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Environment & Science

California Drought News: Condolences, Congressional warnings, and conservation reminders



House Speaker John Boehner joined a trio of California GOP members in the Central Valley to push for certain environmental regulations to be set aside during the drought.
House Speaker John Boehner joined a trio of California GOP members in the Central Valley to push for certain environmental regulations to be set aside during the drought.
Sasha Khokha/KQED

Monday's news sends condolences to California Chrome for the Triple Crown, reminders to the Bay Area to save water, and warnings to Congress about its legislation. (Dear Chrome: Your owner is not your fault. We know you tried.)

Any progress California hopes to make in attaining sustainable solutions to its long-term water crisis requires a great deal of trust on the part of all factions that science and expertise, and not politics, will govern day-to-day decisions about how much water is needed to protect a salmon run, for example, and how much can be diverted to farms. Changing rules that by all appearances are working sends a signal that Congress rather than water experts may at any moment take charge of the state's competing water needs. (LA Times)
Long showers continue to be the norm, cars still get hosed down, and sprinklers still soak green lawns despite pleas by local water officials to cut back. In San Jose, water use in the first quarter of the year was actually up over the same period in 2013 — though officials there say conservation efforts are just kicking in. (SF Gate)

Dear Bay Area: 

​"We need them to do a little more."

One sight that alarmed me last week was at a remote natural spring I've returned to many times, where the water is cold and sweet and pumps like a perpetual fountain. From the drought and low snowpack last winter, it was already a trickle. I haven't seen it go dry, but this could be the year. (SF Gate)

Much of today's roundup focuses on the central valley — but then, so do many of our water decisions statewide.

"We don’t think the state’s authority extends to our pre-1914 water rights," said Steve Knell, Oakdale Irrigation District general manager. "We fully expect to take them on should they decide to go down that path." He’s not the only one. (Modesto Bee)
We’re obviously concerned about drought in California or hurricanes and floods along our coastlines and the possibility of more powerful storms or more severe droughts. All of those things are bread-and-butter issues that touch on American families. But when you start seeing how these shifts can displace people — entire countries can be finding themselves unable to feed themselves and the potential incidence of conflict that arises out of that — that gets your attention. There’s a reason why the quadrennial defense review — [which] the secretary of defense and the Joints Chiefs of Staff work on — identified climate change as one of our most significant national security problems. It’s not just the actual disasters that might arise, it is the accumulating stresses that are placed on a lot of different countries and the possibility of war, conflict, refugees, displacement that arise from a changing climate. (NYT)

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