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.
On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it’s on track to produce potentially record rainfall. … The forecast for a wet winter now covers the mountains that feed California’s most important reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville.
It [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] reiterated earlier predictions that California can expect one of the strongest El Niño winters ever, with above-average rains increasingly likely for the central and southern parts of the state. Northern California, home to most of the state’s major reservoirs, remains tougher to forecast.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed Wednesday to study ways to curb excessive water use after the City Council called for a crackdown that could include “severe financial penalties” and “as a last resort, shutting off water.”
The Marin Municipal Water District has set a public hearing as it looks to raise rates to deal with reduced water consumption, the drought and land management responsibilities. It is also looking at establishing a “drought surcharge” option.
As members of the California Water Commission convened Wednesday night in Clovis to update the public on the Water Storage Investment Program, conversation centered on one topic: Temperance Flat Dam. … Water bond money is seen as competitive.
Even as Sacramento waits for the soaking El Niño forecast to hit this fall, Folsom Lake continues to lose water and will almost certainly fall Thursday to its lowest level in more than 20 years, government data show.
Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5 million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming weeks. Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement.
A group of environmentalists accused the federal government on Tuesday of not pushing Nestle Corp. to update its permits to tap and divert water in the San Bernardino Mountains, an operation they say is sapping vital water from public land.
Environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday, alleging that the agency has allowed Nestle Waters to draw water from a creek in the San Bernardino Mountains under a permit that expired more than 25 years ago.
A new Field Poll released Tuesday showed that 76 percent of registered California voters now call the state’s water situation “extremely serious,” up from 66 percent in May and 60 percent in April 2014. … Some regional differences persist.
A much-anticipated “Godzilla” El Niño this winter may refill California’s drought-diminished reservoirs, but it won’t do much to restock the severely depleted aquifers we rely upon to get by during droughts. One reason for this is the sheer depth of California’s precipitation deficit – the deepest of any drought in 120 years of recordkeeping. The state has been drier than normal for 10 of the past 14 years.
Californians sharply cut water use this summer, prompting state officials to credit their new conservation policies and the sting of thousands of warnings and penalties that they had issued to people for overuse. But the most effective enforcers may be closer to home: the domestic water police.
Evidence is mounting that the El Nino ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific will spawn a rainy winter in California, potentially easing the state’s punishing drought but also bringing the risk of chaotic storms like those that battered the region in the late 1990s.
Cities under pressure from California for failing to slash water consumption enough during the prolonged drought are cracking down on residents. That’s prompting an outcry in places such as this Fresno suburb [Clovis], where officials handed out more than $500,000 in fines this summer for violations including lawn watering.
With California withering through a multiyear drought, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation banning cities and counties from prohibiting drought-tolerant landscaping, including synthetic grass and artificial turf.
Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski convened the two-hour hearing Thursday primarily to consider significantly different House and Senate versions of California water legislation. The morning hearing was the first to be held specifically on the bills.
Fort Bragg officials will be reconsidering some of the strict emergency water rules they implemented last week following a flurry of objections from restaurateurs, who say ordering them to use only paper plates and plastic utensils is expensive, counterproductive and unfair.
Along a picture-postcard stretch of coast in Carlsbad near San Diego, fishermen cast their lines into an emerald seawater lagoon. In a few short weeks, the lagoon will also be feeding a steady supply of water into what will be the largest operating desalination facility in North America.
In the latest indicator of the severity of the drought, the federal government’s main reservoirs serving California have begun the new “water year” at just a quarter full and in worse shape than last year.
California needs water. Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska, has a lot. So a company that holds the rights to up to 9 billion gallons of the lake’s water is pitching an idea that would send some of it — via tanker ship — to the Golden State as it endures the fourth year of severe drought.
Things are bad everywhere in California, but the big dry has gotten so severe in the coastal city of Fort Bragg that fancy restaurants are now being ordered to plop their filet mignons on disposable plates and pour wine into plastic cups to avoid washing dishes.
