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 The New York Times

The risks of cheap water

This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

California’s giant pumpkin growers undeterred by drought

California’s punishing drought has drawn down reservoirs and fallowed fields in the Central Valley, but it hasn’t stopped giant pumpkin growers from pursuing ever bigger gourds.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Early, quick harvest means few rain worries for local grape growers

The threat of rain in mid-October would typically have winemakers and vineyard managers scrambling as they look to limit any damage caused by severe rot or other moisture-related harm to the North Coast’s most valuable crop.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid drought, Mayor Garcetti directs Los Angeles to cut water use 20% by 2017

Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday challenged Los Angeles residents, businesses and city agencies to cut water use by 20% over the next 21/2 years and warned of new water restrictions if conservation targets aren’t met. … The mayor’s move comes as statewide conservation efforts appear to be producing results.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Blog: High temps intensified California drought

The showers and cooler temperatures in the forecast this week won’t be a drought buster — but they may help take the edge off conditions that have been been making the drought even worse.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. forecast: Cool weather, possible rain to make long-awaited debut

Not only are temperatures across the Southland expected to drop below normal for the rest of the week, but some areas could even see rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Green Gulch Creek ‘recreated’ to help endangered fish

For the past seven weeks crews at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center have been rerouting a creek closer to its original path to help an endangered species’ chance for survival.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Lake Oroville inches closer to record low

Only time and nature will determine whether Lake Oroville will continue its steady drop or begin to climb back. On Monday, the lake was at a low water elevation of 670 feet. Capacity is 900 feet.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Prop. 1, Prop. 2 backers oversimplify wildfire costs

The campaign for a $7.5 billion water bond and a budget reserve measure is running a TV ad that says reserves will help “protect the water and the fire services we need” in future economic downturns.

Aquafornia news UT San Diego

After a three-year dry spell, the West could face decades more of drought

For three years now, Californians have fixed leaks, ripped out lawns and shortened showers, adjusting to what officials call the most severe drought in memory. Imagine what changes might come next if the drought continues for the rest of our lifetime.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

People who would be flooded by Sites Reservoir still back project

Cattle and sheep have grazed on the floor of the Antelope Valley for more than a century. But just a few years from now, the land could be transformed into the bottom of a vast inland sea.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Blog: California farmers pray for rain, prepare for continued drought

Get a group of farmers and ranchers together and they will tell you without hesitation California’s historic drought is driving up the cost of food. The Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit teaching people how to farm, held its annual fundraiser at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood City this weekend.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Pool water in Burbank is repurposed to help aid drought relief

After the final splash into Burbank’s McCambridge Pool as summer’s swimming season ended, the more than 200,000 gallons of water didn’t just gurgle down the drain.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Reintroduced tule elk compete with cattle on Point Reyes

The wild elk and domestic cows simply do not mix, according to the ranchers who lease the fields from the National Park Service, which administers 28,000 acres of agricultural land in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes seashore. The ranchers say the competition from the elk for scarce vegetation threatens their very existence after three years of drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Vast landscape charred by King Fire will receive emergency treatment

Rugged and isolated, the Rubicon River Valley on the border of El Dorado and Placer counties was for many years an idyll of old growth trees and icy swimming holes. … Experts now worry that the devastation and the extreme temperatures of the fire, which scorched much of the soil and reduced its ability to hold together and absorb runoff, could lead to floods and mudslides when winter storms arrive.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Cities seek water independence

California’s drought has created mandated water conservation efforts, but some communities in Southern California, from Huntington Beach to Los Angeles, are doing something extra: trying to become water independent.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Dry-weather runoff — A new source of water for drought-stricken California?

