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 Capital Public Radio

Endangered Delta Smelt may be extinct (with audio)

“Prepare for the extinction of the Delta Smelt in the wild,” UC Davis fish biologist Peter Moyle told a group of scientists with the Delta Stewardship Council.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Commentary: So many needs, so many weeds, too little water

A 300-yard stretch of the Tuolumne River near Hughson shows one of the many impacts of the ongoing drought. The river is thick with water hyacinth, a plant that chokes the flow to the point where it looks like you could walk across it.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

New app helps report water waste

The newly introduced iEfficient app is being used by 17 water districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It allows the user to take a photo and choose the offense from a drop-down menu; GPS automatically logs the location coordinates and routes the message to the correct agency.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water-wasters elude fines as drought persists

California water regulators, alarmed by slack conservation three years into a crippling drought, took the unprecedented step last summer of establishing statewide restrictions and gave communities a hammer to enforce them … With no statewide data available, The Associated Press queried more than a dozen communities around the state and found wide disparities in enforcement.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Saving the Salton Sea is smart environmental policy

They don’t like to hear this kind of talk in the rich agricultural lands of the Imperial Valley, but the Salton Sea was a big mistake.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Lake Tahoe: Drought, climate change threatening winter, way of life at iconic landmark

There’s something disconcerting about life at Lake Tahoe these days. It’s still winter, but visitors are renting bikes instead of snowshoes and kayaks instead of skis.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Cities will prevail in competition between trees and people

In a sign of this dry time, Sacramento Valley rice growers offered to fallow some of their fields and sell a more valuable harvest: Feather River water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California poised to tighten watering restrictions

The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday is poised to get even tougher on water conservation as California now seems assured of a fourth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

3,200 people risk running out of water in drought

The Lake Don Pedro community is operating in emergency mode.  For the last several weeks, work crews have drilled well after well, hoping to find groundwater. … Lake McClure depends entirely on rain and snow runoff from the Merced River watershed.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Blog: The Forest Service needs better policies before giving water away to bottling companies

National forests support some of the most pristine groundwater and springs in the country – at least that’s what the most successful water bottling companies advertise. Current policies leave these springs exposed to exploitation, especially during droughts, which are becoming more intense. … According to an article in the Desert Sun, the Forest Service has not investigated how pumping water from Strawberry Creek will affect the environment or downstream water users or required reporting of water use.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Blog: Counting salmon

Times are tough enough for salmon without a reporter shortchanging them.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Lawmakers see issues in bottled water, expired permits

Some lawmakers are raising questions about the impacts of bottled water companies on water supplies in California after a Desert Sun investigation found little government oversight of the amounts of water being tapped or the effects on the environment.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State poised to step up crackdown on water wasting

Drought-stricken California is preparing to raise the ante on water conservation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: As drought worsens, Los Angeles water agency offers cash to Sacramento Valley farmers

With the drought stretching into its fourth year, a heavyweight water agency from Los Angeles has come calling on Sacramento Valley rice farmers, offering up to $71 million for some of their water.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sacramento Valley water transfers: Prices spike, amounts uncertain

Residents in California are already resigned to another year of drought. Now the question is whether Northern California landowners will have water to sell.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers face dozens of environmental bills (with audio)

In addition to bills that would set new goals for clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some lawmakers want to revise regulations for oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Despite drought, not time for drastic measures (with audio)

The calendar may say it’s winter, but the sun is shining and the trees are already in bloom. Still the early spring-like weather isn’t enough to convince people in California that it’s time for something like a coast-to-coast water pipeline.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Blog: Celebrating National Groundwater Awareness Week

A recent defining experience for communities in California, and many other regions of the county, has been drought of an intensity that hasn’t been seen in generations.  The severity of this drought has forced communities to address questions about their ability to meet their basic water needs.  A common theme for many has been the critical role of a reliable supply of ground water in their ability to survive and thrive into the future.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Warm February takes toll on mountain snowpack in West

Warm temperatures and a lack of snowfall in February have taken a toll on winter snowpack in the Cascade Mountains and other areas in the West, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Commentary: Desalination makes sense for Orange County

Anyone who has stepped outside in the past year has undoubtedly seen the effects of our state’s historic drought conditions. … Southern California communities have rallied behind desalinated ocean water as a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly solution to long-term water shortages.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Property rights debate bogs down Modesto Irrigation District

Unusually warm temperatures the past few days have made the four-year drought worse for crops, so Modesto Irrigation District leaders said Tuesday they’re inclined to start farmers’ water season April 12 instead of two weeks later.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

South San Joaquin Irrigation District caps water deliveries for first time

For the first time ever, drought has forced the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to cap water deliveries.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta supervisors OK water purchase from McConnell – Redding

Shasta County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved paying the McConnell Foundation $62,500 for 250 acre-feet of water … 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Reservoirs for East Bay water users near 38-year lows

Levels at Sierra reservoirs that supply water for 1.3 million East Bay customers are as low as they’ve been in nearly 40 years, and it could take a miracle to make them better before the onset of the long dry season, officials were told Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Surplus water buy for Dublin and San Ramon provides relief but stirs controversy

The Dublin San Ramon Services District plans to buy the water from Yuba County to ease its severe shortage — which has resulted in some of the most severe penalties in the Bay Area.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big water rate hike plan reduced by Santa Clara Valley Water District

Facing a public outcry and some skepticism from their board of directors, the top staff of the Silicon Valley’s largest drinking water provider on Tuesday suggested reducing a proposed drought-related water rate hike this year from 31 percent to 19 percent.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto Irrigation District growers could have to get by on 16 inches of water

The drought could limit irrigation for Modesto-area farmers to 16 inches of water per acre this year – a little more than a third the normal amount and far less than needed for most crops.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Well went dry last Easter, but one Kingsburg man gets blessed with new water supply

[Abelardo De Leon] Garcia, 81, had lost his water well on Easter Sunday last year. Nearly a year later, his water supply has been resurrected, thanks to federal funding and a Visalia-based nonprofit called Self-Help Enterprises.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests

With a fourth year of drought looming, state and federal agencies have launched an ambitious partnership to improve the Sierra’s ability to store and filter water, as well as reduce fire risks, by restoring its forests. Called the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program …

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Taps may run dry in western Fresno County town after residents vote to oppose rate hike

Residents of this tiny western Fresno County town recently told Fresno County supervisors that they don’t want to pay higher bills for water service to their tiny community — even if it means having their water shut off. If they don’t agree to pay more, Cantua Creek residents will stop getting water as early as mid-May. 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Future unclear for salmon

Despite the drought, thousands of king salmon splashed their way up the San Joaquin River and its tributaries last year.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

‘Limited’ Delta water exports OK’d

State water watchdogs may allow more water to be pumped south from the Delta this month, but only under “very limited circumstances.”

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big water rate hikes considered by Bay Area agencies

During the first three years of drought, Bay Area residents have endured brown lawns, shorter showers and dirty cars. Now, as the crisis stretches into the fourth year, they are about to feel it in their wallets.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg News

Water grab pits Las Vegas against Mormons

Las Vegas is seeking to quench its growing thirst by draining billions of gallons of water from under the feet of ranchers whose cattle help feed the Mormon church’s poor. A legal battle across 275 miles of treeless ridges and baked salt flats comes as the western U.S. faces unprecedented droughts linked to climate change.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Some get water, many won’t — what’s wrong with this?

How does the south San Joaquin Valley get some water in back-to-back drought years while the east side goes without? And, by the way, vast tracts of farmland on the Valley’s west side also will be shut out.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

DWR head tells Chico water crowd to stay focused

“Whether we like it or not, our world is changing,” said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources, who was in Chico Friday for the annual meeting of Northern California Water Association.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

State releases new drought recommendations

State officials are considering additional modest regulations on water use – from prohibiting irrigation within 48 hours of rain to requiring districts to report their enforcement efforts – but water experts say the recommendations missed opportunities to address waste.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Drought almost certain to continue, snow surveys suggest

Had it not been for a couple of days of snowfall during the weekend, the ground would have been bare, Frank Gehrke of the Department of Water Resources said Tuesday during a snow survey at Philips Station near Sierra-At-Tahoe Road.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

California business coalition pushes for secure water supply

A diverse coalition of global businesses operating in California launched a campaign Thursday to seek and support solutions to the state’s water supply crunch.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

NOAA: El Niño is ‘too little, too late’ for California drought

El Niño is here, but don’t expect the Pacific Ocean circulation phenomenon to do much for the drought afflicting California and the western U.S., forecasters said Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

El Niño finally here; but this 1 is weak, weird and late

A long anticipated El Niño has finally arrived. But for drought-struck California, it’s too little, too late, meteorologists say.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Hold that water: Yuba City demand may exceed supply

Yuba City’s water supply outlook in 2015 is grim, and there is a possibility that water demand may exceed supply.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Lack of snow leaves California’s ‘water tower’ running low

Snowpack—which essentially serves as a water tower for the western United States—produces vital meltwater that flows off the mountains each spring. … But the snowpack is becoming more like a snow gap, as temperatures in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada become too warm for the snow that replenishes the ecosystem each winter.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Herald

Salinas Valley groundwater data to go public

The agency that oversees aquifers in the Salinas Valley is finally on track to publicly disclose detailed groundwater levels there, a move that comes after years of delays.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Rising temperatures are amplifying drought effects, study finds

Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A dry January pulled down water conservation rate in California

After getting a gold star for saving water in December, California’s conservation efforts flagged in January.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Editorial: State proves the value Sites Reservoir could have

There was a paradox in the flood of recent drought news.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Weak winter blamed for bleak Sierra snowpack

