Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: A likely El Niño, but will it be Godzilla or El Fizzle?

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79184 full

Friday's news remind us of the Great Space Coaster. If no gnus is good gnus (with Gary Gnu), then will a puppet wildebeest tell you when something potentially good happens with impending climate patterns? Well, even if he won't, I will, so let's dig in. 

  • The probability of an El Niño next winter, a climatological pattern that often brings plenty of rain, just keeps going up and up. But that doesn't necessarily mean an end to drought:
"There are all kinds of El Niños: small, medium, large and Godzilla," said Bill Patzert, a research scientist and oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "I don't see the Godzilla,'' he said. "But I'll give it another couple of months. This still could be El Fizzle. I don't want to recommend that you invest any of your retirement in the umbrella market yet." (SJ Mercury-News/Paul Rogers)
  • Farmers and entrepreneurs convened at a discussion sponsored by Fresno State at the 2014 Water Technology Conference to talk about how to use water more wisely. (Valley Public Radio)
  • A top official from Paramount Farms, the world's largest processor of pistachios and almonds, told the Clovis crowd that drought will bring groundwater regulation to California. (Fresno Bee)
  • Turns out the state's got an extensive and hidden problem with people on private wells which are running dry. Reuters describes oversight of these communities' water supplies as "limited and fractured."
One woman in Mendocino County called the drought hotline to say she needed water to bathe her disabled husband, who was incontinent, said Brandon Merritt, a county analyst. Another family said it could not afford the $350 a private dealer was charging for a month-long supply of water. Schwartz, of the Mendocino Community Services District, has pushed the state to offer grants or loans to help residents purchase water or dig deeper wells. But Davis said the state will focus first on helping those who can be hooked up to existing water systems. (Thompson Reuters)
  • Efforts are underway to create a local authority to oversee groundwater in Paso Robles, where overdrafting — taking too much groundwater — is a big problem. (Tribune News)
  • And forget water cops. Santa Cruz is making water users pay for exceeding their rations. Felicity Barringer connects that rather unique response to the larger trend of using pricing to keep down demand.
Santa Cruz, whose fresh water comes from the shrinking San Lorenzo River and a small reservoir, has gone further than other strapped utilities in embracing the idea of rationing, with fines for those who exceed their allotted shares. But other utilities around the state now have a tiered pricing system. Basic water use comes cheap. Consumption that is compatible with modest landscaping comes at a slightly higher cost. Excessive use comes at premium prices. (Sacramento Bee)

Got a well? Want to tell us about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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