow that toppled trees and created havoc as far north as Portland, Oregon.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Weakened by drought, trees are falling in rainy California

Drenching winter rains combined with the punishing effects of six years of drought are causing trees to topple across California, in some cases with deadly results. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Officials: More than 40 percent of California out of drought

Federal monitors announced Thursday that 42 percent of California has emerged from a five-year drought after some of the heaviest rain and snow in decades.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Brown’s budget proposal contains funds for drought and other key water issues

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday released a $177.1 billion spending plan that contains funds for drought, water rights management, continuation of the statewide conservation program Save Our Water and other key water programs.

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Reservoirs start to fill in California, putting a dent into drought

As a result of the nearly weeklong deluge, water is flowing into California lakes and reservoirs, prompting dam operators to release supplies in advance of a storm expected next week. But it’s too early to say if the series of storms is a drought-buster.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is the great California drought finally quitting?

If the storm systems keep coming, state and regional water managers say, 2017 could be the end of a dry spell that has, for more than five years, caused crops to wither, reservoirs to run dry and homeowners to rip out their lawns and plant cactus.  

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs

The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods. … Officially, California’s drought won’t end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency drought declaration he signed in January 2014.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Storms are making a dent in California’s drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas

A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the state’s once-grim drought picture.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s megastorm: Rain, snow, flooding – and maybe drought relief

California entered 2017 hoping a wet winter could end the state’s six-year drought. Be careful what you wish for.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

National Weather Service: Northern California now on pace for ‘wettest water year on record’

After many long years of waiting, California’s drought relief may finally be here. … Central California is on track to be the second wettest water year on record, and Southern California is expected to tie the wettest year, which was the year of ‘68-’69.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Keep conserving water, Californians told as water savings falls below 19 percent

As much of the state heads into a sixth year of drought, water officials on Wednesday, Jan. 4, cheered Californians’ continued conservation while urging them to stay stingy with water after residential savings slipped below 19 percent in November.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians saved less water in November than previous year, water board report says

California water conservation took a slight step backward in November, officials announced Wednesday, possibly due in part to an unusually wet fall and months of successful conservation efforts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

With snow piling up in the Sierra, what will it take to end California’s drought?

The resort town of Phillips high in the Sierra Nevada has long been a barometer of California’s drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California snowpack measures low, but big storms coming

The first manual survey this year of California’s snowpack revealed Tuesday that it holds about half as much water as normal, casting a shadow on the state that’s hoping to dodge a sixth straight year of drought, officials said.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Despite recent storms, California’s ‘snow drought’ continues

Around the start of each year, California water officials make a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53 percent of average, about a third as much water as the same time last year at that site.

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