When Gov. Jerry Brown announced sweeping mandatory reductions in water use last spring, some questioned whether the California dream was over. But since then, cities across the state have adapted to the drier new reality by reshaping the way they operate.
Long gone are the luxury boats that drew stars inland from Hollywood to this accidental sea that first filled with Colorado River water after a massive 1905 canal breach. … The Southwest’s worsening water shortage will make saving the Salton Sea difficult, because any fix requires water from an over-stressed Colorado River.
More than 300 farmers, workers and elected officials from throughout the Valley gathered Friday at Rojas Pierce Park in Mendota to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special legislative session to deal with California’s water crisis.
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Jimmy Carter, Rahm Emanuel: All of them were quoted at the Southern California Energy and Water Summit in Palm Springs on Thursday. But the quote that best summarized the summit came from Felicia Marcus’ father.
Forecasts of an approaching El Niño winter have ski resort operators dreaming of the kind of snowy peaks that were a common sight in California before a four-year drought dried up the state’s $3-billion ski industry.
Californians cut water use by 27 percent in August, marking the third consecutive month that residents and businesses surpassed the 25 percent conservation goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown to deal with the relentless drought, officials said Thursday.
Whether an act of goodwill or a desperate move under duress, an agreement by Delta farmers to voluntarily reduce their water use last spring likely spared them from deeper cuts in the middle of the summer growing season, a state official said this week.
In the midst of a searing drought, one home in this exclusive West Los Angeles neighborhood used an astonishing 11.8 million gallons of water in one year – enough for 90 households. … It’s the same story throughout urban California. Despite the drought, well-heeled residential customers in affluent neighborhoods are being allowed to use as much water as they want to buy, according to a review of utility records from the state’s biggest urban water agencies.
A state water official said Californians have met a mandate to save water for a third consecutive month during the grinding drought. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday will release statewide conservation figures for August.
The last rainfall in Riverside was a windfall for Michael Hickman, a retiree who has a home project underway to use rain gutters and barrels to collect some of the precipitation that lands on his roof.
Last winter, residents [of Lompico in the Santa Cruz mountains] agreed to have the neighboring San Lorenzo Valley Water District take over their mom-and-pop operation. … At least 18 districts have been consolidated since 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Experts say people affected by the drought also face stress, which can escalate to anxiety, depression and a host of other mental conditions. Studies show those findings are especially true for people who rely on water for economic survival, such as farmers, and people living in rural areas with fewer options for income and care.
The [Orange] county’s diverse efforts to keep water flowing are a model for other communities across the nation with stressed supplies. Roughly 112 million Americans are now affected by drought, according to federal calculations.
Plastic pipes that will go over Folsom Dam and connect to pump barges were rolled out Thursday as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation continues to work on a temporary emergency floating pump system. … Currently, Folsom Lake is at 19 percent capacity and has dropped 3 feet this month.
Flames from California’s third-most destructive wildfire on record not only consumed hundreds of homes but also left deep burn scars that can be seen from space. … Years of aggressive firefighting, drought and few prescribed fires left the forest overrun with brush and timber, according to NASA.
The changing nature of fire, and its consequences, is Topic A at meetings of the Society of American Foresters, of which [Char] Miller is a member, and it’s also a fundamental part of his forthcoming book, “America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses and Grasslands.”
The Eastside Water District board voted Thursday to ask its farmers for $6 million for a groundwater recharge project. The system would eliminate no more than 10 percent of the overdraft in the 61,000-acre district, which straddles Stanislaus and Merced counties southwest of Turlock Lake, but backers said it would be a worthwhile start.
The ongoing drought, combined with slower but significant shifts brought about by climate change, is changing the way California’s largest fire protection agency does business, according to state officials.
California environmentalists plan to file a new water bond proposal with the secretary of state next week, a measure backers say will provide critical money for programs that were under funded by the $7.8 billion bond passed by voters last year.
In just two years, Chinook salmon could be swimming above Shasta Dam for the first time in nearly eight decades under a proposal that would truck endangered hatchery-raised fish into a cold-water tributary that feeds the state’s largest reservoir.
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was published in 1946.