Surveys by the Department of Water Resources showed the snowpack across the entire mountain range at 19 percent of average for early March, a level deemed “alarmingly low” by officials. … On March 17, the State Water Board will consider extending emergency drought regulations and adding more stringent conservation measures.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Dry winter weather worries rice farmers (with audio)

The rice crop was down nearly 25% in 2014. But, it’s not just the drought that’s hurting growers.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Blog: Drought Watch — Treating stormwater as a resource

This weekend, the Southland got some much needed rain. … Unfortunately, too much of this stormwater simply ran straight into local rivers and the ocean, picking up numerous pollutants along the way. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Your Los Angeles DWP bill will be climbing soon because of the dry winter

The typical Los Angeles Department of Water and Power residential customer will see a $2.61 monthly billing increase by July, as this winter’s low snow-pack means the agency has to buy more expensive imported water.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Ag economist: Water will matter more than ever in California

Tightening water supplies in California will reinforce its shift to almonds, walnuts and other high-value crops, an economist told a Modesto audience.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Fish vs. people frustration rages at Oakdale Irrigation District meeting

State and federal officials favoring fish habitat are to blame for the Oakdale Irrigation District’s tentative plan to drain Tulloch Lake this summer, OID leaders told dozens of anxious lake-area residents.

Aquafornia news Stanford Report

News Release: Stanford scientists — Warming temperatures implicated in California droughts

In a new study, published in the March 2 issue of the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers led by Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh examined the role that temperature has played in California droughts over the past 120 years. They also examined the effect that human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are having on temperature and precipitation, focusing on the influence of global warming upon California’s past, present and future drought risk.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Residential water conservation dwindled in California during driest January on record

Residential water conservation dwindled in California during the driest January on record, state water regulators announced Tuesday.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California snow levels reach historic lows

Snow levels in the Sierra Nevada are at or below what they were during the driest years in California’s recorded history, surveyors said Tuesday, dashing hopes that last weekend’s storm would begin to pull the state out of its increasingly frightful drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California survey finds Sierra snowpack far below normal

California received a double dose of bad drought news on Tuesday, with state officials saying the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is far below normal and that residents again aren’t coming close to meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent cut in water use.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water conservation efforts faltered in January

Water consumption statewide declined just 8.8 percent in January compared with the same month of 2013 – far below the state’s goal of 20 percent – according to data presented to the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to carry out 3rd snowpack survey

The California Department of Water Resources on Tuesday will carry out the winter’s third survey of the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack, which shows no signs of recovery.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Scientists explain how climate change helps fuel California drought

Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Santa Barbara working to reactivate mothballed desalination plant

California’s four-year drought created the statewide mantra: “Conserve, conserve, conserve.” But this coastal city can soon add another word to its water-related lexicon: desalinate.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Record winter warmth not helping with drought

Temperatures across the Bay Area soared to record highs this winter, forecasters said Monday, the same day that a team of Stanford researchers warned that the historic heat is helping drive California’s crippling drought — with little sign of letting up.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences' California WaterBlog

Blog: The 2015 drought so far – March 1

Droughts are strange, and this one is becoming scarier. February began with a nice few stormy days, but has since looked like this January – very dry. And so far, the March forecast is not wet.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Salmon hold on, but drought, heat may take toll next year

The California drought and a strange warming trend in the ocean have not yet killed off the Sacramento River’s king salmon, which are swimming off the coast unaware of all the doomsaying.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

94% of Californians agree: The drought is serious. Now what do we do about it?

A Field Poll released Thursday found 94 percent of registered voters in California consider the state’s more than three-year water shortage to be at least “serious,” with a full 68 percent considering the situation “extremely serious.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is drought the new normal for Southern California?

Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is altering Earth’s most important atmospheric weather cell, drawing more moisture into the deep tropics and broadening areas of drought at higher latitudes, according to a new study.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Californians growing more concerned about drought, poll finds

Dread over the water shortage in California has grown to the point that at least half the state’s residents are willing to relax environmental regulations and allow construction of water supply facilities in federal parkland, a statewide Field Poll has revealed.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Storm heading into Northern California won’t dent the drought

A storm system heading to Northern California may bring only a fraction of an inch of rain to the Bay Area, but skiers and snowboarders turned desperate by the drought are stoked after learning that nearly a foot of fresh powder could fall in some parts of the Sierra.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Blog: Sierra snow on the way — Slope Dope helps you navigate another dry year

Snow’s a comin’ to the Sierra this weekend, which is news in this, our fourth winter of droughty discontent.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Radio for Northern California

Warm, dry weather threatens way of life at Lake Tahoe

This is the fourth lousy winter season in a row for the ski industry, and it has been economically devastating for the area. Some of the smaller resorts are barely hanging on, while larger players are carving out new ways to turn a profit.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Amid drought, a turf war between residents and homeowners associations

Rancho Pacifica, a gated community of spectacular multimillion dollar homes in the hills east of Del Mar, is not immune to the ravages of the California drought.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District water exports up in the air

