California’s climate, characterized by warm, dry summers and mild
winters, makes the state’s water supply unpredictable. For
instance, runoff and precipitation in California can be quite
variable. The northwestern part of the state can receive more
than 140 inches per year while the inland deserts bordering
Mexico can receive less than 4 inches.
By the Numbers:
Precipitation averages about 193 million acre-feet per year.
In a normal precipitation year, about half of the state’s
available surface water – 35 million acre-feet – is collected in
local, state and federal reservoirs.
California is home to more than 1,300 reservoirs.
About two-thirds of annual runoff evaporates, percolates into
the ground or is absorbed by plants, leaving about 71 million
acre-feet in average annual runoff.
Two Inland Empire water wholesale agencies, just like most
consumers, are tired of dealing with the impact of drought. …
The IEUA [Inland Empire Utilities Agency] and the San
Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, are working to
increase local supply reliability through future projects in
the next decade.
Soquel Creek Water District leaders said Tuesday they want to
conduct a districtwide survey of all customers before pursuing
a binding vote on how to increase the water supply. Board
members said they don’t want to ask voters to support a project
or series of solutions without a sense of what customers want.
The only answer to the question of when the drought will end is
that there’s no sure answer. … The major reservoirs in
Northern California are below historical averages, but they are
above the levels from 2014, which is cause for cautious
optimism for some northern state water contractors.
Snow levels that didn’t quite measure up turned a snowshoe
party in the Sierra into an exercise in hand-wringing on
Tuesday as it became clear that recent storms have done little
to end California’s historic drought.
Measurements of Sierra Nevada snowpack on Tuesday [Dec. 30]
showed more snow than surveyors recorded a year ago. But state
water officials said it was far from enough to signal a
potential end to California’s continuing drought.
I shared your confusion briefly last week. Readers called and
emailed, wondering if the drought had ended after two separate
news stories featuring the numbers 10 and 11 – each followed by
12 zeroes. We’re talking trillions of gallons of water.
A federal appeals court Monday overruled objections by Central
Valley farmers, water districts and a federal judge and upheld
the government’s reduction of water shipments from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in order to protect salmon,
steelhead trout and other species.
Ruling that water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta
is important not just for people but also for the fish that
swim in it, a federal appeals court on Monday backed
environmental restrictions on deliveries to urban Southern
California and San Joaquin Valley agriculture.
Los Angeles gets 88% of its water from three major aqueducts,
flowing from the Colorado River, Owens Valley and the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … Officials have long
warned that a massive temblor on the San Andreas could destroy
key sections of the aqueducts, cutting off the water supply for
more than 22 million people in Southern California.
There’s no way of predicting if Mother Nature will continue to
shower the Bay Area when we turn the calendar to 2015, but this
month is shaping up to be one of the wettest Decembers in
decades — at least in some parts of the region.
The powerful system was being fueled by a stream of tropical
moisture up to 400 miles wide and 3,000 miles long known as an
“atmospheric river.” … National Weather Service
forecasters issued a blizzard warning for parts of Northern
California – the first since Jan. 4, 2008 – and said the storm
overall could be the most “significant” since that year.
One storm does not end a drought as severe as this one,
meteorologists and water managers emphasized again Thursday.
But this storm and last week’s milder one have done something
very important: They have saturated the parched ground across
Northern California so much that rainfall is finally starting
to fill up the state’s dangerously low reservoirs as it runs
down streams, rivers and hillsides.
Overall rainfall amounts in the Los Angeles region will remain
the same in coming decades, according to a new study that
examined the effects of a warming climate on Southern
California precipitation. The third in a series of UCLA studies
on the impact of climate change on Los Angeles, the report is
good news for the city’s efforts to develop more local water
A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five
years pushed across parts of Northern California early Thursday
as schools canceled classes and residents stocked up on
supplies. … The storm is expected to later pound parts
of Southern California before a weakening system moves east
through Nevada, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico.
Along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, runoff pollution
from abandoned mines in “Gold Country” could threaten
California’s primary water supply. A pilot project at
one mine site is intended to
prevent contaminated runoff from reaching the Yuba River.
The public is invited to participate in the meeting on Tuesday,
Dec. 9, 2014, from 1:30-4:00 p.m. at the Bureau of Reclamation
Regional Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Cafeteria Conference Room
C1003 (adjacent to the Cafeteria), Sacramento, CA 95825.
