Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Farm supply, preparation among water users in SoCal, question of dams

81877 full
81877 full

Monday's news says: Make sure your pets have enough water. It's going to be a hot one. First, a story of seeking supply.

  • In California, oil fields produce water, too. Usually it's pumped back into the ground, but oil-produced water can be blended down to irrigation quality and used by desperate farmers in the Cawelo Water District, as KQED reports. (KQED)

Southern California, somewhat secure in its water this year, is focused on questions of demand.

  • Gregory J. Wilcox and Kevin Smith round up the state of preparation among water users in Southern California, and find a pretty sunny outlook, where water agencies have been storing water against dry times, Golden Road Brewing is reusing cleaning supplies and sweeping more than mopping, and even commercial real estate owners have been working on this, since at least one conference a couple of years ago. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
Every one of them said the same thing [Richard Restuccia, the head of a major national landscaping firm, told Wilcox and Smith]. They had really spent what they wanted to on energy management, and spending more would not yield the results they wanted and they were turning their attention to water.
  • The Sacramento Bee's Hudson Sangree explores the origins of our love of the lawn in Southern California, and finds many criminals to accuse: seed catalogs, salesmen, transplants from the East Coast (a-HA!). (Kansas City Star)
Transplants from the East Coast also brought their notions of landscaping with them to the West. The emerging middle class wanted lawns like the American aristocracy and the English gentry before them. (Sacramento Bee)

Several stories over the last several days around the state are tackling the question of water storage and its many forms.

  • Peter Fimrite reports on whether to store or conserve more water. Since he calls it a puzzle, I'll compare his story to the box top of a puzzle that tells you what you're looking at:
About 32 percent of the 71 million acre-feet is used for agriculture and 10 percent for urban areas, according to the state Department of Water Resources' chief hydrologist, Maury Roos. About 35 percent of the total is reserved by law to help river ecosystems, wetlands and fisheries, and to maintain a healthy flow of water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. That leaves about 21 percent of the total to flow out into the ocean without being used for anything, according to Roos' calculations. (SF Chronicle)
  • Fresno reporter Mark Grossi updates the ongoing work balancing fish and farming interests below the San Joaquin River's Friant Dam. A several-decades-long legal dispute over the water flows below the dam has yielded a restoration project whose efficacy is debated during the driest year of its existence. (Fresno Bee)
  • Emergency drought relief has begun to flow to California, and NBC Bay Area breaks down about $1 billion in money, two-thirds of which is from state coffers. But some suggest what the state needs is longer-term investment in resilient infrastructure - the kind that can help capture water lost now. (NBC Bay Area)
  • And a San Francisco Chronicle editorial explores the question of taking on new debt to build new dams - and notes that the legislators pushing hardest for new storage, likely funded through bonds, represent constituents who don't like bonds in the first place. (SF Gate)

To dam or not to dam? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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