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.
More than 102 million dead trees now litter California’s
drought-flayed forests, according to the latest aerial survey,
a finding likely to fuel a heated public-lands debate during
the incoming Trump administration.
President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to
one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California. On
the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring,
“There is no drought” here.
Wastewater recycling is being hailed in many communities as the
answer to ongoing drought problems. By cleaning sewage effluent
to extract pure water, it’s possible to create a sustainable
water supply that is cheaper than seawater desalination or
buying a new water supply. But there’s a little-recognized
downside to water recycling: It may damage wildlife habitats
already imperiled by water scarcity.
The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken
forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what
officials described as an unparalleled ecological disaster that
heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion.
… Scientists say five years of drought are to blame for
much of the destruction.
Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara
County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s
historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer —
7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark
that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous
How low can the Colorado go? When will we get back to “normal”
winters? Can we blame it all on climate change? To address
some of these questions, the Colorado River Research Group
recently released a concise four-page paper explaining how
climate change is affecting the river.
If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in
California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water
during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the
up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water
diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the
learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets
water during shortage.
California water agencies that spent more than $350 million in
the last two years of drought to pay property owners to rip out
water-slurping lawns are now trying to answer whether the
nation’s biggest lawn removal experiment was all worth the
The San Juan Water District’s especially steep backslide stood
out as part of a statewide trend: With mandatory state
restrictions lifted, the overwhelming majority of local
suppliers saved less this summer, according to a Times analysis
of state water data.
As the state enters its sixth year of drought, Northern
California is seeing some significant relief thanks to a series
of powerful storms, while Southern California remains mired in
record dry conditions.
It might have been sprinkling outside the Stockton Memorial
Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, but inside the building some of
the state’s brightest water experts were taking stock of
California’s enduring drought. As we enter into what could be a
sixth year of shortage, here are six lessons gleaned from
Tuesday’s forum sponsored by the nonprofit Water Education
As the rainy season begins in California, so too does the
potential for dangerous flash flooding. … California
agencies are using a new computer monitoring tool to understand
ground conditions in real-time, including areas burned by
Back-to-back bouts of rain that began Monday will make for an
unusually wet week leading up to Halloween, said forecasters
who are beginning to grow concerned about potential flooding
this winter in fire-scorched areas.
As the days darken, all eyes are on the Sierra Nevada, then the
sky, with a glance back at the mountains, to the Internet for
forecast information, over to the thermometer — all in a
fidgety search for a sign, any sign, that this winter will be
For those with a financial stake in water, drought can mean
boom or bust, depending on the investment. And even without a
specific market to trade water, there are numerous ways to
invest in it – from buying land with water rights to stocks in
water-dependent companies to municipal bonds. Take Michael
Burry, for instance, the hedge fund manager featured in the
book and movie “The Big Short” who outsmarted the subprime
housing market crash.
By any measure, California is confronting a complicated new
chapter as it enters the sixth year of a drought that has
forced it to balance huge demand for a sparse resource — water
— from farmers, residents, municipalities and developers.
Forecasts are already showing a possibility of La Niña in our
future, with the Climate Prediction Center for the National
Weather Service rating our chances at about 70 percent.
… La Niña was originally not in the cards as recently as
early September, according to NOAA.
In a move that could have ramifications across the arid West, a
government watchdog agency accused federal water regulators of
wasting taxpayer funds when they gave Klamath Basin farmers
more than $32 million to stop growing crops and to pump
groundwater instead of drawing from lakes and rivers.
California’s drought has brought about a strange partnership
that includes corporations like Coca-Cola and environmental
groups like the Nature Conservancy. They’re partnering on
projects aimed at helping increase water supply in
California has been trying to fill its reservoirs for 5 years,
and it will get a little help from a storm expected to hit
later this week. Right now, Lake Shasta is only at 60% capacity
and Lake Oroville is at 44%, with other reservoirs across the
state even lower.
Climate change from human activity nearly doubled the area that
burned in forest fires in the American West over the past 30
years, a major new scientific study has found, and larger, more
intense fires are all but guaranteed in the years ahead.
