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.
Several years of drought had severely depleted the Kern, a
popular whitewater rafting destination known for its dramatic
rapids. But this year’s wet winter created a record Sierra
Nevada snowpack, and the melt has engorged the river with
swift, frigid water.
As drought and water shortages become California’s new normal,
more and more of the water that washes down drains and flushes
down toilets is being cleaned and recycled for outdoor
irrigation. But some public officials, taking cues
from countries where water scarcity is a fact of life, want to
take it further and make treated wastewater available for much
more — even drinking.
The seemingly contradictory weather conditions — a heat wave
and mountains still piled high with snow — are one final legacy
of a historic winter that brought the most rain ever recorded
in Northern California. Months of back-to-back storms finally
pulled California out of its five-year drought. But they left
behind up to 200 inches of snow.
During drought, people conserve water. That’s a good thing for
public water agencies and the state as a whole but the reduction
in use ultimately means less money flowing into the budgets of
those very agencies that need funds to treat water to drinkable
standards, maintain a distribution system, and build a more
“There are two things that can’t happen to a water utility – you
can’t run out of money and you can’t run out of water,” said Tom
Esqueda, public utilities director for the city of Fresno. He was
a panelist at a June 16 discussion in Sacramento about drought
resiliency sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California
People came here for the forest, to live among 200-foot-tall
pine trees that shaded their mountain cabins and scented the
air. But in the span of two short years, tens of thousands of
those trees are gone, ravaged by bark beetles until their green
needles turned orange.
Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno recently claimed
Gov. Jerry Brown has slashed nearly all the money in the
state’s budget to help local governments remove dead and dying
trees in California’s forests. More than 100 million trees have
died in the forests due to drought and bark beetle infestations
Already faced with unprecedented low numbers of returning
salmon and drastically reduced fishing allowances, California’s
fishing fleets and communities are not expected to find any
relief in the next few years, according to testimony by a host
of experts and regulators at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is
outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA
and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that
California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully
behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater
levels back into balance.
Researchers have issued a dire warning for California’s native
trout and salmon: Three-quarters of them will be extinct in the
next 100 years unless urgent action is taken. This bleak
assessment came Tuesday from biologists at the UC Davis Center
for Watershed Sciences and from California Trout, a nonprofit
From the Central Coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills, spring
winds have dried timber and brush after a historically wet
winter that isn’t expected to relieve the 2017 wildfire threat,
a Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit official said. Gov. Jerry
Brown on Monday proclaimed Wildfire Awareness Week, citing a
rise in dangerous wildfires in recent years.
A bill intended to prevent dying trees damaged by drought
from falling onto utility lines on publicly owned
federal land, sparking wildfires and electricity blackouts,
passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on
First the drought ended. Now the last vestiges of mandatory
conservation rules are over, too. California’s main water
regulatory agency ended mandatory conservation regulations for
urban residents Wednesday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s
official declaration that the drought ended April 7.
California’s brutal five-year drought did more than lead to
water shortages and dead lawns. It increased electricity bills
statewide by $2.45 billion and boosted levels of smog and
greenhouse gases, according to a new study released Wednesday.
Californians’ electricity costs jumped by a combined $2.45
billion from 2012 to 2016 because of severe shortages of cheap
hydroelectricity, according to an estimate released Wednesday
by the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy think tank.
California’s historic five-year drought is officially over,
washed away with the relentlessly drenching rains, floods and
snowstorms of this winter. But just as tougher building codes
and better emergency planning follow major earthquakes, the
brutally dry years from 2012 to 2016 are already leaving a
legacy, experts say, changing the way Californians use
water for generations to come.
Knee-high tufts of grass dot the streets of Hardwick, a rural
neighborhood with a few dozen homes hemmed in by vineyards and
walnut and almond orchards in California’s agriculture-rich San
California’s climate has long been dominated by cycles of
intense dry conditions followed by heavy rain and snow. But
never before in recorded history has the state seen such an
extreme drought-to-deluge swing.
For the second year in a row, California officials are likely
to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local
specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and
possibly beyond. … The low numbers are due to lingering
effects of the drought, because impacts on the population are
felt about three or four years behind years with little rain.
