Another Southern California ag to municipal water sharing deal takes shape

The Imperial Irrigation District’s board tomorrow will consider an expanded agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that would provide additional flexibility for water conservation in the big desert agricultural district and move water to meet near term drought response needs in the region’s coastal cities. The deal uses the “Intentionally Created Surplus” …

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Real time water meter data causes people to use more water, not less

The idea of installing smart water meters is in vogue these days, with the idea that water users, if made more aware of how much water they’re using all the time (rather than just when they get their monthly bills), will use less: In the spring of 2005, the City of Aurora, Colorado offered residents …

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Governance and the Animas River mine waste mess

The pictures out of Durango today of mine waste in the Animas River are horrifying, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency is rightly taking a beating for the catastrophic mine waste leak: The overall message from federal regulators was “we’re very sorry.” “This is a huge tragedy and it’s hard being on the other side …

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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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Water policy and the West’s housing market

One of the intellectual frustrations with trying to wrap my head around water policy in the western United States is that it’s really sort of everything policy. There’s climate science and hydrology and history and law and agricultural economics. And, the subject for this afternoon, there’s urban development economics. Much of the policy struggle has …

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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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When the drought story is really a poverty story

Andrea Costillo in the weekend Fresno Bee: East Porterville’s poverty and education shortcomings stand out in a state analysis of communities with the highest health risks. The analysis from the California Environmental Protection Agency shows the town’s poverty level is among the highest 10% in the state. In education, the community ranks worse than 91% …

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Drought and media bias

Tom Curwen has a great story in today’s Los Angeles Times of the sort that I’d like to see more of – beyond “OMG California is toast” drought coverage to look at what works in the state’s water management, what sort of adaptive capacity exists in the places where water is not running out. Which, …

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UC Davis team puts 2015 California drought impacts at 4 percent of the state’s ag economy

The U.C. Davis drought team today released its estimates for the economic impact of the drought this year. Spoiler alert – it’s worse than last year. Highlights: 560,000 acres fallowed, which is 6 to 7 percent $1.8 billion in direct ag losses (increased groundwater pumping costs and reduced sales), which is about 4 percent Total …

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Hauling water: Navajo

Many Navajo homes lack running water. Many more draw from shallow wells with poor quality water and resulting health problems. Now, my friends Olivier Uyttebrouck and Roberto Rosales report, this community could also lose its hauler, the grandma who trucks in the only clean water available: As she pulls up outside a house, residents quickly …

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