Giant Sequoias growing in California’s Sierra Nevada are among the largest and oldest living things on earth, but scientists climbing high up into their green canopies say they are seeing symptoms of stress caused by the state’s historic drought.
For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Water District has paved the way for Southern California’s epic growth by securing water from hundreds of miles away. This week, the mammoth agency said it wants to invest closer to home in what would be one of the world’s largest plants to recycle sewage into drinking water.
Among the many consequences of California’s severe drought is an escalating dispute involving San Diego County’s northern and southern communities over the price of recycled water, which is treated sewage used primarily for irrigation.
To nudge California out of drought territory, it will take almost double the amount of rain that falls in a normal year during the upcoming rainy season that starts in less than two weeks, according to a recent analysis prepared by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists.
The state on Friday cleared some farmers, water agencies and others to resume pumping from three Northern California waterways, easing one of the toughest restrictions stemming from the state’s four-year drought.
Drought-stricken cities in Southern California will soon get some help courtesy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. … Pending approval from its board, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will pay the authority almost $44.4 million for the water, which equates to about a six-month supply for the Las Vegas Valley.
Strong market prices and increased production helped push Madera County’s 2014 crop values to a record-high $2.2 billion. … Hardest hit by the drought were field crops, including cotton, corn, oat hay and wheat.
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists estimate that the amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada was the lowest in more than 500 years. … The report is the latest in a series of studies that have sought to characterize the depth of California’s four-year drought and place it in a broader historic context.
Extreme weather conditions and steep topography were factors in the rapid spread of the Butte Fire. But Daniel Berlant with Cal Fire says the state’s historic four-year drought was a factor in the Butte Fire and the Valley Fire.
Citing the damage to homes and crucial infrastructure, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Sunday for Lake and Napa counties, allowing the state to mobilize various resources, including the California National Guard. He had already declared a state of emergency Friday for Amador and Calaveras counties, where the Butte fire has forced residents to evacuate and threatened scores of homes and businesses.
Taxed by years of drought, the lake [Folsom Lake] is currently filled to 19 percent of its total capacity, with officials from the federal Bureau of Reclamation foreseeing it may yet drop below the 1977 record-low of 150 acre feet. Low water levels change more than the lake’s aesthetics.
The gates will open Monday on the fish ladder to the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, beginning the two-month process that will see 15 million chinook salmon eggs harvested for further continuation of the species.
After four parched years, most California voters seem to be taking the drought in stride, saying it has had little to no effect on their daily lives. They oppose sacrificing environmental protections to expand water supplies and generally approve of how Gov. Jerry Brown has handled the crisis, according to a new statewide USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
A soaking El Niño weather system is in the forecast, promising to pummel California with torrents of rain by the end of the year. That would seem like Champagne-popping news as this state suffers through its worst drought in a millennium.
As Sacramentans endured another round of triple-digit temperatures Thursday, weather forecasters offered predictions of relief in the months to come: A strong El Niño winter is almost certainly heading toward California, likely bringing heavy precipitation.
If the California drought continues, many of California’s native freshwater fishes are at imminent risk of extinction. This is a key finding of our recent report What If California’s Drought Continues?, which projects the potential consequences of ongoing drought on key sectors, including the environment.
For decades, bits and pieces of local history and the ghosts that guard them remained deep beneath the murky waters of New Melones Reservoir, Lake Don Pedro, Folsom Lake and other man-made drowners of artifacts.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the Eastern District of California fired the latest shot in the most recent court skirmish in the Golden State’s endless water wars. In denying two Central Valley Project water districts’ attempt to halt fish kill prevention flows from the Trinity to the Klamath River, Judge O’Neill delighted Hoopa and Yurok tribal officials alike.
Many counties throughout the state and the San Joaquin Valley have successfully reduced the amount of ozone in the air. But levels of soot, or particle pollution known as PM-2.5, have started to increase after years of decline, according to state figures. Officials are blaming the drought.
Among all the apocalyptic disasters that Californians routinely prepare for — earthquake, drought, wildfire, carmageddon — the most welcome is rain, even though giant El Niño events like the one currently massing in the Pacific can bring their own set of calamities: flooding, mudslides, carmageddon with hydroplaning.
