The San Joaquin Valley – California’s largest agricultural region – has been in a state of perpetual water stress that can only be partly attributed to the latest drought. Decades of unchecked pumping have resulted in a chronic groundwater deficit averaging nearly 2 million acre-feet per year – equivalent to about two Folsom reservoirs. The clock is ticking for overdrawn basins to comply with the state’s 2014 groundwater law and get their water supply and use into balance. One strategy that can help make a substantial dent in this deficit is to encourage more storage in the valley’s depleted aquifers.
Archive for date: April 28th, 2018
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Fearsome gusts of desert wind routinely kicked up swirling clouds of choking dust over Owens Lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada after 1913, when its treasured snowmelt and spring water was first diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It was not until 2001, and under a court order, that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began transforming the lake’s grim heritage, flooding portions where toxic, powder-fine dust exceeded federal pollution standards. In what is now hailed as an astonishing environmental success, nature quickly responded.
The next huge natural catastrophe to strike California might not be an earthquake. New research suggests that a major flood could inundate large swaths of California in the next few decades. The last “200-year flood” was more than 150 years ago, and climate change is jacking up the odds of a repeat sooner rather than later. In order to prepare, state water officials must rethink whether big, costly dams really are the best investment of limited resources.