Interested individuals, agencies and stakeholders may
participate person or online. … Reclamation will present a
summary of climate change impacts and findings identified in
the Sacramento and San Joaquin Basins Climate Impact
Assessment, released on Sept. 22.
As California struggles through the drought, the first to
suffer are rural residents with shallow private wells and
limited incomes. They live in cabins in Modoc County, among the
golden rolling hills of Paso Robles, in the farmworker towns of
the San Joaquin Valley and a chaparral-covered valley in
northern Los Angeles County.
The bonanza of rain over the last week has boosted Marin’s
totals to above average, filled reservoirs and has allowed
endangered coho salmon to make their way back to local streams
sooner than normal. … And the rain is far from over with more
predicted for the weekend and early next week.
Los Angeles is the nation’s water archvillain, according to
public perception, notorious for its usurpation of water
hundreds of miles away to slake the thirst of its
ever-expanding population. … Recently, however, Los Angeles
has reduced its reliance on outside sources of water.
Heavy downpours took a parting shot Thursday at California,
triggering flash floods that temporarily stranded more than
three dozen people in their cars in inland Riverside County as
the state took stock of the effects of days of steady
A group of Italian developers is planning three million square
feet of retail construction, plus 2,200 homes, in Tusayan, a
newly incorporated village with a population of just 587 at the
entrance to the park [Grand Canyon], posing what park officials
describe as a major threat to the water supply for the Colorado
At long last, and thank goodness — the rain. … As much as we
need the rain, though, what Southern California and the rest of
the state really need is to refill our biggest reservoir — the
Sierra snowpack — because that’s where most of our water comes
A record-setting storm covering Southern California was
expected to begin tapering off Wednesday after triggering
dozens of evacuations and putting city crews in Ventura and Los
Angeles counties on alert for mudslides. … The storm
left Northern California sopping too.
This might be the only state in the nation where a rainy day —
complete with blinding sheets of water, shoe-sopping flooded
intersections and chalk gray skies — puts people in a good
mood. And with good reason.
Water level at Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir in
the state water delivery system, is at 26 percent capacity and
is approaching its historic low set in 1977, state water
contractors announced Tuesday.
Every five years the U.S. Geological Survey collects data from
counties all over the Nation for the national water use report,
a thorough document that provides water resource managers and
private citizens with accurate information on how much water is
being used in specific places for a wide variety of purposes.
Following a year of record drought, water managers throughout
the west are searching for information and ideas to ensure a
reliable and sustainable water supply. To meet this growing
need for information, Bureau of Reclamation Principal Deputy
Commissioner Estevan López announced today [Nov. 19] that
Reclamation has awarded $9.2 million for 131 research projects.
In October of 2014, the Hamilton Project and the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment hosted a forum, New Directions
for U.S. Water Policy, which brought together government and
agency officials with policy experts to discuss the release of
new papers highlighting opportunities from improving water
management in the West.
Let’s consider the possibility that this drought we’re in could
last more than than just a few dry years. … Meanwhile, most
Californians live in cities designed, to a great extent, on the
promise of nearly endless water, imported from wetter parts of
the state via massive engineering projects like the California
State Water Project.
It’s the dead of autumn and there’s no sign that the California
drought will ease up. When wells run dry the immediate answer
is to dig a new one, but they’re expensive. In some parts of
the state there’s been an uptick in water theft, but in Central
California many homeowners are turning to a legal water
solution that’s not dependent on city water lines.
The historic statewide drought has struck especially hard along
the southern San Mateo County coast. While other parts of the
Bay Area are served by big water agencies with steady if
shrinking supplies, most of the homes and small farms here,
less than an hour’s drive from Silicon Valley, rely on creeks
and wells, many of which have stopped flowing.
As California heads into its annual rainy season, water
managers, farmers and millions of residents with parched yards
are hoping huge storms will finally break the state’s historic
three-year drought. Don’t count on it.
A serious drought in the American West has called national
attention to our country’s water resources. U.S. businesses
report substantial concerns over water supply, while the
current drought in California has cost the state billions of
dollars in economic losses.
Imagine harvesting your own water — no water utility, no
monthly water bill. Instead, you have equipped your home with a
rain catchment system or atmospheric water generator, and
connected it to your tap. Monterey will soon be a site for just
such an experiment.
The world is perilously ignoring the water crisis that is
occurring underfoot, writes Jay Famiglietti in the journal
Nature Climate Change. A professor of Earth system science at
the University of California, Irvine, Famiglietti has helped
refine the premier tool for understanding large-scale changes
in groundwater reserves.
Things were bad enough for Rochelle Landers before her well
went dry. … She has an acre in the Sierra foothills, in a
sparsely populated town an hour northeast of Sacramento with a
seemingly abundant water supply despite the drought.
This drought year, as in those past, California water
regulators have given away to cities and farms some river flows
critical to fish and wildlife. … There are, however, legal
backstops to prevent harmful reductions in fish flows, even
during a drought as severe as this one.
A plan by PG&E to temporarily shut down a powerhouse that
feeds water from the Eel River to the Russian River may cut
into consumer supplies this winter by further reducing the
amount of water coming into Lake Mendocino.
Even ideas are being conserved as Santa Cruz continues its hunt
for alternative water supply solutions. … The so-called
ideas convention was hosted by the city’s 14-member Water
Supply Advisory Committee.
About 100 people listened at a public meeting in Fresno to
sometimes passionate statements from speakers who faulted
everything from the feasibility analysis to the notification
for the hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for
Temperance Flat Reservoir.
Drought is rampant these days in many parts of
the American West, so consider this a pretty sweet gift:
You’ve just been given the rights to some water. … Your
job is to turn around and use that resource in the most
valuable way possible.
This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting
water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next
door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the
last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.
This week, the $288 million tunnel begins carrying the Bay
Area’s water supply from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite
National Park to the Peninsula, bolstering the dependability of
the region’s water system.
The lure of a San Gabriel Mountains wilderness teeming with
wildlife, rivers and breathtaking panoramas is so strong that
it now draws 3 million annual visitors whose presence,
paradoxically, has overrun the region and degraded its beauty.
President Obama will address that reality Friday by announcing
that he is designating part of the mountains a national
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project began water
year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015) with 3.1 million
acre-feet of water in six key CVP reservoirs (Shasta, Trinity,
Folsom, New Melones, and Millerton reservoirs and the federal
share of the joint federal/state San Luis Reservoir). This is
less than half of the 15-year average annual carryover of 6.4
million acre-feet and about 2 million acre-feet less than the
amount with which the region started WY 2014.
In the Gallegos household and more than 500 others in Tulare
County, residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking glass,
wash dishes or clothes, or even rinse their hands without
reaching for a bottle or bucket. Unlike the Okies who came here
fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the people now living on
this parched land are stuck.
In the midst of a record-smashing dry cycle in the United
States, the organization with the most influence over state and
federal drought policy wants to do a better job managing the
crisis. … On September 18 and 19, the Western Governors’
Association, a forum for state leaders, will welcome to Norman,
Oklahoma, agency officials, industry representatives, and
technical experts who will offer insight on how a multi-year
drought in the western United States is challenging the energy
Help will soon be on the way for about 100 residents who live
in the Big Bend Mountain Mobile Home Park in Yankee Hill.
… Luckily, the park was added to a list for emergency
water supply funds, with money recently approved by the state.
Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation by State
Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, to strengthen requirements that
urban water districts report to the state their water losses
through leaks in their water systems.
Under new amendments to California’s Urban Water Management
Planning Act, urban water suppliers will be required to provide
narrative descriptions of their water demand management
measures and account for system water losses when preparing
Urban Water Management Plans, among other changes. The amended
Act, created by Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on Assembly Bill
2067 and Senate Bill 1420 last week, also establishes July 1,
2016 as the deadline for urban water suppliers to prepare and
submit their 2015 UWMPs to the Department of Water Resources.
The giant wholesaler that provides drinking water for half the
California population has drained two-thirds of its stored
supplies as the state contends with a punishing drought,
officials said Monday.
This 24-page booklet details the conflict between
environmentalists, fish organizations and the Yuba County Water
Agency and how it was resolved through the Lower Yuba River
Accord – a unique agreement supported by 18 agencies and
non-governmental organizations. The publication details
the history and hydrology of the Yuba River, past and present
environmental concerns, and conflicts over dam operations and
protecting endangered fish is included.
