Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Going deep for groundwater, waiting for rain, measuring snow

As much as 40% of California's water supply comes out of the ground in a given year, but the state has enacted no limits on groundwater pumping.
As much as 40% of California's water supply comes out of the ground in a given year, but the state has enacted no limits on groundwater pumping. Chris Austin

Monday's news reminds you that this is the 10-year anniversary of "A Cinderella Story," a prescient film set in a drought-stricken San Fernando Valley, in which brainy tomboy Hillary Duff tells the quarterback of the football team, "Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless, and depressing."

  • Speaking of rain, in Southern California, we're showing a 50% chance of rain on Wednesday this week, according to the Weather Channel. Northern California's chances are better, and are for a longer window of rain possibility. (SF Gate, The Weather Channel)

RELATED: LA Rain: System expected to bring twin storms beginning Monday night

The San Jose Mercury News went deep this weekend with stories about drought policies around groundwater in California. If it's not falling from the sky, or running down from melting snow, groundwater's probably what you're looking for. It's water stored in space between rocks and minerals, particularly in the Central Valley, that everybody wants to count on - but nobody wants to tally up.

  • California uses more groundwater than any other state, writes Paul Rogers, who sees a trend toward awareness of this fact, and takes note of six months of hush-hush negotiations over whether and how to regulate pumping water out of aquifers. (San Jose Mercury News)
  • A second story by Lisa Krieger describes California as being in a race to the bottom about pumping groundwater, and points some fingers:
The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival -- new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures. Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals. (San Jose Mercury News)
  • The Motley Fool looks at the drought's influence on publicly-held White Wave and privately-held Blue Diamond Foods, almond-invested companies who are riding a tide of popularity that's cresting on almond milk. (Motley Fool)
  • Water and power utilities in California could see downgrades in their credit ratings unless they adjust prices upward because of the drought, according to Fitch. (Reuters)
  • And don't forget, Tuesday's the day...snowpack-wise. The April 1 snowpack measurement is traditionally the peak measurement of the season, so it's been the most important for water managers. (My Mother Lode)

Share your predictions for tomorrow's snowpack measurement, or memories of a favorite Cinderella-themed movie that references weather, in the comments below.

[Correction: The photo accompanying this post is the work of Chris Austin.]

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