The Southwest has always faced periods of drought. Most recently, from late 2011 to 2017, California experienced years of lower-than-normal rainfall. El Niño is known to influence rain in the Southwest, but it’s not a perfect match. New research from the University of Washington and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores what conditions in the ocean and in the atmosphere prolong droughts in the Southwestern U.S. The answer is complex, according to a study published Aug. 6 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “What causes droughts that last for decades in some parts of the world, and why does that happen? Can we predict it?” said first author Luke Parsons, a UW postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences.
Archive for date: August 6th, 2019
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Despite the fact that new Delta Tunnel project supported by Governor Gavin Newsom has not been approved, the Department of Water Resources is proceeding forward with negotiations with its water contractors over the State Water Contract Amendment for the Delta Conveyance. DWR held two meetings, the first on July 24 and the second on July 31. Most of the meeting time on July 24 was not open to the public. DWR was caucusing in its room as the State Water Contractors were caucusing in their room — and those sessions were not open to the public.
Nearing the end of the San Bernardino Basin area’s first water year with above average precipitation since 2010-11, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District reported more than 20 billion gallons of water captured, a new record for captured groundwater recharge. This milestone was reached the last week of July, with two months left in the water year, and represents enough groundwater to serve 180,000 families for one year, according to a conservation district press release. This is a 30-year record with 1987 being the last year this much groundwater was stored into the region’s aquifers. Prior to that, 20 billion gallons of storage had not been achieved since the late 1940s.
The United States has enough water to satisfy the demand, but newly released data from the World Resources Institute shows some areas are out of balance. The WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas researchers used hydrological models and more than 50 years of data to estimate the typical water supply of 189 countries compared to their demand. The result was a scale of “water stress” — how close a country comes to draining its annual water stores in a typical year. Of course, many years are not typical, and unpredictable weather patterns of a changing climate can have drastic consequences.
The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest. But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer. Elsewhere, Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina’s beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely undetected.
For his initiative in designing and creating a new tool designed to improve safety and efficiency on the job, Sweetwater Authority employee Julio Salazar won the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority H.R. LaBounty Safety Award. The award recognized Salazar for creating a ‘Large AMS Stabilizing Tool.’ Salazar’s design resulted in making the process of replacing 1.5 inch and two inch angle meter stops, or AMS, easier, more ergonomic, and safer. “Our water professionals are industry leaders, finding new ways to work smarter and safer,” said Tish Berge, general manager. “Sweetwater Authority could not be more proud of Julio’s tool and much deserved recognition.”
Desalination began to lose its urgency among Californians and their public officials two years ago, after the drought-busting winter of 2016-17, when heavy rain and snow ended dry conditions in most of the state. The idea of drawing potable water from the sea became even less of a priority this year, when an autumn of record-level fires gave way to one of the state’s wettest winters on record. Reservoirs are brimming. Instead of desperately seeking new sources of water, Californians were moaning about the billions of excess gallons that washed into the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. Depleted aquifers began their path to replenishment, too, with snow levels in the water-producing Sierra Nevada Mountains far above normal.
A handful of US states – including New Mexico and California – are facing significant strains on their water supplies that will only intensify with global heating, according to new rankings. New Mexico tops the list and is the only state with “extremely high” pressures on its water availability. The state’s score is on par with the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East and Eritrea in Africa, the World Resources Institute (WRI) found. California ranks second, followed by Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska. “We’re stretching our water supply pretty much as far as it can go … and even further,” said Leah Schleifer, a spokeswoman for WRI’s water program. Experts with WRI said the data shows a global water crisis. “The picture is alarming in many places around the globe, but it’s very important to note that water stress is not destiny,” said Betsy Otto, WRI’s global water director. “What we can’t afford to do any longer is pretend that the situation will resolve itself.”
Farmers are struggling to keep crops from withering on the vine thanks to a severe drought affecting more than 4.5% of the continental United States ― and turning on the sprinklers could make the problem worse. California, which grows two-thirds of our fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts, experienced a drought that lasted from 2011 to March 2019. The World Resources Institute estimates that more than 25% of the world’s crops are grown in regions with high water stress (we’re looking at you, California almonds). “The shift toward more meat-based diets is becoming a major problem that puts pressure on water resources around the world,” said Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit focused on finding solutions to worldwide water challenges.
BANGALORE, India — Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday. Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought.