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Nearly 20% of California Water Agencies Could See Shortages if Drought Persists, State Report Shows

Most of California’s urban water agencies believe they have enough supplies to last through another seven months of drought, but nearly 20% of them — including many in Southern California — say they could be facing significant shortages, according to a new state report. The California Department of Water Resource’s first annual water supply and demand assessment surveyed the state’s urban water agencies to see how they are managing tight supplies through conservation efforts and improved drought planning.

IID Approves Possible $250 Million Salton Sea Deal With Feds, State

Southern California’s powerful Imperial Irrigation District voted late Tuesday 3-2 to ink an agreement with federal and state officials that could yield as much as $250 million for Salton Sea restoration projects in exchange for not using another 250,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water. An acre-foot is enough to supply about two households.

Drying California Lake to Get $250M in US Drought Funding

The federal government said Monday it will spend $250 million over four years on environmental cleanup and restoration work around a drying Southern California lake that’s fed by the depleted Colorado River. The future of the Salton Sea, and who is financially responsible for it, has been a key issue in discussions over how to prevent a crisis in the Colorado River.

Drought-Stricken CA Increasingly Turning to Desalination of Ocean Water

The California Coastal Commission recently approved the construction of two more desalination plants, one near Monterrey, and one by Dana Point. This adds to the four already providing drinking water in the state. But in 2020, this same commission advised not to build the Monterey plant. What changed?

As California Droughts Intensify, Ecosystems and Rural Communities Will Bear the Brunt

Drought, human-caused climate change, invasive species and a “legacy” of environmental issues are permanently altering California’s landscape and placing some communities and ecosystems at increasing risk, a panel of experts told water officials recently. Invasive species and decades of disruptions from massive land and water developments are partly responsible for a continuous decline in native California species, experts told the California Water Commission on Nov. 16.

Before and After: Satellite Imaging Shows California’s Reservoir Levels Years Apart

A lot has changed for California’s reservoirs over the last five years. In April 2017, then-Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that declared California’s drought state of emergency over in most counties (Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties were initially excluded). The emergency order had been in place since 2014 following several years of historic drought conditions.

California Drought Costly to Growers, Jobs as Farmland Shrinks. New Study Shows How Much

As California prepares for a fourth consecutive year of drought and farmland across the Golden State increasingly goes idle, growers continue to face mounting economic challenges. In a new report about the financial toll of the state’s extreme drought conditions, researchers estimated that the state’s irrigated farmland dropped by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, from 2019 to 2022.

 

Westlands Boss Thomas Birmingham Retiring After ‘Change Coalition’ Elected to Board

Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the massive Westlands Water District since 2000, Wednesday announced plans to step down at the end of 2022. His announcement follows the election of four new members to the Westlands Board of Directors on Nov. 8 who would give a so-called “change coalition” a solid majority of six seats on the nine-member board.

 

On the Job: What It Takes to Earn $70,000 a Year as a Water Operator in California

The promise of job security and work-life balance drew Fernando Gonzalez to become a water operator. Now that he’s worked as one for a few years, he sees his job as much more than fining people for using too much water. On a given day, he’s patrolling neighborhoods spanning from farmland to Malibu mansions, looking for evidence that residents are wasting water.

‘It’s a Disaster.’ Drought Dramatically Shrinking California Farmland, Costing $1.7 Billion

In the fall, rice fields in the Sacramento Valley usually shine golden brown as they await harvesting. This year, however, many fields were left covered with bare dirt. “It’s a disaster,” said rice farmer Don Bransford. “This has never happened. Never. And I’ve been farming since 1980.”