Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
Southwest U.S. may face 'megadrought' this century
Science Daily (Rockville, Maryland), Aug 27, 2014
The Southwestern U.S. faces a greater than 50 percent chance of a decade-long drought and a 20 to 50 percent chance of seeing a “megadrought”—a drought lasting more than 30 years—in the next century, according to research from Cornell University, University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey.
New Mexico's green chile harvest in full swing
Associated Press, Sep 10, 2014
Drought was one of several factors chipping away at New Mexico’s chile acreage and production over the years, even as demand for the pepper has been increasing. Labor costs, international competition and concerns over long-term water supplies have also reduced the planted acreage and production.
Dry pattern causing some crops to lose yield
Dothan Eagle (Alabama), Aug 29, 2014
The lack of rain chipped away at cotton and peanut yields in southeastern Alabama, but rainfall could prevent further deterioration.
Record drought saps California honey production
Associated Press, Aug 21, 2014
The California drought has dried up native plants and wildflowers, whose nectar honeybees use to make honey. Beekeepers must supplement the bees’ diets with sugar syrup until plants resume making flowers and nectar.
Drought has cut California’s honey production by more than half, compared to annual averages before the drought. In 2010, 27.5 million pounds of honey were produced in the state, and in 2013, the honey crop was 10.9 million pounds. The 2014 honey crop is expected to be even lower than last year.
Greener Pastures Signaling U.S. Beef Supply Rebound: Commodities
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Aug 19, 2014
Consumer ground beef prices rose 12 percent to a new high of $3.884 per pound in July. The cost of boneless sirloin steak also rose 16 percent to a record high of $7.87 per pound. Drought and the smallest cattle herd in 63 years contributed to the high price of beef.
Business & Industry
Drought triggers produce woes at 99 Cents
Supermarket News (New York), Sep 11, 2014
The 99 Cents Only chain saw poorer performance during its second quarter of 2015 due to drought- related high produce prices. The CEO of 99 Cents Only stated that drought affected the chain’s “ability to continually stock right-priced produce.”
Cargill’s Annual Profits Slide 19%; Revenue Drops Too
Twin Cities Business (Minneapolis, Minn.), Aug 07, 2014
Cargill, producer of food and agricultural products, saw a 12 percent decline in its net earnings of $424 million for the fourth quarter, ending May 31, compared to $483 million for the fourth quarter in 2013. Revenue, however, was up 2 percent for the quarter to $36.2 billion, in comparison with $35.4 billion in 2013. The drop in fourth quarter earnings can be traced to adjustments the company made to cope with Venezuela’s change in currency exchange rates.
Cargill’s profits for the year were $1.87 billion, 19 percent lower than last year. The decrease occurred due to China’s rejection of some U.S. corn shipments, drought in the U.S. in 2013 and higher transportation expenses related to the railcar shortage.
Water woes force big brewers to tighten the tap
The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), Jun 11, 2014
Texas, California & Colorado
MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have cut back on the amount of water used to produce their beer as drought and wildfires jeopardize water supplies. Since 2012, MillerCoors cut its water use 9.2 percent and has focused its water saving-efforts on Texas, California and Colorado. The company uses sensors to release the right amount of water for irrigation, planting native grasses to limit erosion and runoff and watching for leaky machinery in its breweries.
Ethanol plants’ profits 2nd-highest on record
Des Moines Register (Iowa), Mar 17, 2014
The average ethanol plant in the U.S. lost $7.3 million in 2012, due to high corn prices as drought reduced corn production, according to a study by the University of Illinois. Many plants closed or cut back on ethanol production. The average profit for ethanol plants between 2007 and 2013 was $7.4 million.
Improved corn production in 2013 sent corn prices lower, leading to the second highest year of average profit for ethanol plants at $23 million.
Drought Shutters Hydro Power Generation
KOLO-TV (Reno, Nev.), Jul 30, 2014
Three hydropower plants belonging to the Truckee Meadows Power Authority were shutting down because there was not enough water to keep the plants operating. The plants will probably be able to generate hydropower again in January or February.
Drought hinders state's emissions goals
San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 20, 2014
Drought has cut into hydropower production in California, driving energy costs higher as the state turns to other more expensive energy sources. Hydropower generation dropped from 18.2 percent in 2011 to 11.7 percent in 2012 when drought began.
Despite years of decreases in greenhouse gas emissions since 2004, California’s emissions began to rise in 2012, due to drought and the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County. Emissions data for 2013 were not yet available.
California may rely on more gas-fired generation due to drought
Reuters, Jan 10, 2014
With less water stored in California reservoirs, less hydropower will likely be produced in the state in 2014, leading to greater reliance on natural gas-fired power production.
