Locally, the primary impacts of climate change on people can broadly be broken into four categories: sea level rise, drought, flood and wildfire. The good news is, work and planning are already well underway to mitigate impacts, though it’s hard to say how much of an effect the measures will have, and how much those agencies – and their constituents – will be willing to spend on them. But this much is clear: Local, state and federal agencies are taking climate change seriously, and treating it like the potentially existential threat that it is.
More than ever, water’s true value as a finite and precious resource is starting to be realised, and a growing number of investors are paying attention. There are plenty of examples of water risk. Campbell Soup Company took a hit in its quarterly earnings recently, due to an acquisition of a California fresh food company that was pummeled by the California drought.
With Lake Mead now 39 percent full and approaching a first-ever shortage, Western states that rely on the Colorado River are looking to Arizona to sign a deal aimed at reducing the risk of the reservoir crashing. The centerpiece of Gov. Ducey’s proposed legislation is a resolution giving Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke the authority to sign the Drought Contingency Plan. The package of proposed bills also would appropriate $35 million and tweak existing legislation to make the plan work.
Around the world, vanishing glaciers will mean less water for people and crops in the future. … Glaciers represent the snows of centuries, compressed over time into slowly flowing rivers of ice. … But in a warming climate melting outstrips accumulation, resulting in a net loss of ice.
Citing what they say would be a disastrous decision for the region, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined with other members of the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority (SJTA) in a lawsuit challenging the state’s right to arbitrarily increase flows in the Stanislaus and two other rivers.
Members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes will vote Saturday, Jan. 19 on a proposed ordinance to allow for the lease of a portion of the Tribes’ Colorado River water allocation to outside interests. The issue of leasing Tribal water rights has become a contentious issue among Tribal members. Opponents claim this compromises the Tribes’ resources, while supporters point to the economic benefits.
A declining Colorado River in Arizona. Orcas and salmon stocks in Washington state. Forest restoration in Idaho to protect drinking water sources from wildfire. And renewable energy seemingly everywhere. These are some of the water issues that U.S. governors have mentioned in their 2019 State of the State speeches. The speeches, usually given at the beginning of the legislative session, outline budget or policy priorities for the coming year.
A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles, videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years, you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.
Far less settled is how Newsom will fill his administration’s most important positions regarding state water policy. One of Newsom’s key tests confronts him immediate: State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus’ term expires this week.
The draft legislation compiled by the Department of Water Resources looks similar to how water leaders described the measures at a Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee meeting last week. … But the legislation as drafted barely delves into the nitty-gritty details of a far more complex intrastate agreement that Arizona water users have been hashing out for months.
As rain continues to pelt Southern California, signs of an abundance of or even too much water are everywhere: Roads are flooded, reservoirs are filling and the wait time for Radiator Springs Racers at the damp Disneyland Resort has been less than a half hour. But as residents of burn areas evacuate and even heavier rain is forecast for Thursday, those who watch the state and local water supplies note that while the drought is technically over, the need to conserve water is not.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050. The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape.
Following one of the hottest and driest years on record, the Colorado River and its tributaries throughout the western U.S. are likely headed for another year of low water. That’s according to a new analysis by the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder. Researcher Jeff Lukas, who authored the briefing, says water managers throughout the Colorado River watershed should brace themselves for diminished streams and the decreasing likelihood of filling the reservoirs left depleted at the end of 2018.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
Arcadis has announced it will partner with Kiewit Infrastructure West and PERC Water to serve as the progressive design-build team for the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP) in the City of Santa Monica, Calif. Currently, the city partially relies on imported water to meet its water needs. This project will allow the city to take a major step toward water independence, supporting existing programs designed to create a sustainable water supply
After more than three years, 104 days of testimony, and over twenty-four thousand pages of hearing transcripts, the hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) on the proposal to construct two tunnels to convey water under the Delta (aka California WaterFix) is almost completed. Probably, that is: there could be more if the project changes again to a degree that requires additional testimony and/or environmental review.
Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture. Groundwater supplies around the world are being threatened by excessive pumping, but drilling deeper wells is not a long-term solution. A better solution is to manage water use and avoid excessive declines in groundwater levels.
