Category Archives: Water Shortages

Climate Change: A New Energy-Water Nexus for Emission Trading

California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon added a new twist (climate change) to the increasingly popular topic of the “energy-water nexus.” Speaking at the 30th Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Southern California Water Committee, “as we live through the current severe and extreme drought, which is now approaching a 4th straight year of drought conditions, the realities of limited water supplies are hitting home.”  Introducing climate change into the policy discussion, Senator de Leon will move water agencies into a new era of carbon emission control.  Will participation in California’s cap-and-trade emission market become a new tool for water managers? Continue reading

Is the End of the Texas Drought Near?

Do you believe an Aggie or a Red Raider?

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story on the September torrential rainfall in Texas: Rain pounds Texas: A sign the drought is ending?

“This could be the start of the end of the drought,” said state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

“We’ve been behind on rainfall for several years in West Texas. We have thirsty watersheds.” “We need multiple, wetter years,” said Ken Rainwater, former director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University.

Well, this is one Aggie-Red Raider dispute that can’t be settled on the gridiron. Continue reading

Listen to the Tree Rings on Sacramento River Hydrology

With a third and extreme year of drought, how will future hydrologic conditions compare to current ones? There are two strands of thought suggesting a challenging future:

  • the 20th Century was an unusually wet period
  • climate change will confront water managers with more severe drought conditions in the future

For the Sacramento River watershed in California, there is unexpected good news. While California must confront variability in hydrologic conditions, Department of Water Resources’ recently released tree-ring data suggesting that current severe drought conditions do not signal that California will be facing more severe hydrologic conditions in the future. Continue reading

How is the Drought Affecting California’s Water Rights?

Over the last few weeks, the Journal of Water has posted a few very interesting articles about the challenges to California’s water rights. In particular, local irrigation districts in Central California and the State Water Resources Control Board have gotten into arguments over whether the most senior water rights can be curtailed in a time of drought. According to a Modesto Bee article, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) may this month curtail more junior water rights from drawing water. The SWRCB argues that they need to take this measure in the midst of unprecedented drought to protect the most senior water rights holders. The irrigation districts and the water rights holders are concerned that this move will lead to water rights curtailments of even the most senior rights in the state. At this point in California, there is clearly not enough water to satisfy all of the claims to water in the state. Until Mother Nature provides us with more rain, we have to determine who should receive water, and how much. In this piece, I will address the issue of water rights law in the state and how this may play out if the severe drought continues. Continue reading