Study: Farms, Hydropower at Risk in West’s Changing Climate

Climate change could upset the complex interplay of rain, snow and temperature in the West, hurting food production, the environment and electrical generation at dams, the federal government warned Tuesday.

Some areas could get more rain and less snow, reducing the snowmelt flowing into reservoirs in the summer when farmers need it to irrigate, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report said. Higher temperatures would mean more evaporation from reservoirs, particularly in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins.

Water Rate Subsidies Coming to San Diego

Relief from spiking water rates for low-income residents in San Diego could be available as soon as summer 2017.

In the wake of 40 percent rate increases over four years that the City Council approved last November, the city is creating a special assistance fund for the poorest among its roughly 280,000 ratepayers. The fund, which the council approved unanimously last week, will come from tax-deductible donations and possible matching funds from corporations or the city’s general fund.

Santa Barbara Rejects Subsurface Water Intake For Desalination Plant

The city of Santa Barbara won’t pursue a subsurface ocean intake for its desalination plant after a study revealed that the process would either be infeasible or fail to meet the city’s needs.

Like most desalination plants, the city’s plant has an open water intake pipe in the ocean, but environmentalists say that process kills microorganisms and other sea life. In response to the concerns, the city commissioned a study to evaluate six different ways to extract water through a subsurface — from the seabed — process.

VIDEO: Farming in an Age of Drought

Jesus Ramos is a first-generation Mexican immigrant and farm owner who, after coming to America to work as a field hand, grew his business into a 140-acre orange farm. But today, Jesus and his family’s way of life is under threat. California is experiencing an unprecedented drought and the exceptionally dry conditions are particularly alarming for farming communities like Terra Bella, where Jesus lives and works.

 

Au-gust of News Episode 2—California Water Crisis

Drought conditions in California have actually improved this week as a steady stream of storms and rain pelted the state, according to this week’s Drought Monitor report.

Currently, about 74 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought, a 10 percent improvement over last week’s report. However, the California drought has caused unparalleled devastation to the region, and will continue to do so barring any significant increase in annual rainfall or extreme intervention.

California Snowpack Returns, but Fears Held for Future

California’s main water reservoir — its mountain snowpack — has made a triumphant return to the Sierra Nevada following severe shortfalls in recent years.

A string of winter storms boosted by El Niño has restored much of the mountain snow that melts through summer to help top up the state’s reservoirs, but the prognosis for the decades ahead remains grim.Climate change is projected to corrode California’s snowpack, forcing water officials to rethink how they store and distribute water in a state that’s prone to prolonged droughts.

Largest California Reservoirs Releasing Water for Flood Safety

After years of drought, Northern California has so much water that the state’s two largest reservoirs are releasing water to maintain flood-control safety.

The water releases from Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville don’t mean the drought is over. But they represent the latest evidence that drought conditions are easing as El Niño has brought meaningful amounts of rain and snow to Northern California for the first time since 2012. Yet the free-flowing water remains a significant source of controversy throughout Northern California.

How Water From Mexico Can Save the Salton Sea

Filling the Salton Sea with imported water from Mexico is not a new idea. The proposal has been around in one form or another since the 1970s. While the idea has a track record of inspiring excitement, support hasn’t translated to funding.

Previous studies – including by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Salton Sea Authority – deemed it too costly to pull off. But the tides have changed. At the beginning of 2018 the Imperial Irrigation District is set to cut off flow of water from Colorado River into the Salton Sea, as required by the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement.