Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Big questions about drought, short-term memory about weather

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86380 full

Friday's news is asking questions and hoping for solutions.

  • Can California conserve its way through drought? National Geographic notices that nobody's conserving enough, and takes in the Natural Resources Defense Council's report this week, which concludes that the state "could save up to 14 million acre-feet of water with a concerted effort to reuse water, capture lost stormwater, and ramp up water-saving practices in urban and agricultural settings."
If cities boosted their efficiency and reuse of water, they could readily save 5.2 to 7.1 million acre-feet of water per year, the report says, or more than enough water to supply all of urban southern California. Earlier this year the state allocated nearly $700 million toward those kinds of investments, and some projects are already under way around the state. "Cash for grass" programs, in which residents are paid to replace their lawns with water-free plantings, have been particularly popular, says Poole. On June 3, the State Water Resources Control Board issued revised rules that make it easier to use recycled water for landscaping. (National Geographic)
  • Could El Niño save California from this year's drought? io9 put that question to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center Acting Director Mike Halpert. He says the strongest events in the last 60 years yielded above average precipitation statewide:
However, strong events in 1991/92 and 2009/10 only provided small surpluses in the southern part of the state, while precipitation during 1965/66 was generally average to below average across the state. (io9)

Guess we're not solving everything today. On to the rest of the news.

  • Hey, California's seeing the hottest year on record so far this year: until now, the previous hottest year was 1934, which kicked off the dust bowl. Since I'm sitting in pleasant June Gloom temperatures, this is a great time to observe that I've turned into Mr. Short Term memory about weather since I've lived here. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Water rationing may be just around the corner, according to the RivCo city of Canyon Lake. (Friday Flyer)
  • San Joaquin County really doesn't want the state to look into its groundwater supplies — supervisors there voted to oppose statewide legislation on the matter. They also oppose a wild and scenic rivers designation for the upper Mokelumne River because they're concerned that they might need hydroelectric power or a dam on that river in the future:
If you truly believe in global warming, there will be more rainfall than snowfall in the future. If you don't have storage reservoirs to put it in, we won't have the water supply we have today, said Andy Christensen, general manager of the Woodbridge Irrigation District, which also opposes the wild and scenic designation. (RecordNet)
And Voice of America talked to California firefighters training for this summer in Hemet. CalFire has 5000 full time firefighters now, and just hired 300 more people because of the drought. (VOA)

Speaking of which, how has your community been affected by the drought? Share your story with a photo on Twitter or Instagram. Tag it #mydrought. For more details on our photo project, click here.

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