Category Archives: Water Security

A Tale of Two California Water Supplies: The State Water Project vs. the Colorado River

In Rod Smith’s post on April 2nd, he predicts that the final 2014 allocation from the State Water Project will be 23%, with “a reasonable chance that the final SWP allocation will be zero.” Although the rains in February were kind to California’s most-parched areas, the major storm did not help much towards reversing the severe drought conditions that the Central Valley farming areas face. However, in the Southeastern portion of the state along the Colorado River, the water crisis seems much less dire. For now, the Colorado River has given Arizona and the portions of California that have access to it water supplies without interruption – a marked contrast to the areas of California that rely on the State Water Project. But why is this the case, and for how long can the Colorado supply water reliably? In this piece, I will address both of these issues. Continue reading

Solutions to the Environmental Challenges Fracking Poses

As I have discussed in my last few posts on the issue of fracking, there is no shortage of controversy over the practice. Looking at headlines over the last week, you can see why the issue has become so contentious and in some instances sensationalized. In last week’s Billings Gazette, authorities in Bismarck, North Dakota found the largest illegal dump site of filters that are used to keep naturally-occurring radioactivity from fracking wells out of the environment. Authorities tested these filters and confirmed that they have low levels of naturally-occurring radioactivity. Did you read about the 4.4 magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles last week?  According to the Los Angeles Times, the LA City Council is looking into whether fracking played a role in causing the temblor that shook Los Angeles. Needless to say, the fracking industry garners much attention from news media and pundits , for both warranted and unwarranted reasons. But it is hard to deny the economic impacts that the practice can have. Are there ways (if the industry is regulated correctly) to practice fracking safely? In this article, I will explore some of the interesting new technologies that drillers are using to reduce water consumption and make the process of fracking cleaner. Continue reading

Rethinking California’s Water Industry: Part 1—a Zero State Water Project Allocation World

California’s State Water Project is the backbone of the California economy.  The recent declaration of a zero water allocation for 2014 has exposed the California economy’s vulnerability to decades of political gridlock and ineffective water agency action.  Last Friday’s announced allocations for the federal Central Valley Project piled on.  Unless changes are made promptly to California’s “water culture”, look for California growth to come to a screeching halt.  To quote Reverend Wright (admittedly out of context), “California, the chickens have come home to roost.” Continue reading

What Will Be the Final Allocation for California’s State Water Project in 2014?

One answer, who knows check back in April after Mother Nature speaks.  But, that is not helpful for planning.  Another approach, study the historic record of final SWP allocations.  The final SWP Allocation is expected to be 12%, with one-third chance that the final SWP allocation will be below the initial 5% allocation announced last November. Continue reading