Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Lots of views about how to save water, as there's little new direction to do it. Also fireworks!

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87428 full

Monday's fat stack of news also includes some views about what to do about drought and Western water supplies.

The New York Times has published six answers to the questions "What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future?" Pat Mulroy, former general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, weighs in, as do several other think tankers:

[N]ew energy and fuel production options have become more water intensive. Unconventional oil and gas production methods such as hydraulic fracturing have significant implications for local and regional water quality and quantity. Bioenergy consumes water at various stages of production (including irrigation for crops) and also has impacts on water quality and quantity...We should be pursuing cleaner energy and streamlined approaches to conserving water in order to truly safeguard our water supply. (Newsha Ajami/Stanford University)
An incredible 40 percent of the water consumed by Americans goes into meat and dairy production. Livestock must drink water and there is some water use at the farm, but most of this water is for the producing animal feed...Is this a wise allocation of the limited supply of freshwater in America? (Arjen Hoekstra/University of Twente, Netherlands)
  • Closer to home, the Sacramento Bee has an ongoing series about drought solutions. Mariposa County resident Tom DeVries, who lives in forestland at 4,000 feet, offers his take:
Trees take water; a big one can draw 100 gallons a day out of the ground. All that junk forest in California is sucking up water that should be filling my spring and well and flowing downhill toward the rest of you. (Sac Bee)
  • You know who else has good ideas about how to conserve water in drought? Australians. (KQED)
  • Jay Lund from UC Davis modeled a "mega-drought" with his team and found that the economic consequences of a big drought event could be mostly managed through smarter water conservation policies. (California Water Blog)
  • Falling water levels at Lake Mead are lowering Hoover Dam's energy production. Generating units have recently been "derated," meaning that they're expected to have a lower capacity for producing electricity now that there's less water to turn turbines. (EE News)
  • Jason Dearen and Garance Burke report on "senior rights holders," and how poorly California accounts for water use by people who have rights dating back before 1914 at anytime, and how much that matters now during the drought. (AP)
  • You're gonna see a lot of these stories all week: it's a terrible year for setting off fireworks. I bet rural fire chiefs have their teeth on edge already. (Merced Sun-Star)
  • And we'll finish up in Southern California. In the first of a duo of Dana Bartholomew stories, the Daily News reports on Turf Terminators, a company that offers to leverage the recently-raised turf removal incentive and swap out homeowners' lawns for less thirsty landscapes...essentially for free, since the company's premise is that it can do the work for the price of the rebate. (Daily News)
  • In the second, Bartholomew profiles a Studio City water-conservation demonstration at homes along Rhodes Avenue. (Daily News)
  • And a UCLA project examining water use and conservation potential in territory served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power suggests that we're not pricing water well enough to encourage conservation. Authors of a policy brief with the California Center for Sustainable Communities say dual metering, for inside and outside, would also improve conservation. (Imperial Valley News)

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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