Drought and a legal threat have combined to stall the Oakdale Irrigation District’s controversial idea of selling water to out-of-county buyers.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Continued drought creates worries, poll finds

In what could be a fourth year of drought, virtually all Californians say the state’s water situation is serious — but the majority still favors voluntary rather than mandatory restrictions, a new Field Poll released Thursday found.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Low stream flows prompt restrictions on Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin county fishermen

New regulations designed to protect spawning steelhead and salmon during exceptionally low stream-flow conditions already are putting a crimp in the fishing season, prompting closures of most coastal freshwater fisheries in Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties beginning today, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Blog: More Tulloch talk

Some tidbits that didn’t make the cut in today’s [Feb. 25] story about the possible draining of Lake Tulloch, east of Stockton:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Field Poll — More Californians want mandatory water rationing (with audio)

Support for rationing swelled to more than a third of voters in the latest statewide Field Poll, a rise of 7 percentage points since last spring. … Pollsters also found growing concerns about water storage and supply facilities. 

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

California has entered fourth year of drought, water experts say

Rainfall, snowpack and runoff estimates are way below average, indicating the state will continue in drought-emergency mode throughout the year, state and regional water experts told a gathering of 120 water managers Wednesday at a forum sponsored by the Southern California Water Committee and the National Water Research Institute.

Western Water Magazine

Is California’s Water Supply Resilient and Sustainable?
January/February 2015

This issue looks at sustainability and resiliency and what the terms mean for California’s water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers will examine ways to capture stormwater (with audio)

Recycling stormwater runoff could help provide more water during the drought.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

More work needed as water conservation sees positive results at Lake Tahoe, Truckee

While residents’ efforts to conserve water are helping, officials say locals must continue such practices as a multi-year drought grips California and other western states with no immediate relief in sight.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Lake Tulloch, prized Mother Lode reservoir, may be drained

Water managers may drain the lake to save water farther upstream for farmers and fish.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Second drought nightmare will become official after federal water forecast

We’re late in another desperately dry winter, waiting for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s February forecast of irrigation deliveries for this summer in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: New Western Water Magazine available — ‘Is California’s Water Supply Resilient and Sustainable?’

In the January/February issue of Western Water Magazine, Writer Gary Pitzer delves into the notion of a “sustainable” and “resilient” water supply. His article highlights what sustainability and resiliency mean to a state in the middle of a drought and with a growing population and water needs that stretch from bustling cities in the north and south to the rich agricultural fields of the Central, Imperial and Coachella valleys and Central Coast. … Read the excerpts from this issue. Purchase a printed magazine or subscribe to the digital, interactive version.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Despite drought, salmon fishermen see hope for 2015 season

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council released estimates for the number of chinook salmon that returned from the Pacific Ocean in the fall to spawn in rivers where they were born or released from hatcheries.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Oil industry’s toxic wastewater threatens California water supplies

It’s California’s other water problem – and, like the drought, it poses a profound threat to our future. Every year the state’s oil industry produces some 130 billion gallons of wastewater.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

It may seem like a healthy dose of rainfall for Los Angeles, but it’s not

… in fact, the city’s rain totals since Oct. 1 — the beginning of a rain year that ends Sept. 30 — show that L.A. is still on pace for a below-average year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water thefts on the rise in drought-stricken California

As California’s drought drags on, officials are cracking down on thieves who wrench open fire hydrants and ignore or tamper with meters to access one of the state’s precious commodities - water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California’s drought could mean another bad year for West Nile virus

Just a few years ago, it looked like California health officials had West Nile in check, with severe cases like [Abbey] Murphy’s increasingly rare. … Then came 2012 and the start of the state’s protracted drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento to speed up water meter installations

Citing severe drought conditions that show no signs of letting up, [Sacramento] utilities officials will ask the City Council on Tuesday to shave four years off the project.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Drought lingers, perhaps intensifies in 2015

Here are five things to watch this year as the drought continues to play out:

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD eyes fines for water thieves

With tap water becoming an increasingly hot commodity in the drought, East Bay officials say it’s time to turn up the pressure on meter cheaters and others who steal water.

Aquafornia news NPR

California’s drought exposes long-hidden detritus

The message from park rangers, amateur metal detectors and regular fisherman at California’s Lake Perris is unanimous: the water is lower than they’ve ever seen it.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Fighting over trickles on tragically beautiful winter days

In what passes for winter, the sun burned away the February fog and the thermometer reached 70 in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Vanishing water, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley

In this region that calls itself “The Cantaloupe Center of the World,” vast fields that once annually yielded millions of melons lie fallow. And, for some farmers, planting tomatoes and other traditional row crops may now constitute acts of courage.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Bill would allow artificial grass in HOAs

The San Diego Democrat pitched a bill this week that would allow residents in homeowner associations to replace their lawns with synthetic turf without fear of fines.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

January water use in San Diego declined 28% compared to previous year

Total water use in San Diego County declined by 28 percent in January compared to the same month in 2014, water officials reported Thursday.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Strawberry acreage down, production stable

In 2014 California strawberry farmers planted less but produced more fruit than the previous year.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

State water chief admits mistakes in management

The head of the watchdog agency overseeing California water said he was “mistaken” last year when he approved emergency actions that harmed threatened fish.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s snowless winter worsening; Oregon also in trouble

California’s unusually high temperatures and shortage of precipitation — especially snow — will probably continue into the spring, federal scientists said Thursday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Water rights during drought (with audio)

California’s State Water Resources Control Board met Wednesday to listen to testimony from Central Valley farmers and farm workers who are asking for more water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Residents, farmers describe drought impacts at marathon State Water Board hearing (with audio)

The California Water Resources Control Board heard emotional testimony for at least 12 hours yesterday from people worried about how the state should manage its dwindling supply of water during the drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Above normal temperatures melts ‘dismal’ Sierra Nevada snowpack

The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that the highest level of drought, “exceptional drought,” expanded in parts of California and Nevada, after another week without precipitation.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought threats force early trout release in Truckee River

For the second year in a row, Nevada wildlife officials are releasing thousands of trout in the Truckee River a month earlier than usual to give them a fighting chance to survive in the cold mountain waters where they’ve spawned for centuries but face increasing threats from drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado mountain snow is bright spot during drought in West

Snowpack in the mountain valleys where the Colorado River originates was only a little below normal on Wednesday, marking one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim drought gripping much of the West.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Drought could spur draining of Tulloch Lake

If winter weather doesn’t return soon with a vengeance, Tulloch Lake – a popular fishing and boating spot between Oakdale and Jamestown, and one of California’s few reservoirs lined with thousands of homes – might look more like a puddle by July.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: February is flowering like spring — just don’t turn on your sprinklers

Indulge me. I [Mark Grossi] want to persuade you to hold off on landscape watering in this dry time even though your lawn is turning green.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Drought cancels World Cup ski competition at Squaw Valley

The lack of snow in the Sierra has prompted the cancellation of a major stop on the international ski and snowboarding circuit.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water fight intensifies as south San Joaquin Valley farmers, Delta interests prepare to face off

In a drought, every drop of water is contested — a fact that will be abundantly clear at a meeting today in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought cutbacks may include water at restaurants

The [State Water Resources Control] board last summer imposed emergency regulations prohibiting Californians from washing their cars with hoses that don’t shut off and limiting how often they can water their lawns. Board members on Tuesday appeared ready to extend those rules and add new ones.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

An encore of San Joaquin Valley drought crisis — only worse

The next train wreck in California’s drought is headed for the San Joaquin Valley this week when federal leaders forecast how much river water farmers can expect to irrigate nearly 3 million acres this summer.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Cemex gravel mine neighbors struggle with dry wells

Cemex, an international cement and gravel company, had suspended mining at its Stillwell site and stopped pumping water into a seepage ditch that recharges groundwater for an adjacent area that includes four homes. 

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

San Diegans’ home water use crept up over the past five years, Equinox report found

Has San Diego County done a good job of conserving water in recent years? It depends on which statistics you look at.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Recycled water project adds to Fresno water-rate debate

Fresno is turning its sewer farm into a drought-buster. City Hall has started building the first phase of an advanced treatment plant that will deliver millions of gallons of water every day for non-drinking uses, such as irrigation of green space.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Scientists go high and low for data on drought-fighting ’sky rivers’

The P-3 Orion aircraft was part of an unprecedented research effort that sampled and measured two atmospheric river storms that gave half the state a welcome soaking a week ago.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Threatened smelt touches off battles in California’s endless water wars

The tiny fish, known as the delta smelt, has helped touch off some of the most cataclysmic battles in California’s unending water wars. 

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Cloverdale dials back mandatory water conservation to voluntary

Cloverdale’s 37 percent reduction from 2013 to 2014 appears to be one of the highest among North Coast water providers, based on a state water conservation report.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Extreme drought in Northern California just got 10% better

In rare good news on the California drought, extremely dry conditions in northern parts of the state improved by 10% after a series of strong storms.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Family owned California ski resorts struggle from drought

With the state entering its fourth drought year, even some big resorts with millions of dollars in modern snow-making equipment don’t have all their lifts running.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Study sees even bigger longer droughts for much of U.S. West

As bad as recent droughts in California, the Southwest and the Midwest have been, scientists say far worse “megadroughts” are coming – and they’re bound to last for decades.

Aquafornia news Water | Food | Environment — The Blog of David Guy

Blog: How do we manage water in dry years for multiple beneficial purposes?