Even without rainfall, the gutters, channels and storm drains of Los Angeles County pulse with about 330 million gallons of water every day.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Proposition 1’s water bonds followed long legislative odyssey

Amid a multiyear dry stretch that is among the worst droughts on record, California lawmakers this year made crafting a new water bond a priority.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Jerry Brown, smart and prepared, responds to California’s drought emergency

Three straight years of desperately dry conditions in California are igniting hills in walls of towering orange flames, turning reservoirs to sandpits, and causing residents across America’s most populous state to clamor for water.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: EPA’s WaterSense 2014 Partners of the Year honored for efficiency efforts to protect nation’s water supply

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the 2014 WaterSense Partners of the Year for their commitment to promoting water efficiency and strengthening the drought resiliency of communities across the country, during the WaterSmart Innovations Conference today [Oct. 9] in Las Vegas, Nev.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Horseback protest targets BLM, but environmentalists say whoa

They’re a dozen men and women riding horseback on a modern-day cross-country cattle drive, but with fistfuls of petitions instead of a herd of steers. … But environmentalists have lashed out at protesters as a selfish, entitled group with no business running private cattle on public lands, especially during years of prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Commentary: Tahoe-Sierra mega droughts

The Sierra Nevada water year for 2014 ended on Sept. 30 and the snowfall and precipitation totals aren’t pretty. The 194.5 inches of snowfall measured last season at the Central Sierra Snow Lab tied with 1924 as third least snowiest since 1879, well under the 409 inch seasonal average.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

El Niño looking like it will be a weakling

This year’s much-anticipated El Niño is closing in, federal climate experts said Thursday, but it’s also looking weaker than ever — meaning there is little chance it will help squelch California’s drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Castaic Lake so low that fisherman finds agent’s gun lost 22 years ago

California’s lingering drought has lowered the water level in Castaic Lake so dramatically that authorities said a fisherman on Thursday recovered a badge and handgun that a federal agent lost in the lake nearly 22 years ago.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado River water-conservation effort to begin

Providers of municipal water in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado are starting a conservation program for the Colorado River system.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California drought: Team climbs high to assess redwoods threat

Flood, fire and famine have been no match for California’s mighty redwoods. … But a research team worries they may be facing new threats — the latest being the state’s three-year dry spell.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: U.S. Department of the Interior and Western municipal water suppliers developing water conservation projects as part of a landmark collaborative agreement

Faced with the increasing probability of shortage on the Colorado River, municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and the Bureau of Reclamation are implementing a landmark Colorado River System Conservation program. … At a later date, water users in the Upper Basin will be invited to participate in this unique agreement.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Californians ring in new water year with trepidation

October 1 marks the beginning of the water year, a term hydrologists and water managers in the western United States use to define the period when snow begins to accumulate in mountain basins rather than melt. … Going by the calendar year – the January to December period that governs most record keeping – 2013 was the driest in state history.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Meeting state groundwater rules will mean a lot of work locally

The biggest changes to California groundwater law in 150 years are on the way. What it means for local water leaders is a lot of work. The goal within 20 years is for all groundwater basins in the state to achieve sustainability.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Plans for five new Glenn-Colusa wells face a tough crowd

Five new wells are on the drawing board for Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the biggest surface water district in the Sacramento Valley. … Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District is considering the five wells as a backup to surface water during dry and critically dry years, presenters explained.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Drought Watch — video seminars

A series of videos available online is a great resource for water wonks and newcomers alike. Researchers and cooperative extension specialists from the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with support from the California Department of Water Resources, have put together these video seminars on drought-related water management issues.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians make big cuts in water usage, report says

Some of the biggest savings have come in Southern California, which faced criticism earlier this year for increasing water use at a time when the rest of the state was cutting back, according to state records released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Water use declines thanks to rebates, mandatory restrictions

Water use was down across most of the Inland area in August compared to the same period last year, contributing to a statewide 11.5 percent drop for the month, officials said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news National Journal

Can California make it rain with drones?

Billowy and filled with life-sustaining water vapor, the cloud passes overhead without emitting a drop of rain. … What that cloud needs is a kick start, a catalyst to squeeze the water out of it.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water use continues to decline — but by how much?

When Tracy city workers first ran the numbers suggesting that residents saved 41 percent more water in August than they did the previous year — one of the highest conservation rates in the state — Steve Bayley was stunned.

