Southern California environment news and trends

In California Drought News: Rationing unlikely, farmers call on feds, Obama golfing trip upsets water activists

President Obama Inspects Drought-Stricken California

Pool/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California's drought situation on February 14, 2014 in Los Banos, California. Obama met with farmers and ranchers while pledging millions of dollars in federal funds for drought relief projects in California.

President Obama Inspects Drought-Stricken California

Pool/Getty Images

A sercret service agent looks over a farm field as President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California's drought situation on February 14, 2014 in Los Banos, California. Obama met with farmers and ranchers while pledging millions of dollars in federal funds for drought relief projects in California.


Welcome back from the holiday weekend, during which I hope you all contemplated the history of Presidential water use like we did.

Water rationing for Cali's 3000 water agencies unlikely 

It’s only February, but Paul Rogers wrote for the Mercury News over the long weekend about why water rationing isn’t happening, and isn’t likely. “[W]hen it comes to water in California, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to explain why rationing hasn’t taken hold,” he writes. “While three utilities provide 80 percent of Californians’ electricity, there are roughly 3,000 water providers statewide, all with different rules, political realities and needs.”

Farmers and the federal drought

The tail end of coverage around President Obama’s Fresno trip includes Scott Smith writing for the Associated Press with a react piece about how farmers see federal efforts on the drought. Obama was in Fresno to highlight federal action for the central valley. But the central valley farmers he talked to say federal financial assistance “does not get to the heart” of their drought problems. Farmers say the federal government should manage California’s water supply better so that there aren’t future shortages like the present one.

No consensus on climate change and drought

And a specific connection between California’s present 14-month drought and the larger phenomenon of climate change remains elusive, even if President Obama and other politicians link the two in speeches (and in action, as with the billion-dollar climate resilience fund Obama pitched last week). In the New York Times, Justin Gillis writes that “there is no scientific consensus yet that [climate-related drought] is a worldwide phenomenon. Nor is there definitive evidence that it is causing California’s problems.” Among his sources in the piece is UCLA climate researcher Alex Hall, who has gotten a lot of ink in LA for a series of climate-related reports in which he downscaled global models to offer a more specific look at the region’s projected temperatures and precipitation. The NYT hears from John Holdren, Michael Anderson, and Columbia University’s Richard Seager, too.

Golfing in scorched California?

The President’s visit after the central valley to Sunnylands in the Coachella Valley was his second this year, as the Associated Press noted. That visit to a lush green golf course didn’t escape the notice of Emily Green, either, over at Chance of Rain, who used the President’s visit as one of several examples of politicians’ actions and language not quite lining up in a piece she titled “Emptying Reservoirs, Empty Words.”

“I must admit to feeling patronized and depressed” she writes, at her essential blog.

Lastly, have you had time time to contemplate the infinite possibilities for Lady Gaga’s forthcoming stint as a water conservation spokeswoman? If you’ve got ideas for the creative direction of her public service announcement, let us know. 

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