With 2015 emerging as another dry year in California, there are several important lessons from the past several years that help inform water management this year and how we can make every drop count by serving multiple beneficial purposes that benefit both the economy and the environment during these challenging years. The first is the importance and value of water storage.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Global warming wasn’t the only reason 2014 was California’s hottest year

Explaining warmer temperatures can be complex. … But after interviews with scientists, urban policy experts and a review of reports, what made 2014 the warmest year on Earth, as well as in the western United States, was a mix of powerful forces that pushed the mercury up especially inside the heat lamps known as cities.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Tucson-based group brings unique program on energy, drought, climate change to Whittier

Former University of Arizona chemistry professor and science adviser to two secretaries of state under President George W. Bush, George Atkinson believes the scientific method is working. … For the next six weeks, he’s bringing his method to Whittier, asking chosen representatives of the city of 86,000 to serve as a model for any town Southern California and discuss, debate and agree on a plan to address global climate change as well as droughts and energy use.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: San Joaquin County’s underground supply sinks toward 1992 low point

An invisible “savings account” beneath our feet just keeps shrinking, with groundwater dropping to levels not seen since the end of the last major drought.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Drought spurs revision of city park turf reduction list

A list of San Jose parks to see turf reduction that was written in 2010 is being dusted off and updated as the city seeks to minimize water usage.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California reservoirs benefit from recent storms (with audio)

National Weather Service forecasters in Sacramento have updated reservoir totals after the recent storms.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Feds OK extra storage at rising Lake Mendocino

Russian River water managers and consumers they serve in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties got a break Wednesday from the prospect of watching precious water flow to the ocean from the rapidly filling Lake Mendocino reservoir near Ukiah.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

News Release: Predicting plant responses to drought

A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows how plants’ vulnerability to drought varies across the landscape; factors such as plant structure and soil type where the plant is growing can either make them more vulnerable or protect them from declines. Recent elevated temperatures and prolonged droughts in many already water-limited regions throughout the world, including the southwestern U.S., are likely to intensify according to future climate model projections.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News Release: Interactive map of California’s residential and system-wide water use

A new web app from the Pacific Institute shows how different California cities are responding to the ongoing drought. This web feature brings to life newly-released data on residential and system-wide water use, and allows users to explore trends and patterns in that use.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Action aplenty for Yuba County Water Agency

Two major developments in the [Yuba County Water] agency’s history were coming to a head — the application for a new license that will determine how the water project is run for the next 50 years and the takeover of the operation of the project’s hydropower plant.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water cutbacks loom but San Diego County agency says it’s prepared

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is considering possible water cutbacks of 10% or more to local agencies as the region’s drought shows no signs of lifting despite recent rains.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Five-fold hike in water wasting fines likely for some Los Angeles area residents

Fines for wasting water in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are expected to rise sharply as warmer weather approaches.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Cooling upper Feather River is centerpiece of plan for thermal curtain

In an environmental study nine years in the making, the State Water Resources Control Board has proposed lowering the temperature of the [Feather] river 40 miles below Lake Almanor through enormous devices known as thermal curtains. … The thermal curtain project is part of PG&E’s application to renew licenses on its Feather River hydroelectric projects at Rock Creek and Cresta.

Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

More water rationing? California agency to decide next move in drought fight

Persistent drought conditions could trigger mandatory water rationing measures throughout Southern California for the second time in six years, officials said Monday.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

MID drought strategy pondered

Modesto Irrigation District leaders Tuesday morning could revive last year’s drought-combating measures, which enjoyed only marginal success, for the coming season. … The MID board Tuesday morning also will continue discussing a historical inequity in rates that has electricity customers subsidizing farmers’ water prices.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Mandatory water rationing could start July 1, water officials say

The Metropolitan Water District, the agency that supplies the bulk of the water for Southern California, is considering water rationing by summer unless statewide drought conditions radically improve, the agency announced Monday.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Southern Californians may be facing water cutbacks this summer

Southern Californians may face water cutbacks this summer, the Metropolitan Water District warned Monday after outlining options for rationing amid the state’s fourth straight year of drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Storm not nearly enough to bust California drought

For water managers, a central problem is the lack of snow in the Sierra.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Northern California getting much more rain than Southern

As the state faces a possible fourth year of drought, Northern California is enjoying a healthy wet winter so far, with rainfall levels at 100 percent of their historic average or above in nearly every city, and reservoirs, while still not back to normal, steadily filling.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Herald

The water hazard: How Monterey County golf courses navigated decades of water shortages

Landscape architects must come upon the Shore Course with the same timidity that befalls a caricaturist confronted with the Mona Lisa.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Federal drought relief money to help state save salmon run

California will get a big chunk of federal drought relief money directed at Western states, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday, in part to pay for refrigerating water at a Shasta fish hatchery where water levels are so low, and what’s left is so warm, that federally protected salmon cannot survive.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Recent storms did little to boost California snowpack

Here’s the bad news: Despite days of precipitation, California’s snowpack was barely boosted after a weekend of storms that brought power outages, downed trees, thunderstorms and a threat of tornadoes.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences California WaterBlog

Blog: The romance of rain barrels

Imagine capturing some of the heavy rain that has been draining off Northern California roofs lately to water yards this summer, for what will likely be a fourth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Rain in Bay Area, snow in Sierra, but reservoirs still low