In 2011, hydropower accounted for an above average 21.3 percent and natural gas was used for 45.4 percent of in-state electricity production. In 2012, dry conditions in California shifted the balance to 13.8 percent hydropower and 61.1 percent gas-fired generation. Hydropower is cheaper than gas-fired power.
Colorado River Hydropower Faces a Dry Future
IEEE Spectrum (New York, New York), Sep 19, 2013
Drought has lessened the flow through the Colorado River Basin, limiting hydropower generation at dams in the Southwest. At Hoover Dam, five new wide-head turbines are being installed to keep the power plant functioning as water levels decline in Lake Mead. Full capacity power production at Hoover Dam is 2,074 megawatts, but low water levels diminished production to 1,735 MW in August for a decline of just over 8 percent. Power production at Glen Canyon Dam in 2014 is expected to be down by 8 percent.
With the Colorado River providing less water, resulting in reduced hydropower production, the Western Area Power Administration will shell out an estimated $10 million to purchase power supplies in 2014.
Little rain makes for anxious fire officials
FOX6 WBRC-TV (Birmingham, Alabama), Aug 30, 2014
Dry conditions have allowed more fires than usual across Alabama, where summer is not normally a part of their fire season. During a recent seven-day period, 43 wildfires blackened more than 593 acres, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.
Heat toughens wildfire battle
The Everett Daily Herald (Washington), Jul 29, 2014
. The Carlton Complex fire seared 390 square miles and destroyed 300 homes in the Pateros and Brewster area. The fire was 66 percent contained as of July 28. Residents will likely see columns of smoke “probably until snow flies this fall,” said incident spokesman, Jim Schwarber.
Tinderbox Explodes in Wildfires Across Northwest
The New York Times, Jul 21, 2014
The wildfires in Washington and Oregon have scorched more land than any full year in the last decade. Much of the almost 1,400 square miles that burned in the two states has been grassland and comprised more than two-thirds of the country’s wildfire losses since January.
Plants & Wildlife
Avian botulism confirmed in Virginia Lake duck die-off in Reno
Reno Gazette-Journal (Nev.), Sep 08, 2014
Water quality has deteriorated at two Reno city parks, where lakes have not received water from the Truckee River since early August. That's when the river fell below the level of diversion outlets that direct water to Reno’s parks, stopping all water flow to the lakes. With no fresh water coming in, water quality is worsening. Twenty-four ducks were found dead at Virginia Lake and about the same number at Teglia’s Paradise Park.
Laboratory tests confirmed that avian botulism killed the waterfowl.
Drought could reverse drop in bark beetle numbers
Reno Gazette-Journal (Nev.), Aug 07, 2014
The amount of Nevada forest under attack from bark beetles and other insects has decreased dramatically, but ongoing drought may weaken trees, making them more vulnerable to insect infestations. Aerial surveys reveal that populations of tree-killing insects dropped in the state, compared to 2012, from more than 500,000 acres to about 50,000 acres, according to a Nevada Division of Forestry forest health specialist. He also noted that the decrease was likely part of a normal fluctuation in the population and probably will give way to a population increase if the drought continues.
Thousands of stranded fish rescued in dry Nevada
Yahoo! News, Aug 07, 2014
An estimated 6,000 trout and other fish were rescued from drying ditches near Reno by Nevada wildlife officials and about two dozen volunteers. The ditches became very low since Truckee Meadows Water Authority stopped releasing Truckee River water into the ditches for hydropower production, leaving the fish stranded in pools. The fish were relocated to the Truckee River near Verdi where there was adequate water, thanks to recent rainfall.
Drought reduces steelhead in Napa River
Napa Valley Register (California), Aug 03, 2014
Napa River in California
Fewer young steelhead trout were moving down the Napa River to the ocean as measured by an annual count of the native fish. Biologists and volunteers with the Napa County Resource Conservation District counted just 31 steelhead smolts and no young Chinook salmon between March and June, for the lowest number in six years.
In 2009, biologists found 119 steelhead trout caught in the rotary screw trap; in 2010, a record 242 steelhead were caught; and in 2013, the number of steelhead caught was 77.
North American waterfowl are newest casualty of California’s drought
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Jul 30, 2014
Central Valley, California
This year is expected to be a very difficult one for North American waterfowl that travel along the Pacific Flyway. With the drought, there are fewer remaining water sources in the Central Valley, meaning birds will be crowded into smaller areas, making it easier to transmit diseases and more challenging to find enough food. In a typical year, about 5 million waterfowl winter on state and federal wildlife refuges and flooded rice fields in the Central Valley. Water supplies to wildlife refuges in the Central Valley were reduced by 25 percent. Rice acreage was cut by a similar amount as farmers received less irrigation water.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
Sandoval forms panel to deal with drought
Las Vegas Sun, Sep 11, 2014
The Western Drought Forum, a consortium of eight states, has been formed to address drought and find solutions to drought problems. An online library will be available to share case studies and best practices. The forum will also discuss preparedness and management.