Four years into the drought, bark beetles did what was expected
of them in the conifer woods of Tuolumne County. They bored
into the trunks of moisture-stressed pines, cutting off the
trees’ nutrient flow.
Wildfires in California and across the West have become twice
as destructive over the past three decades due to climate
change, taking a toll that will only continue to escalate,
according to research published Monday.
Californians continued to backslide on water conservation
during the hottest summer on record, worrying regulators and
frustrating environmentalists critical of a new policy enacted
this spring that allows most urban water districts to avoid
mandatory cuts in water use.
Californians’ water conservation slipped for the third
consecutive month in August, prompting new alarm from
regulators about whether relaxed water
restrictions may be causing residents to revert to
old habits as the state enters its sixth year of
Already dealing with parched conditions, the U.S. Southwest
faces the threat of megadroughts this century as temperatures
rise, says a new study that found the risk is reduced if
heat-trapping gases are curbed.
Californians conserved about a third less water in August than
a year earlier, state regulators announced Wednesday, evidence
that the decision to ease up on conservation mandates caused
some to revert to old habits.
Devastating wildfires like the giant that is still chewing
through Big Sur are driving the nation’s firefighting costs to
unprecedented levels, prompting the Obama administration to say
the government is ill-equipped to handle the increasingly busy
fire seasons of the historically dry West.
The end of September meant both the end of the 2016 water year
and a deadline for signing new legislation. In the past few
weeks California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bevy of new
bills into law, many of them addressing drought or water issues
in the state.
After the state entered into its sixth year of drought on
Saturday, Humboldt County walked away with its best rainfall
total in the last five years. … A year ago at this time,
the Eel River was approaching record low flow levels with
salmon showing alarming signs of blindness and lethargy as they
waited for heavy rains.
The Loma fire is one of 9 major active blazes burning across
California, after a record-breaking heatwave last week and a
weather phenomenon known as the Santa Ana wind, which brings
hot, dusty air sweeping across the already-desiccated landscape
of drought-ridden Southern California.
Who’s the homeowner who managed to use 11.8-million gallons of
water in a single year? The city isn’t naming names, but the
Center for Investigative Reporting has narrowed down the list
to seven likely suspects.
Los Angeles officials have steadfastly refused to identify the
Wet Prince of Bel Air, the homeowner who pumped an astonishing
11.8 million gallons of water during a single year of
California’s crippling drought.
California’s five-year drought created ideal conditions for
brewing toxic levels of the naturally occurring bacteria, which
multiplies rapidly in hot temperatures, low water flows and
stagnant water choked with fertilizers and nutrients.
In a move that foreshadows sweeping statewide reductions in the
amount of river water available for human needs, California
regulators on Thursday proposed a stark set of cutbacks to
cities and farms that receive water from the San Joaquin River
and its tributaries.
As Southern California firefighters battled the Blue Cut Fire
last month, there was nothing they could do to fend off an
unfortunate reality: Global warming is already lengthening
wildfire season and increasing the likelihood of extreme
fires across the West.
So far this 4,636 wildfires in California have burned more than
200,000 acres. That’s more fires than this time last year and
more fires than the five-year average. … California has an
added challenge of dealing with a five-year drought.
[Sen. Dianne] Feinstein asked Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack to shift $38 million in the Department’s budget to
pay for removing trees from federal land identified by the
California Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force.
Years of drought have sapped California’s water supply, creating
an accumulated deficit exacerbated by increasingly warmer
temperatures, a top researcher said at a recent briefing.
Michael Dettinger, research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological
Survey, said parts of California have fallen more than two years
behind where they should be in terms of receiving “normal”
precipitation. The situation augurs what would be expected under
projected climate change conditions as average annual
temperatures warm and the snow level declines.
La Niña may not happen after all. Federal climate scientists on
Thursday dialed back their forecast for the influential weather
pattern that is sometimes associated with dry years in parts of
the Americas, including California — where another winter of
scant rain could wreak havoc on the drought-plagued state.
Statewide water conservation numbers dropped again in July, the
second month of the state’s new, relaxed plan to save water
during a record drought. Californians used 20 percent less
water in July as compared to the same month in 2013, state
water officials reported Wednesday.
