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Drought, Climate Change and Groundwater Sustainability — Western Water Year in Review

The ability of science to improve water management decisions and keep up with the accelerating pace of climate change. The impact to precious water resources from persistent drought in the Colorado River Basin. Building resilience and sustainability across California. And finding hope at the Salton Sea.

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2020. In case you missed them, they are still worth taking a look at.

Sea Level Projections Drive San Francisco’s Adaptation Planning

As a utilities planner for the City and County of San Francisco, David Behar knows that access to the latest information about sea level rise is crucial to his job — and his city. Behar is climate program director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. He tracks the latest climate science and leads the translation of that work for the agency and other city departments, working with a team of engineers and planners.

Congress Approves Regional Projects, Funding for Camp Pendleton

Congress is expected to pass two bills before the end of the year that will bring millions to the region for local priorities including Camp Pendleton construction projects as well as area bluff erosion and flood protection projects.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act, a bill that authorizes development for local projects in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Specifically, the bill includes an authorization for the San Luis Rey River Flood Protection project in Oceanside and the Del Mar bluffs shoreline project.

Colorado River Basin Winter Forecast Signals Dry Times Ahead

All signs are pointing to a dry start to 2021 across much of the Colorado River watershed, which provides water to about 40 million people in the Western U.S.

A lack of precipitation from April to October made this spring, summer and fall one of the region’s driest six-month periods on record. And with a dry start to winter, river forecasters feel more pessimistic about the chances for a drought recovery in the early part of 2021.

Is Farming with Reclaimed Water the Solution to a Drier Future?

On a Saturday in late October, Carolyn Phinney stands hip-deep in a half acre of vegetables, at the nucleus of what will one day be 15 acres of productive farmland.


Savor the Last Drops — Bay Area Rains Not Expected Again Until 2021

If Bay Area residents didn’t take time to appreciate Wednesday’s overnight dousing, it seems it’s too late. It’s all we’re going to get until 2021, forecasters say. Following the much-needed downpour that led to Thursday morning’s soaked roadways, an unusually dry holiday season lies ahead.

Battling America’s ‘Dirty Secret’

To Catherine Coleman Flowers, this is “holy ground”: the place where her ancestors were enslaved and her parents fought for civil rights and she came of age. Here, amid the rich, dark earth and emerald farm fields, she is home.

Yet this ground also harbors a threat, one that will worsen as the planet warms.

For decades, the people of this rural county 30 miles south of Montgomery have struggled with waste. Municipal sewage systems do not extend to this farming community, and many residents cannot afford septic systems; their waste flows directly into ditches or streams. Even those with septic tanks find that they often fail in the dense, waterlogged soil. On rainy days, toilets won’t flush and foul effluent burbles up into bathtubs and sinks.

Researchers Solve a Colorado River Mystery

A team led by University of Oregon geologist Rebecca Dorsey has published two papers that provide new insights into the origins of the Colorado River, using data from ancient sedimentary deposits located east of the San Andreas fault near the Salton Sea in Southern California.

Biden Nominates Rep. Haaland to Interior, Naming First Native American Cabinet Member

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Deb Haaland, the freshman representative from New Mexico, to lead the Interior Department, making history by selecting the first Native American to oversee the agency that manages millions of acres of federal land and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Skyrocketing Coronavirus Levels in California Sewage Point to Rapid Spread of Virus

Sewage data analyzed in Silicon Valley wastewater treatment plants confirms that the latest wave of coronavirus infections is sharply worse than the ones in the spring and summer.

Officials in Santa Clara County have been routinely testing solid waste samples in sewage to detect levels of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as part of a project funded by Stanford University.