Aquafornia news KPBS Radio News

Tapping into the ocean with San Diego’s billion dollar desalination plant

San Diego’s water supplies could be seriously tested if a punishing four-year drought extends through another winter. But there is relief on the horizon. It’s not coming from rain clouds; relief is coming from the West Coast’s first seawater desalination plant in Carlsbad.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Big water cuts by many Northern Californians

As California braces for a rainy season that may again be a bust, residents are becoming increasingly mindful about water conservation, particularly in the northern half of the state.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water for Coachella Valley farms untouched by drought

One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Amid drought, plan seeks to conserve aquifer under Santa Rosa Plain

Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday are expected to adopt a far-reaching plan that seeks to locally manage and protect groundwater resources through scientific study and voluntary measures such as well monitoring.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Despite drought, some ticketed for brown lawns

When Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought in January and made a second emergency declaration in April, Riverside resident Rowena “Roni” Silver was listening.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Voters will decide fate of $7.5 billion water bond

Storage was the key sticking point in getting the legislature to pass the water bond with the two thirds vote it needed. That portion of the bond includes reservoirs and projects to clean up or store more groundwater.

Aquafornia news The Center for Investigative Reporting

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California water officials aren’t following own call for conservation

Water bills obtained via the state’s Public Records Act show that in 2013, nearly half of the officials who supervise the state’s biggest water agencies used more water than the typical California household.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Drought cuts California food exports sharply, costing growers millions

Exports of California food products took a dive in August, with fruit and tree nuts decreasing by 8 percent when compared to the same time last year and vegetables dropping by 7.8 percent, according to data released Friday by Beacon Economics.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Sacramento region may receive $10 million for water supply improvement projects

The Sacramento Region is one step closer to reducing its reliance on Folsom Reservoir. The state of California has recommended the Regional Water Authority receive almost $10 million for projects to improve water supply. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought disrupts migratory birds in Central Valley

As birds fly south for the winter, millions of them will stop in the Central Valley, but the drought will make it harder for the birds to find food and water.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Central Valley Project begins Water Year 2015 with 3.1 million acre-feet of storage

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project began water year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015) with 3.1 million acre-feet of water in six key CVP reservoirs (Shasta, Trinity, Folsom, New Melones, and Millerton reservoirs and the federal share of the joint federal/state San Luis Reservoir). This is less than half of the 15-year average annual carryover of 6.4 million acre-feet and about 2 million acre-feet less than the amount with which the region started WY 2014.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In wake of drought and fires, turtle habitat becomes death trap

Biologists strode along the cracked, dry mud surrounding this evaporating north Los Angeles County lake last week, pausing periodically to pick up an emaciated turtle and wash alkaline dust off its head and carapace.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California drought worries pool industry

California swimming pool companies just regaining their financial footing after the recession are now facing a new challenge: a devastating drought that has put the state’s ubiquitous backyard pools under the microscope.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Could those empty San Joaquin Valley reservoirs fill up in one winter?

In mid-September 1977, the 326 billion-gallon Pine Flat Reservoir sat nearly empty — holding 6% of capacity in a warm puddle.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: In virtual mega-drought, California avoids defeat

A few years ago a group of researchers used computer modeling to put California through a nightmare scenario: Seven decades of unrelenting mega-drought similar to those that dried out the state in past millennia.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz water director calls for rationing to continue

With high unlikeliness that Santa Cruz will receive enough precipitation in the coming year to escape the persistent drought, Water Director Rosemary Menard recommends extending residential rationing on a month-to-month basis.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California dairy farmers struggling to survive prolonged drought

Dust whips across the toasted soil where Tom Barcellos usually plants corn for his 800 dairy cows. This season, there was no water to plant the crop.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Surge in Sierra bears reported

You’d be hungry too if you couldn’t find any food and were used to eating the equivalent of more than 80 cheeseburgers a day.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