[John] Stoffan is among the California homeowners living near wild lands who have seen their rates increase sharply because insurance companies are increasingly wary of high fire-risk areas. Factors fueling insurer’s fears include the drought and some huge recent blazes, such as the 2013 Rim fire that burned more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite.
The unseasonably high temperatures have sweeping, statewide repercussions well beyond adding a few extra dollars to a homeowner’s September electricity bill. Almond farmers across the state face an unexpectedly urgent need to keep their lucrative trees’ roots soaked in the middle of the harvest, when the trees are at their most vulnerable.
More than 200,000 rainbow trout suffocated in a matter of minutes Tuesday at the American River Hatchery near Rancho Cordova due to an unexpected release of gunk from Folsom Dam that clogged water intakes.
Although the state’s electrical grid has taken a punch from the drought and record-high summer month temperatures, it has remained standing. A state mandate to convert from burning oil, coal and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, to solar, wind and geothermal energy has helped.
Californians across the state have responded en masse to the call for lifestyle changes, curtailing water use, particularly when it comes to watering their lawns. And some have responded in a manner more concerning to government officials: They canceled their flood insurance.
The four-year drought that has ravaged California and the wildfires charring through the state’s dry forests have exposed prehistoric Native American sites as water levels drop and thick brush and poison oak are burned away.
California homeowners who replace their water-gulping grass lawns with artificial turf in response to the drought would be protected from sanctions by homeowner associations under one of 10 bills signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Thanks to a novel injection of cold, clear water from Camp Meeker’s water system, about 3,400 imperiled coho salmon and steelhead trout have a better chance of surviving in Dutch Bill Creek until rain sweeps them to safety in the Russian River.
Across California this summer, residents have been racking up water conservation numbers that defy expectations — a 27% reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in July. … The conservation performance raises a host of possibilities, and profound questions, for water policy analysts and managers …
The state Legislature last month balked at a measure that would have provided $10 million for grants and low-interest loans to replace private dry wells. The bill is now in limbo, even though many lawmakers seemed to like it.
California growers took in more revenue in 2014 compared to the year before, although their profits declined by about 10 percent, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the Pacific Institute, a water policy think-tank. … Farm advocates say the numbers for 2015, which won’t be calculated until next year, will show a more pronounced impact.
Armed with evidence captured by surveillance cameras, California regulators have ordered a business to stop tapping Sierra Nevada spring water that is later bottled and sold in stores, officials said Wednesday.
A new recycled water fill-up station opened in Sonoma Valley this week, becoming the second facility in the county where residents can go to get highly treated wastewater to irrigate their gardens and ornamental landscaping.
How many domestic wells are having trouble throughout the state? More than 2,500. That’s not an exact figure, but its better than the smattering of reports that had been collected before the most recent statewide summary.
With California mired in the fourth year of a drought, Central Basin Municipal Water District officials say their free programs for K-12 schools can serve as another tool to reduce water consumption. The district offers nine programs about water, energy and the need to conserve for teachers to use in their classrooms.
In fact, the longer and hotter the heat wave, the bigger the jump in the odds that it coincided with drought conditions, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The number of water agencies that met or exceeded their mandate increased to 290 in July, from 265 in June. … Longtime California water watcher Rita Schmidt Sudman [adviser to the Water Education Foundation and former executive director of the Sacramento-based nonprofit] said the response is encouraging.
An Alaska company is planning to be the first to ship massive amounts of fresh water to drought-plagued California, potentially as much as 10 million gallons a month. … Water experts in California are skeptical, not necessarily because of the idea but as a result of the cost.
Jail officials are revamping the environment in and around the Theo Lacy jail, embarking on a conservation effort that ranges from tearing out grass to testing low-flow toilets and upgrading shower valves and testing low-flow toilets.
In the past two years, the lesser-known longfin smelt has slipped down to the single digits in trawl surveys of Delta fish populations. The dramatic downturn is likely a result of the drought, as with the tinier delta smelt.
