Three dozen water meters or more in San Francisco, but if this picture were in Bakersfield you wouldn't see any. Not everybody in California meters their water.
Monday's news engages your inner primate's sense of competition and asks: "Why isn't anyone keeping track of how much water my neighbors use?"
- Paul Rogers reports over the weekend that there are several places in California where water use still isn't metered: Sacramento, Bakersfield, Modesto, Lodi, among others. (Mercury-News)
Is climate change causing the drought? That may be the wrong question. Against the backdrop of California's thirst, a debate continues, in part over the way we talk about science in mainstream media.
- Research meteorologist Martin Hoerling writes an op-ed in The New York Times that expands on the comments he gave Andy Revkin last week. "At present, the scientific evidence does not support an argument that the drought there is appreciably linked to human-induced climate change." (NYT) He argues this week that the reason it matters is because diagnosis is key to prognosis:
Sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on March 6. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.
Good news, maybe! Climatologists say global weather patterns may shift so that the drought could end later this year. But let us not count our chickens until we examine sacred cows.
- The Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued an El Niño watch Thursday, saying that there's a 50 percent chance that weaker trade winds will allow water in the eastern Pacific ocean to get warmer, changing global climate patterns. (NOAA)
- An El Niño could soak California, make for a stormy winter in the southern U.S., and take away precipitation in Australia — where climatologists noted warming trends last month. It may be June or July before experts know more. (Bloomberg)
- NOAA's Martin Hoerling weighs in on whether climate change is influencing California's drought:
Photo by timlewisnm via Flickr Creative Commons
- Recent rains have made California politicians request a two-week delay in cuts from the State Water Project. (SF Gate)
- KPCC's Ed Joyce explains the benefits of drinking (former) toilet water. (KPCC)
- Israel gets a quarter of its water from desalination techniques. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited California yesterday and offered his country's expertise to help our water woes. (Bloomberg)
- Bees have already been plagued by colony collapse disorder. They're taking another hit from the lack of wildflowers. (Capital Public Radio)
- Our current drought is less due to climate change and more to uncooperative weather systems, according to some scientists. That view is unpopular with the White House. (NY Times, New Republic)
- An LA Times reporter joins a weekly Native American rain dance. They're popping up across the state. (LA Times)
Farmers use bees to pollinate the state's valuable almond crop, now threatened by the drought.
- We're not out of the woods yet. We'd need rain — like we had last week — every other day through May to get us back to our typical water supply, says California's Drought Task Force. (San Jose Mercury News)
- This before-and-after shot of California's drought puts the crisis into human scale. (Business Insider)
- Folks in India and China are crazy for California-grown almonds. Now they're looking at higher prices because of the drought. (The Diplomat)
- Kate Galbraith in The Daily Beast compares California's drought to the last dry spell in Texas. Three years later the Lone Star State still hasn't fully recovered.
Water affects everything, as it turns out. Air pollution gets worse during drought; in California the problem is soot, and in Texas it was ozone. School athletic fields become dry and cracked, creating difficult choices between watering the grass and risking injury to kids. Homeowners associations come under fire for requiring residents to keep their lawns green. Scrutiny of water-intensive practices like fracking rise. Controversy over endangered species increases, and the federal government becomes a target of ire. The quality of water eventually becomes a concern, as reservoirs drop and salt and silt become more concentrated. Sewage water, strangely enough, emerges as a valuable and contested resource, and everyone starts dreaming about (costly) desalination.
This Saturday, March 1, 2014 photo provided by the Big Bear Visitors Bureau shows a 43-foot pirate ship tour boat partially submerged under water in Big Bear Lake, Calif. The 27-ton boat had been docked at Holloway Marina before sinking. The one-third scale 16th century Spanish galleon replica was a prop in the movie "Time Bandits."
Hey, did you know that it rained last weekend?
Sorry, we know we've been talking about it a lot, but it's been happening so rarely lately that we may have forgotten what life is like after a downpour:
- Oftentimes, rain means flourishing grasses, which dry out and become great fuel for fire. That's not the case with the most recent storms, which actually decreased fire hazard risk. (KPCC)
- Seasoned Southern Californians know to stay away from the beach after a heavy rainfall, but a new study says we should avoid the sand for at least five days. (LA Times)
- Toddlers' minds can be blown by the simple task of washing hands, but they can also be taught to be responsible water users. (KPCC)
- The U.S. and Mexico are teaming up this month to send 105,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River into Baja California. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- The rain and snow capsized and sank a pirate tour ship that represented the only floating liquor license on Big Bear Lake. (Modesto Bee)