A hydrograph illustrates a type of activity of water during a
specific time frame. Salinity and acidity are sometimes measured,
but the most common types
are stage and discharge hydrographs. These graphs show how
surface water flow responds to fluxes in precipitation.
Locked in a multi-year drought, California’s urban water
suppliers have, for the most part, happily enforced rules that
prohibit specific wasteful water practices, such as hosing
down driveways and over-watering lawns.
Lake Powell has been called “Jewel of the Colorado” by the
federal agency that built it, the Bureau of Reclamation. It’s
been a vital force for the intermountain West because of its
ability to store vast amounts of water and generate electricity
for farmers, cities and towns in 13 states.
Five years of drought have severely taxed California’s rivers,
reservoirs and groundwater. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta –
the hub of California’s water supply, an agricultural center
and a crucial ecological resource – hasn’t been immune from the
impacts of the prolonged drought.
At this free one-day briefing in Stockton
on Oct. 25, keynote speaker Jay Lund, Director of the UC Center
for Watershed Sciences, and other experts will
discuss the drought’s effects on the Delta.
Other confirmed speakers include Delta Watermaster Michael
Patrick George, Michelle Banonis, Manager of the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Bay-Delta Office, Michael Dettinger, senior
scientist and research hydrologist at USGS, and Peter Moyle, one
of the foremost experts on California’s freshwater fish.
Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium
525 N. Center Street
A law signed late Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown requires retail
urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to put in
place rules that define “excessive water use” and impose them
during drought emergencies.
Farm revenue in California dropped by more than $9 billion last
year as the drought forced farmers to scramble for water and
crucial commodities declined in price, according to data
released by the state and federal governments Tuesday.
At the height of California’s fierce wildfire season, the
Sierra Nevada and North Coast forests are choked with tens of
millions of dead and dying trees, from gnarly oaks to elegant
pines that are turning leafy chapels into tinderboxes of highly
The Bureau of Reclamation released water from the Trinity
Reservoir early Thursday morning to the lower Klamath River to
help prevent the spread a parasitic fish disease, within
Chinook salmon. Supplemental flows from the Lewiston Dam will
also extend into late September to protect the fall salmon run.
Ill-timed releases from New Melones Reservoir led to a 75
percent drop in rainbow trout on the lower Stanislaus River
last year, according to two water purveyors that could have
used some of the supply.
The drought has consequences for human health, both physical
and emotional. One study in Tulare County recently attempted to
quantify these effects via door-to-door polling. This was one
survey in two small communities. Now Kurt Schwabe at the
University of California Riverside plans a statewide study to
assess the drought’s effect on human health.
California’s iconic natural features, from salmon runs to
Joshua trees, could dwindle or disappear, as climate change
rearranges the state’s weather patterns and landscape, leaving
much of the state hotter and drier, scientists warn.
A measure to expand public disclosure of commercial, industrial
and other institutional water uses in California fell far short
of passage in the state Senate on Friday. … Another bill
this year also sought more disclosure as part of a
“drought-shaming” campaign to discourage excessive water use.
Despite previous vows of close monitoring, State Water
Resources Control Board leaders said they expect independent
researchers – such as environmental groups, journalists and
other members of the public – to scrutinize water suppliers’
data that the board posted online Tuesday.
Under fire from water agencies who were losing millions of
dollars in lost water sales, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration
two months ago dropped all mandatory water conservation targets
and allowed cities, water districts and private water companies
across the state to set their own targets.
State officials will not force most California water districts
to reduce water use this year, even as they caution that the
five-year drought persists and note that drought-fueled
wildfires continue to wreak havoc.
The ferocious spread of the Clayton fire offers fresh evidence
of how five years of unrelenting drought in California leave
the state particularly vulnerable to destructive wildfires this
year. Wildfires this year have already burned more than 360
square miles and destroyed more than 400 homes and other
While Lake County has suffered more than its share of
devastation in the last 12 months from wildfires, this
weekend’s destructive Clayton Fire has been one of the few
blazes to cause major damage in Northern California this fire
Surrounded by barren brown hills and cracked, dry clay, San
Luis Reservoir was so empty this week that the nearly milelong,
meandering path from the old high-water mark to the waterline
could have doubled as a set in the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max”
Robert Haskins walked across a vast expanse of cracked mud,
littered with old beer bottles and millions of tiny clam
shells, that in most Augusts would be 50 feet underwater. But
the San Luis Reservoir, the vast inland sea along Highway 152
that is a key part of Silicon Valley’s water supply, is only 10
percent full, its lowest level in 27 years.
State leaders are paying attention. Gov. Jerry Brown has
declared a state of emergency. More than 80 federal, state and
local agencies, electric utilities and other organizations have
formed the Tree Mortality Task Force, co-chaired by Pimlott, to
combat the problem.
Californians are continuing to save significant amounts of
water despite the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration
to relax drought rules two months ago. Statewide, urban
residents cut water use 21.5 percent in June, compared with the
same month in 2013, the year the state has been using as a
baseline, according to new data released Tuesday.
In a paper published Monday in Geophysical Research
Letters University of Southern California post-doctoral
research associate Pouya Vahmani and USC civil and
environmental engineering professor George
Ban-Weiss analyze what would happen to the city’s
overall temperature during the month of July if every
lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.
It might not be what you expect to hear about California
agriculture in the throes of drought: After four years of
historic water shortages, farm earnings in the state increased
16 percent, and total employment increased 5 percent. Yet those
are real numbers gathered by federal agencies that track
The leaves atop giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada are better
at storing water than those closer to the ground, an adaptation
that may explain how their treetops are able to survive 300
feet in the air, researchers at American River College and
Humboldt State University have found.
Tribes are apprehensive, cities are more upbeat and farmers
stand somewhere in between over a proposed plan to cut CAP
water deliveries to keep Lake Mead from falling to dangerously
low levels. … The drought-contingency plan is being discussed
by Arizona, California and Nevada as a way to avert
catastrophic cuts later.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows,
despite a partisan divide, 62 percent of likely voters favor
the law [AB 32]. … The poll also found that water supply and
drought remain the top environmental concern for Californians.
California wildfires often become massive infernos that destroy
lives and livelihoods, especially during the summer and fall
months. Because of a drought that has persisted since 2012, the
fire season seems to be expanding, with some fires even
occurring during the winter months.
State Water Resources Control Board officials issued a warning
last week for the North Coast, noting that high temperatures
and continuing drought conditions increase the likelihood of
potentially lethal algal blooms in area streams, rivers and
Thousands of firefighters were battling wildfires on Monday in
central and Southern California that have burned through nearly
50,000 acres and prompted thousands of people to evacuate their
homes, the authorities said.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office recently held the first in what’s
expected to be a series of private meetings with scientists,
conservationists and fire professionals to discuss how to
prevent massive blazes in the face of climate change and
During the past year of drought, while many Californians have
heeded the call to conserve and managed to achieve
water-savings of nearly 25 percent statewide, one group of
water users hasn’t measured up: the golf courses that spread
out across thousands of acres in the desert.
In California, cyanotoxins have become more of a problem amid
the drought and the same toxin that shut down Toledo’s water
supply has been detected in lakes, reservoirs and streams
across the state. But because standard treatment processes
usually get rid of cyanotoxins, water officials say it’s
unlikely a similar crisis would unfold here.
The state is currently investigating whether it is feasible to
develop standards for direct potable reuse, which would allow
treated wastewater to be sent direct to customers for drinking
without first being stored in a reservoir or aquifer.
California and parts of the Southwestern United States have now
endured a fifth consecutive year of drought. … A few states
that were drought-stricken just last year are no longer in
drought. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed drought levels estimated as of
the week ended July 4 and as of early July last year from the
U.S. Drought Monitor.
California has shifted its message on the drought. Now,
instead of calling on residents to cut their water consumption
collectively by 25 percent, water agencies are saying something
akin to this: “Trust us, it’s all under control.”
California’s drought, now in its fifth year, has grabbed
headlines – many of them focused on the state’s mandatory
conservation measure enacted last year or the impacts on the
agricultural sector, said Heather Cooley, the water program
director of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank.