Historic California groundwater regulations head to Gov. Jerry Brown
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Aug 29, 2014
The California Senate passed AB1739, legislation that authorizes groundwater sustainability agencies to install meters and charge fees. The bill is part of a larger legislative package that would require some local governments to begin managing wells and authorizes the state to intervene in some circumstances if local governments do not.
The Assembly will consider companion legislation, SB1168, in coming days.
Drought has state debating its unregulated pumping
Associated Press, Aug 20, 2014
Drought and a shrinking water supply have California legislators considering regulations on groundwater pumping. Two bills in this legislative session would require local governments to begin managing groundwater pumping, and would authorize the state to take action if they fail. The bills must be approved and on the way to the governor for his signature by Aug. 31.
Farmers fear the notion of relinquishing control on the amount of water pumped for crop irrigation, since they have always had the freedom to pump as they liked.
Supes extend state of emergency for drought
Willits News (California), Aug 12, 2014
Humboldt County, California
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors extended the local state of emergency and sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, asking her to release water from Trinity Lake to avert fish kills stemming from low flows and warm water in the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The flow of the Klamath River as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey was less than the minimum 2,500 cubic feet per second needed to provide safe conditions and lower than the nearly 2,000 cubic feet per second flow during which the massive 2002 fish kill occurred.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said on July 31 that no additional water would be released to the Trinity and Klamath rivers, but water would be directed to the Sacramento River for the protection of federally endangered chinook salmon.
California drought: Lawmakers consider historic rules to limit groundwater pumping
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 09, 2014
California lawmakers were looking at historical legislation that would regulate groundwater pumping in a state where little to no oversight exists. Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, put forth a bill, SB1168, which would require local government officials to maintain their groundwater basins sustainably. California typically gets 40 percent of its annual supply from groundwater, and up to 60 percent in years when rainfall is scarce.
Society & Public Health
BirdReturns rescue program is just ducky
San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 06, 2014
Sacramento Valley, California
BirdReturns, a new rescue program devised by the Nature Conservancy of California, has made bird habitat available during drought by offering money to farmers to flood their rice fields early with well water and keep the fields inundated into April 2015. The program was developed within the past month because many historic wetlands in the Central Valley and three refuges in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex were parched amid ongoing drought, and duck reproduction in central Canada and the Dakotas was particularly successful this spring.
An aerial survey of six wildlife refuges in the Sacramento Valley complex performed in August found fewer than 10,000 ducks and 250 geese at the Sacramento and Delevan refuges, 24 ducks and no geese at Colusa, and no waterfowl at Sutter, Butte Sink and Llano Seco, which were dry.
West Nile virus infections soar in California
San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 04, 2014
The number of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus was at an all-time high, said state health officials. Since the start of the year, 181 cases of West Nile virus were reported to the California Department of Public Health, and eight people have died. During the last week alone, 52 new cases were reported.
Californians tear out lawns to cope with drought
Associated Press, Aug 24, 2014
Californians have shown more interest lately in replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping, especially when cities offer nice rebates for residents who do so. During July, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California received requests to take out 2.5 million square feet of residential lawns, a dramatic increase from the requests to replace 99,000 sq. feet in January, according to the consortium's water efficiency manager. More than 21 million square feet of turf have been torn out since the district began its turf removal incentives.
Tourism & Recreation
Worsening California drought starting to limit outdoor recreation
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 17, 2014
Numerous California lakes and parks continue to feel the pain of the ongoing drought. Yosemite Falls has gone dry; many parks have porta potties for use, instead of flush toilets; and boat ramps were closed. Many plants were also showing drought stress by turning color and dropping leaves early.
Soaking up Catalina, tourists pose dilemma
The Bend Bulletin (Oregon), Aug 14, 2014
Catalina Island, California
Water users in Avalon were told to cut their water use by 25 percent as the city moved into stage 2 mandatory water restrictions on Aug. 11 as the island’s reservoir neared a record low. Since Avalon is a popular tourist destination, it is imperative that the island’s 1 million tourists also conserve along with the town’s 4,000 year-round residents.
To educate visitors about the scarce water supply, signs were posted in hotel rooms asking guests to keep showers brief. Some restaurants began serving food on paper plates and sell customers bottled water for 50 cents when customers request water. Hotels plan to begin sending laundry to the mainland rather than washing it in Avalon.
Tahoe Queen runs aground with 257 on board
Lake Tahoe News (South Lake Tahoe, California), Aug 04, 2014
About 300 people were rescued on South Lake Tahoe on Aug. 4 after the paddlewheel boat they were on ran aground onto a sand bar. The boat, its crew and 257 passengers were stranded roughly 600 yards from Regan Beach.
