Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Hope is not a plan, except in the World Cup — the truth about El Niño

The U.S. Men's National Team takes on Ghana today. It's okay to hope for a win in the World Cup, but two U.C. Davis researchers say it's not a good idea to bank on hope that an El Niño gets California out of drought.

Monday's news finds it sort of ironic that we're talking drought here while torrential rain threatens the United States-Ghana World Cup match. Starts at 3 p.m. Pacific, y'all. Cheer for the USMNT while the hope is still alive in the Group of Death. On to the roundup.

  • Will California's drought continue into 2015? UC Davis' Jay Lund and Jeffrey Mount crunch 106 years of state designations to find it doesn't look good:
In all, there’s a 71 percent chance that next year will be Below Normal or drier and only a 29 percent chance of experiencing an Above Normal or Wet year. (California WaterBlog)

The message: it might rain this winter, it might not, but to borrow some words from Top Gun, California's ego may be writing checks its body can't cash. We're still drawing down groundwater faster than we should, argue the authors. Hope is not a plan.


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

This homeowner ripped out lawn to replace it with rocks. At least half of residential water use still goes toward landscaping in California, even during a drought.
slworking2/Flickr Creative Commons

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)


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California Drought News: Brown lawns, the bane of home sellers; bees, the bane of bathers

Kids love water parks. This summer, so do bees.
Jed Kim

Today's #dryku comes courtesy of those geniuses at Stanford (@WaterintheWest):
So why should we care
About groundwater at all
Water flows from tap

Fantastic! Don't forget to submit your drykus to our Twitter account @kpccdryku.

On the news front, we look at drought costs, both expected and unexpected. First, the expected:

  • Things are bad this year. Things will be oh so much worse next year if 2015 proves to be dry as well. That's according to the new drought action report out by the Association of California Water Agencies. How bad? Could be no cotton production in the San Joaquin Valley. (KQED)


  • At least unexpected to me. Realtors are saying that brown lawns are driving down the prices of homes that are on the market. Not only are people turned off by brown lawns, they're shying from the cost of keeping green ones. Will this be the impetus for a drought-tolerant lawn revolution?


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California Drought News: Silicon Valley largely ignores drought research, GHG reduction plan gets mixed reception, more

AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Despite Silicon Valley's position as a global tech capital, little if any research is being done there on technological advances in water conservation and supply management. CNN's Heather Kelly explains why:

Surprisingly, given its California location, Silicon Valley isn't a hotbed of drought and water research. Most local investors and venture capitalists aren't looking to invest in something that will take at least 10 years to pay off. They want software, cheap-to-make mobile apps that gather and monetize data about people, and consumer goods like phones, smart watches and futuristic thermostats. (CNN)

  • EPA head gets mixed reception while pitching greenhouse gas reduction plans to Western governors. (AP)
  • Summer arrives early to Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Central Valley supervisors pass groundwater management plan with no limits on new wells or groundwater pumping. (Modesto Bee)


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California Drought News: Drought + haiku = dryku, submit your best

Water shortages are blamed for driving cattle out of state to places like Texas and Nebraska.
Randy Heinitz/Flickr

Today's dryku:

Water bonds and bills
It's kind of like a film where
Drought is the villain

Speaking of drykus — for those of you who are new to the blog — we've been posting haikus related to the drought (drought + haiku = dryku = clever!). If you've been enjoying them, we've got good news. If not, now might be a good time to take that summer vacation.

That's because we want you to submit your drykus as well. Tweet them out to @kpccdryku, with hashtag #dryku. We'll select our favorites. You'll probably win some sort of poetry award and become rich beyond your wildest dreams. Or not. At the very least, you'll be helping build drought awareness 17 syllables at a time.

Now for today's drought news…

Views to a bill:

  • Environmentalists, politicians and water managers all gathered in the capitol yesterday to try to break a deadlock on a water bond. Matt Weiser reports that they presented five demands for such a bond before they'll support it:


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