Posts

Opinion: Silver Lining to Water Woes Could be Farmers Putting Their Lands to New Uses Besides Crops

The Central Valley has reached a critical juncture.

On one path, without proactive, collaborative planning, the Valley could become a haphazard patchwork of dusty fields infested with invasive weeds and pests, further impairing already poor air quality, devastating the agricultural economy and putting many farmworkers out of work.

On another path, the Valley can remain a thriving agricultural region amid a mosaic of new land uses, like vibrant habitat corridors for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox or wildlife-friendly groundwater recharge areas for migratory birds or outdoor recreational green spaces for families.

Opinion: California Needs Comprehensive Groundwater Management

While California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act promised comprehensive protection of the state’s groundwater, significant gaps remain in its coverage. The Department of Water Resources now has an opportunity to reduce or eliminate those gaps and should seize the moment. We know all Californians will experience another year of water shortages and warmer, drier conditions that will require conservation and which are likely to fuel destructive wildfires in our forests and around our communities.

Pipe Dream: Feds Sued Over Desert Water Pipeline OK’d by Trump

Just before the Trump administration headed out the door, a federal agency this past December cleared the way for a private company to begin pumping groundwater from under the Mojave Trails National Monument in Southern California. The Cadiz water project would extract roughly 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater every year for 50 years from aquifers north of Joshua Tree National Park. The project would overtax the surrounding environment, according to environmentalists who filed a lawsuit to halt the project Tuesday.

State Warns of Possible Water Shortages

California farmers relying on State Water Project water were warned Monday to prepare for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures. Reservoir and groundwater levels are significantly below average, and despite recent storms, snowpack is only 58% of average as of March 10.

 

Opinion: As Drought Alarms Sound, is California Prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide.

The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?

Attempts to Protect Arizona’s Groundwater and Rivers Meet Legislative Resistance

The Arizona Legislature has taken up a range of water-related measures this year, but some bills that would strengthen the state’s water rules to protect declining groundwater and desert streams have run into opposition and have failed to move forward.

Republican and Democratic legislators introduced several bills that would establish some groundwater rules in unregulated rural areas where there are no limits on pumping and where water levels are dropping.

‘It’s a Toxic Blend’: Where the Kids are Warned Not to Swallow the Bath Water

An invisible line splits the rural road of Avenue 416 in California’s Tulare county, at the point where the nut trees stretch east toward the towering Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. On one side of the line, residents have clean water. On the other side, they do not. On the other side lies East Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children grow up learning to never open their eyes or mouths while they shower.

Opinion: Why is Arizona Growing When Groundwater is Shrinking? We’re Finally Having This Debate

If our water supply is dwindling, why is Arizona still growing?

I get this question almost every time I write about groundwater. Readers say we should be doing a lot more to slow – or even cut off – the construction of new homes and farms.

That’s not likely to happen any time soon. But smart people are diving into the weeds of how we use this finite resource to fuel growth, and that makes me cautiously optimistic.

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance

Groundwater keeps the San Joaquin Valley’s orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems. Now, hundreds of agencies in California have the task of making things right in their respective groundwater basins – no easy task considering the enormity of the problem and the need to protect both the farm economy and the drinking water for vulnerable communities. Western Water examined how two San Joaquin Valley groundwater sustainability agencies are striving to find that balance.

The Ongoing Collapse of the World’s Aquifers

As California’s economy skyrocketed during the 20th century, its land headed in the opposite direction. A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers.