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One Stretch Of River Could Decide Shasta Dam’s Future

The final stretch of the McCloud River before it empties into the state’s largest reservoir is a place of raw beauty. On a recent morning, the river’s icy water, flanked by flowering dogwood trees and jagged rock formations, flowed fast and clean. This part of the McCloud is off limits to almost everyone except a few Native Americans and some well-heeled fly fishermen. Its gatekeeper is an unlikely one, an organization that also happens to be a hugely controversial player in California water politics.

BLOG: Improving Urban Water Conservation In California

The relatively dry 2017-18 winter in California resurfaced recent memories of drought conservation mandates. From 2013-16, urban water utilities complied with voluntary, then mandatory, water use limits as part of Executive Order B-37-16. Urban water utilities met a statewide 25% conservation target (24.9%), helping the state weather severe drought. Winter rains in 2016-17 led to a reprieve from mandatory conservation. Freed from statewide requirements, urban water agencies ended mandatory cutbacks by meeting “stress tests” that included several years of secured water supplies. A useful outcome of the 2013-17 drought period was long-needed reporting data on monthly urban water use and conservation.

OPINION: Recharging Groundwater Reserves, Not Building New Reservoirs, Is Key To California’s Water Future

To the editor: Your editorial, “California is dammed enough already,” raises some important points about improving our water future. The state faces a chronic problem that will only get worse with climate change: depleted groundwater supplies. Groundwater is the lifeline communities and farmers turn to in drought. The good news is there’s an untapped solution under our feet called groundwater recharge, which is much cheaper than building new surface reservoirs, has few environmental hurdles and can be implemented relatively quickly. There’s also three times more water storage capacity underground than in all of California’s surface reservoirs combined.