The record wildfire season scorching the West is prompting renewed calls for Congress to change how it funds firefighting, a push that comes as the head of the Forest Service said the agency would soon exceed its firefighting budget for the year — again.
Driven by drought, California stands ready to build a water system for the 21st century. Ideas are flowing: conservation, recycling, desalination, aquifer recharge, floodplain restoration, storm water capture. But the biggest, most expensive, most popular item of all is the foundation of the 20th century water system — dams.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife helicopter circled over steep timberland in Humboldt County’s coastal mountains, prowling for potential water diversions and environmental damage caused by what is arguably the state’s most lucrative agricultural product: marijuana.
Gerald Meral, a former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, sent draft language for “The Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016” to water agency officials, environmentalists and others in recent days.
A fight over Crystal Geyser Water Company’s plans to tap water at the base of Mount Shasta is headed to court after a group sued to block the company from starting up a bottling plant that would produce sparkling mineral water, tea and juice drinks.
The state’s historic drought has hit the San Joaquin Valley hard, with farm losses in the billions, an increase in health issues and a decline in income, according to a Fresno State study released Thursday.
After Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use statewide, regulators spent much of the spring chastising water districts for not conserving enough during California’s stubborn drought. Data released Thursday suggest the message is getting through.
Californians answered the call for conservation in July, slashing water use by 31.3 percent and exceeding state targets for the second straight month that communities face potential fines for falling short.
They [Californians] are saving billions of gallons of water every day. The extent of this commitment was evident Thursday as the state released new figures showing that urban water use statewide dropped by 31 percent in July compared with 2013.
Researchers from California’s top universities agree with scientists across the globe that climate change is not some future threat but is already happening, causing extreme weather, record-breaking heat, mega wildfires and shifting migration patterns.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney ripped the governor’s twin tunnels plan, calling it “misguided” and wasteful. … “But I can’t just say ‘No,’ ” McNerney said Tuesday after hosting a drought forum at the Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center in south Stockton.
A U.S. District Court judge has denied two Central Valley Project water districts’ attempt to halt fish kill prevention flows to the Klamath River on Wednesday, making it the second year in a row that the federal court has sided outright with protections of Klamath River fish.
A coalition of non-profit organizations and businesses has started a crowd-funding campaign called the California Drought Relief Fund to provide assistance to families affected by the state’s unprecedented drought and wildfires, said Dianne Saenz of Climate Nexus.
Agricultural employment soared to a record 417,000 jobs, largely because gains in the Central Coast, deserts and Sacramento River Valley overcame losses in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a report by the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Oakland.
Fresno County agriculture set a record in 2014, with crop values reaching $7 billion for the first time. … The county’s total value was just the third best in the state – behind Tulare and Kern counties – as the drought continued to drag down Fresno’s overall crop production.
While drought-plagued California is eager for rain, the forecast of a potentially Godzilla-like El Niño event has communities clearing out debris basins, urging residents to stock up on emergency supplies and even talking about how a deluge could affect the 50th Super Bowl.
In what researchers suspect is another troubling side effect of the state’s epic drought, the Delta is exploding with algae particles that in intensified concentrations could pose a substantial threat to the central hub for California’s vast water delivery network. The algae bloom is not limited to the central Delta.
Neighbors and activists in Mount Shasta have been pressing Crystal Geyser Water Co. for months to conduct a full environmental review before opening a bottling plant just outside the small Northern California town.
Last summer, a narrow, rock-rimmed stretch of the Sacramento River near here turned into a mass graveyard for baby salmon. Upstream releases of water from Shasta Dam were so warm that virtually an entire generation of endangered winter-run Chinook was wiped out.
With water scarce in Northern California’s Klamath Basin, a federal agency is again releasing cool, clean water into the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead.
Nestled high in the Sierra mountains among the pine and fir trees, a little-known man-made wonder may help resolve a pressing energy concern: how to store wind and sun power that the grid increasingly can’t handle.
The San Joaquin Valley now battles California’s epic drought in cities as much as its nation-leading farm fields. From Bakersfield to Modesto, people struggle to meet some of the highest state-ordered cutbacks anywhere in California.
