California Drought Update
August 18, 2014 8:18 PM Subscribe
All of California remains in drought with over 80% in worst categories of 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. Reservoir levels are 50% below average. (previously)
- Serious Drought Help Save Water - "With 2013 the driest year on record for much of California, and last winter's snowpacks on the Sierra Nevada and Trinity mountains down by 80%, the region now seems to be in for a prolonged drought. State-wide precipitation for the year ending June 30th was 12.4 inches—not even half of the historical annual average of 25.3 inches."
Despite California being the world's fifth-largest supplier of food and agricultural commodities, farming accounts for little more than 2% of the state's $2 trillion economy. Therein lies the source of California's woes. Agriculture uses 80% of the available water supply. Crops such as cotton, alfalfa and rice have no place in a semi-arid region relying extensively on irrigation. Almond and pistachio trees need year-round watering and take ages to mature. Yet such crops flourish in California, thanks to water rights that were allocated to farmers on a first-come, first-served basis generations ago, when the state had only a few million residents. Since then, the population of California has increased more than 10-fold to over 38m today—and is on track to reach 50m by 2050.
- California's Exceptional Drought Just Keeps Getting Worse - "The water reserves in California's topsoil and subsoil are nearly depleted, and 70 percent of the state's pastures are now rated 'very poor to poor', according to the USDA. Reservoir levels are dropping, and groundwater is being drained from the state as farms and cities pull from difficult-to-replenish underground caches. The state's 154 reservoirs are at 60 percent of the historical average, or 17.3 million acre feet lower than they should be. That's more than a year's supply of water gone missing."
- California Farms Sink Wells as Record Drought Escalates - "Well drilling has doubled and tripled in two Central Valley counties that are at the core of the nation's most productive agricultural region after federal and state regulators cut the water they provide to farms as supplies ran low in the drought. If the shortage continues, there is a risk that farmers will deplete the groundwater reserves they are using as a lifeline to survive the dry spell."
- California Is Now Experiencing Its Most Severe Drought Ever Recorded - "The latest report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a conservative panel which draws from the expertise of more than 800 scientists around the world, said it is 'more likely than not' that man-made global warming is causing longer and more intense droughts in many regions, including the American Midwest and California."
- California's Katrina? The great delta dilemma [ungated] - "Drought is not the only threat to California's water supply – the state's single biggest source of water is a catastrophe waiting to happen."
- Satellites reveal extent of groundwater loss in western United States - "Drought-stricken Colorado River basin is drawing down underground supplies."
- How the West was Lost - "Just as the settling and development of the arid American West was fueled by harnessing its available fresh water, the growing lack of water availability may well be its undoing."
- Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. - "About 34 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least a moderate drought as of August 12."
- The Best Place To Weather Climate Change - "A compelling case can be made that the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms."
- The Health Benefits of Trees - "They prevent $7 billion in health costs every year by filtering air pollution—not to mention their psychological effects. New research says the closer you can live to trees, the better off you are."
- Companies proclaim water the next oil in a rush to turn resources into profit - "Mammoth companies are trying to collect water that all life needs and charge for it as they would for other natural resources."
- Is This How to Sell Americans on Fighting Global Warming? - "The bill would require companies to have permits to produce or import carbon-containing fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The permits, instead of being allocated politically, would be auctioned off by the government, so they would get into the hands of the emitters who need them the most. A similar auction system drastically reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide—which causes acid rain—quicker and cheaper than experts expected. Here’s Van Hollen's political twist: The money raised by the permits would make a U-turn and go straight back to the American people—specifically, every person with a Social Security number. The same amount of money to every person, even those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes."
- California drought: Solar desalination plant shows promise - "His solar desalination plant produces water that costs about a quarter of what more conventionally desalinated water costs: $450 an acre-foot versus $2,000 an acre-foot. An acre-foot is equivalent to an acre covered by water 1 foot deep, enough to supply two families of four for a year. That brings Mandell's water cost close to what farmers are paying, in wet years, for water from the Panoche and other valley districts - about $300 an acre-foot. And that makes it a more economically attractive option than any of the 17 conventional desalination plants planned throughout California."
- How California Could Power Itself Using Nothing but Renewables - "For Jacobson's latest intellectual chef-d'œuvre, he co-authored a recent paper in Energy describing how California could capitalize on its abundant sunshine, on- and off-shore winds, tides, waves, and geothermal heat to abolish fossil fuels. Electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would be recharged using the renewable electricity supplies. Under the plan, all new energy generation in the Golden State from 2020 onward would be from renewable sources. By 2030, 80 to 85 percent of the state’s current energy supply would be replaced with clean sources. And starting in 2050, the state wouldn’t need to burn another drip of oil, hunk of coal, or molecule of natural gas—and the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant wouldn't be needed."
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