This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past,
present and future of flood management in California’s Central
Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced
the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand.
Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from
California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood
Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they
discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood
protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic
flood management plan for the Central Valley.
20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A
Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues related to complex water management
disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and
California border has faced complex water management disputes. As
relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary
narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range
from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp,
farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists
– all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water.
After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon
settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise
of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor
will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have
health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in
the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses
a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality
and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential –
but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public
television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.
A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary
Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This
DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking
engagements to help the public understand the complex issues
surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley
potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the
faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close
to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their
water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and
testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from,
how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality
are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water:
Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems
and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state.
15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster
should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an
earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks,
16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt
water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the
State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.
30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes
extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of
dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is
today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the
fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically
important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system,
there have been some critical events that had a profound impact
on California’s water history. These turning points not only
forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives
of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a
historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped
the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with
background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
California’s little-known New River has been called one of North
America’s most polluted. A closer look reveals the New River is
full of ironic twists: its pollution has long defied cleanup, yet
even in its degraded condition, the river is important to the
border economies of Mexicali and the Imperial Valley and a
lifeline that helps sustain the fragile Salton Sea ecosystem.
Now, after decades of inertia on its pollution problems, the New
River has emerged as an important test of binational cooperation
on border water issues. These issues were profiled in the 2004
PBS documentary Two Sides of a River.
This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12
about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to
clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and
prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The
video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference
between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is
not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The
teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that
homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features
a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San
Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows
and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam
to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the
history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The
map text explains the many issues facing this vast,
15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration;
agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are
descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin
Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement,
and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development
of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36
inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and
its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and
Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin.
Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the
Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and
wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including
the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text
explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson
rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery
restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many
of these issues.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the
water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the
environment. It features natural and manmade water resources
throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers,
Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River
that forms the state’s eastern boundary.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch
poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate
the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of
aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to
Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of
California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the
authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a
faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of
California water rights.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an
overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada.
It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history
of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las
Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and
today’s water supply challenges.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4
million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000
square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page
Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the
river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the
items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of
significant Colorado River events.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an
excellent overview of the history of water development and use in
California. It includes sections on flood management; the state,
federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water
rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for
stretching the water supply such as water marketing and
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
explores the history and development of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery
system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes
the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP
brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
From the Marin Independent Journal, in a commentary by Sandy
Wallenstein, Hannah Doress and Douglas Mundo:
“Because Marin County is a peninsula, sea-level rise
caused by climate change has special relevance to us — both to
our bay-facing and coastal communities, but also to inland
communities affected by flooding.
“And all of us will be affected by impacts to core
infrastructure such as Highway 101, water and sanitation
systems and possible isolation by flooding.”
“As part of its campaign to address climate change, the White
House on Wednesday unveiled a website to serve as a one-stop
location for the enormous amount of climate data housed at
different federal agencies.”
“The Obama administration hopes to fight global warming with
the geeky power of numbers, maps and even gaming-type
“The government also is working with several high-tech
companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Intel, to come up with
tools to make communities more resilient in dealing with
weather extremes, such as flooding, heat waves and drought.”
From Bloomberg BNA’s Water Law & Policy Monitor, in an article by
Eric L. Garner, Best Best & Krieger:
“Climate change is essentially a water problem. Whether it is
drought, flood, changing hydrology or rising sea levels, the
impacts of climate change all involve water to some extent. Even
those who deny that human activities cause climate change must
acknowledge that long-term drought cycles in the past (as
evidenced by tree rings and other environmental indicators) and
wide variations in hydrology can be expected to recur and may be
“As international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
stall, schemes to slow global warming using fantastical
technologies once dismissed as a sideshow are getting serious
consideration in Washington.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by Steve Fleischli:
“President Barack Obama visits Fresno today to highlight
federal efforts to confront California’s epic drought, possibly
our worst in 500 years. …
“The president can help us cope with this disaster, prepare for
the chronic water shortages to come and protect future
generations from the widening dangers of climate
change. All three will require federal help.”
climate, characterized by
warm, dry summers and mild winters, is considered one of its
great attractions, but it also can be unpredictable with flooding followed by drought and few years of “normal”
precipitation. [See also Hydrologic Cycle].