A proposed Colorado River drought plan that will cost well over $100 million is just the beginning of what’s needed to protect the over-allocated river, says Bruce Babbitt, the former governor who rammed through Arizona’s last big water legislation nearly four decades ago. After Gov. Doug Ducey urged legislators to “do the heavy lifting” and pass the proposed drought-contingency plan for the Colorado, Babbitt said Monday that authorities will have to start discussing a much longer-term plan immediately after it’s approved.
A Bureau of Reclamation program awards grants to water districts and other project sponsors seeking to reuse water and add to supplies. From 1992 through 2017, it awarded about $715 million for 46 construction projects and 71 studies. Nearly all of the funding—about $703 million—went for construction projects that recycled water.
Nasdaq, along with Veles Water and WestWater Research, has announced the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index (NQH2O), the first of its kind water index that benchmarks the price of water in a way that supports price discovery and enables the creation of a tradable financial instrument.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California … began what is being referred to as “defensive withdrawals” from Lake Mead. Remember, Lake Mead is severely low, and if L.A. takes all of the water they’ve been allotted, it will trigger emergency supply restrictions for everyone else. So, why are they doing this with the agreement deadline so close? The Show turned to Debra Kahn who covers California environmental policy and broke the story for Politico Pro.
A section of the museum will also be dedicated to water, teaching visitors how much water it takes to grow crops, how California farmers lead the world in conservation, and how the state’s complicated water storage and delivery system works, said Mike Wade, the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. The Coalition is the title sponsor for the exhibits and has drawn on several farming organizations, including Farm Credit, to help build and maintain the exhibits.
In an attempt to block the state’s plan to divert more water toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and away from the Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a lawsuit arguing the project could significantly reduce the local water supply. If the plan advances, the water district might have to spend millions of dollars to obtain alternate water supplies and pull up more groundwater.
Arizona legislators and staff are attending closed-door primers on water policy in advance of a critical January 31 federal deadline for the state to approve the Drought Contingency Plan. The first of three meetings occurred on Friday afternoon and lasted two and a half hours. The session was led by Central Arizona Project general manager Ted Cooke and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.
Everywhere you look new homes, hotels and master-planned developments are appearing. It is wise to ask whether we have enough water for these future desert residents and visitors. Permits for new projects are under the jurisdiction of cities or the county — not under the purview of water agencies. Water agencies are tasked with supplying the water. Balancing growth and water supplies is nothing new to desert communities. It has always been a fact of life in our desert and is one of Desert Water Agency’s most important responsibilities.
Urban water conservation took a sharp drop in November in California, with savings of just 7.8 percent compared to November 2013, the benchmark pre-drought year. That’s down from 13.4 percent savings in October. Statewide, the average was 86 gallons per capita. In the Sacramento River watershed, everyone used on average 101 gallons per day; in the Bay Area, 67 gallons; on the South Coast, 86 gallons.
As the Southwest faces rapid growth and unrelenting drought, the Colorado River is in crisis, with too many demands on its diminishing flow. Now those who depend on the river must confront the hard reality that their supply of Colorado water may be cut off.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, if he is to successfully steer the state into the future, has to bring to his water agenda the same steely-eyed, reality-based drive that the two previous governors brought to limiting carbon emissions. It is time for the state to respond to its water challenge with the same sense of urgency with which it adopted Assembly Bill 32, the landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006.
The Colorado River may not look like it, but it’s one of the world’s largest banks. The river is not only the source of much of the American West’s economic productivity – San Diego, Phoenix and Denver would hardly exist without it – but its water is now the central commodity in a complex accounting system used by major farmers and entire states. … This month, the nation’s largest water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, began what amounts to a run on the bank.
When the grapefruit and lemon trees bloom on Jim Seley’s farm, the white blossoms fill the air with their sweet scent. He and his son, Mike, manage the business, and they hope to pass it on to the next generation of Seleys. But the farms of Borrego Springs, like the town and its golf courses, rely completely on groundwater pumped from the desert aquifer. And it’s unclear whether farming will be able to survive in this part of the Southern California desert west of the Salton Sea in San Diego County.
The State Water Resources Control Board proved back on Dec. 12 that it wasn’t listening to a single thing anyone from our region was saying. By voting to impose draconian and scientifically unjustifiable water restrictions on our region, four of the five board members tuned out dozens of scientists, water professionals and people who live near the rivers.
