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.
Californians trembled two years ago as 200-foot flames from the Rim fire sent up pyrocumulus clouds visible 100 miles away from the central Sierra Nevada. Burning from August to October, it left a charred footprint nearly the size of Los Angeles — a reminder that the state had just passed through two dry winters.
Californians in May shot past Gov. Jerry Brown’s water conservation targets in response to the drought emergency — a profound shift in behavior for a state that until recently prized its hot tubs, lush landscaping and spotless cars.
A Mendocino County lawman and a former marijuana grower defended small-scale cannabis cultivation Wednesday at a legislative hearing on the impact of the drought and marijuana on North Coast fisheries.
California residents cut their water use by nearly 29 percent in May compared with the same month in 2013, the steepest reduction since officials began calling for people to conserve last year, according to figures the state released Wednesday.
Water use in drought-stricken California plunged by record levels in May, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration cited that as proof cities can hit steep summer conservation targets they have blasted as unfair.
In a rare bit of encouraging news in a state gripped by drought, regulators reported Wednesday that urban Californians reduced their water consumption by 28.9 percent in May from the same month two years ago.
Northern California Rep. Jared Huffman came to Southern California to push his $1.4 billion drought bill and find some common ground in what he called the state’s water wars being waged in the halls of Sacramento and Washington.
The city sued the state this month after it learned it would be rejected for inclusion in a special reduction tier that allows suppliers to reduce water use by just 4% if they do not import water and have at least a four-year supply.
Breeding waterfowl populations have suffered a 19 percent drop in the Sacramento Valley this year and a steeper decline statewide due to the drought and poor habitat conditions, according to the latest annual survey released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Madera County farmer Tom Rogers thought he knew a lot about how to irrigate his family’s 175-acre almond ranch. But several droughts, including the current four-year dry spell, made him reconsider his approach on how to get the most out of his ever-shrinking water supply.
State water officials not only told more Central Valley farmers Friday that they need to stop drawing water from low-flowing rivers and creeks — but they tossed the city of San Francisco onto the list as well.
The lawsuits hit the courts within days of the state mailing notices to some Central Valley irrigation districts: They were to stop diverting from rivers and streams because there wasn’t enough water to go around.
With Gov. Jerry Brown imposing new mandatory water reductions to respond to the statewide emergency, school districts are grappling with how to adhere to those requirements while continuing to meet the needs of students and communities. … Some wells serving schools are drying up.
Four years of dry, hot weather have raised lake temperatures and depleted many of the state’s reservoirs. In response, the state has cut flows from Lake Shasta to protect an endangered species of salmon and raised flows from Folsom Lake to prevent salt water from intruding into the Delta.
Over the past few weeks, the state’s largest reservoir—Shasta—has been in the spotlight as managers struggle to meet multiple demands with dwindling reserves. Surface reservoirs are central to managing California’s water supplies for a variety of purposes. … This year the trade-offs at Shasta are particularly challenging, since the survival of a run of endangered salmon may be on the line.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval welcomed water experts and managers from around the West on Tuesday to scenic Lake Tahoe, where they reviewed a final report on dealing with drought and meeting the myriad challenges that come with competing demands for a dwindling resource.
The new state rules for water conservation kicked in June 1, requiring residential customers in Chico to use 32 percent less water than they used during the same months in 2013. Oroville customers have to use 28 percent less.
City water officials are getting personal with their efforts to boost conservation. … The [Los Angeles Department of Water and Power] letters urging homeowners to improve their water-wasting habits went to about 4,600 homes, largely in upscale neighborhoods with big lots and lush lawns.
House Republicans are swinging for the fences with an ambitious new, but familiar, California water bill introduced Thursday. … The legislation speeds studies for water storage projects, including proposals for raising Shasta Dam and building a new reservoir at Temperance Flat on the Upper San Joaquin River.
A major multiday, multiagency law enforcement operation targeting large marijuana farms in the heart of the pot-rich Emerald Triangle has uncovered serious environmental damage along with huge numbers of pot plants, according to a state Fish and Wildlife officer participating in the operation.
In recent months, the Department of Water and Power has reduced its take from Mono’s tributaries by more than two-thirds. Still, the 1-million-year-old lake is within two feet of the level that state officials say threatens the alpine ecosystem at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada.
For residents and regular visitors, the expanded exposed lakebed, growing landbridge, and dramatically changing topography of key visitation sites are hard to miss. While less immediately visible, the effects of the drought on the streams of the Mono Basin are no less severe.
As California’s prolonged drought dries up irrigation supplies for agriculture and forces cutbacks in urban water deliveries, it also creates opportunities for prospectors and miners panning, sluicing, chiseling and diving for gold.
A handful of Central Valley water agencies that have been warned to stop pumping water from rivers to farms, in light of the drought, say they’re considering running their pumps anyway. … The State Water Resources Control Board said Wednesday that is not a good idea, warning that the water agencies could face penalties for drawing water illegally.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board is the latest to balk at subsidizing synthetic turf after hearing complaints that it has undesirable environmental effects even if it does well in reducing outdoor water use.
A plan to save endangered fish has pushed California’s fragile water system almost to the breaking point, putting additional strain on farmers while drawing down reservoirs at Folsom and Oroville to historically low levels.
California’s drought has killed so many trees that the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is adopting emergency regulations to remove them. The board is concerned about the growing threat of wildfires.
Longtime farmers hoping to block state-imposed cuts suffered a defeat Tuesday after a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge said the case must be heard in another county, potentially leaving those farmers without a legal water supply. But in a new twist, attorneys for the farmers now are questioning whether the cuts actually are required in the first place.
Valley cities — from the biggest to the smallest — have no excuse for not having water meters by now. Water is no different than gasoline or electricity: Consumers should pay for precisely what they use, especially during this historic drought.
Folsom Lake water levels will likely drop to historic lows by summer’s end, possibly hovering just above the point where cities and water agencies can still draw water from the reservoir, according to interviews with federal and local officials.
Significant figures by Peter Gleick —In a climate where rainfall is so variable from one year to the next, it makes little sense to talk about what is “normal” but California farmers know to expect that some years will very dry and that sometimes there will be a string of dry years back-to-back.
The California Legislature approved a budget bill that would grant the state authority to force water systems to consolidate to serve disadvantaged communities where a steady supply of clean drinking water is not available. Senate Bill 88 also would give public water suppliers the power to impose civil fines of up to $10,000 for violations of water conservation programs, impose new measuring and reporting requirements for water diversions, and suspend environmental review for certain drought-related projects.
The economics of water scarcity is crucial to sustainable water management, particularly during droughts. … Luckily, California has a wealth of young, talented economists already active in public water policy and who will be around for future droughts. California WaterBlog asked five of them what California should be doing to prepare for a fifth year of drought and beyond.
The importance of water conservation during this record dry spell notwithstanding, sound water management turns out to be about a lot more than just water use. Today on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, who is writing a multi-part series exposing unfortunate policies and practices vis-à-vis our most precious, life-sustaining resource.
Water will continue to flow to Mountain House under a deal reached Monday, and a separate water sale pending approval Tuesday would slake the community’s thirst for the rest of the year, officials said.
Whether it’s East Palo Alto and Hillsborough, Beverly Hills and Compton, or Richmond and Orinda, a huge disparity in residential water use is posing a challenge for water agencies as they try to curb consumption and write rules that treat all customers fairly. The divide is the focus of the latest installment in this newspaper’s series “A State of Drought.”
The majority of California growers, irrigation districts and others who have been ordered to stop drawing water from rivers and streams due to worsening drought conditions have failed to register their compliance before an official deadline, officials said Monday.
Mountain House, an upscale community near Tracy, learned of its precarious situation this month when the State Water Resources Control Board issued a notice ordering the [Byron Bethany Irrigation] district to “immediately stop diverting water.”
The lawsuit, filed in Stanislaus Superior Court, challenges the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision last week to ban diversions by 114 different rights holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.
More than one-tenth of the largest wild population of threatened salmon in the Central Valley died after repair work near a power plant led Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to cut off a cooling flow of water into a creek, wildlife and utility officials said Friday.