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 created Lake Powell.
Both are located in north-central Arizona near the Utah border.
Lake Powell acts as a holding tank for outflow from the Colorado
River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The water stored in Lake Powell is used for recreation, power
generation and delivering water to the Lower Basin states of
California, Arizona, and Nevada.
From the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Switchboard
blog, in a post by Frances Beinecke:
“I just returned from California and was struck by how
devastating the state’s drought has become. People talked about
it everywhere I went, wondering what it means for people and the
economy. I can see why they are worried.
“The White House will announce President Obama’s latest executive
order later today [Feb. 5] — a move aimed at helping farmers,
ranchers, and rural communities combat climate change and adapt
to extreme weather.
In 2005, after six years of severe
drought in the Colorado River Basin, federal officials and
representatives of the seven basin states — California, Arizona,
Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — began building a
framework to better respond to drought conditions and coordinate
the operations of the basin’s two key reservoirs, Lake Powell and
The resulting Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and
the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (Interim
Guidelines) identified the conditions for shortage determinations
and details of coordinated reservoir operations. The 2007 Interim
Guidelines remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2025.
California will always be inextricably linked to its water
resources. Water continues to shape the state’s development
and no resource is as vital to California’s urban centers, farms,
industry, recreation, scenic beauty and environmental
But California’s relationship to water is also one that continues
to generate controversy.
Applied water refers to water delivered by an application to a
user, either indoors or outdoors. Applied water use typically
occurs in an agricultural or urban setting.
In agriculture, applied water is typically supplied through
irrigation, which uses such devices as pipes and sprinklers.
There are also different types of systems including gravity flow
and pressurized systems.
With soil absorbing applied water and being porous (some water
can move down below a plant’s root zone), it is necessary to
apply more water than a crop might need.
“Coca-Cola has always been more focused on its economic bottom
line than on global warming, but when the company lost a
lucrative operating license in India because of a serious water
shortage there in 2004, things began to change.
“Today, after a decade of increasing damage to Coke’s balance
sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce
its soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change
as an economically disruptive force.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle, in a commentary by David
“Most Bay Area residents obtain their drinking water from a
system of reservoirs, canals and pipes that was built during the
first half of the 20th century. In the near future, it is likely
that we’ll pump a lot of money into this aging system to adapt it
to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns.
From the San Francisco Chronicle Politics blog, in a post
by Carolyn Lochhead:
“California’s drought will be one of the extreme weather events
that the American Meteorological Society will examine later this
year to determine whether the cause is natural variability or
human-caused climate change, the head of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center said
“California Democrat Barbara Boxer has put together a new climate
change task force in the U.S. Senate. The group is focusing more
on keeping current regulations in place than in advancing new
“San Pedro, Wilmington, Venice and other low-lying areas of Los
Angeles are vulnerable to future flooding that could damage
buildings, erode beaches and impair roadways in the event of a
storm like Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the East
Coast in 2012, according to a new report by USC researchers.”
“Just how much will the Earth heat up over the next 100 or 200
years? Climate scientists are not able to predict with high
certainty. They have estimated that average global temperatures
will increase by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius — 2.7 to 8.1 degrees
Fahrenheit — given a doubling of carbon dioxide in the
This printed issue of Western Water looks at California
groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by
local, regional and state management. For more background
information on groundwater please refer to the Foundation’s
Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.
From the Center for American Progress blog, in a post by Shiva
“In June, the consulting firm AECOM published a report for the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, comprehensively
analyzing the change in America’s flood risks due to climate
change. Its study found that sea-level rise is projected to
increase the flood-hazard area in our nation’s coastal floodplain
by 55 percent by 2100.
“At the heart of California’s vast and complex plumbing system,
and the plan to re-engineer it with two tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, are two truths. The first is
that failing to take any action at all will result in almost
“For the first
time, maps and summaries of historical and projected temperature
and precipitation changes for the 21st century for the
continental U.S. are accessible at a county-by-county level on a
website developed by the U.S.
“California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration today released
a draft of its action plan on preparations for the impacts of
climate change over the next century. The plan addresses the
effects of extreme weather, rising sea levels and other issues.”
“The administration of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today [Dec.
