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California congressmen try to talk Uncle Sam out of taxing turf rebates

After months of debate about whether rebates for water-saving measures are taxable, two members of Congress from California have introduced a bill that would clarify that they are not.

As part of a statewide push to manage the drought, Californians have received rebates from water districts for tearing out their lawns or installing water-saving devices. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California says it processed 37,000 turf rebates of $600 or more in 2015, and its member water agencies processed 26,000 other rebates.

Drought Conditions Improve in Northern, Central California

Drought conditions improved this week for some parts of California as a steady stream of storms have nearly filled northern water reservoirs and improved the critical Sierra snowpack, according to this week’s Drought Monitor report.

Improvements were reported in several drought condition categories, ranging from moderate to exceptional, as California nears the end of its rain season, which began in October. About 73 percent of the state is under severe drought, a 10-percentage point improvement over the previous week’s report.

Zone 7 Postpones Vote on Local Support for California WaterFix

Moved by pleas from constituents in a crowded meeting room, the Zone 7 Water Agency board Wednesday decided to postpone a vote on a resolution indicating local support for the California WaterFix until a final environmental report is complete.

The board voted 6-1 to wait until further environmental and financial impacts had been announced before voting, which is expected to be closer to September. Board member Bill Stevens voted against the measure, saying he prefered board members make their opinions public now.

Water Crisis Calls for Immediate Action

Over the past 12 months, my research group has published a series of satellite-based studies that paint a most dire, space-based picture of changing freshwater availability. Some of our maps were published as part of The Desert Sun-USA TODAY series (Dec. 10, 2015) along with Ian James’ compelling narrative of the equally-grim view from the ground. There is no escaping the realities of the world’s shifting water landscape and humanity’s need to adapt.


Land Subsidence: We’ve Been Down This Road

The excellent Desert Sun-USA TODAY global groundwater depletion series brought a growing world problem to center stage. But it also sadly reminded me that ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’ We’ve been down this road before. To illustrate that, I’ll return to my hydrology graduate school days at the University of Arizona. There, I first learned of the water woes in the Texas portion of the Ogallala aquifer and the southern Central Valley aquifer system.


Documentary Focuses on Crisis of Groundwater Depletion

The Desert Sun and USA TODAY recently published a five-part series examining the dire consequences of groundwater depletion in places around the world. Now that multimedia project has grown into a documentary film that will be shown on April 4 at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs.

The film, titled “Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater,” was co-produced by Steve Elfers of USA TODAY and Ian James of The Desert Sun, and was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Climate And The Economy Of California

Drought, as applied to agriculture practices in the US State of California, must be evaluated on a different basis than in other parts of the country.

Typically there are extended periods every Summer with little or no precipitation.  This is the normal and expected condition.  So, a deficiency of the precipitation becomes significant in the State when the normal Winter Water supply fails to materialize.  Winter range is also very important in the livestock industry.  An abnormally dry Winter can be disastrous to the raising of cattle. Approximately 90% of California’s Water supply is used for Agriculture.


El Niño Leaves Water Management Questions

El Nino conditions are calming down and several areas that normally see precipitation were left dry. This will magnify water management in the future and that will continue to be a driving subject of conversation.

Department of Water Resources Climatologist Michael Anderson says El Nino conditions are calming down but those weather pattern predictions don’t always mean precipitation. Anderson says we most likely will see some rain through the next month or two, however the storms are missing the areas that normally see water during El Nino conditions, such as the southern coast.

NOAA releases spring flooding and drought forecast

Parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and eastern Texas, which have already suffered widespread flooding this year, will continue to be at risk of flooding through June, according to the newly released spring outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The report also said that communities along the Mississippi and Missouri River basins and parts of the southeastern U.S. from Alabama to North Carolina are at risk of minor to moderate spring flooding, too.

Drought eases in Northern California but still severe down south, says NOAA

It comes as no surprise to anyone living in Southern California that the drought is still going strong in the region, and forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that will likely continue through the spring and summer.

NOAA’s annual spring outlook predicts above average precipitation in parts of California, like the Central Valley, but not in the south. Overall, temperatures are expected to be warmer than average as El Niño’s effects wane.