The Delta smelt, a tiny fish, steals most of the attention in the war of words over water use and environmental goals in California. But other species play a role, too. This week, state and federal agencies ordered water restrictions for two northern California watersheds in order to guard the health of endangered salmon.
With water monitors like [Don] Wells on the prowl, Fresno is taking a more aggressive tack than most cities in California’s battle against the severe drought. In one month, Wells and his water conservation team handed out 347 of the 838 penalties issued by all the water districts statewide.
The history beneath your feet in this Valley goes far deeper. It’s a piece of the story about the nation’s second-largest groundwater basin — California’s Central Valley, the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.
Three California irrigation districts sued the state on Friday, claiming officials overstepped their authority by ordering farmers with some of the strongest water rights to stop pumping from some rivers during the drought.
Nearly a year and a half after East Porterville’s first dry well was reported, residents and experts say not having running water and breathing increasingly dusty air is worsening their pre-existing health issues and contributing to the development of new ones.
A California budget bill that would allow the state to force consolidation of water systems, exempt certain water projects from environmental review and make other far-reaching changes in response to the drought cleared the Legislature on Friday over the angry objections of Republicans.
Thousands of homes, businesses and apartments in the drought-stricken central San Joaquin Valley lack water meters, complicating efforts by city officials to reduce consumption as mandated by the state. … By state law, all urban water hookups in California must be metered by 2025, and the drought is prompting some communities to speed up their programs.
Santa Barbara, known for its landscapes fed by coastal fog, has always had a cautious relationship with water. And its history of conservation may hold lessons for other upscale communities such as Beverly Hills and Rancho Santa Fe being forced to slash their hefty water consumption because of the drought.
Less than a day after igniting, the wind-whipped Lake Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains grew to more than 10,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of 200 people and sending smoke billowing over the northern Coachella Valley on another very hot, dry day on Thursday. … Closer to home, trees are dying in unusually high number in the San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains.
The state’s wildlife department has counted about 1,950 spring-run salmon swimming upstream past a Vaki River Watcher video system located in a fish ladder. Last year, the department counted 5,083, with an estimated 16,782 in 2013 and 16,317 in 2012.
The Eel River Recovery Project is offering free field training and public meetings to promote sustainable cannabis cultivation in the Eel River watershed. The events will cover the best ways to water gardens with the least amount of water and nutrients, ERRP co-founder Patrick Higgins said.
The Banta-Carbona Irrigation District filed its complaint in San Joaquin County Superior Court, asking a judge to overturn the decision last week by the State Water Resources Control Board to temporarily suspend water rights dating back as far as 1903.
Late-emerging legislation designed to deal with the drought could be part of the budget package California lawmakers will vote on Friday. Part of the legislation would give state water regulators the ability to force local water agencies to consolidate.
Some drought-related groundwater and water recycling projects would gain exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act under late-emerging legislation at the Capitol. … The bill includes language related to the consolidation of water agencies, among other measures.
The pope [Pope Francis] says “a very solid scientific consensus” indicates that global warming is real, and will limit drinking water, harm agriculture, lead to some extinctions of plant and animal life, acidify oceans and raise sea levels in a way that could flood some of the world’s biggest cities.
State and federal fish and water managers are trying to find a way to avoid a massive die-off of young fish in the Sacramento River. … The changes in river flow might further impact the amount of water that Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are able to draw from the river for farms.
Dave Shields started the engine of his tractor on a recent weekday and began toppling the hundreds of drought-stricken cherry trees he and his wife planted 15 years ago in this north Los Angeles County foothills community.
Unlike the vast majority of communities in California, Mountain House purchases all its water from a single rural irrigation district. And that agency was covered by the state’s order curtailing water rights for some of those who have held them for more than century due to the state’s worsening drought.
As streams holding rare native fish dry up, it will put more pressure on the Department of Fish and Wildlife to choose between two distinct and sometimes competing mandates: sheltering endangered species to prevent their extinction, while simultaneously producing ample fish stocks for recreational anglers.
Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday, including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the state to cope with a fourth year of drought.
