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New Study Identifies Mountain Snowpack Most “At-Risk” from Climate Change

As the planet warms, scientists expect that mountain snowpack should melt progressively earlier in the year. However, observations in the U.S. show that as temperatures have risen, snowpack melt is relatively unaffected in some regions while others can experience snowpack melt a month earlier in the year.

This Year Will Likely Be Critically Dry for California, State Officials Say

The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate what will be a critically dry year, state water officials believe.

California’s Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of 21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.

California Experiences Fifth Straight Month of Below Average Snow, Precipitation

The Department of Water Resources today conducted the third manual snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 56 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 21 inches, which is 86% of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

“As California closes out the fifth consecutive dry month of our water year, absent a series of strong storms in March or April we are going to end with a critically dry year on the heels of last year’s dry conditions,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “With back-to-back dry years, water efficiency and drought preparedness are more important than ever for communities, agriculture and the environment.”

In Rapidly Warming Colorado River Basin, The Negotiating Table Is Being Set

Anyone who has hosted a good dinner party knows that the guest list, table setting and topic of conversation play a big role in determining whether the night is a hit or the guests leave angry and unsatisfied.

That concept is about to get a true test on the Colorado River, where chairs are being pulled up to a negotiating table to start a new round of talks that could define how the river system adapts to a changing climate for the next generation.

Restricted Season likely with Poor Sacramento and Klamath River Salmon Abundance

A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off the California coast points to restricted ocean and river salmon fishing seasons in 2021.

State and federal fishery managers during the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000 adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish lower than the 2020 estimate.

Humans Have Completely Transformed How Water Is Stored on Earth

Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Challenges a President Trump-era Rule Weakening of Crucial Requirements that Protect Public from Lead in Drinking Water

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday joined a lawsuit challenging a Trump-era rule revising nationwide standards for controlling and remediating lead in drinking water. While the final rule includes certain necessary updates to the existing standard, these changes are overshadowed by the unlawful weakening of critical requirements and the rule’s failure to protect the public from lead in drinking water to the maximum extent feasible, as required by law. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) update to the Lead and Copper Rule is arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act’s prohibition on the weakening of existing drinking water standards.

Valadao Hopes to Pump Funding Into Water Infrastructure

Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao (R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley.

Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act.

California’s Wet Season Nears an End with Big Concerns About Drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back.

Without Active Spring Snow, State’s Snowpack on Track to be Below Average

Colorado’s high country is just weeks away from its average peak snowpack date. Current measurements are on the fast track to coming up short. “Our snowpack has been struggling. We’re close to average, but not quite to average so the likelihood of getting average snowpack is pretty low at this point. It’s most likely that most areas of our state will have a little bit below average snowpack when we end the season,” said Becky Bolinger, Assistant State Climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center at CSU.