The weekend storm brought more than an inch of rain around the Bay Area by Saturday evening and up to 2 feet of wet snow at higher Sierra Nevada elevations near Lake Tahoe, but Northern California’s largest drinking water reservoirs were still well below average levels.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Farmersville lets drought-stricken neighbors hook up to city water

Farmersville is coming to the rescue of its drought-stricken neighbor by allowing residents of Cameron Creek Colony rural subdivision to hook up to the city’s water system.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Tourists rare as snow this winter in drought-stricken Tuolumne

The hope was that the drought was over after December storms dumped snow in the Sierra. … Then the snow stopped.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Blog: Jerry Brown ‘not ready’ for mandatory water restrictions in drought

Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that he remains reluctant to impose mandatory water restrictions on Californians, saying the state is doing “pretty well” conserving water voluntarily as it enters a fourth year of drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: State’s growing, and thirsty, almond industry sowing seeds of discontent

The Great Almond Rush has brought billions to the state’s economy. But it has also raised existential questions about water rights, land use and development, the environment, ethical food policy, fracking, job creation and this fertile state’s responsibility to feed the world.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Worst of storm appears to be over for parts of California

Northern California was hit by a second wet and windy storm on Sunday, though it appeared to do far less damage than a similar system two days earlier.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Federal government to boost drought funding by $50 million

The federal government is making available up to $50 million in drought-relief funds for western states, with the largest portion earmarked for parched California, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Jerry Brown, Interior secretary announce new drought funding

Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Friday a $29-million plan to help California’s parched Central Valley cope with the ongoing drought. 

Aquafornia news The Merced Sun-Star

Groundwater woes wear on Merced County farmers

The record drought has turned water into a commodity that some will pay any price for.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Research shows how to persuade plants to drink less

In a paper published online in the journal Nature on Wednesday, [UC Riverside professor Sean] Cutler’s team showed that a commonly used agricultural fungicide could activate a modified receptor in tomato and mustard plants, making them much more resilient in dry conditions.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Can scientists engineer drought-tolerant plants?

As the California drought enters its fourth year, scientists are trying to genetically engineer plants that survive on less water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Patch of California emerges from drought, experts say

The area of the state that is no longer considered to be in drought, or even abnormally dry, is less than 1% of the state, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Northern California storm not expected to help Sierra snowpack

As California awaits a Pacific storm to bring rain, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows a slight easing of drought in the southern part of the state last week.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Skimpy Sierra snowpack brings warning to Lake Tahoe snowmobile users

Because of the lack of snow depth, the U.S. Forest Service has asked snowmobile users in the Lake Tahoe Basin to avoid bare dirt and patchy snow, and not to ride across streams or over small trees and brush.  

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Parched state looks for rain — anywhere

When the State Water Resources Control Board met Tuesday morning, the sky west of Sacramento suggested rain was coming.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

NorCal storm delayed, but still on target

The main blast from a large storm descending on California now appears likely to strike during Friday’s evening commute hours.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences California WaterBlog

Blog: Rain or shine, California drought still kicking

Odds are exceedingly good that February will top January’s contribution to precipitation in California. It’s hard to be drier than what was essentially zero rain and snowfall last month.

Aquafornia news Herald and News, Klamath Falls, Oregon

Rainfall near average; snowpack isn’t

Record-breaking temperatures are keeping snowpack at abysmal levels. … According to Duane Hardenburger, a Klamath Irrigation District rancher, the water year has been “less than stellar.”

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Groundhog Day & California’s drought

For the past four months, the Circle of Blue team, some contracted photographers, and our various partners — Google, Columbia University, NOAA, NASA, etc. — have been working hard to bring you Choke Point: Index, a data-driven narrative out of three U.S. locations: California’s Central Valley, the Great Lakes, and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Old Brockway Golf Course set for earliest opening in 91-year history

Since its inception in the height of the Roaring Twenties, Old Brockway Golf Course has prided itself on its early-season openings.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

California finally meets 20% water conservation goal

A wet December resulted in Southern California’s biggest water savings – a whopping 23 percent compared with the year before – and helped the state meet its conservation goals for the first time since emergency measures were ordered last summer.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Southern California used 23% less water in December

Southern Californians used 23 percent less water in December compared with the year before, the most water saved since the state declared a drought emergency last June, according to data released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Board.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

River of rain heading toward Northern California

A major storm is expected to blow into Northern California starting Thursday night and lasting into Monday. … Here’s a closer look.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Stanislaus board chairman calls for efforts to protect water supplies, benefit youths

In his “State of the County” address Tuesday, Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Chairman Terry Withrow rallied the community in an ongoing struggle with the state over water.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Blog: Conserving ecosystems during droughts