State and federal officials said Tuesday that they’re revising their strategy for releasing water from the California’s largest reservoir for the coming long, hot summer to avoid killing off this year’s run of endangered salmon.
Less than 2%. That’s how much water has been provided from the entire Central Valley in 2015 to help salmon and other fish survive the drought. Here’s a pie chart prepared by staff from the State Water Resources Control Board showing this breakdown graphically:
A state agency representing consumers said Tuesday that it will try to overturn strict water conservation rules that took effect this week for 1 million residents of San Jose and neighboring Silicon Valley communities, on the grounds that they violate state law by imposing penalties on homeowners but not businesses or apartment owners.
In response to the worst drought in our state’s long memory, our public institutions – with one unfortunate exception – are stepping up. … That’s why I [Rep. Jared Huffman] developed the kind of serious, comprehensive legislation this crisis demands.
The State Water Contractors, which has 27 members that include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, filed a complaint with state officials, accusing some Delta farmers of illegally using water that the public agencies have stored in reservoirs.
Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea.
The tension between California farm interests and the state’s urban water users ratcheted up Tuesday, as a consortium of mostly urban water districts filed a complaint alleging Delta farmers are stealing water.
A 24-month look ahead by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the surface level of the largest Colorado River reservoir should remain above a benchmark level used to determine if full deliveries will be made in a seven-state region home to about 40 million residents, farms, tribes and businesses.
Only once before in the state’s history have the most senior water rights been curtailed. But now, with the drought persisting into a fourth year, state officials say that more reductions for so-called senior water rights holders are nearly certain, and the need for additional cuts will be evaluated weekly.
To encourage conservation, cities and water agencies in California and other states have begun nudging homeowners to use captured rain for their gardens, rather than water from the backyard faucet. But Colorado is one of the last places in the country where rainwater barrels are still largely illegal because of a complex system of water rights in which nearly every drop is spoken for.
While the artificial-turf industry points to studies that show its products are safe and environmentally friendly, some critics worry about toxins from synthetic yards and fields leaching into air and waterways. … Some of those raising concerns, including a California state senator, cite potential risks to human health.
As for the drought, [Gov. Jerry] Brown told [Los Angeles Times Publisher Austin] Beutner that Californians need to “take water and use it and use it again and use it again. The metaphor is spaceship Earth. In a spaceship you reuse everything.” OK, but where’s the state’s crash recycling program?
The Brown administration is pushing late-emerging budget legislation to let state officials force the consolidation of troubled water systems with larger, better-funded agencies, with the goal of improving Californians’ access to safe drinking water after four years of drought.
In a dramatic and controversial move that reflects the severity of the drought, California water regulators Friday ordered farmers and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state to stop pulling water out of California’s rivers.
Even in dry years, water rights that date back before 1914 usually hold strong. However, Friday the State Water Resources Control Board announced water rights would be curtailed even for landowners who had rights dating back to 1903.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, state regulators are telling more than 100 growers and irrigation districts with some of the oldest water rights in California that they have to stop drawing supplies from drought-starved rivers and streams in the Central Valley.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, California regulators are telling more than 100 irrigation districts and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state that they have to stop pumping supplies from drought-starved rivers and streams in the Central Valley.
San Joaquin County is once again eligible for millions of dollars in grants to bolster the region’s water supply, after landowners agreed to provide private well construction details to the state, officials announced Wednesday.
California is at a critical moment in deciding how we’ll deal with stormwater in Los Angeles … and beyond. Next Tuesday, June 16, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) will consider whether or not it will uphold the current stormwater permit for Los Angeles County, which was last renewed in 2012.
California is taking desperate steps to save the last endangered salmon in Wine Country creeks that are going dry because of over-pumping and the drought, officials said Thursday. … Threatened steelhead trout are also being pulled from drying stretches of the waterways.
In a promising trend that increases the likelihood of steady storms this winter that could ease California’s historic drought, federal scientists on Thursday reported that El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean are continuing to grow stronger.
[Gov. Jerry] Brown has always had the capacity to be fascinating and maddening in the same instant, and he was both during an hour of questioning at USC by Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner. The governor offered little in the way of advice for Californians wondering how, exactly, to trim a quarter of their water usage, the level necessary statewide to satisfy his plan.
