How Southern California quietly doubled its 2014 supply of Colorado River water

Resilience is a system’s ability to absorb a shock and still retain its basic structure and function. Here, in one complicated table, is an example of the sort of institutional plumbing valves we need to build to increase resilience in the face of drought. It’s a table accounting for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern …

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In drought, would peripheral tunnels doom the Sacramento delta?

Doug Obegi lays out an interesting argument about the implications of drought for the “Bay Delta Conservation Plan”, the California plan to build great water-carrying tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for farms and cities to the south. On paper, the tunnels would be largely dry during drought years, to preserve salinity balance in the …

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Pat Mulroy and “the tragedy of the anticommons”

Lea-Rachel Kosnick, in a paper a few years back, described the “tragedy of the anticommons”. In a classic “tragedy of the commons,” every pumper is sticking their straw into an aquifer and sucking it out, with no incentive to conserve because the other folks will just take the rest anyway. In the “anticommons” example, there …

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Huron CA, on the brink of running out of water, shows why “one bucket” solutions to California’s water problems don’t fit

The little town of Huron, California (Fresno County, population 7,000) is on the brink of running out of water. Its plight to illustrates a broader point about “running out of water”. First, its story courtesy of the Central Valley News, which reports that Huron could run out of water by July: Huron, a rural farming …

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California farming in drought: a “robust corpse?”

Jeff Michael published some new data today suggesting California agricultural has been more resilient and less damaged by the current drought than I expected. “[T]here is virtually no difference in farm employment between 2014 and 2013 in the 3 counties that are thought to be most devastated by the drought,” Michael wrote. But perhaps I …

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The history of odd/even day watering restrictions

Reading Alex Breitler’s story yesterday about Stockton, for the first time in history, restricting the days of the week residents can water their lawns, I was reminded of this bit of business from Las Vegas: In 1950, the municipality began restricting lawn watering. During the next two years the city employed the alternate day method, …

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The Salton Sea: the importance of getting 21st century water policy management widgets right

Ensconced in my office in Albuquerque, I’ve been popping in and out of the webcast of today’s California State Water Resources Control Board workshop on the future of the Salton Sea, and I’ve noticed a very interesting subtext to the discussion that I think is important. It’s about the importance of Salton Sea environmental management …

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Sacramento Delta 101, and sharing water

Emily Green has written a great primer for Southern Californians on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the distant geography from which a big chunk of their water emerges: [W]hat makes the Delta the Delta is water. After winter rain and snow, roughly half of California’s fresh water arrives in this quirkily engineered, mis-named place. Twenty five …

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