Gov. Doug Ducey will use his fifth State of the State speech Monday, Jan. 14, to try to corral the votes to approve a drought-contingency plan in the next 17 days or risk federal intervention. “We’re in a position now where we have a sense of urgency and focus on Arizona’s water situation,” the governor told the business community Friday in previewing the speech that kicks off the legislative session.
Southern California’s native scrublands are famously tough. … They evolved along with long, hot summers, at least six rainless months a year and intense wildfires. But not this much fire, this often. The combination of too-frequent wildfires and drought amplified by climate change poses a growing threat to wildlands that deliver drinking water to millions.
Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.
In a 5-3 vote Wednesday that — intriguingly — fell along gender lines, the Phoenix City Council approved an increase in water rates, starting next month. “I thank the women to have the leadership and courage to do the right thing. 5-3,” Interim Mayor Thelda Williams said. … Wednesday’s vote overturned the council’s previous rejection of the proposed increase, on December 12, that was also 5-3.
The city of San Francisco is not standing down in California’s latest water war, joining a lawsuit against the state on Thursday to stop it from directing more of the Sierra Nevada’s cool, crisp flows to fish instead of people.
Registration is now open for the Santa Ana River Watershed Conference set for March 29 in Fullerton. The daylong event will be held at Cal State Fullerton. Join us to discuss the importance of the Santa Ana River Watershed and how, through powerful partnerships, resilient solutions can be found to improve the quality and reliability of the region’s water supply.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues, some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’ concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to pump more groundwater.
Mount, a senior fellow at the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California, spoke recently about managing freshwater systems with ecosystem water budgets. “I will argue that drought, because of the way we have modified this system, is the major bottleneck ecologically,” he said. “Step 1 has to be thinking about drought: how to mitigate drought and how to deal with drought – that is plan for, respond to, and recover from drought. We don’t do that at all, even though we just had this big drought.”
One of the Water Education Foundation’s most popular events, Water 101 offers a once-a-year opportunity for anyone new to California water issues or newly elected to a water district board – and anyone who wants a refresher — to gain a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource. It will be held Feb. 7 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
First, the good news: The negotiators of Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan have crafted the most detailed, concrete proposal to date laying out how Arizona will deal with expected cutbacks to its supply of Colorado River. Now, the bad: The partial shutdown of the federal government is squeezing these negotiators.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to auction off its Potter Valley Project hydropower plant, which contains two reservoirs and dams, to a new operator. PG&E cited increasing operation costs, a competitive energy market and lower energy generation needs as reasons for its decision. Questions remain as to what extent Marin County water supplies will be affected by a potential change in ownership and operation of the 110-year-old hydropower plant more than 100 miles to the north.
Gov. Doug Ducey used his second inaugural speech Monday to exhort lawmakers and others with a claim to Colorado River water to approve a drought contingency plan before a solution is imposed by the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s simple: Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than Mother Nature puts back,” the governor told his audience. “And with critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick the can any further.”
Cloud seeding has existed for decades, and has significant traction in other western states such as California, Idaho and Wyoming. Colorado has only recently joined the cloud seeding game as the state’s snowpack has declined and the Colorado River runs dry.
At Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Water District’s Planning & Stewardship Committee, officials said that with no Drought Contingency Plan in place (Arizona being the hold out), they are beginning to draw down their storage in Lake Mead. “If there is no Drought Contingency Plan, we don’t want to leave potentially half a million acre-feet or more locked up in Lake Mead if we go into shortage,” said General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.
Jon Rosenfield: Last month the State Water Resources Control Board finally required increased flows from three San Joaquin River tributaries, as the first step in a process to update water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay estuary. The board opted for weaker environmental protections in order to reduce impacts to agribusiness and San Francisco, ignoring the potential for changed agricultural practices and investment in sustainable water use to ease or eliminate the impact of reduced water diversions.
California’s lawns receded during past droughts: Homeowners reduced their water use by adding flower beds and walkways where turf had previously been. But this last drought, which ended in early 2017, was different. Thousands of homeowners took advantage of “cash for grass” programs to remove their lawns entirely.
The announcement finalizes prioritization of 458 basins, identifying 56 that are required to create groundwater sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. For most basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins remain under review with final prioritization expected in late spring.
Southern Nevadans will see few noticeable consequences from a soon-to-be-finalized drought contingency plan for states that get most of their water supply from the Colorado River, according to a Southern Nevada water resources expert.