Yet even as California farmers eye what could be a lucrative expansion into the world’s most discriminating rice market in Japan, their ambitions have been complicated by the state’s severe drought and the surge in the dollar.
Families from San Bernardino to Temecula will still be able to cool off at their neighborhood pools and water slides this summer, despite orders from the state to cut water use an average of 25 percent.
[Tony] Corcoran alone estimates he’s put more than 100 videos of water-wasters, complete with their addresses, up on YouTube. Others tweet out addresses and photos of water scofflaws on Twitter, using hashtags such as (hash)DroughtShaming.
Four years into a drought that has left many cities and farms desperate for water, the vast Sierra-fed water system that serves San Francisco and much of the Bay Area is in relatively good shape — and should get the region through the dry months ahead, officials said Tuesday.
The Stockton East Water District might send more water to farmers than originally expected next month, despite the fact that the reservoir on which the district relies has dwindled to 18 percent of capacity.
California’s worst water-guzzling residents and businesses could get slapped with 300 percent taxes on their bills under drought-inspired legislation that was proposed Tuesday but faces a tough path before it could actually affect local water bills.
The governor’s obsession with building massive tunnels under the Delta could muck up what should be a simple issue: granting CEQA exemption requests for emergency drought projects. The request in the form of Trailer Bill 831 is part of the budget process for dealing with the drought.
As East Bay water officials on Tuesday were about to increase rates and impose the toughest penalties yet against water wasters, Raven Brown had one concern. She’s held off from bathing her dog, which has fleas, for fear her water bill would go up and she might be fined.
East Bay residents will see an average 24 percent hike in their water bills, starting next month, after the East Bay Municipal Utility District on Tuesday approved a bump in rates, largely to make up for revenue lost during the drought.
In a broad-ranging conversation that touched on the “existential threat” posed by man-made global warming, as well as the arcane laws delineating state water rights, [Gov. Jerry] Brown said Californians must learn to live more frugally when it comes to their most precious resource.
[Interior Secretary Sally] Jewell said climate change and drought are to blame for worsening wildfires, which she said destroy homes and businesses, threaten power grids and drinking water and cause damage river valleys that cost millions and take decades to restore.
With water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir and a bellwether for water supplies in the Southwest, setting a new record low every day, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are finalizing a pair of novel water conservation agreements that will keep more water in the shrinking lake.
Ever since the state’s salinity barrier stopped water from flowing through a segment of False River on May 29 — a last-ditch drought effort to keep salty bay water from encroaching on the clean Delta drinking water — the currents have shifted dramatically, endangering boaters and threatening nearby levees, island officials and residents say.
The city of Lincoln, Sacramento Suburban Water District and Georgetown Divide Public Utility District have been told they have to reduce water consumption by 32 percent over the next nine months compared to 2013.
Mining desert groundwater, as far-fetched as it may seem, seems among the most plausible additions to the region’s existing sources of imported water: the Colorado River, and State Water Project – which transfers water from Northern California to Southern California. But, like many grand water schemes, this one is attracting its share of detractors.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday said he won’t back down on his threat to fine cities, water districts and private water companies $10,000 a day if they fail to meet strict water conservation targets during California’s relentless drought.
This is a follow-up post to the “One drop, a dozen options” article in the Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter. The article mentions longtime Mono Lake Committee member Regina Hirsch and her business Sierra Watershed Progressive with respect to the greywater system she helped us create in 2012.
Yes, it will rain again someday. And when it does, and the Calaveras River once more becomes a flowing stream, officials want to give migrating fish their best possible chance at journeying to prime spawning habitat below New Hogan Dam.
The tremendous challenge of upgrading our water infrastructure will require federal cooperation. That’s why I [Dianne Feinstein] plan to introduce drought legislation soon to lay out the federal role in this long-term effort.
The Santa Ana River is a robust and beautiful sight these days. Five miles west of the Prado Dam in Yorba Linda, the water has cut a narrow channel in a sandy bed and courses briskly over submerged rocks and tree limbs.
