BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) — around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from California’s continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. The finding was part of a sobering update on the state’s drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Such data are giving scientists an unprecedented ability to identify key features of droughts, data that can be used to inform water management decisions. A team of scientists led by Jay Famiglietti of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to develop the first-ever calculation of this kind — the volume of water required to end an episode of drought. Earlier this year, at the peak of California’s current three-year drought, the team found that water storage in the state’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels. Data collected since the launch of GRACE in 2002 shows this deficit has increased steadily. READ MORE »
University of California, Davis
NEW TOOL IDENTIFIES HIGH-PRIORITY DAMS FOR FISH SURVIVAL
Scientists have identified 181 California dams that may need to increase water flows to protect native fish downstream. The screening tool developed by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, to select “high-priority” dams may be particularly useful during drought years amid competing demands for water.
“It is unpopular in many circles to talk about providing more water for fish during this drought, but to the extent we care about not driving native fish to extinction, we need a strategy to keep our rivers flowing below dams,” said lead author Ted Grantham, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis during the study and currently a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
“The drought will have a major impact on the aquatic environment.” The study, published Oct. 15 in the journal BioScience, evaluated 753 large dams in California and screened them for evidence of altered water flows and damage to fish. About 25 percent, or 181, were identified as having flows that may be too low to sustain healthy fish populations. READ MORE »
Some folks are predicting mass migration out of California if the drought continues. The U.S. Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and several universities have predicted that the drought may go on for several more years and could last decades. Here is one such prediction (copy and paste into browser) from the Epoch Times website: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1030249-14-california-communities-now-on...
A new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the US Geological Survey researchers looked at the deep historical record (tree rings, etc.) and the latest climate change models to estimate the likelihood of major droughts in the Southwest over the next century. The results are as soothing as a thick wool sweater on a midsummer desert hike, according to Mother Jones Magazine.
The researchers concluded that odds of a decadelong drought are "at least 80 percent." The chances of a "megadrought" one lasting 35 or more years, stands at somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent, depending on how severe climate change turns out to be. And the prospects for an "unprecedented 50-year megadrought" — one "worse than anything seen during the last 2000 years" — checks in at a nontrivial 5 to 10 percent.
To learn more, go to this link: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/09/southwest-megadrought
FROM A Natural Resources Defense Council and Los Angeles Waterkeeper news release
WASHINGTON (May 5, 2014) – A decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court will protect millions of people living near and visiting Los Angeles rivers and beaches from the harmful effects of water pollution. The Supreme Court declined Los Angeles County and the County Flood Control District’s request to review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling finding Los Angeles County liable for untreated stormwater pollution that plagues local waterways.
The decision stems from a lawsuit initiated by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Los Angeles Waterkeeper in 2008. The Supreme Court previously remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit Court, which sided with NRDC and Waterkeeper last August. In an attempt to shirk its responsibility for cleaning up the region’s chronically polluted waterways, the County petitioned the Supreme Court for review in January 2014. Denying review of the case allows the lower court ruling to remain in place and holds Los Angeles County liable for water pollution, with documented and persistent violations of its Clean Water Act permit in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers since 2003. READ MORE »
WASHINGTON (May 1, 2014) – An animated video released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) illustrates how the agribusiness giant, Monsanto, and its competitors are responsible for the rise of “superweeds” – weeds that have developed resistance to a common herbicide that once kept them in check.
According to a recent UCS policy brief, superweeds are cropping up on more than 60 million acres of U.S. cropland, increasing farmers’ costs and driving an increase in overall herbicide use and the return of more toxic chemicals. The video, “Monsanto Supersizes Farmers' Weed Problem—but Science Can Solve It,” depicts Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seed and herbicide system as a “superhero” with a fatal flaw. Monsanto sold the system as a way to make weed control easier.
Farmers adopted the system enthusiastically, and for a while it did reduced their overall use of herbicides. However, as weeds developed resistance to Roundup weed killer, the false superhero was unmasked. Nationally, weeds began to develop resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, only five years after the Roundup Ready products were introduced in the United States. Resistant weeds can grow eight feet tall and the tough stems damage farm equipment. These weeds also steal nutrients from crops, hurting crop yields and overall productivity. READ MORE »
Federal Judge gives Westlands and Reclamation six more months to pursue settlement talks on drainage problemSubmitted by Lloyd Carter on Thu, 05/01/2014 - 20:09.
Federal Judge Lawrence O’Neill in Fresno has signed an order allowing the Westlands Water District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation another 6 months to pursue settlement talks without any further implementation of the 2007 Record of Decision regarding Westlands' long-standing farm drainage water problem.
The key final paragraph of O'Neill's order reads as follows: READ MORE »