The San Francisco Bay is an estuary — an ecological mixing bowl where salty waters from the Pacific Ocean meet the fresh runoff that flows down from the high sierra through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and eventually to the sea. The brackish blending together of these aquatic inputs produces one of the most abundant ecosystems on the planet. Shrimp, crabs, smelt, salmon, and many small but supremely important invertebrates swim (or scuttle) in its mild waters. Cormorants, pelicans, geese, and ducks galore wing overhead or waddle along its shores.
Archive for date: November 3rd, 2016
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For years companies have targeted consumers with advertising that leverages social pressure – like saying seven out of 10 people prefer a certain brand of toothpaste or laundry detergent. More recently, that kind of thinking has been used not just to sell products, but also to change behavior. “Behavioral economists assert that in the absence of price signals, policymakers can change people’s behaviors by harnessing their natural inclination to conform to social norms,” wrote Nola Hastings and Galib Rustamov in a 2015 report on customer water use messaging for the California Urban Water Conservation Council.
California is in the middle of its fifth year in drought. Experts say it has been the worst the state has seen in 1,200 years. Dwindling reservoirs, shrinking lakes, and dried-up farm fields dot the state’s landscape — and despite some recent signs of recovery, the overall outlook is still ominously dry. Across the state, reservoirs remain far below their capacity and, more importantly, far below their historical average. And California isn’t alone. Last year, Dean Farrell of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill made a stunning interactive graphic showing the shrinking state of reservoirs across the western US.
The answer to our drought may come from what we call Atmospheric Rivers, or ARs for short. Seven out of the last 12 droughts ended when these big fire hoses of water in the sky took aim at California. ARs can carry about the same amount of water as 20 Mississippi Rivers! And now we just found out ARs also produce another transport of the abundant moisture. It’s called a Sierra Barrier Jet.
The State Water Resources Board has released the draft of a Scientific Basis Report that looks at fisheries and water flows in the Sacramento River and Bay-Delta region. The area supplies 80 percent of the Valley’s water. The report issued Oct. 19 follows by several weeks a draft study sent out for comment on the other major river that flows into the Delta, the San Joaquin River, which feeds the federal Central Valley Project. Zone 7 Water Agency is suppled by the State Water Project from the Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River.
As of January 1, watering lawns within Santa Barbara city limits will be outlawed in response to Southern California’s worsening drought and the South Coast’s all-but-empty reservoirs. While the City Council was unanimous about the watering ban, there was much heated discussion about the possibility of water rationing and even a moratorium on new development.
A rainy October in Northern California has lifted about a quarter of the state out of drought conditions, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday. It’s the rosiest picture released by federal officials since the spring of 2013, when about 64% of the state was considered to be in “moderate drought” — or worse. The rains so far this fall have given some weather watchers reason for optimism as California braces for a potential sixth year of drought. But much of Central and Southern California remain locked in what the drought monitor calls “exceptional or extreme drought.”
October’s rains put a modest dent in California’s drought, leaving the state in its best shape in more than three years, according to data released Thursday. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report showed that 12 percent of California, all in the northernmost counties, is now considered drought-free. That’s the highest percentage since March 2013. A year ago, all four counties in the Sacramento region were in “exceptional drought,” the worst classification. Most of Sacramento and Yolo counties remain in “severe drought” status.
Over the past five years, Californians have been trained to turn the faucet off when brushing their teeth, allow their lawns to turn dusty brown and keep their gardens alive using dishwater. These tactics, among others, allowed urban water users to reduce their average consumption by almost 25 percent in 2015. Those caught wasting water were publicly shamed by the media. The state’s almond industry, especially, has been vilified for its intensive use of California’s precious water.
Governor Jerry Brown will be in San Diego making his voice heard over Proposition 53. He’s meeting with public safety and local leaders to oppose the initiative. Prop 53 requires a state-wide vote on bond projects costing more than $2 billion. The governor says Prop 53 erodes local control by forcing everyone in California to approve projects first. The California Professional Firefighters Association, first responders and sheriffs are also against the measure.