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Drought or Dangerous Flooding? Research Aims to Tame Atmospheric River Risks – and Save California’s Rain

We were flying about 200 nautical miles off the coast of California when a voice over the headset reported a strong smell of fuel in the back of the plane.

I was in the cockpit with the U.S. Air Force’s “Hurricane Hunters,” who spend the summer and fall flying into the eyes of hurricanes. On a Tuesday at the end of January, though, we flew out of Travis Air Force Base in California toward a different kind of storm: an atmospheric river that was moving east across the North Pacific, toward the West Coast.

Opinion: Newsom’s Water Framework is Imperfect but Necessary. The Alternative is Further Deterioration of the Delta

Gov. Gavin Newsom has put forward aframework for managing water and habitat in the Delta and its watershed. As far as we can tell, no one is very happy with the framework—and that may be a good sign.

The framework is the product of years of effort to negotiate an agreement among water users, other stakeholders, and regulatory agencies. Details are yet to be worked out, including firm commitments for water and funding, along with critical negotiations with the federal government on how to cooperatively manage upstream dams and the Delta pumps. Ultimately, the package has to be acceptable to state and federal regulators.

Opinion: Gov. Newsom: California Must get Past Differences on Water. Voluntary Agreements are the Path Forward

Water is the lifeblood of our state. It sustains communities, wildlife and our economy—all of which make California the envy of the world.

Reliably securing this vital and limited resource into the future remains a challenge, especially with a warming and changing climate.

For more than a year, my Administration has worked to find a comprehensive solution for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta—a path to immediately improve the health of these waterways, create certainty for the 35 million Californians who depend on these water sources, and maintain the economic vitality of the Central Valley.

Opinion: Why Desalination Can Help Quench California’s Water Needs

If you’ve ever created a personal budget, you know that assigning your money to different investment strategies is a crucial component to meet your financial goals. When you stop dipping into your savings account each month, savings can begin to build.

Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we need to include desalination in the water supply equation to help make up an imported water deficit.

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture recently released the Water Resilience Portfolio. In it, officials highlighted the importance of diversifying water supplies through the introduction of new water sources and preparing for new threats, including more extreme droughts.

Opinion: A Desalination Plant Can Transform The Monterey Peninsula And Help Avert A Water Crisis

Nobody likes to look out to the Pacific Ocean and see oil derricks on the horizon. That’s why California wisely banned new offshore oil drilling 50 years ago.

But in Monterey County, coastal views are limited by a relic of a bygone era: a giant, industrial sand plant right on the dunes between Highway One and the ocean.

In 2017, the California Coastal Commission reached an agreement with the sand plant for operations to shut down by 2020 and for all buildings and equipment to be removed by 2023.

Fires, Floods and More: A View of California From Space In 2019

The year began amid the ashes of the deadliest wildfire in California history. Then came torrential rains, the superbloom, a marine heat wave, and fires again.

They are events that foreshadow a future pattern of more extreme wildfires and rainstorms as climate change drives the Earth’s temperatures higher. The 2019 events prompted now familiar responses from politicians confronted with catastrophe across the state: disaster relief money, funding for scientific studies, and recriminations against bankrupt utility Pacific Gas and Electric.

Opinion: California Can Solve its Water Shortage With the Water We Have. Here’s How

California is at a water crossroads.

We can continue our costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of using – and reusing – what we already have.

The cheapest water is the water we save.

Opinion: On Water, California And Feds Need To Work Together For The Benefit Of Fish, Farmers And 27 Million People

We face an important opportunity to finally put the seemingly permanent conflicts that have defined water and environmental management in California behind us, but not if we let it drift away.

This new era of opportunity springs from a common recognition that our ways of doing business have failed to meet the needs of all interests. 

We have a choice: continue to live the never- ending “Groundhog Day” of conflict, apocalyptic rhetoric and litigation, or embrace the opportunities to meaningfully improve the way we make decisions and get things done for the good of all.

Opinion: California Rejects Federal Water Proposal, Lays Out its Vision for Protecting Endangered Species and Meeting State Water Needs

California’s water policy can be complex, and—let’s be honest—often polarizing.

Water decisions frequently get distilled into unhelpful narratives of fish versus farms, north versus south, or urban versus rural. Climate change-driven droughts and flooding threats, as well as our divided political climate, compound these challenges.

We must rise above these historic conflicts by finding ways to protect our environment and build water security for communities and agriculture. We need to embrace decisions that benefit our entire state. Simply put, we have to become much more innovative, collaborative and adaptive.

 

Opinion: Newsom Must Stop the Westlands Water Grab and Save the San Francisco Bay-Delta

The San Francisco Bay-Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast, was once the home to fisheries that produced five million pounds of canned salmon a year.

The Delta’s largest city, Stockton, is where children swam, rowed boats, and canoed after school in places made navigable through their parents and grandparents’ labor. Today, our children in Stockton will not enter a river or slough to swim, or fish, or row. Our urban waterways are stagnant, thick with algal scum and toxins.