Cattle rancher Mary Wells lives in a remote valley of summer-gold grass where eagles wheel in the sky, wild pigs roam the surrounding hills and rattlesnakes slither over a parched 14,000-acre domain that looks almost untouched by humans.
In coming months, his [Jack Nicklaus] design firm will oversee the installation of high-efficiency irrigation and add native plants to the Thousand Oaks course. Workers will strip away seven or more acres of turf in places where members rarely hit the ball.
A glistening spectacle on the west Fresno County prairie could be a rock star in California’s next drought. It’s a mirrored solar array longer than a football field, collecting heat to boil salt and other impurities out of irrigation drainage. … The technology is among Valley water stories that The Bee will tell this month in a weekly series.
The state’s splintered congressional delegation — despite its size and influence — has been stymied by fundamental disagreements over the causes of the drought and the role of the federal government in mitigating its consequences.
On the perennially vexing subjects of water and the drought, Gov. Jerry Brown has been on something of a roll. … The drought has risen to the top of the list of Californians’ concerns, a new poll shows, and not just in regions of the state where water is a constant problem.
Most of the Delta’s small, family farms trace back to the Gold Rush, when the wetlands were dammed and levies were built to grow food to feed the miners. It was only later that the federal government began pumping water from here, through canals, to farms in more arid areas hundreds of miles to the south.
Some 3 million hatchery rainbow and brown trout are in quarantine at two North State hatcheries after captive-raised fish at the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery in Paynes Creek tested positive for whirling disease.
One afternoon last summer, Pat Mulroy stood in 106-degree heat at the broad concrete banister atop the Hoover Dam, the wall that holds back the mighty Colorado River, and with it the nation’s largest reserve of water.
In a story June 2 about the California drought, The Associated Press, relying on figures from the State Water Resources Control Board, reported erroneously that the city of Escondido performed worst in the state on water conservation in April 2015, with a 20 percent increase in use from April 2013.
In a fresh challenge to California’s management of the drought, a group of environmentalists has sued state and federal officials, charging that they’re harming fish and wildlife in their efforts to deliver more water to farms and cities.
Farmers are being widely criticized during the California drought because agriculture uses the majority of the state’s water. But some farmers are cutting back by employing new techniques. A recent study used half as much water to yield twice as much fruit.
For the first time, Californians are more concerned about the state’s dogged drought than they are about jobs and the economy, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.
Most Californians don’t believe others in their region of the state are doing enough to respond to the four-year drought, with the harshest criticism being dished out in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
A survey released Wednesday found state residents for the first time put the water shortage ahead of jobs, housing and state finances as California’s most pressing issue, with a large majority thinking that they and their neighbors should be doing more to address the problem.
For the expected 1,500-plus people attending the International Desalination Assn. World Congress, the highlight will be a Sept. 4 tour of the $1-billion desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad.
Water may be scarce in California and other parts of the Southwest, but people are flooding in, according to newly released Census data. The influx of residents into these areas not only coincides with a changing labor and housing market, but also has far-reaching implications for water infrastructure.
The drought is expected to be worse for California’s agricultural economy this year because of reduced water availability, according to our preliminary estimates released today. The study, summarized below, estimates farmers will have 2.7 million acre-feet less surface water than they would in a normal water year — about a 33 percent loss of water supply, on average.
The drought is expected to cost California’s agricultural economy $1.8 billion this year, about four percent of California’s $45 billion agricultural economy, according to a new economic analysis by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
In a potentially significant setback for a system already stressed by epic drought, California regulators have ordered a temporary curb in the flows being released from Lake Shasta in order to protect an endangered species of salmon.
After lagging during the first part of the year, water conservation in California improved significantly in April following Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic order requiring big cuts in water use amid the worsening drought.
Citing drought conditions and low water levels in Lake Shasta, state officials have ordered releases from Keswick Dam into the Sacramento River be reduced to help salmon spawning later this summer and fall.
As mandatory water restrictions took effect Monday across California, a panel of experts called upon the drought-plagued state to upgrade its water infrastructure and reform its antiquated water rights system.