With dry taps and toilets, California drought turns desperate

In the Gallegos household and more than 500 others in Tulare County, residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking glass, wash dishes or clothes, or even rinse their hands without reaching for a bottle or bucket. Unlike the Okies who came here fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the people now living on this parched land are stuck.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Satellite images reveal shocking groundwater loss in California

The severity of California’s drought continues to shock, with the latest example coming courtesy of NASA.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Smartphone apps let neighbors report water wasters

With Californians being urged to cut water use as the state’s historic drought drags on, a growing number of local water agencies are enlisting the public to play water cop with their smartphones.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought prompting extraordinary measures to protect salmon

State and federal wildlife officials this month are preparing extraordinary measures to protect Chinook salmon returning to spawn in California’s drought-depleted rivers.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Commentary: Water for a parched land

We talked the other day about the most exciting project now going on in California, public or private. That would be Poseiden Water’s Carlsbad desalination plant north of San Diego, scheduled to begin operating next year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

State ends one of driest-ever water years

California officials are urging residents and businesses to keep conserving water as the state ends another extremely dry “water year” with no guarantee the coming year will be any wetter.

Aquafornia news NPR

When can a big storm or drought be blamed on climate change?

Nowadays, when there’s a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Judge upholds water for Klamath salmon

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a federal water agency did not violate the law when it made special reservoir releases last year to help salmon in Northern California’s Klamath River survive the drought, rather than save it for farms.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

North Coast water woes reflected in dwindling reservoirs

California turned the page this week on the fourth-driest water year on record, an occasion marked on the North Coast by dwindling reservoir supplies and restrictions on water use.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Commentary: Droughts likely to be new normal for California

Whether viewed from a dry-as-dust ground level or from a sky-high planetary perch, the ongoing drought in California is remarkable.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: State high court OKs water cuts on Russian River to aid salmon

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed California regulators to order farmers along the Russian River to reduce cold-weather water sprays that have helped preserve their crops while killing thousands of endangered salmon.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Western U.S. governors begin drought discussions

In the midst of a record-smashing dry cycle in the United States, the organization with the most influence over state and federal drought policy wants to do a better job managing the crisis. … On September 18 and 19, the Western Governors’ Association, a forum for state leaders, will welcome to Norman, Oklahoma, agency officials, industry representatives, and technical experts who will offer insight on how a multi-year drought in the western United States is challenging the energy sector.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Drought has Yankee Hill mobile home park on the edge of bone dry

Help will soon be on the way for about 100 residents who live in the Big Bend Mountain Mobile Home Park in Yankee Hill. … Luckily, the park was added to a list for emergency water supply funds, with money recently approved by the state.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Reservoirs at 19-year low

We’ve all had those years when we couldn’t wait to flip the calendar to January, put our troubles behind us and get a fresh start. That’s how California water managers must feel today.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: October begins water year with prospect of tighter restrictions

As the state ends the fourth-driest water year on record with no guarantee of significant rain and snowfall this winter, Californians face the prospect of stricter rationing and meager irrigation deliveries for agriculture.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

IRS extends deadline for farmers forced to sell livestock due to drought

Farmers and ranchers forced to sell livestock due to the drought have an extended period of time to replace their livestock and defer tax on any gains from the sales, the Internal Revenue Service announced.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California Indian tribes honor water

Indian tribes from across California will converge on the state Capitol Friday [Sept. 26] for an event meant to draw attention to the drought and celebrate water as a sacred substance.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California’s water year ends as one of the driest on record

California’s water year ends Tuesday as one of the driest in state history — and water managers are warning the new water year may be just as bad.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Commentary: What’s the best way to price residential water? Question of the Week

If the severe drought gripping California continues much longer, there’s a good chance that many of the Golden State’s residences will be assigned a daily allocation of water and then charged extra for exceeding that amount.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Low flows a danger to salmon coming and going

While waterfowl are winging toward Central Valley skies, salmon will simultaneously be splashing up Central Valley streams. And like the birds, they’ll have a drought to deal with when they get there.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Migrating birds in for a tough winter in Central Valley

