Imperial Valley, 1938: “a million parched acres awaiting for irrigation”

From the newly released archive of British Movietone newsreels, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes in October 1938 hits the button to open the gates on Imperial Dam, diverting the first Colorado River water into the All-American Canal and on its way to irrigate the farms of the Imperial Valley:   The newsreel makes …

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Coachella groundwater management: it’s complicated

Aquifer replenishment works. Sort of. And depending on what you mean by “works”. That’s the message in a new paper ($$$-walled) from Brian Thomas and Jay Famiglietti at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory looking at groundwater levels in California’s Coachella Valley. Coachella is the northwestern extension of the Salton trough, edging the Salton Sea and spreading …

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Yuma: Colorado River produce powerhouse

William Yardley writes in the Los Angeles Times about the water rights and water fears in Yuma, Arizona: If you eat a green salad between Thanksgiving and April, whether in Minnesota, Montreal or Modesto, odds are good that some of it was grown in or around Yuma. The summer freshness on all of those winter …

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Matt Weiser leading new California drought news platform

A new California water/drought news site with former Sacramento Bee water beat reporter Matt Weiser as its managing editor is self-recommending. Here’s matt at Water Deeply on El Niño: Current predictions for the winter ahead suggest El Niño will be a “borderline-strong” event, Null said. It’s true, a strong El Niño, as measured by temperature change …

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UC team: California ag “positioned to weather this drought”

The latest analysis by a University of California team has concluded (pdf) that agriculture in that state is doing pretty well in the current drought, all things considered: The current drought is causing large economic losses but given innovative responses by farmers and others, those losses have been manageable and California agriculture is positioned to …

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Another example of how drought hits the poor

From the Washington Post: A recent laboratory test found that water in St. Anthony’s shallow well has twice the concentration of arsenic considered safe. For many Californians, the state’s long drought has meant small inconveniences such as shorter showers and restrictions on watering lawns. But in two rural valleys, the Coachella southeast of Los Angeles and …

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Public Policy Institute of California water mailing list

The work of Ellen Hanak and her colleagues at the Public Policy Institute of California’s water project is a model for provision of a crucial public good in water policy processes: independent information to help build a shared understanding of the resource and its use. You can sign up here to get on their mailing …

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Some thoughts on the bathtub ring and Lake Mead’s historic drop below 1,075

I’ve had my head down the last ten days reading and writing about 1940s and ’50s-era Los Angeles water management, and I look up to see that Lake Mead last week dropped below elevation 1,075, a level freighted with meaning. But what meaning, exactly? Drew Beckwith at Western Resource Advocates, in Caitlin McGlade’s story, wins for …

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Drought adaptive capacity, Kings County CA edition

In your latest reminder that California agriculture has shown some remarkable capacity to adapt to that state’s crushing drought, Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press reports that total agricultural farm gate receipts in Kings County, in California’s drought-devastated southern Central Valley, were up 9 percent last year: Kings County agricultural values advanced 9 percent from …

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