10] released the draft Safeguarding California Plan to outline
key actions needed to ready the state for the impacts of a
“Scientists sounded alarms Tuesday with a pair of studies
challenging the idea that climate change is occurring gradually
over the century and that its worst effects can be avoided by
keeping emissions below a critical threshold.
“A National Research Council report says the planet is warming
so quickly that the world should expect abrupt and
unpredictable consequences in a matter of years or a few
“Continued global warming poses a risk of rapid, drastic changes
in some human and natural systems, a scientific panel warned
Tuesday, citing the possible collapse of polar sea ice, the
potential for a mass extinction of plant and animal life and the
threat of immense dead zones in the ocean.
“The Geysers wildfire fire scorched more than 3,500 acres in
northern Sonoma County last week. Meanwhile, half a world away,
representatives from nearly 200 nations continued to stumble
toward an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
“Debate about whether these events are connected will continue.
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “It’s Our
Environment” blog, in a post by Allison Crimmins:
“From the photos my Colorado friends posted this summer, I wasn’t
surprised to learn that 2013 has been the wettest on record for
Boulder. However, Boulder also experienced drought, the most
destructive wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history, and a week
of record heat.
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by Jeffrey D.
“By some early measures, Typhoon Haiyan – which ripped through
the Philippines last weekend and claimed thousands of lives –
is the strongest storm on record to make landfall. …
“In the past couple of years, the United States has experienced
the worst East Coast flooding in decades as well as the most
intense and largest drought in decades, and 2012 was the
warmest year on record in the lower 48 states.
“At the U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw on Monday, the lead
Philippine delegate, Yeb Sano, made an emotional plea:
“Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering
reminder to the international community that we cannot afford
to procrastinate on climate action.”
“But was Sano’s statement consistent with the science?”
“Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but
also society, posing risks to the world’s economy and the food
and water supply and contributing to violent conflict, an
international panel of scientists says.
“The warnings came in a report drafted by the United
Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released
its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for
public review and comment. In support of President Obama’s
Climate Action Plan and Executive Order on Preparing the United
States for the Impacts of Climate Change announced today, the
Implementation Plans provide detailed information about the
actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities
adapt to a changing climate.
“Many of the ills of the modern world – starvation, poverty,
flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease – are likely to
worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked
draft of an international scientific report forecasts.”
“In some parts of the country, talk about the need to combat
climate change can be viewed as downright subversive.
So Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of Oregon, Washington state
and British Columbia are to be commended for gathering in San
Francisco this week to sign a pact in which they agree to work
collaboratively to fight climate change. The question
comes down to follow-through.”
From the California Natural Resources Agency, California
Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Food
“The California Natural Resources Agency, the California
Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department
of Food and Agriculture today released a detailed draft action
plan to help guide state efforts and resources on one of
California’s most important resources, water.
“The California Water Action Plan will focus on the reliability
of our water supply, the needed ecosystem restoration to bring
our water system back into balan
This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various
stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning
challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements
with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing,
and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental
restoration and water-sharing programs.
“Saying that the West Coast must lead the way in battling
climate change, the governors of California, Oregon and
Washington, along with the premier of British Columbia, signed
an agreement Monday committing the Canadian province and the
three states to coordinate global-warming policies.
“Each state and the Canadian province promised to take roughly
a dozen actions, including streamlining permits for solar and
wind projects, better integrating the electric power grid,
supporting more research on ocean acidification and expanding
“Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new pact Monday to formally align
California’s clean energy policies with those of Oregon,
Washington state and British Columbia. …
“The agreement commits all four governments to work toward ways
to put a price on carbon pollution, require the use of
lower-carbon gasoline and set goals for reducing greenhouse
gases across the region.”
“The governors of Pacific coastal U.S. states and a Canadian
province official are joining forces in a new effort to fight
“In an agreement announced Monday, the governors of California,
Oregon, Washington and the environment minister of British
Columbia, Mary Polak, will place a price on greenhouse gas
pollution and mandate the use of cleaner-burning fuels.”
“Due to rising sea levels, storms will make it more likely that
the Port of Long Beach’s wharves will be damaged, critical
roads submerged and utilities harmed, bringing activity at one
of the state’s economic hubs to a disruptive lurch, experts
“Predictions show that by 2100, the water will rise between 55
and 66 inches above its current level.”