If the millions of birds that migrate to the Central Valley each winter look forward to the equivalent of a cozy bed and a warm meal, this year they could find themselves sleeping under a bridge.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Rebates for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping won’t be taxed

Rebates received by homeowners for replacing their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping will not be counted as income, according to a bill authored by a Los Angeles lawmaker and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California’s drought linked to greenhouse gases, climate change in Stanford study

The stubborn high-pressure systems that block California rains are linked to the abundance of human-caused greenhouse gases that heat the oceans, according to a major paper released Monday by Stanford scientists. But two other new studies disagree — saying there’s no evidence that warming ocean waters are to blame for our drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link

Global warming contributed to extreme heat waves in many parts of the world last year, but cannot be definitively linked to the California drought, according to a report released Monday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Studies fault warming in much of 2013 wild weather

Scientists looking at 16 cases of wild weather around the world last year see the fingerprints of man-made global warming on more than half of them. … The California drought, though, comes with an asterisk.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought-conscious residents turn the water tables on public agencies

As officials crack down on homeowners who waste water, more drought-conscious Californians are using social media to broadcast video of what appear to be government agencies breaking their own water-use rules: sprinklers running at city parks in the middle of the day, public workers hosing grass until it becomes a muddy mess.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Fall begins with warm weather; smoky skies in Sierra

Fall officially arrives tonight — but first two days of warm weather.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Changes to water releases from Lake Mendocino helping

A change in releases at Lake Mendocino is helping water suppliers hold back precious reserves as the region’s dry spell wears on and threatens to cut historically low reservoir stores to critical levels.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

All of San Joaquin County, 58% of state now in ‘exceptional drought’

All of San Joaquin County, and 58 percent of the state, is now considered to be in a state of “exceptional” drought, federal officials said today [July 31].

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water-use restrictions take effect in California; daily fines possible

Tough new statewide regulations restricting outdoor water use took effect Tuesday, the same day millions of gallons of water gushed from a ruptured water main near the UCLA campus.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lessons of California’s drought from 1976

“What have you done to save water today?” That leading question could be asked any day this year, but it’s an echo from California’s past.

Aquafornia news The Center for Investigative Reporting

Why the California drought affects everyone

California Gov. Jerry Brown has asked restaurants not to serve water unless diners ask for it. He’s letting lawns at the state Capitol turn brown. Farmers in the Central Valley are getting just a trickle of the water they usually do. Conspicuous water wasters – commercial and residential – face fines of $500 a day. Even Lady Gaga is pleading with Californians to conserve.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Major California reservoirs below 50% capacity as drought wears on

Most of California’s major reservoirs are now less than half-full — or at what officials call a “seriously low” level — but that’s still nowhere near the historic lows set in 1977, the state’s driest year on record.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Rita Schmidt Sudman Jennifer Bowles

Dry Times Ahead: California’s Drought
March/April 2014

Living in the semi-arid, Mediterranean climate of California, drought always lingers on the horizon. People believe they are ready to face the next dry period, then conditions arrive testing whether that is the case.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

News Release: May Survey Looks at Views on Budget, Drought

From the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC):

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Daily water allocation could be the next California drought strategy

You probably know your Social Security number, your driver’s license number and perhaps the latest wrinkle in mattress marketing, your sleep number. But do you know your drought number?

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California Burning: Southern California homeowners left to defend

Wildfires behave differently in southern California than in northern forests. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California Burning: Northern Californians prepare for megafires

The 2013 Rim Fire was the largest wildfire ever in the Sierra Nevada, scorching 257,000 acres.

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2014
Field Trip

This 3-day, 2-night tour travels the length of the San Joaquin Valley, giving participants a clear understanding of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project. Stops include the Kern County Water Bank, the San Joaquin River, Terminus Dam, Mendota Pool, Friant Dam, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and San Luis Reservoir.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Another drought casualty: No chance to make key air standard

California’s freakishly dry 2013-14 winter dealt the San Joaquin Valley more than a crippling blow to the farm economy.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California harvest much smaller than normal across crops

It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Report: Sierra Nevada forest health in rapid decline

A report released this week shows that many Sierra Nevada forests are in critical condition, and that natural benefits they provide — such as clean air and water — are at risk from large, intense fire.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

No drought relief in U.S. West without deep mountain snow

The drought in the U.S. West is unlikely to end any time soon, and that makes the coming winter one of the most crucial in recent years.

