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Fleets of Turtles Swim Warming Seas

As fishermen and scientists chase tropical tuna and marlin that have drifted into San Diego’s unusually warm waters during the past two years, they’ve encountered something else they’ve never seen: flotillas of loggerhead sea turtles bobbing off the California coast.

“This is the first account we’ve seen of so many loggerhead turtles in the history of scientific record,” said Jeff Seminoff, head of the marine turtle ecology and assessment program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla.

Colorado’s State Water Plan Reflects Changing Attitudes Towards Western Water Management

The completion of the state of Colorado’s Water Plan on November 19, 2015 reflects a growing trend in western water management away from conflict and towards collaborative discussion. Increasingly, western water managers are opting to pursue more creative, coordinated solutions to complex water issues, built on broad-based stakeholder participation.

Drought Harming Water Quality in Inland San Diego County

An annual study finds high bacteria levels and low oxygen levels in creeks and streams of inland San Diego County, and concludes water quality is suffering amid the ongoing drought. The Los Angeles Times says the 2015 San Diego Coastkeeper report released this week ranked the inland water quality as fair to poor – with no watershed earning good or excellent status.

The county’s northern watersheds received fair ratings. Most central and southern watersheds received marks of marginal, while the Tijuana area was rated poor. Coastkeeper used data from 360 samples taken at various sites throughout the year.

California Rice Farmers Optimistic After Wet Winter, Spring

A major money maker in California is making a comeback after recent rains. When it comes to California rice, 97 percent of it is grown in the Sacramento region. But California’s drought left a lot of rice fields barren. Now, Central Valley rice farmers are looking up as they reap the benefits of recent storms. Even though much of the state is still reeling from a historic drought, this year’s wet weather is making the rice harvest season more promising.

Severe And Extreme Drought Eases In California

The U.S. Drought Monitor released May 12 shows some minor improvement in California drought conditions and the removal of the short-term drought designation.

But the seasonal outlook shows drought persisting through the dry season as California’s drought continues for a fifth consecutive year. “Based upon recent conditions and discussions that started last week, areas of D2 (severe) and D3 (extreme) were improved over southern Nevada and southern California,” according to weekly report. “For all of the West, the indicator type was changed to “L” (long-term drought) as the areas of short-term impacts have improved enough to remove that designation.

Sierra Snowmelt Peaking Earlier

The Sierra snowpack is melting quickly, sending water flowing into nearby rivers and reservoirs. This is the normal cycle for snowmelt but research by the California Department of Water Resources found now it’s happening sooner in the season. This means there’s a larger gap between peak runoff and peak demand.

Snow in the Sierra is a great resource for water during the dry late spring and summer months. With a nice, steady snowmelt reservoirs get replenished as water is released to ease the dry conditions. Problems arise though when the peak runoff is well ahead of peak demand.

El Nino Conditions Fading; Drought Still Alive in California

The weather phenomenon known as El Nino is fading, and drought conditions remain entrenched in San Diego and the rest of California, according to a pair of reports released Thursday.

The Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service, announced a 75 percent chance that a La Nina pattern could form in El Nino’s place. El Nino is characterized by warmer than usual ocean water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific and often brings more rain than normal to the state.

The Solution to California’s Drought: A Free Market in Water

“If you’re going to be serious about using markets to allocate water, the first thing you have to do is let the market determine the price,” says Reed Watson, the executive director at the Property and Environment Research Center, or PERC, a nonprofit think tank based in Bozeman, Montana.

If California wants to ease the effects of its drought, Watson says, government should get out of the way and leave resource allocation to the market. “You have to have markets that actually work, that allow competing users to resolve their competition amicably and efficiently.”

San Diego Fights Kinder Morgan Over Water

Leaks from a petroleum storage plant have contaminated the land and befouled drinking water under San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium for decades, the city claims in lawsuit against Kinder Morgan. The Tuesday lawsuit in Superior Court accuses Houston-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and affiliates of dumping “hundreds of thousands of gallons of dangerous poisons and harmful chemicals into drinking water which otherwise would be available to serve the growing needs of San Diegans.” Years ago, the city used the aquifer beneath the stadium site for drinking water, and it wants to do so again.

After Easing Restrictions, Water Board Says Conservation Still Needed

Two days after it ended restricted water deliveries to its member agencies thanks to improved statewide supply, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Thursday began a $2.2 million advertising effort to encourage residents to continue conserving. “El Nino helped, but after drawing down our reserves the last four years to record low levels, we all must continue using water as wisely as possible to rebuild those reserves and be prepared for what lies ahead,” MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.