Why pumping ocean water into the Salton Sea wouldn’t work

From yesterday’s New York Times: The problem with using ocean water to replenish the lake is that current agricultural runoff adds three million to four million tons of salt per year, Mr. Shintaku said. The same amount of ocean water would add about 10 times as much salt. As the water evaporates, the salt would …

Continue reading ‘Why pumping ocean water into the Salton Sea wouldn’t work’ »

Add money, move water

Interesting tidbit out of California’s San Joaquin Valley: Pasture owners around Oakdale willing to go without water will be paid for fallowing their land this year, Oakdale Irrigation District directors decided Tuesday. The water saved by idling fields will be sold to thirsty out-of-county water agencies. OID landowners volunteering for the deal could collect millions …

Continue reading ‘Add money, move water’ »

Almonds, water policy and cropping decisions

In the Colorado River Basin, I’ve been arguing that if you want to think hard about water policy, you have to be thinking hard about alfalfa. Out in California’s Central Valley, as Felicity Barringer explained last week in her last story for the New York Times (sad face), you’ve got to be thinking about almonds: …

Continue reading ‘Almonds, water policy and cropping decisions’ »

the dwindling of California’s “wretched little mud-holes”

John Van Dyke, in his epic visit to the deserts of western North America a century ago, wrote harshly of their springs: Occasionally one meets with a little stream where a fissure in the rock and a pressure from below forces up some of the water; but these springs are of very rare occurrence. And …

Continue reading ‘the dwindling of California’s “wretched little mud-holes”’ »

Tweeting lessons from a California drought

A couple of new papers exploring California’s drought triggered what I thought this morning was some overly simplistic back and forth on the twitters about whether climate change is to blame. I think that’s the wrong question. The first paper, which I wrote about last week, was the Griffin/Anchukaitis paleo look at the thing. They …

Continue reading ‘Tweeting lessons from a California drought’ »

Southern California water: “the best talent of the country”

From the beginning, it was clear that solving Southern California’s water problems would require “the best talent of the country”: That’s Walter Mendenhall, from a series of U.S. Geological Survey papers published in 1905 inventorying the groundwater resources of the greater Los Angeles Basin’s groundwater resources (before we thought of it as “the greater Los …

Continue reading ‘Southern California water: “the best talent of the country”’ »

In California, the worst drought in a really long time

Defining drought is a tricky business, but I think Daniel Griffin and Kevin Anchukaitis have come up with a reasonable one – three years of persistent low soil moisture. By that measure, the drought in Central and Southern California is…. Well, I’ll let them tell it (pdf): We demonstrate that while 3-year periods of persistent below-average …

Continue reading ‘In California, the worst drought in a really long time’ »

Sacramento, gettin’ serious about water

Sacramento holds by far the largest body of unmetered water connections in California – about 62,000. These customers are allowed to consume all the water they want and pay only a flat monthly rate of about $41 for an average home. With a few exceptions, all other California communities are entirely served by water meters …

Continue reading ‘Sacramento, gettin’ serious about water’ »

IID to state of California on Salton Sea restoration: “But you guys promised!”

The Imperial Irrigation District earlier this month threw down a significant marker in the ongoing struggle to deal back overuse of Colorado River water with a petition to the California State Water Resources Control Board demanding action on restoration of the Salton Sea. The sea’s decline is one of the knock-on effects of efforts to …

Continue reading ‘IID to state of California on Salton Sea restoration: “But you guys promised!”’ »