California’s finally wet enough that the Metropolitan Water District of So Cal could store this year

This is a big deal: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which gathers water for 19 million people in the region, expects it can now begin storing water for future years. In recent years, it had been using up its water reserves. It’s just one bit of a thoroughly excellent piece on the state …

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Working landscapes

PHOENIX – Drive south on Interstate 10 out of the Phoenix metro area, past Ikea, and the city ends abruptly, a sharp line between development and desert. Given its reputation for sprawl, Phoenix (when I say “Phoenix” here I’m talking about the whole metro area, not just the city itself) is remarkably compact. The realities …

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Ignore this quite encouraging Rio Grande runoff forecast

It is only January. We have months and months of snow season left, which will determine whether we have a good runoff year on New Mexico’s Rio Grande. So you should in no way click obsessively on the snowpack map every morning while you’re having your first cup of coffee. I repeat, do not click. …

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UC Davis irrigation experiment shows big increase in alfalfa yield per acre foot of water

Cleverly managed deficit irrigation (when you significantly reduce water applied during the hot part of the year) substantially increased yield per unit water applied in a new study by researchers at UC Davis. In controlled side-by-side field experiments, Dan Putnam and his colleagues demonstrated that if you do it right, a big reduction in water …

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Beneath Wichita, a recovering aquifer

At least one community in the midwest has found a way to protect its dwindling aquifer: Groundwater levels were generally higher in January 2016 than they were in January 2015. On average, in January 2016, groundwater levels in the shallow part of the aquifer were about 3.4 feet higher and groundwater levels in the deep …

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Melons, lettuce, and other things about 2016

On a personal level, 2016 has been pretty great. I published a book, Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West, which has been well received. When I was struggling three years ago to move from the general – “I want to write a book” – to the specific – “I …

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Have we halted Lake Mead’s decline?

There’s a “half full/half empty” joke in here somewhere. The reservoirs of the Colorado River Basin are 49 percent full/51 percent empty right now (data pdf). Despite another bad runoff year, that’s pretty much exactly where they were at the end of 2015. Let’s go with half full then, shall we? We’ve come within a couple …

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I’ll be on KQED tomorrow, 9:30 Pacific Time, talking water

Hey San Francisco Bay Area friends, I’ll be on your radios tomorrow (Friday 12/30/16) at 9:30 am Pacific time. I’ll explain how to solve all the water problems. Actually, I think thanks to the Internet thing you may be able to listen even if you don’t have a radio and/or are not in the Bay …

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