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee

Blog: Two Mono Basin wildfires in one week

With two wildfires in one week, the Mono Basin is getting hit hard during this tinder-dry early autumn.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought has 14 communities on the brink of waterlessness

Parkwood is one of 28 small California communities that have since January cycled onto and off of a list of “critical water systems” that state officials say could run dry within 60 days.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

As the California drought enters its fourth year, are we doing enough to conserve water?

After a sweaty day outdoors, you’re only halfway through an evening shower with shampoo stinging your eyes when it hits you: You’ve just about used up your water ration for the day. And you still have to water your petunias and wash your dirty socks. What to do?

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Drought plays out differently in various regions of California

Most of California is experiencing a “severe” or “exceptional” drought, impacting more than 37 million Golden State residents, according to the Drought Monitoring Center at the University of Nebraska.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Santa Rosa gives water-saving demonstration garden green light

Santa Rosa has been encouraging people to conserve water and protect creeks from harmful runoff for years. Now it’s moving forward with a $1 million project to show them how it’s done.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz council OKs water rate hike

Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved a five-year water rate increase and temporary drought-recovery fee designed to fund long-needed infrastructure improvements, grow reserves and replace revenue lost during mandated rationing.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Parched California expected to miss out on typical fall rains

Northern and Central California typically receive 30% to 40% of their precipitation over the next three months, but this year, forecasters say the upper two-thirds of the state can expect to miss out on much of that badly needed moisture.

Aquafornia news Contra Costa Times

Tri-Valley hits high water marks: Cities top drought conservation lists

Three public water agencies and a private company serving Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore and part of San Ramon ranked among the top 10 in the entire state for slashing water use, according to a recent survey by the state’s Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Blog: Drought rallies support for California water projects

Californians continue to see the ongoing drought as a priority — and that may be driving a willingness to spend billions on securing their future water supplies.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Poll: Strong support for state water bond — and for local water bonds too

An epic drought and wave of wildfires have left California voters thirsty for the $7.5 billion state water bond on November’s ballot — and also anxious to approve local bond measures to supply more water, a wide-ranging new poll finds.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Fewer scorchers, but summer’s average temperature was warmer than usual

For the fifth year in a row, Stockton has escaped the summer season with relatively few 100-degree days.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Amid drought, a water damage bill for Stockton

Perhaps only in Stockton might the City Council be asked to declare a Stage 1 Water Shortage Emergency and simultaneously have to shell out nearly $50,000 to repair City Hall rainwater damage at the very same meeting.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Forest Service thinks California’s drought caused a massive mudslide

Government scientists say exceptionally hot, dry conditions and a lack of insulating snowpack primed Mt. Shasta for the massive mudslide that rumbled down over the weekend after a pulse of water burst out from under an alpine glacier. That a severe drought could cause flooding is the latest expression of a three-year dry spell that is afflicting California with increased wildfires, crop losses, water shortages and spikes in air pollution.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Heat, drought cited in massive Mount Shasta mudslide

Glaciers are not known as fast-moving objects. Yet on Saturday, things started happening very quickly at a glacier high on the slopes of Mount Shasta.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Reserves narrowing for California water wholesaler

The giant wholesaler that provides drinking water for half the California population has drained two-thirds of its stored supplies as the state contends with a punishing drought, officials said Monday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Survey: California wine industry adapting to aging baby boomers, foreign competition, drought

In the latest surveys, respondents said California’s massive wine industry will hold its own in the global marketplace despite shifts in consumer demographics, drought, competition from imported wines and the rising popularity of craft beers and cocktails.

