Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Federal legislation, and the crop that will be hit hardest

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85102 full

Friday's news is packing up for the long weekend. But before you go:

  • The U.S. Senate passed a 16-page drought bill late Thursday night. Now it's got to go to committee with a 68-page drought bill passed by the GOP-controlled House. One bill puts into practice stuff President Obama's already done. The other has earned a threat of a veto from the President. Compromise? (McClatchy/DC)
Environmentalists are not happy. Patricia Schifferle of Pacific Advocates says the new bill allows reservoir storage to continue until the governor formally declares the drought to be over. It also circumvents historic water agreements and legal rulings to allow greater water exports from the Sacramento Delta to growers in the Central Valley. (Represent!)
  • The drought will hit the cost of rice hardest...which makes sense. Rice is a water-intense crop. (Sacramento Bee) (Though the rice lobby says rice farming is more efficient than you think.)
  • Fish vs. Farmers? Eric Holthouse arrives at California's longstanding battle, and says everyone's wrong. (Slate)
  • Pleasanton's drought hotline is taking 500 calls a day. I guess people in Pleasanton really want to do this drought right. (KTVU)

Now news from the Department of Solutions to shortages:

  • "Market incentives need to be a bigger part of the picture." Bloomberg View argues that water managers in California already have seasonal pricing, tiers or pricing signals, and other tools that they should use a lot more often to control and influence the use of water. (Bloomberg View)
  • The central coast wine growing region around Paso Robles is trying to protect its rapidly depleting groundwater by limiting vineyards and their water use. (KCBX)
  • And Peter Gleick, one of California's top water policy experts from the Pacific Institute, talks to Australian broadcasters about what Californians can learn from down under: what crops to grow, how to replace grass ("the ridiculous areas of lush green lawns") and introducing water-efficient toilets and washing machines. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

How has your community been affected by the drought? Share your story with a photo on Twitter or Instagram. Tag it #mydrought.

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