Anticipating such a dry future, in January the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) brought together agency officials, policy makers, and a variety of stakeholders came together to discuss how the state could be made more resilient to drought. … In this panel discussion, Chuck Bonham, Director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife; Sandy Matsumoto, The Nature Conservancy; Dr. Peter Moyle, Professor of fish biology at UC Davis; and Tim Quinn, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies discuss how to best manage ecosystems in a drought.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

Save Our Water message delivered 210 million times in 2014

Californians had the opportunity to receive the message to save water at least five times apiece in 2014 when the Save Our campaign ramped into high gear due to the state’s drought, delivering water conservation messages on television, radio, social media, websites and even lawn signs.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

Federal, state and local water officials discuss drought, priorities for 2015, and benefits of potential storage projects

The California Board of Food and Agriculture on Tuesday heard updates from federal, state and local water officials on the drought and anticipated actions for the coming year.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Commentary: The dance band on the Titanic

For as long as I can remember, my days have begun with a hot decaf and the morning paper, much of it filled with headlines of man’s inhumanity to man. But more and more these days, those headlines are sharing space with stories of man’s inhumanity to nature.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Stockton East: Some farmers might receive no water in 2015

With the local water outlook even bleaker than last year, the Stockton East Water District will warn farmers soon that some might go without irrigation water in 2015.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wet December drives Californians to cut water use 22% from prior year

For the first time since last June, when the State Water Resources Control Board required the 411 largest cities and water districts in California to issue monthly water use reports, residents of the Los Angeles and San Diego areas conserved more water than residents of the Bay Area: 23.2 percent vs. 21.6 percent.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Scientists dissect approaching ‘atmospheric river’ (with video)

Scientists already know one thing about a storm approaching California: it will be the most studied storm of its kind in history.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California cut water use more than 20% in December

It took a whole year of trying, but in December California at last achieved Gov. Jerry Brown’s directive to slash water use 20 percent in response to the continuing drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Atmospheric river poised to soak Sacramento

A crack team of science experts is going along for the ride, part of an experiment known as CalWater 2015, many of whom gathered at McClellan Park near Sacramento on Tuesday in preparation for the major weather event and the vital information they hope to pull from the phenomenon.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Conservation, efficiency and environment part of this year’s Colusa Farm Show (with audio)

The most popular new technology? Drip tape. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Research of atmospheric rivers key to understanding California’s water supply (with audio)

When California gets a big storm, it likely started in the tropics a week before.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Biggest California water savers, users at a glance

These large California water suppliers serving 40,000 or more reported the smallest per-capita water use (gallons per day) in December …

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Californians use 22% less water, but more cuts loom

December’s rains enabled Californians to finally meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent reduction in monthly water consumption, but more restrictions loom as the state adapts to long-term drought conditions.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Satellite images 1 year apart paint grim picture of Sierra snowpack

Two photos, one taken on February 1, 2014, and another taken on January 31, 2015, show just how much the Sierra snowpack was diminished over the last year.

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

California’s December water-use report card due out Tuesday

The state’s monthly water-use report card due Tuesday will provide a look at how more than 400 local water agencies are doing when it comes to water conservation efforts across drought-stricken California.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Editorial: Facing facts after a hot, dry month

It’s like some alternative version of the movie “Groundhog Day,” where an entire state has different weather experiences each year but keeps ending up in the same dry place.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Snow survey is more complex than photo opportunity

Today, snow sensors scattered through the Sierra, satellite imagery and aerial flybys augment the 106-year-old “manual survey.” The technology helps to provide a clearer update of California’s water conditions that water agencies depend on to perform the increasingly crucial job of managing our diminishing water supply for the rest of the year.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Turlock council to examine water issues

City leaders on Tuesday night will examine water issues, including the wells that provide the supply now and the prospects for river and recycled sources.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Sacramento region has driest January on record (with audio)

The National Weather Service says last month was the driest January on record for the Sacramento region.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State considers tighter water limits, hopes for relief this week

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to discuss whether to go beyond the current statewide prohibitions on hosing down driveways and overwatering lawns, and enact additional limits on outdoor water use such as regulating times for sprinklers.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Drought, oil price decline pummel Kern County

Oil and water don’t mix, but in Kern County they’ve combined to create a double-whammy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southern California could face above-normal rainfall in next 3 months

New rainfall figures released Monday show California is at 85% of normal rainfall for this time of year, with an average of 23.1 inches of rain as of Monday, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Russian River basin prepares for fourth year of drought

The dry January was the topic of discussion Monday at a meeting held by the Sonoma County Water Agency, which provides drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties — relying exclusively on rainfall captured in two reservoirs.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Dogs die from East Bay lake toxic algae blooming caused by drought

Stemming from California’s drought, three pet dogs have died after lapping up water in a popular recreation lake fouled by toxic algae flourishing in scarce rain and runoff.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

What happens when streams dry up? The insect impact

Scientists from UC Berkeley and Oregon State University spent a decade studying about 30 streams in the Madrean Sky Islands, an arid landscape of canyons, cliffs and mountainous woodlands in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.

Commands