After one of the wettest winters on record, Gov. Jerry Brown
declared Friday that California’s historic drought is
officially over for all but a handful of areas in the Central
Valley. But after five years of severely dry conditions,
California also is pressing forward with a dramatic overhaul of
its conservation ethic for farms to cityscapes.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared the end of California’s drought
emergency on Friday, stressing that water conservation must
be a permanent part of life as the state adapts to climate
change and prepares for the next drought.
tartlingly green hills, surging rivers and the snow-wrapped
Sierra Nevada had already signaled what Gov. Jerry Brown made
official Friday: The long California drought is over. Brown
issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in
all but a handful of San Joaquin Valley counties where some
communities are still coping with dried-up wells.
California looks to be resuscitated this spring, with green
stretching the length of the state and the desert erupting in a
colorful mosaic fueled by a super bloom of flowers. The state’s
wet winter has erased a surface drought more than five years in
the making. Now, many reservoirs have been topped off, rivers
are running and the snowpack – so meager just two years ago as
to be almost unmeasurable – is piled 50ft (15m) high in
Farmers employ tens of thousands of people in the San Joaquin
Valley and run a $35 billion industry producing grapes, milk,
oranges, almonds and dozens of other commodities sold in stores
around the globe. Many of them supported Donald Trump for
president, calculating that his promise to deliver more water
to drought-starved valley farms would help them despite his
hard-line stance on immigration.
Last summer it was a jarring symbol of California’s historic
five-year drought. San Luis Reservoir — the vast lake along
Highway 152 between Gilroy and Los Banos, the state’s
fifth-largest reservoir and a key link in the water supply for
millions of people and thousands of acres of Central Valley
farmland — was just 10 percent full.
California’s water regulators are looking to strengthen their
focus on climate change, adopting policies aimed at helping the
state prepare for more severe floods, more extreme droughts and
One year ago, just 5 percent of California was classified as
free from drought. That number has been turned nearly upside
down, and as of Thursday, 91 percent of the state is no longer
in drought condition, according to federal scientists.
Going, going, but not gone yet. About 47 percent of
California still faces a drought, and the conditions are severe
in 11 percent of the state, according to the most recent weekly
report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Both drought and floodwaters are testing California’s aging
water infrastructure. A new NASA analysis shows too much
groundwater pumping during the drought has caused the
California Aqueduct to sink more than two feet near Avenal in
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that less than 2 percent of
California is still experiencing severe drought impacts, but
that small area is concentrated in southern Santa Barbara
County and parts of neighboring Ventura and Los
A healthy snow pack and steady rain have offered a fresh
outlook to over five years of drought in California but the
State Water Resources Control Board is expected to extend
emergency regulations due to water supply problems in areas
such as the Central Coast.
California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water
officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a
hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply:
removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or
distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s
Roaring storms that brought California almost a year’s worth of
snow and rain in a single month should make state water
managers’ Sierra snowpack survey Thursday a celebration,
marking this winter’s dramatic retreat of the state’s more than
5-year-drought, water experts say.
The ponderosa pine had taken root decades before the
Revolutionary War, making a stately stand on this
western Sierra Nevada slope for some 300 years, Nate
Stephenson figures. Then came the beetle blitzkrieg.
Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms
the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and
battling climate change. … Although state money represent
only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending
(13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important
piece of the funding pie.
San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos is on its way to filling
for the first time since 2011 as rain and snow bring the state
additional relief from a punishing drought. Statewide, a series
of storms over the past two weeks have allowed water managers
to fill major reservoirs to above-normal levels for this time
Much of California has gone from withered to water-logged this
winter, but the state’s top water regulator is not ready to
lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height
of the drought. … Water districts have been lobbying the
board to back down.
With storms drenching much of California and snow blanketing
the Sierra Nevada, the state’s top water regulators are
grappling with how to shift from conservation rules devised
during more than five years of drought to a long-term strategy
for using water more sustainably.
With major reservoirs nearly full, the Sierra Nevada snowpack
well above average and flood warnings in place for some rivers,
federal scientists reported Thursday a continued weakening of
California’s drought. … Even as state officials urged
caution, they announced Wednesday that cites [sic] and farms
will receive at least 60 percent of the maximum amount of water
they are contracted to buy in the coming year from the State
Water Project, up from just 20 percent two months ago.
The worst area of drought in California has significantly
narrowed to a small region northwest of Los Angeles that has
stubbornly failed to benefit from Pacific storms that have
drenched much of the state since the fall and were lining up
Deluged with a series of relentless storms this winter, more
than 40 percent of California — including the Bay Area — is no
longer in a drought for the first time in four years, a stark
turnaround after one of the worst natural disasters in state
history, a new federal report said Thursday morning.
Rescue workers used boats and firetrucks to evacuate dozens of
Northern California residents from their flooded homes
Wednesday as a drought-busting series of storms began to move
out of the region after days of heavy rain and snow that
toppled trees and created havoc as far north as Portland,
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday released a $177.1 billion spending
plan that contains funds for drought, water rights management,
continuation of the statewide conservation program Save Our
Water and other key water programs.
As a result of the nearly weeklong deluge, water is flowing
into California lakes and reservoirs, prompting dam operators
to release supplies in advance of a storm expected next week.
But it’s too early to say if the series of storms is a
If the storm systems keep coming, state and regional water
managers say, 2017 could be the end of a dry spell that has,
for more than five years, caused crops to wither,
reservoirs to run dry and homeowners to rip out their lawns and
The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the
past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and
flash floods. … Officially, California’s drought won’t
end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency
drought declaration he signed in January 2014.
A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern
California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding
while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the
state’s once-grim drought picture.
After many long years of waiting, California’s drought relief
may finally be here. … Central California is on track to
be the second wettest water year on record, and Southern
California is expected to tie the wettest year, which was the
year of ‘68-’69.
As much of the state heads into a sixth year of drought, water
officials on Wednesday, Jan. 4, cheered Californians’ continued
conservation while urging them to stay stingy with water after
residential savings slipped below 19 percent in November.
The first manual survey this year of California’s snowpack
revealed Tuesday that it holds about half as much water as
normal, casting a shadow on the state that’s hoping to dodge a
sixth straight year of drought, officials said.
Around the start of each year, California water officials make
a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for
reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was
fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53
percent of average, about a third as much water as the same
time last year at that site.
Surveyors will plunge poles into the Sierra Nevada snowpack
near Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, taking the season’s first
measurement by hand of the snow’s water content as California
flirts with a sixth year of drought.
The federal government will be pouring nearly a quarter-billion
dollars into several dozen projects aimed at tackling the
effects of drought in the West and restoring watersheds that
provide drinking water to communities around the nation.
[Arizona] Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke
is meeting with other Colorado River system users in Las Vegas
at the annual Colorado River Water User Association Conference
running through Dec. 16. … On Dec. 15, Secretary of the
Interior Sally Jewell will unveil the program for management of
the Colorado River between Lakes Powell and Mead.
When California water officials assess the drought, the first
place they look is the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Rain
and snowmelt from the area feed into a complex system of
rivers, canals and reservoirs that send water across the state.
California is working to put into place a framework that will
help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as
future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a
changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a
draft report released last week, is the collective effort of
five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive
Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the
House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water
infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown
with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a
filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in
Despite a wet start to the fall in Northern California, nearly
two-thirds of the state remains wracked by extreme drought. In
the future, climate change is likely to make dry periods more
frequent, more intense and longer.
Urban Californians used about 1.8 percent more water in October
compared with a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. It
marked the fourth straight month in which conservation has
slipped following the state’s decision to relax drought
Now, if past weather patterns are fulfilled this year, experts
say, Northern California’s winter — and long-term relief from
years of drought — could be just around the corner for the
state’s most important watershed.
California’s water regulators will start using aerial images to
measure the green grass and irrigated landscapes of hundreds of
communities across the state as part of a new long-term
strategy to boost conservation.
California officials crafting a new conservation plan for the
state’s dry future drew criticism from environmentalists on
Thursday for failing to require more cutbacks of farmers, who
use 80 percent of the water consumed by people.
In a series of proposals released Wednesday, state officials
said they might require urban water districts seeking to avoid
state conservation mandates to prove they have a five-year
water supply on hand.
In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group
of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early
funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its
drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from
over-watering big lawns are illegal.
In a preliminary outlook, the state Department of Water
Resources said it can count on allocating as little as 20
percent of requested water supplies to start, hinting drought
fears are far from over in California.
California’s Department of Water Resources has made its initial
projection of how much water public agencies can count on
receiving from the canals and pipelines of the State Water
Project next year: 20 percent of their full allotments.
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.