… That’s changed since the Pacific Institute teamed up with
the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and eight
grassroots organizations to put together a community-based
participatory research project on Drought and Equity in the San
Francisco Bay Area.
California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming
days, with compromise nowhere in sight. … Underscoring
the many complications entangling California water, the San
Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water
District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over
measures intended to protect endangered species.
While mandatory statewide conservation is over, California
water officials say conservation remains a “top priority.”
“Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or
not, Californians should keep conserving,” said State
Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in
its growing almanac of drought. … News of L.A.’s record
low precipitation comes as the State Water Resources Control
Board announced a 28% drop in residential water use for May,
compared with the same month in 2013.
It has been a scene playing out daily in the Sierra this spring
and now summer: Cal Fire firefighters cutting down trees and
thinning out parts of the forest in the wake of an
unprecedented crisis, the deaths of 66 million California
trees, said Edwin Simpson, a forester with Cal Fire.
California’s Rim Fire in 2013 was the third largest in the
state’s history, and the 2012 Rush Fire, the second largest.
And last year’s Butte and Valley fires were some of the most
destructive in state history. These grim statistics are part of
an alarming trend in western states: The number of large fires
is growing, and so is the area burned and the length of the
annual fire season.
The drought in California is now in its fifth consecutive
year and conditions throughout the state have increased
potential for wildfires. Cal Fire says it has already responded
to more than 2,400 wildfires in 2016.
The Central Valley has been hit hard by the long-running
drought. La Niña has failed to deliver the relief everyone was
hoping for, but researchers at Stanford have discovered what
could be good news for the region and for the state.
Under the state’s newly relaxed conservation rules,
California’s 400 urban water district were to submit an
analysis of their supply conditions and conservation outlook by
last Wednesday. The water board won’t publish the responses
until next month.
There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due
to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a
“catastrophic” wildfire threat—or so claims U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While Vilsack’s assertion
may resonate with many in the general public because it makes
intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.
The fire tore through small communities of houses and mobile
homes that surround the lake [Lake Isabella] - actually a
reservoir – and the Kern River, a popular spot for fishing and
A year after California attacked the drought with an
unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and
towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have
changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up
with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not
exactly setting a high bar.
At least 80 homes have burned and 1,500 others are threatened
by a wildfire racing across Kern County that grew to 8,000
acres in less than 24 hours and quickly became the state’s most
destructive fire of the year.
Municipal water agencies across California are required to
report to state officials by midnight Wednesday on whether they
have enough water to withstand three more years of drought. …
Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board are
calling it a “stress test.”
The number of trees in California’s Sierra Nevada forests
killed by drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warmer
temperatures has dramatically increased since last year,
raising fears they will fuel catastrophic wildfires and
endanger people’s lives, officials said Wednesday.
The state announced plans to spend $10 million to begin
connecting unincorporated East Porterville in Tulare County to
the water system of neighboring Porterville.
… Statewide, officials said roughly 2,000 wells have run
dry during California’s most severe drought on record and
stretching into its fifth year.
The Sierra snowpack, which is responsible for more than 60
percent of California’s water, won’t likely make it back to its
pre-drought levels until 2019, scientists said in a study
published this week, dashing the hopes of those who believed
one extremely wet El Niño year could alleviate the state’s
The California drought is carving an unprecedented path of ruin
through Sierra forests, killing trees by the millions and
setting the stage for a potentially devastating wildfire season
that’s already burning homes and closing freeways in the
southern half of the state.
A lethal combination of drought, heat and voracious bark
beetles has killed 26 million trees in the Sierra Nevada over
the last eight months — an alarming finding for a state
already raging with wildfires fueled by denuded landscapes and
California is no stranger to drought. When conditions become dry,
water storage declines and water conservation mandates make news
headlines; questions from the public often surface about what
appear to be easy solutions to augment the state’s water supply.
But the answers can be complicated and, in the end, there is no
silver bullet to ensure a resilient water supply, especially
We explore “frequently asked questions” often posed by the public
and provide answers below. Simply click on the question for the
answer to appear.
Improving weather conditions overnight have diverted resources
from a brush fire burning in Santa Barbara County to a pair of
blazes burning above communities in the San Gabriel Valley
foothills and a third in San Diego County, where hundreds of
homes remain under threat.
