With no rain in the forecast for the rest of 2020 — thanks to a La Niña weather pattern pushing storms north of the state — the probability of California entering a multi-year drought is increasing.
The ancient people of Danger Cave lived well. They ate freshwater fish, ducks and other small game, according to detritus they left behind. They had a lush lakeside view, with cattails, bulrush and water-loving willows adorning the marshlands.
But then, the good life became history. As heat and drought set in, the freshwater dried up and forced the ancients to survive by plucking tiny seeds from desert shrubs called pickleweed. Archaeologists know this from a thick layer of dusty chaff buried in the cave’s floor.
Matthew Costa stepped gingerly into a little pocket wetland near the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The squishy salt marsh is more than just a patch of habitat in the intertidal zone. “Just watch out,” said Costa, a postdoctoral researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as he warned a helper. “Watch out for birds.” Endangered ridgeway rails like hiding in the pickleweed that covers the soft, moist ground nestled between train tracks and a busy Del Mar street.
A few winding turns past Bodega Bay, along foggy bluffs and coastal prairie, relentless waves pound a crumbling stretch of coastline in dire need of saving. Here at Gleason Beach, once referred to as Malibu North, the beach gets drowned during high tide. Bits of concrete and rebar are all that remain of 11 cliff-top homes that have already surrendered to the sea.
This warm, dry weather we’ve been having may be good for moving activities outside.
But it’s bad news for our water supply.
The chances are growing – and quickly – that a warm, dry winter could push Lake Powell to a trigger point about a year from now that could result in significantly less water for Lake Mead, which supplies about 40% of Arizona’s water supply.
Fall planting season is underway and a great time to take advantage of rebates for replacing your lawn.
“Fall is like a second spring for planting in our region and it’s also a great opportunity for residents to take advantage of some outdoor incentives as they replace grass with climate appropriate plants,” said Joni German, water resources specialist at the San Diego County Water Authority.
Climate change and overuse are causing one of the Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell, to drop. While water managers worry about scarcity issues, two Utah river rafters are documenting the changes that come as the massive reservoir hits historic low points.
In an average year, Brad Lancaster can harvest enough rain to meet 95% of his water needs. Roof runoff collected in tanks on his modest lot in Tucson, Arizona — where 100 degree days are common in the summer months — provides what he needs to bathe, cook and drink.
Lake Miramar, a longtime recreational oasis celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is about to become a key part of San Diego’s new $5 billion Pure Water system that will boost the city’s water independence by recycling treated sewage.
The last of San Diego’s nine city reservoirs to be built, Lake Miramar attracts an estimated 100,000 people a year for jogging, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking and other activities.
Twenty years ago, the Colorado River Basin’s hydrology turned persistently dry, reservoir levels plummeted and a river system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and ecosystems across the West was in trouble. So key players across the Basin attacked the problem. The result was a set of Interim Guidelines adopted in 2007 that, according to a just-released assessment, mostly worked to prevent forced water supply cuts. With the guidelines expiring in 2026, that assessment is expected to aid discussions as key players begin writing a new set of river operating rules.