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now, they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job, the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
Everyone who diverts water is required to report to the State Water Board the amount they used. But Louis and Darcy Chacon reported an amount that just didn’t make sense. The Chacons reported they used more than 1 trillion acre-feet of water annually from 2009 to 2013, more than is available on the entire planet.
It has been called speculative, foolhardy and overly expensive, but Aaron Million’s plan to pump water from the Utah-Wyoming border to Colorado’s Front Range just won’t dry up. Now seeking water rights from the Green River in Utah for a new version of his plan, Million thinks he has fashioned a winning proposal to feed Colorado’s thirsty, growing population.
Due to rising average temperatures, snowpacks in the Great Basin appear to be transitioning from seasonal, with a predictable amount and melt rate, to “ephemeral,” or short-lived, which are less predictable and only last up to 60 days. “We might not get as much water into the ground, throwing off the timing of water for plant root systems, reducing our supply and use, and even affecting businesses such as tourism,” says lead researcher Rose Petersky.
At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet; and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet.
The tenth annual performance report evaluates what the state water boards do and how the environment is responding to its actions. The report presents numerous performance measures for specific outputs and outcomes.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in California in 2014.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring water quality within California and throughout the Southwest and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
There’s every reason to expect that 2019 will be far better, largely because of Measure W, which was passed by voters in November. The initiative imposes a Los Angeles County parcel tax that will generate $300 million per year to reduce pollution from runoff and capture storm water to add to the water supply.
Water conservation numbers for October were announced last week by the Water Resources Control Board, and the savings were all over the place. Statewide, urban water use was down 13.4 percent compared to October 2013, the pre-drought benchmark year.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
Water saving in urban California continued to slide in August, but Butte County agencies generally conserved twice as much water as the rest of the state. The State Water Resources Control Board reported Tuesday that statewide, water use was down 12.6 percent in August, compared to August 2013.
People in California and the Southwest are getting stingier with water, a story that’s told by the acre-foot.
For years, water use has generally been described in terms of acre-foot per a certain number of households, keying off the image of an acre-foot as a football field a foot deep in water. The long-time rule of thumb: One acre-foot of water would supply the indoor and outdoor needs of two typical urban households for a year.
The latest water conservation figures released by the state show Butte County saving at about double the statewide rate. The Water Resources Control Board released the number for July last week, and statewide water savings were 13.6 percent lower than in July 2013, the benchmark pre-drought year.
Butte County continues to outpace the state by a long shot when it comes to water conservation, according to numbers released last week by the state Water Resources Control Board. The board released water savings reported for June by 360 urban water suppliers in the state, which averaged 16.8 percent compared to June 2013, the benchmark year before the last drought.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
The State Water Resources Control Board released water saving numbers earlier this week, and reported statewide savings of 20.2 percent in May, compared to May 2013, the benchmark year for before the drought.
Americans are conserving water in their homes like never before, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report released this month. In per capita terms, domestic water use has plummeted from 112 gallons per day in 1980 to just 82 gallons in 2015, a 27 percent decrease.
California has always been America’s leader on environmental policy, and water is no exception. So it was hardly surprising when the state made headlines across the nation in early June with a new policy on residential water use: Californians will be limited to 55 gallons per person per day for their indoor water needs.
Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.
Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.
It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low.
If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.
On Thursday, Brown signed two bills, SB 606 by Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and AB 1668 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), that require cities, water districts and large agricultural water districts to set strict annual water budgets …The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — which serves approximately two-thirds of county residents across several municipalities and community services districts — initially opposed the legislation unless it was amended.
Taking aim at two water-conservation laws signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, a conspiratorial far-right financial blog called Zero Hedge reported Sunday that Californians could be fined $1,000 a day if they bathe and wash their clothes on the same day.
For the first time in the state’s history, California is setting permanent water-consumption goals to prepare for future droughts and climate change, with a local elected official involved in the historic move. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1668, one of the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.
Saving water may be as simple as changing the type of roof you have, two scientists in Berkeley discovered. That might sound far-fetched, but their new findings about “cool” roofs recently published in the journal Nature Communications showed for the first time that it’s possible — and it could save California cities millions of gallons of water each year.
Although he declared an end to California’s historic five-year drought last year, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed two new laws that will require cities and water districts across the state to set permanent water conservation rules, even in non-drought years. “In preparation for the next drought and our changing environment, we must use our precious resources wisely,” Brown said in a statement.
California cities and towns may find themselves on a water budget in the next decade under a pair of bills approved Thursday by the legislature. The measures follow Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to make water conservation a permanent way of life in a state long accustomed to jewel-green lawns and suburban tracts studded with swimming pools.
As California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.
Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.
California voters are being asked to weigh in on new borrowing, new government restrictions and a drought-friendly tax break on the statewide primary ballots that will be counted June 5. There are five propositions in all, a small menu of proposed laws all written by the California Legislature.
There may not have been a “March Miracle” when it came to the snowpack in the state, but there was sure one when it came to water conservation. The State Water Resources Control reported that in March urban Californians used 24.8 percent less water than in March 2013, the benchmark year considered to be before the drought.
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
Since Gov. Jerry Brown called off California’s drought emergency a year ago, we Californians seem to have gotten a little lazy when it comes to water conservation. We’ve started watering our lawns more often.
Earlier this year, the Cape Town government predicted the taps would run dry on April 22 — Day Zero. Only 39% of citizens were meeting conservation targets. But Cape Town appears to have narrowly averted disaster by slashing individuals’ average water use by half, an achievement that dwarfs efforts in other drought-prone regions, including California.
The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to impose permanent conservation rules – such as prohibiting hosing down driveways, watering lawns less than two days after it rains and washing a car without attaching a shut-off nozzle to the hose – ran into a cascade of opposition.
California’s water conservation habits, refined and improved over five years of drought, are quickly evaporating. For the seventh time in the last eight months, the amount of water saved by urban Californians has declined, according to new data from the State Water Resources Control Board.
This April 19th workshop in San Pedro was focused on helping Southern California water agencies and others to gain information for improving drought preparedness and updating Urban Water Management Plans. The workshop was sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Water Education Foundation.
DoubleTree by Hilton (Madeo Ballroom)
2800 Via Cabrillo-Marina
San Pedro, CA 90731
With nearly half the state back in drought, California’s water regulator held a contentious hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday on whether to make permanent the temporary water bans enacted by Governor Jerry Brown during the 2014-2017 drought. The board announced it will revisit the proposed measures in March while it makes some minor revisions to the draft proposals.
Cap-and-trade systems are most notably used for controlling pollution, particularly related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The idea has never yet been implemented when it comes to water conservation. … Four years ago, Newsha Ajami, the director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program, and her lab began exploring how such a system might work for water.
A proposal to make California’s drought-era water restrictions permanent could allow the state to chip away at long-held water rights in an unprecedented power grab, representatives from water districts and other users told regulators Tuesday.
Recognizing California’s increasing propensity for parched weather — this winter being no exception — state water officials are planning to resurrect many of the temporary water restrictions that were enacted during the recent five-year dry spell and make them permanent.
Overall water use is climbing in Southern California as that part of the state plunges back into drought, driving state and regional water managers as they consider permanently reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.
Weather experts spent much of this winter cautiously optimistic. There were still weeks to go in the wet season and the reservoirs were full, thanks to last winter’s near record-breaking rain and snow. Now, even the professionals are getting more than a little nervous.
As California suffers through another dry winter, increasing fears that drought conditions may be returning, the state’s residents are dropping conservation habits that were developed during the last drought and steadily increasing their water use with each passing month.
The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1.
Worried about California’s dry winter? Interested in installing a rainwater capture system from your roof? A new state ballot measure written by an East Bay lawmaker and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday will put the issue before voters in four months.
In April 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown called on the people of the most populous state to reduce their water use by 25% in response to a punishing four-year drought. It was an audacious goal, and Californians came close to meeting it.
The last few months have seen a growing number of climate concerns – from historically devastating floods to record forest fires – with many regions still assessing the damage. Beyond recovery, planning and paying for more resilient infrastructure also remains an enormous challenge, and no quick and easy solutions seem to be on the way from Washington or elsewhere.
For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use. Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties. The situation turned critical during the 2012 to 2016 drought, when reservoirs sank to alarmingly low levels.
The state of California is looking to crack down on water wasters and make saving water a way of life — no matter how much it rains. California’s restrictions on water use in September were effective, As a result, the state saw a 15 percent drop in water use.
It was raining and Judy Adler had a broken gutter. What could have been a simple repair turned into an effort to capture rain and use it for her backyard pond. Since late 2009, Adler has collected up to 11,000 gallons of rain annually at her Walnut Creek home.
Good habits die hard, it seems, after five years of epic drought – for most Californians, anyway. The historic dry spell from 2012 to 2016 prompted many state residents to reduce their water consumption, as did strict regulations imposed by state agencies and individual water districts.
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.
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.
Despite weeks of rain and a growing perception that the California drought is dead or dying, state officials Wednesday largely extended the water regulations that have become the new normal in cities and towns throughout the state.
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.
The message is oft-repeated that water must be conserved and used as wisely as possible.
The California Water Code calls water use efficiency “the efficient management of water resources for beneficial uses, preventing waste, or accomplishing additional benefits with the same amount of water.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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 mandates.
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.
After examining water use data and water agencies’ urban water plans, [Heather] Cooley and her colleagues found that while water use stayed stagnant or declined in some areas, many utilities were projecting increased water use in the future, which shows they’re not allowing for efficiency improvements and so they could be overestimating demand, which could increase costs for rate payers for water they may not use.
For years companies have targeted consumers with advertising that leverages social pressure – like saying seven out of 10 people prefer a certain brand of toothpaste or laundry detergent. More recently, that kind of thinking has been used not just to sell products, but also to change behavior.
On the day it became official that this was the wettest October in Redding in more than 50 years, the state released water conservation numbers for September. … October’s rain boosted water levels at Lake Shasta.
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 cost.
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.
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.
If you live in an apartment in California, you don’t pay for the water you use – not directly, anyway. … On September 26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 7, a law drafted by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. It requires new apartment buildings constructed after January 1, 2018, to include submeters for every rental unit and to bill of tenants accordingly.
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 severe drought.
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.
From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,” xeriscape was coined in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.” Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and slow-growing plants to reduce water use.
Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. It optimizes agricultural production, obtained from either surface or groundwater, when the natural quantity and distribution of rain is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined or serve as subcategories of one another.
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.
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.
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.
Californians are continuing to save significant amounts of water despite the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to relax drought rules two months ago. Statewide, urban residents cut water use 21.5 percent in June, compared with the same month in 2013, the year the state has been using as a baseline, according to new data released Tuesday.
In a paper published Monday in Geophysical Research Letters University of Southern California post-doctoral research associate Pouya Vahmani and USC civil and environmental engineering professor George Ban-Weiss analyze what would happen to the city’s overall temperature during the month of July if every lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.
It wasn’t just generous spring rains filling north-state reservoirs that had California’s urban water districts pushing back so hard against mandatory water cuts this year. All those brown lawns and shorter showers have cost them millions in customer revenue.
California has shifted its message on the drought. Now, instead of calling on residents to cut their water consumption collectively by 25 percent, water agencies are saying something akin to this: “Trust us, it’s all under control.”
Each of the five zones in [David] Witting’s irrigation system can be adjusted from an app on his iPhone that connects to the controller in his garage. Through his home WiFi, the controller also pulls satellite and local weather data from the internet. It automatically turns off his sprinklers when it rains.
While mandatory statewide conservation is over, California water officials say conservation remains a “top priority.” “Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in its growing almanac of drought. … News of L.A.’s record low precipitation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board announced a 28% drop in residential water use for May, compared with the same month in 2013.
A year after California attacked the drought with an unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not exactly setting a high bar.
Municipal water agencies across California are required to report to state officials by midnight Wednesday on whether they have enough water to withstand three more years of drought. … Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board are calling it a “stress test.”
Following the wettest winter in five years, water conservation rules for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents are likely to be relaxed in the next few weeks. The staff of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale water provider for the county, is recommending a 20 percent cut in water usage compared with 2013 levels through Jan. 31, down from the current 30 percent.
As debate continues in San Diego County and around the state over how aggressively to conserve water amid a historic drought, a new study finds that reductions in urban water use have saved significant amounts of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
State officials lauded Californians’ continued water savings Monday while issuing a stern warning: State-mandated restrictions will be imposed again on suppliers that fail to take extended conservation needs seriously.
Last month, state water officials eased conservation mandates in response to slightly above-average winter rain and snow in much of California, leading many to speculate that the state’s long-running drought has tapered off. If only.