Sitting before my computer at sundown November 3rd, thinking about whether California voters will pass the 2014 water bond? Hydrowonk believes the outcome depends on the balance among three factors: will the drought and political leadership exerted by Governor Brown overcome the drag of increasing debt burdens on voter support for water bonds? According to the wisdom of the Stratecon Water Policy Marketplace, the answer is yes. This market now predicts that the chance of the water bond passing is 57%. Given the trend in voter support of water bonds and California debt loads, the passage of the water bond would be a remarkable achievement. Continue reading
While we here in California still face one of the worst droughts in our state’s history, some areas of the Western United States are enjoying the beginning of a reprieve from exceptional drought conditions. In particular, parts of Texas faced severe drought conditions over the last few years. Increased storms and precipitation in these areas of late has reduced the drought in these states. But is everything fixed with the rains these areas have received? The answer to that question unfortunately is no. While these areas have received rain to help alleviate drought conditions, Texas must also deal with the longer-term challenge of groundwater depletion that the drought caused. Hopefully California can use the case of Texas for how it will have to handle the challenges of water management after a drought. Continue reading
Since the beginning of this year, water managers in states such as California have relied on both surface and groundwater storage to make it through the unprecedented drought. In many cases, these managers point to the large groundwater aquifers and surface water storage that some areas of the Western United States have to give us much needed water during the last few years. The proponents of using storage argue that during dry years, we can draw down our reserves from these sources to get us through even the prolonged drought we are now facing. However, some recent studies suggest that these practices may not be sustainable over the long term in the drier Western United States. In this piece, I will review the most recent research on groundwater depletion in the Western United States. In a follow-up piece next week, I will look at the latest legislation moving through California and Texas to address the groundwater depletion issues. Continue reading
Time to change our use of language about California’s State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. Out with the old (supply reliability) and in with the new (risk management of water shortages).