Some forest fires should be considered natural disasters and
their damage paid for like hurricanes and tornadoes, according
to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who laments that 56
percent of his budget is going to suppressing fires. … A
bill pending in the House would allow for supplemental
appropriations, like those made for natural disasters like
hurricanes, as needed.
It could take California four years to recover from the most
severe drought on record, even if the next several winters
bring above-normal snowfall to the Sierra Nevada, researchers
said Tuesday releasing a study.
Word of the vanishing Sierra snowpack, which usually helps
replenish reservoir levels later in the summer, arrives amid
uncertainty over how California’s dams will be managed in
coming months to protect endangered fish. It also comes at a
critical juncture for urban water officials across the state.
California’s drought has revealed that when it comes to water,
not every community is equal. … Now, a bill by a Bay
Area state lawmaker aims to slow the spread of little “mom and
pop” water providers by making it very difficult to create new
When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last month that
the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, had fallen to its
lowest-ever level at 1,074ft (327m), the question many asked
was: How will it affect one of California’s primary drinking
sources? … Falling water levels are the result of a drought
in the Colorado River Basin that has dragged on for 16 years
California’s drought and a bark beetle epidemic have caused the
largest die-off of Sierra Nevada forests in modern history,
raising fears that trees could come crashing down on people or
fuel deadly wildfires that could wipe out mountain communities.
President Barack Obama mixed business with pleasure here
Saturday, touting the importance of national parks and then
seeing one up close for himself as he took in the sights at
what is arguably the crown jewel of the national park system.
Summer starts Monday, and the state faces another fire season.
Many worry it could be a repeat of last year, when massive
wildfires tore through populated areas and ravaged landscapes
parched by years of drought.
The El Niño-fueled storms that coated the Sierra with nearly
normal snow this winter brought blasts of hope to drought-weary
California. But after the flurries stopped and the seasons
changed, the melt-off from the high country has been swift and
disappointingly scant, according to new water supply estimates
from the state.
For anyone who doubts that we’re still in a drought, San
Joaquin County’s groundwater “savings account” was even more
depleted this spring than last, despite improved rainfall over
the course of the winter.
Wednesday will be a day of reckoning for California water
wholesalers like Southern California’s Metropolitan Water
District (MWD). They have to prove to the state that they have
enough water to get through three more years of drought.
The DWR [California Department of Water Resources] hired
[Dave] Meko and his crew to perform the massive tree-ring study
beginning last year. … The Southern California watershed data
will be analyzed and compared with tree-ring data from Northern
California and the Colorado River area, three key sources of
drinking water for a state of 36 million people.
What does the future hold for California’s weather and climate?
Is drought the new normal? And what about La Niña? We talked to
Daniel Swain—founder of the popular California Weather Blog and
a Stanford University climate scientist—about our volatile
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor announced
more than $30 million in funding through the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Title XVI program for seven projects that will
provide clean water to California communities and promote water
and energy efficiency.
This year was supposed to be different. With Northern
California’s reservoirs finally brimming and cities liberated
from stringent conservation rules, farmers were expecting more
water for their crops. The worst of the drought seemed over. Or
Though El Niño’s impacts in the state, particularly Southern
California, fell short of expectations, worldwide effects from
the event were significant, according to scientists at the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. . . . in its
declaration, NOAA estimated a 75 percent chance for a La Niña
phase, characterized by cooler-than-average sea temperatures,
to roll around this fall, though it’s unlikely to cause extreme
changes in the Bay Area’s rainfall, forecasters said.
In its monthly update Thursday, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration said the El Nino has ended, 15
months after its birth in March 2015. El Nino is a natural
warming of parts of the central Pacific that changes weather
At the first hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s controversial
drought legislation, it emerges that the Obama administration
supports the bill. But a deeper look shows that many concerns
remain, leaving consensus still in doubt.
Following the wettest winter in five years, water conservation
rules for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents are likely
to be relaxed in the next few weeks. The staff of the Santa
Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale water provider for
the county, is recommending a 20 percent cut in water usage
compared with 2013 levels through Jan. 31, down from the
current 30 percent.