So how are we going to build these western water markets?

Peter Culp, Robert Glennon and Gary Libecap have published an excellent new analysis of the potential for water markets to help us dig out of the western United States’ water mess: Water trading can facilitate the reallocation of water to meet the demands of changing economies and growing populations. It can play a vital role …

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California water for kids, circa 1961

The Los Angeles area, with its large population, requires a great supply of water. To meet its needs, water is brought in by pipe lines from a long distance. Little moisture falls on the Central Valley in the dry season. During the season of rainfall, water is dammed and stored. It is released through canals …

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Could Jerry Brown become “the most important water manager on Earth”?

Brett Walton evaluates Jerry Brown’s drought and water governance, comes away impressed: The last ten months are an impressive record of achievement, evidence of a governor taking seriously the duties of governing. What Brown is orchestrating in California is distinctive, perhaps unique in the United States during this frustrating age of division. In most other …

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Coachella: More California drought resilience

In the latest episode of “whos’ not running out of water in California?” we join Ian James for a visit to the Coachella Valley: [V]ast amounts of water are still flowing as usual to the farms of the Coachella Valley, soaking into the soil to produce lemons and tangelos, grapes, and vegetables from carrots to …

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California: drought resiliency

To follow up on my post earlier in the week asking that we look beyond Porterville to California communities that aren’t running out of water, and think about what they’ve done to build resiliency in drought, here’s Steve Scauzillo: In 1991, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which imports water from Northern California and the …

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virtual water, dairy style

Moving large quantities of water long distances is expensive. But there are alternatives: The third-generation dairy farmer was forced to idle a quarter of his 1,200 acres in Tulare County, land that once also bristled with wheat and alfalfa. Now he is buying feed from out of state, paying record-high prices to contractors in Nevada, …

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Understanding California’s drought: the “Porterville problem”

I imagine that if I was a reporter in California, trying to cover the drought, I’d end up in Porterville too. It’s the little community in Tulare County where the taps have gone dry. Jennifer Medina of the New York Times took us there this week, and for residents of a nation used to running …

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Does affluence make you more resilient to drought?

My quick, poorly thought out answer to the question in the post title would have been “yes”, but OtPR once again has pointed out the error in my thinking. The wealthiest California farmers, OtPR argues, have locked themselves into high value but permanent crops (especially almonds) that leave them less flexibility to respond to climate …

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Alfalfa, a California drought survivor?

Alfalfa, the crop with the largest acreage in California, could well emerge as a survivor in the state hard hit by drought. “This plant is a tough plant,” said Dan Putnam, alfalfa and forage specialist with the University of California at Davis. He believes the deeply-rooted plant “will likely survive once the plant is rehydrated,” …

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