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Western Water Magazine

A Significant Challenge: Adapting Water Management to Climate Change
January/February 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines climate change – what’s known about it, the remaining uncertainty and what steps water agencies are talking to prepare for its impact. Much of the information comes from the October 2007 California Climate Change and Water Adaptation Summit sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and DWR and the November 2007 California Water Policy Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform.

Western Water Magazine

A Drought-Proof Supply: The Promise of Recycled Water
July/August 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines recycled water – its use, the ongoing issues and the prospects it holds for extending water supplies.

Western Water Magazine

Dealing with the ‘D’ Word: The Response to Drought
November/December 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines California’s drought – its impact on water users in the urban and agricultural sector and the steps being taken to prepare for another dry year should it arrive.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Building a Sustainable Future
November/December 2009

This printed issue of Western Water explores some of the major challenges facing Colorado River stakeholders: preparing for climate change, forging U.S.-Mexico water supply solutions and dealing with continued growth in the basins states. Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the September 2009 Colorado River Symposium.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River Drought: A Sobering Glimpse into the Future
November/December 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River drought, and the ongoing institutional and operational changes underway to maintain the system and meet the future challenges in the Colorado River Basin.

Western Water Magazine

Solving the Colorado River Basin’s Math Problem: Adapting to Change
November/December 2011

This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

A Call to Action? The Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
November/December 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study and what its finding might mean for the future of the lifeblood of the Southwest.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Adjusting to the New Reality: Climate Change in the West
July/August 2013

This printed issue of Western Water This issue of Western Water looks at climate change through the lens of some of the latest scientific research and responses from experts regarding mitigation and adaptation.

Western Water Magazine

An Era of New Partnerships on the Colorado River
November/December 2013

This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing, and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental restoration and water-sharing programs.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Dry Times Ahead: California’s Drought
March/April 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California’s latest drought, which is shaping up to be one of the worst in the state’s recorded history.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: U.S. Senate Passes California Drought-relief Bill

With nary a word, the Senate on Thursday night passed a California drought-relief bill that sets up serious negotiations with the House over water storage, river protection, irrigation deliveries and more.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2011

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the history of the project, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state, and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2010

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

It seems not a matter of if but when seawater desalination will fulfill the promise of providing parts of California with a reliable, drought-proof source of water. With a con­tinuing drought and uncertain water deliveries, the state is in the grip of a full-on water crisis, and there are many people who see desalination as a way to provide some relief to areas struggling to maintain an adequate water supply.

Aquapedia background

Drought

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 any other regions of the country.

Aquapedia background

El Niño

El Niño is characterized by unusually warm water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Niño’s storm track affects the location of jet streams. Instead of coming ashore in the Pacific Northwest, the southern jet stream hits California, with increased rainfall and accompanying floods, landslides and coastal erosion. The effects are variable across the state and are more predictable in Southern California.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Desert Treasure: Water Conservation in Nevada

With an average annual rainfall of only 9 inches, water conservation in Nevada is essential not only in drought years, but every year. This 17-minute video features interviews with key policy-makers who explain how important it is to develop a conservation ethic for this desert state.

Video

Groundwater Quality: Managing the Resource

This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Maps & Posters

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Dealing with the ‘D’ Word: The Response to Drought
November/December 2008

Just before summer officially began in June, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly proclaimed what many people already knew: California is in a drought. Consecutive years of sub par rainfall coupled with a 2008 snowpack that literally dried up and blew away before it could turn into runoff forced the issuance of the state’s first drought declaration since 1991.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

A Drought-Proof Supply: The Promise of Recycled Water
July/August 2008

When a drought occurs as it has this year, the response is couched in the three Rs of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and recycle.

The reduction part is well-known. State and local officials are urging people to use less water in everything they do, from landscape irrigation to shorter showers. Spurred by California’s difficulties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on June 4 declared a statewide drought. On July 10, the governor and Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced their support of the Safe, Clean, Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2008 – a $9.3 billion bond proposal that would allocate $250 million for water recycling projects.

Commands