Category Archives: Hydrologic Risk

Water Rights Curtailments in California – How Deep Will the Cuts be in 2015?

Since Governor Jerry Brown announced sweeping new mandatory water reductions in an executive order in early April, the news media and blogging communities have been quick to point the finger at many different types of water users as the “culprit” and “poster child” of the drought. As I mentioned in my last post, new land development is now in the crosshairs of water issues in the state. In addition, articles have pointed the finger at everything from swimming pools, green lawns, almonds, rice, bottled water and breweries in the Golden State, saying that they all have been a contributor to the State’s declining water supplies. Continue reading

The Dwindling Delta Smelt Population: What does it mean for the species and humans that rely on the Delta?

The drought in California unfortunately continues unabated. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor, 41.41% of the Golden State remains in exceptional drought. Much of the land area in the Central Valley and major population centers such as Los Angeles remain stuck in the exceptional drought category. Only about .15% of the state’s land area is drought free, about 245.5 square miles by my calculations. As you can see from the map below, the only area of the state that is designated as drought free is a rural area of southeastern San Bernardino County, generally between Lake Havasu and Parker, AZ. Continue reading

On the Cusp of a Paradigm Shift?: Musings on the State of the Colorado River

Lake Mead and the Arizona Intake Tower, July 1, 2014

Lake Mead and the Arizona Intake Tower, July 1, 2014

Last July, Lake Mead dropped to its historic low elevation.

Water managers keep tabs on the reservoir conditions, so they were not blindsided.  Solutions were already being sought.  But I wonder, does crossing such a threshold spur a sense of urgency? Or do they already feel the pressure as the threshold approaches?

Continue reading

The California Central Valley Project and State Water Project: The Same Drought but Different Outcomes for 2015 Water Deliveries

There is no doubt that California faces continued challenges as we enter into the fourth year of severe drought conditions. The pundits, however, disagree with the severity of the water supply crunch in the state.  Last week, two prominent California water experts gave two different opinions on how severe the water crisis in California really is. Jay Famiglietti, professor of Earth System Science and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine made a dire prediction that California has one more year of water left in our reservoirs if drought conditions do not change. He recommends immediate water rationing across the state, urging everyone to pitch in and conserve water. In contrast, Jay Lund, Professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering at UC Davis sounded a more sanguine tone. While he agreed that our snowpack in particular was at alarmingly low levels, he did not agree that California will be at the end of its rope if conditions don’t get better in a year. He said, “It’s not the right impression that one more year of this and we’re toast. There’s quite a bit more left in groundwater – a bit less every year because we’re pumping, trying to make up for the drought.” Continue reading