Drought cancels Sacramento's Gold Rush Days
San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 28, 2014
The shortage of water led Sacramento officials to cancel the city’s annual Gold Rush Days, usually held over the Labor Day weekend. Nearly 200 tons of dirt are typically hauled in to turn an Old Sacramento neighborhood into a scene reminiscent of the 1850s with horses, wagons, street performers and a tent city, but up to 3,000 gallons of water are needed to tamp down the dirt daily and 100,000 gallons of water are needed to tidy up after the event is done.
Water Supply & Quality
Drought Task Force hears list of water problems in Glenn County
Chico Enterprise-Record (California), Sep 11, 2014
Glenn County, California
When the Glenn County Drought Task Force met on Sept. 10, they were notified of 21 dry residential wells, mostly near Orland. Four homes without water were located south of Orland. County residents with dry wells may purchase water from the city’s well at the airport, but only one family bought water.
Three to five permits for agricultural wells have been requested weekly, said the director of Glenn County Environmental Health. There has been a record high demand of 150 well permits this year.
Drought reaches crisis levels for bone-dry Mineral Wells
WFAA (Dallas, Texas), Sep 11, 2014
Mineral Wells, Texas
The town of Mineral Wells is nervously evaluating its options for procuring water in the very near future. Lake Palo Pinto has dropped 14 feet in the last six months and could be dry as soon as May 20015.
North Texas Municipal Water District approves once-a-week sprinkler use
The Dallas Morning News, Aug 28, 2014
Strict water conservation measures in the North Texas Municipal Water District left water in the distribution system long enough to compromise water quality, prompting the district board to loosen water restrictions. Cities were asked to reduce water use by 15 to 20 percent earlier in 2014 to keep an adequate emergency supply in reserve. The reduction and concerted conservation efforts kept reservoirs levels from dropping quickly during the summer, but the summer’s heat lowered residual chlorine levels.
Some cities allowed residents to use sprinklers an extra day to move the old water, but not enough water was used. Fire hydrants were opened to get rid of the water, but that action frustrated residents who have obeyed requests for water conservation. The once a week sprinkler use is intended to keep water moving through the system at an acceptable rate.
Cotton Output Estimate Reduced 29% by Australia on Drought
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Sep 09, 2014
Cotton production may amount to 580,000 metric tons in 2014-15, compared to the 820,000 metric tons forecast in June, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
Drought leaves up to 2.81 million hungry in Central America: U.N
Reuters, Sep 04, 2014
Corn and bean crops have been decimated in southern Guatemala, northern Honduras and western El Salvador, leading to widespread hunger. Red beans and white corn was imported into Nicaragua to ease prices. A state of emergency was declared in Guatemala after more than quarter of a million families lost their crops. Pea, green bean and broccoli production is estimated to be down 30 to 40 percent.
Drought, blight threaten to press up olive oil price
Business Insider (New York), Aug 24, 2014
Drought in Spain and blight in Italy are pushing olive oil prices higher. Spain had a bumper olive crop last year of 1.77 million tons. Trees often have a year of light production following such a year.
Can planners stop drought harming the tourist dollar?
environmentalresearchweb (Bristol, U.K.), Nov 18, 2013
Tourism and recreation industry representatives should be involved in drought preparedness activities for the benefit of the state and the tourist/recreation industry.
Drought Headlines Archive
Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter
The Sacramento Bee (California), Nov 11, 2013
Cloud seeding will continue to be used in California during the 2013-14 winter to boost snowfall and increase water supplies in a state that has endured two years of drought. Cloud-seeding efforts in California began more than 60 years ago and involve the spraying of silver iodide into clouds.
USDA study shows benefits of weaning calves early
Drovers Cattle Network (Lenexa, Kansas), Aug 29, 2013
Weaning calves early during drought allows cows to gain more weight and achieve better body condition than cows with nursing calves. Consequently, less harvested feedstuffs were needed for cows to maintain adequate body weights and condition during the winter.
USDA Recommends New Practice to Combat Drought
WIUM-FM Tri States Public Radio (Macomb, Illinois), Aug 27, 2013
The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service says that drain water management techniques can help farmers cope with drought as they regulate how much water is allowed to drain from a field. A device can be attached to the ends of tile lines to act as a valve to keep needed moisture from draining away.
FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: Cover crops boost yield in dry years
The Quincy Herald-Whig (Ill.), Aug 21, 2013
The use of cover crops boosted agricultural output in drought-stricken areas in 2012. In the fall of 2012 from a survey of more than 750 farmers in the Midwest, corn crops planted after cover crops yielded 9.6 percent more corn in comparison with side-by-side fields without cover crops. Soybean yields were 11.6 percent higher following cover crops.
In the driest parts of the Corn Belt, the differences were even more striking, with an 11 percent increase in yield for corn and a 14.3 percent yield increase for soybeans.