On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to release fish-kill preventative flows from a Trinity River dam starting this weekend in order to protect fish on the lower Klamath River from deadly pathogens caused by warm, low-flowing water conditions, tribal fisheries officials said.
In a dramatic sign of climate change’s growing impact, this July was the warmest month on Earth since modern temperature records were first kept in 1880, federal scientists announced Thursday. While climate change isn’t causing California’s drought, it’s making the disaster worse, according to a separate report released Thursday.
Another month, another record high for global temperatures, U.S. government scientists announced Thursday. … The report bolstered predictions from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center that an El Niño is likely later this year.
The Enadia [Way Elementary School] garden expanded to its current size in 2010, before the drought choked many California resources. … Now, students use extra mulch to keep the soil moist, plant the crops close to each other, and only hand-water the plants that need water.
The drought is expected to cost the state $2.7 billion in agriculture losses this year, but farmers in eastern Riverside County are faring well because of steady supplies from the Colorado River, according to the authors of a new economic forecast.
A growing number of scientists have made the claim that climate change is at least partly responsible for California’s crippling drought. Now researchers have estimated the extent to which humans are to blame: between 8% and 27%.
The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix will bite the dust this year because of the drought. … The water shortage stems from the drought-induced state of emergency declared by Gov. Jerry Brown and mandated restrictions imposed on the area’s purveyor, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District.
Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by roughly 15 to 20 percent, scientists said Thursday … “The whole water system that we have in California was designed for the old climate,” said Noah S. Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford who edits the journal that published the new paper.
Well now that most of our lawns are brown, many folks are pining the loss of their lush, green landscapes and looking for a potential quick fix. There’s lot of talk about installing fake grass or painting or dying the lawn green, but what are the ramifications?
Should the current drought extend for another two or three years, most California cities and much of the state’s agriculture would be able to manage, but the toll on small rural communities dependent on well-water and on wetlands and wildlife could be extensive.
Portions of the San Joaquin Valley floor are sinking at an alarming rate as farmers pump ever more groundwater during California’s extended drought, according to a NASA study released Wednesday. The report, generated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the state Department of Water Resources, sheds new light on the phenomenon known as subsidence.
Vast areas of California’s Central Valley are sinking faster than in the past … Meanwhile, the Department of Water Resources is launching a $10 million program to help counties with stressed groundwater basins to develop or strengthen local ordinances and conservation plans.
Written by water and watershed experts working at the policy [Public Policy Institute of California] center, at the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere, the report urges California to do more now to deal with what researchers project to be the biggest drought crises of 2016 and 2017 – crashing wildlife populations, raging wildfires and more and more poor rural communities running out of water entirely.
As the water police pick low-hanging fruit by curbing homeowners’ outdoor watering, cities and state agencies are now targeting renters and condominium owners who account for nearly 50 percent of the state’s population but are less likely to save water because they don’t pay their own water bills and therefore have no incentives to conserve.
At a time when Gov. Jerry Brown has warned of a new era of limits, the spate of construction, including a boom in building that began even before the drought emergency was declared, is raising fundamental questions about just how much additional development California can accommodate.
The Glenn County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed a ban on new well permits, which will slow but not halt the number of new wells drilled in the primarily agricultural county. … One project that will be put on hold, at least for the next six months, is the five new wells planned by the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the largest supplier of ag water in the area.
The drought this year will cost California’s economy more than $2.7 billion and could result in nearly 21,000 job losses, according to a UC Davis study. … Direct agricultural costs of the drought will be about $1.8 billion and result in 10,100 seasonal job losses.
The drought is costing California about $2.7 billion this year, according to a new UC Davis study, although the statistics suggest the state’s overall economy can withstand the impact. … At the same time, the study said farmers are holding up reasonably well in spite of significant water shortages and the fallowing of 542,000 acres of land.
If human beings don’t slow their emission of planet-warming greenhouse gases, extreme El Niños could nearly double in frequency — from once every 28 years to once every 16 years on average, the new study found.