You’ve probably heard about the California drought by now. If you live in California, it’s hard to hear about anything else. Unfortunately, the drought may be even worse than we realize, because the way we often measure water supply doesn’t consider future water availability. By relying on measurements of current reservoir levels, agencies in charge of water distribution are missing an important part of the water supply picture, leaving their customers vulnerable to longer and more severe droughts.
High and Dry: Reservoir Levels Tell Only Half the Story, Leaving California Dry as Drought Continues
March 31st, 2015
March 18th, 2015
I’ve blogged many times about the clean energy policies California has in place that have made it a leader. The state is well on its way to supplying 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and now, in a visionary step to dramatically reduce global warming emissions, is considering ways to increase that amount to 50 percent by 2030. Read More
February 13th, 2015
Last year, California’s drought task force toured the parched state, visiting sites impacted by the record dry conditions. At Lake Mendocino, a reservoir located in the northern part of the state, they saw bathtub rings and beached docks, evidence of drastically reduced water levels. Therefore, it should be surprising that billions of gallons of water were released from the reservoir during the drought to comply with outdated flood control rules. Read More
February 11th, 2015
Solar power is breaking records all the time. This week saw another one, with the dedication of a ginormous solar project in California. Here are 5 great facts about the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm to sprinkle into the conversation the next time you’re chatting at the bus stop or a cocktail party. Read More
January 6th, 2015
Yesterday Jerry Brown accepted the job of governor of California for a fourth term and made some exciting remarks about the state’s clean energy future. Read More
December 11th, 2014
Solar power in California continues to blaze ahead with record-setting developments and utilities ahead of schedule in meeting their targets for procuring renewable sources of electricity. So what’s next for renewable energy in the Golden State? Read More
November 7th, 2014
The conventional wisdom following Tuesday’s election is that national action on climate change is likely to be stalled or mired in partisan political wrangling until at least 2016. The long-sought effort to achieve a comprehensive climate law seems unlikely in the foreseeable future, and even administrative action on climate may be held up in federal budget battles and oversight hearings. For those of us dedicated to lowering emissions to a level that prevents the worst consequences of climate change and worried that time is growing short to achieve significant progress, the election results seem like a very discouraging outcome.
But as UCS President Ken Kimmell has pointed out in a post-election blog post, the results do not mean we should be discouraged or stop trying to make progress—we just need to focus our efforts where they are most likely to make progress. Read More
October 21st, 2014
Some say the only things you can count on are death and taxes, but in California there’s something else: drought. No one knows how long the current drought will last or when the next drought will be, but we can be sure that droughts will continue to cycle through in California. Unfortunately, many of our water management systems haven’t been built with this basic fact in mind and aren’t being operated to deal with longer or more severe droughts in the future. Read More
September 17th, 2014
A draft of the long-awaited Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) will be released any day now. The DRECP is intended to provide a landscape-level assessment of the most appropriate and inappropriate places to build large-scale renewable energy projects in the California portions of the Mojave and Colorado deserts to minimize impacts on wildlife habitats and desert ecosystems. By identifying the most suitable locations for renewable energy projects, the DRECP will bring more efficiency and certainty to the project permitting process and help us meet our clean energy goals. Read More
September 16th, 2014
UCS California Climate Scientist Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith provides this guest blog that celebrates today’s signing of historic California legislation to require regulation of groundwater, and offers some thoughts about the need for climate-resilient water management going forward.
Although California is known as a leader when it comes to climate change, its approach to groundwater has been more reminiscent of the Wild West. Groundwater provides around 60 percent of the state’s water supply in dry years, but it has remained largely unregulated since the Gold Rush era. Today, California took a major leap forward into the 21st century as Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law aimed at protecting groundwater for current and future generations. Read More