Southern California has a problem. Its base water supply is at risk due to aging infrastructure and declining conditions in the Delta that make it increasingly difficult to convey water through the Delta. A Saturday outing to Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California led to an unexpected opportunity to hear why the Southern California Water Committee (“SWSC”) sees California WaterFix as the solution.
The most recent US Drought Monitor released on December 30th finally shows a small glimmer of improvement for California’s drought. Over the last few weeks, a series of major storms dropped significantly higher than normal rains across much of Northern California. In fact, rain in some major Bay Area cities fell at the fastest clip ever recorded there. Oakland received 455% higher than average rainfall in December. San Francisco recorded 424% higher than average rainfall, and San Jose recorded an astonishing 736% of its average rainfall this December. Unfortunately, all of this rainfall put only a small dent in the drought conditions that mire the state. According to the US Drought Monitor, exceptional drought covers 32.21% of the state this week versus 55.08% at the beginning of the December. Continue reading
We have all read about the negative effects of the drought on businesses and citizens. Farmers left an estimated 400,000 to 800,000 acres of land fallow during the year, causing approximately $1.7 billion in economic damages. Despite all of the damages, I did find one industry that is actually relishing in the drought: For all you California and Oregon wine lovers, you might want to stock up on the 2014 vintage. The Wall Street Journal reports that growers in California and Oregon believe that the 2014 vintage may be some of the best wines in the last few years. Unlike some other important crops in California, grape vines are in general very drought tolerant. In some areas, grape vines receive little to no irrigation. Also, the hot, dry weather naturally reduced grape yields. The grapes that did grow have much more concentrated sugars, leading to bolder flavors and better tasting wines.
While wine lovers may be rejoicing at the drought, Mother Nature has been much crueler to the wildlife that call the Western United States home. The drought has caused stress on wildlife populations ranging from ducks to salmon. The effects of the drought on wildlife have also brought on some contentious debate over the best and highest use of limited water resources. In this piece, I will look at some of the issues facing salmon populations in California that are feeling the effects of the drought. Next week, I will look at issues surrounding the protection of the Delta Smelt and will explore whether there is a happy medium between our water consumption and wildlife protection. Continue reading
Sometimes when we think of water resources, we assume that a particular state has control over its own supplies such as groundwater and river diversions. But what if a state must share water resources with other states and even other countries? In a time of severe drought as the Southwestern United States is currently facing, how states and nations share limited water resources becomes more complicated and contentious. In this two-part series, I will discuss how treaties and Texas’s negotiations between New Mexico and the country of Mexico have strained both relations and the limits of a scarce resource that each party needs. Let’s first discuss the challenges between Mexico and Texas. Continue reading