On California’s “new” groundwater and the hope for a savior

Smart Faith Kearns on the headlines this week about the “discovery” of a bunch of groundwater beneath parched California: [O]n a symbolic level it’s really just fascinating how often we get caught up in stories being saved — by a good winter, a new dam, new water. I wish I didn’t find it so depressing. …

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Palm Springs, a water conservation success?

Palm Springs, in the deserts of Southern California, would never be mistaken for an actual desert. They dump too much water on their landscaping for that.  But Ian James reports they’re getting better: May turned out to be a banner month for water conservation in the Palm Springs area, with customers of the Desert Water …

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Metro Los Angeles – one of the places Californians *do* regulate their groundwater

Steve Scauzillo wrote last week about the Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s decision to invest $110 million in a new wastewater treatment plant, that they might use 21,000 acre feet now discharged to the ocean to recharge regional aquifers instead. Formed in the early 1960s, the WRD is the best example of one of …

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In California environmental management, signs of hope

California sprang to action in its fourth year of deep drought because water management professionals and state leaders recognized that California’s water-scarce condition could be the new norm. They accepted the scientific consensus that it could get considerably worse. The way out of the trouble was to convince state residents of the need for collective …

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Selling the Colorado River deal back home: Imperial, the Salton Sea and California’s hard road

For those following efforts to cobble together an expanded Colorado River water conservation deal (that’s all of you, right?) there are a couple of important issues to unpack in Ian James’ excellent interview published yesterday with Kevin Kelley, general manager of the Imperial Irrigation District. Imperial, the largest single water using agency on the Colorado, …

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The inevitable decline of irrigated acreage in California’s central valley

It’s a relatively straightforward point: when there is less water to irrigate farmland, there will be less irrigated farmland. For example, OtPR last year: As groundwater sustainability agencies have to bring irrigated acreage in line with the sustainable yield of the groundwater basin, they will be retiring irrigated lands (Dr. Burt: 1-1.5 million acres; Dr. Lund: …

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Is the Colorado River community nearing a water-saving deal?

A flurry of public discussion over the last week about a possible water conservation deal on the Lower Colorado River illustrates the central dilemma in the river basin’s water use problems. tl;dr This is a very important agreement. Modeling suggests that, if implemented, it could slow the steep decline in Lake Mead. The water conservation …

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Delta smelt, culture wars icon

Fiorina told delegates at the state Republican Party convention here that protections for the threatened Delta smelt were a product of the “tyranny of the left, the tyranny of environmentalists.” I fear discussions of the Delta smelt and environmental costs and benefits of moving California’s water from north to south have passed the point of …

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A new favorite in the “cracked mud journalism” genre

As a connoisseur of cracked mud and journalism of the drought apocalypse, I tip my hat to the folks at Sports Illustrated for this: “The Pacifics want to do their part to call attention to California’s drought conditions and so we won’t wash our uniforms for games after we draw 500 fans,” vice president of …

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San Diego’s great water use decoupling

The San Diego County Water Authority’s use peaked in 2002 at 732k acre feet. Last year it was down to 522kaf, a 29 percent drop even as population has risen by 12 percent. This is one of many examples of “decoupling” between growth and water use. As we adapt to conditions of increasing water scarcity …

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