“With sea level projected to rise by up to a meter by the end
of the century, property owners, state regulators and
environmentalists are debating whether to fortify the coastline
against advancing seas, or to retreat inland. …
“In its landmark climate report released last month, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that sea
level rose by more than seven inches over the last century, and
is projected to rise between 10 and 38 inches by the end of
“Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably
be off-the-charts hot — permanently. Other places will soon
follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036.
Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.
From the California WaterBlog of the UC Davis Center for
Watershed Sciences in a post by Andrew Fisher, Graham Fogg,
Joshua Viers, Jay Lund, Ruth Langridge and Patricia Holden:
“For all the talk of climate change adaptation, California has
yet to comprehensively address the effects of warmer
temperatures and changing weather patterns on the state’s
limited groundwater resources.
“To start the process, several of the leading University of
California faculty and researchers on California groundwater
recently met with staff of the Governor’s Office of Planning &
“Some of the West’s leading fire scientists are calling for the
increased use of managed burns to reduce fuel levels in the
region’s forests, warning that climate change is leaving them
more vulnerable to large, high-severity wildfires.
“In a paper published Friday in the journal Science, seven fire
and forest ecologists say the rate of fuel reduction and
restoration treatments is far below what is needed to help
sustain forest landscapes in an era of rising temperatures and
“Rising global temperatures and changing human actions will
significantly affect the behavior and distribution of mercury
worldwide, according to a recent article by the U.S. Geological
Survey and Harvard University. …
“Several seemingly unconnected aspects of climate change are
expected to affect mercury at the global scale, according to
“For the first time, the world’s top climate scientists on
Friday formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases
while warning that it is likely to be exceeded within decades
if emissions continue at a brisk pace, underscoring the
profound challenge humanity faces in bringing global warming
“A panel of experts appointed by the United Nations, unveiling
its latest assessment of climate research, reinforced its
earlier conclusions that global warming is real, that it is
caused primarily if not exclusively by human emissions, and
“The Colorado River Basin has a problem: the ongoing drought
that began in 2000 is one of the worst in a thousand years.
While demand for water continues to grow, climate change is
causing supplies to dwindle. We need to take aggressive steps
now toward solving this imbalance and protecting the vibrant
economy of the Southwest.
“Plan on moving to Alameda Point someday? You might want to
pack a swimsuit and snorkel.
“Much of the former Naval Air Station – site of a projected
1,425-home development – will be underwater by the end of the
century due to sea level rise brought on by climate change,
according to the city’s draft environmental impact report on
the project released this month.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle in a commentary by
Columnist David Sirota:
“Two months before my Colorado community was overwhelmed this
week by epic rains, our state’s chief oil and gas regulator, Matt
Lepore, berated citizens concerned about the ecological impact of
hydraulic fracturing and unbridled drilling.”
“The Obama administration is about to take a major step forward
on climate change — a crucial piece of a long-term strategy to
join other countries in tackling the Earth’s environmental
woes, but one sure to fuel a furious GOP counterattack in 2014.
“The proposed rule, expected Friday from the Environmental
Protection Agency, won’t cut any carbon immediately and won’t
come anywhere near the sweeping mandate of the cap-and-trade
plan that died in the Senate three years ago.”
“Scientists working on a landmark U.N. report on climate change
are struggling to explain why global warming appears to have
slowed down in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas
emissions keep rising.
“Leaked documents show there are deep concerns among
governments about how to address the issue ahead of next week’s
meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
“We set out to have a question and answer session with Bill
Patzert, a climatologist with Caltech’s NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena. What we intended was a Q&A about how
climate change will affect California’s water supply in the
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“In June, the President reaffirmed his commitment to reducing
carbon pollution when he directed many federal agencies,
including the Environmental Protection Agency, to take meaningful
steps to mitigate the current and future damage caused by carbon
dioxide emissions and to prepare for the anticipated climate
changes that have already been set in motion.
“This Wednesday, September 18, the House Energy and Power
Subcommittee will conduct a long-overdue hearing on climate
change. It is unfortunately not to seek scientific facts from
reputable institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences,
the American Meteorological Society, and similar experts, as
requested 27 times by Ranking Committee and Subcommittee Members
Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL).