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The Last Thing California Needed: Drought Adds to Electricity Woes as Hydro Power Dries Up

California’s shaky power grid is on a collision course with an epic drought that’s depleting a major source of supply: hydroelectricity.

The Western heatwave that began Wednesday has the manager of the state’s grid, the California Independent System Operator, warning of potential power shortages through the weekend. Although the organization stopped short of predicting another round of rolling blackouts, it appealed to Californians to conserve energy to get the state through a tough week. The National Weather Service said temperatures are expected to reach 110 degrees Thursday.

Opinion: State Restrictions Reflect Urgent Need to Conserve Water

The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California.

It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now.

California Farmers Told Drought Could Cut Off Their Water

Thousands of Central California farmers were warned Tuesday that they could face water cutoffs this summer as the state deals with a drought that already has curtailed federal and state irrigation supplies.

The State Water Resources Control Board notified about 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed who have rights to use water from the Central Valley estuary of “impending water unavailability” that may continue until winter rains come.

California Walking a ‘Tight Rope’ as Hydropower Supply Fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies. Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years. Nationally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts electricity generation from conventional hydro sources will drop about 11% this year from 2020.

Opinion: California Drought Sharpens Perpetual Water Conflict

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. Their battles are waged in the state Capitol, in Washington, in regulatory agencies and in the courts and over time, the trend has been a subtle shift of supplies from long-dominant agriculture to protecting flows for fish and other wildlife while maintaining the relatively small amount consumed in urban areas.

Final Plan for Water Releases Into Sacramento River Could Kill Up to 88% of Endangered Salmon Run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery.

The State Water Resources Control Board has informed the federal Bureau of Reclamation it would accept its final plan for managing water flows from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, which is both the main source of water for Central Valley farms and the spawning habitat for chinook salmon. Because the bureau’s plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

Tulare County’s Never-Ending Drought Brings Dried Up Wells and Plenty of Misery

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being.  “The drought has never stopped in north Tulare County. It never left,” said county Supervisor Eddie Valero. “Domestic wells are drying up at an alarming rate.” The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

California’s Biggest Heat Wave of the Year Heightens Drought and Fire Fears

With a worsening drought gripping the West and wildfire season looming, California is bracing for the most severe heat wave of the year — one that promises to tax the state’s power supplies while also offering a grim preview of challenging months to come.

The heat wave will bring triple-digit temperatures to the valleys and inland regions of Southern California as well as many parts of the rest of the state, heightening fire risks. It comes as parts of Northern and Central California are turning to water restrictions as the drought rapidly alters the landscape.

Intensifying California Drought Promises ‘Very Concerning’ Fire Season

California is entering its summer fire season with a high level of flammability. The hottest and most fire-prone months of the year are ahead. Conditions in the state are a striking example of escalating fire potential in the drought-stricken West.

How the season unfolds will depend on a number of factors, including where ignitions occur and the duration of summer heat waves.

But the outlook is poor at this time, given deepening drought, abundant dry fuels and hot early-season temperatures.

Water: Amazing New Map Shows the Path of Every Raindrop That Hits the United States

Water is like electricity. Most people don’t think about it much until it’s gone.

Now, as California and other Western states find themselves heading into a severe and worsening drought, a new interactive map is providing a breathtaking journey that shows where America’s water comes from and ends up.

The project is called River Runner. It allows anyone to click on any place where a raindrop would fall in the United States, and then track its path through watersheds, into creeks, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean.