Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
El Niño likely to be too weak to have big impact on drought
San Francisco Chronicle, Jun 05, 2014
Weak and moderate El Niños do not have a strong correlation with winter weather in Northern California and cannot be counted on to deliver drought-ending snowfall next winter. Moderate El Niños usually result in wetter winters in Southern California. It remains to be seen how strong the developing El Niño may turn out to be.
Irrigation cut off to some Klamath Project farms
The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon), Aug 05, 2014
Klamath Basin in southern Oregon, northern California
About a third of the irrigators in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California received notice from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that water was at an end this year. Letters from Reclamation said that inflows to the Klamath Reclamation Project’s primary reservoir were below pre-season forecasts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, resulting in a reduction in water releases to districts with junior water rights so that minimum levels for endangered fish could be met.
Dry Weather Hurts Potential Yield for Some Farmers
WBKO (Bowling Green, Kentucky), Aug 01, 2014
Corn in Caldwell and Lyon counties has not seen rainfall in about two months, likely dropping yields to just over half of last year’s 185 to 190 bushels per acre. Soybean yield may fall to one-third of normal.
California drought: As land sinks, farmers' brainstorm on water
San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 26, 2014
Merced County, California
Excessive groundwater pumping and resulting land subsidence has two Merced County men, a farmer and the general manager of San Luis Canal Co. working together, recruiting area farmers to create solutions that prevent additional subsidence, but meet water needs.
Some mitigative efforts could include absorbing more rainwater in fallow fields for storage underground, storing floodwater, using highly efficient irrigation methods, lobbying for new reservoirs and possibly regulating California groundwater.
Oklahoma Wheat Crop Worst In Nearly Half Century
KGOU Radio (Norman, Okla.), Jul 18, 2014
The Oklahoma wheat crop amounted to an estimated 51 million bushels, the least amount since 1957, when the harvest was 43 million bushels, according to the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. Persistent drought, a late spring freeze and poorly-timed spring rains contributed to the small harvest.
Business & Industry
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.
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.
Fire season underway, states press for federal funding
Washington Post (D.C.), Jul 16, 2014
Numerous officials from Western states appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to testify about the dangers of this year’s fire season. Obama sought $615 million from Congress for firefighting and prevention measures. On July 15, the House Appropriations Committee approved nearly $4.1 billion for wildfire fighting and prevention, which is $150 million more than last year.
Plants & Wildlife
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.
Drought starting to kill salmon in Klamath Basin
The San Diego Union-Tribune (Calif.), Jul 24, 2014
Klamath Basin in southern Oregon, northern California
Fifty-five adult salmon and an unusually high number of juvenile salmon were found dead along a 90-mile stretch of the Salmon River in Northern California’s Klamath Basin, according to an environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Low water flows and high temperatures are expected to kill more fish. Given the drought, there is little to no available water to improve conditions for the fish. A massive fish kill occurred in the same area in 2002.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
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.
Deal struck to conserve Colorado River basin
KTAR News (Phoenix, Ariz.), Jul 31, 2014
Colorado River Basin
The Interior Department and four municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado were contributing $11 million to promote water conservation in the Colorado River basin and will take part in a pilot program to reduce water demand by cities, farmers and industry.
AP: California Can’t Say If It’s Meeting Drought Goal
CBS2 (Los Angeles), Jul 26, 2014
Few California state agencies could produce records of water use when the Associated Press requested them recently, leaving the rate of actual water conservation unknown for the state. The AP asked the 11 agencies and departments that use the most water to compare water use for the first half of 2014 with last year’s, but only four were able to locate the data for buildings they manage, and in some cases, took weeks to round up the data.
This unfulfilled data request highlights the state’s challenges in managing its water supply.
Society & Public Health
Drought making this worst year for West Nile virus
KFSN - ABC30 (Fresno, California), Jul 25, 2014
Central Valley, California
The West Nile virus is present in all Central Valley counties, except Mariposa. Several human cases have been reported in Fresno and Tulare counties, where the virus has spread at an alarming rate.
Law Blocks Some Brown Lawn Fees During Droughts
CBS2 (Los Angeles), Jul 21, 2014
Homeowners who allow their lawns to turn brown for lack of watering during drought cannot be fined by homeowners associations since Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB2100 into law on July 21. Prior to the signing of the bill, some homeowners found themselves caught between trying to keep their homeowners associations happy by watering their lawns and trying to cut water use and avoid government fines.
Californians are "drought-shaming" water-wasting neighbors
CBS News, Jul 23, 2014
Californians have taken to tattling on water-wasting neighbors in a trend known as “drought shaming.” At #droughtshaming on Twitter, some people have posted pictures and described neighbors’ water-wasting activities, while others express frustration about water waste.
Drought drawing bears near people at Lake Tahoe
KSL.com (Salt Lake City, Utah), Jul 11, 2014
Lake Tahoe area of California, Nevada
Drought bears, as they are called, are wandering into urban neighborhoods, searching for food because drought has decimated their usual food supplies.
Dried up: Poverty in America's drought lands
Deseret News National (Salt Lake City, Utah), Jun 15, 2014
Central Valley of California
Drought in the Central Valley has drawn many more people to FoodLink of Tulare County. Twenty-two thousand individuals visited in May, which is 5,000 people more than usually come for assistance and 12 percent more than May 2013. The food bank director expected higher demand for food assistance in August, but did not foresee the greater need this spring.
Tourism & Recreation
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.
Drought conditions lessen lake fishing options
The Bend Bulletin (Oregon), Jul 21, 2014
Hyatt and Emigrant reservoirs were becoming depleted because the water was being used by the Talent and Rogue River Valley irrigation districts. Hyatt reservoir was at 28 percent of capacity, leaving its two concrete boat ramps out of the water. Emigrant reservoir was expected to be down to the dregs by mid-September.
Water Supply & Quality
Edwards Aquifer Authority announces stage 4 restrictions
KENS 5 (San Antonio, Texas), Aug 12, 2014
Around San Antonio, Texas
The Edwards Aquifer Authority entered stage 4 restrictions, an unprecedented move requiring a 40 percent reduction in pumping from the aquifer. The increase in restrictions was triggered by the 10-day well level average falling below 630 feet above sea level.
More water headed to struggling Lake Mead
Las Vegas Sun, Aug 12, 2014
Lake Mead in Nevada, Arizona
Lake Mead will receive a larger allocation of 8.23 million acre-feet from Lake Powell in 2015, thanks to plentiful snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the increased water delivery on Aug. 13. Runoff was 94 percent of historical average for the year, in comparison with 45 percent in 2012 and 47 percent in 2013.
Next year’s delivery will be about 10 percent more than last year, but because 9 million acre-feet leave Lake Mead annually, the lake will continue its decline. The Bureau of Reclamation expects Lake Mead to drop from 1,080 feet to 1,073 feet during the next year.
California drought: San Francisco puts caps on watering
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 12, 2014
A new mandate was adopted in San Francisco and imposes a mandatory 10 percent reduction on outdoor watering. Customers may use no more than 90 percent of the amount of water used outdoors in 2013. The challenge is that water meters do not differentiate between indoor and outdoor water use. Enforcement will be directed toward large water users, such as golf courses, shopping malls and office parks.
Residents asked to cut back on outdoor water use
KUNR (Reno, Nevada), Jul 28, 2014
The Truckee Meadows Water Authority has asked customers to curb water use by 10 percent and has ended irrigation deliveries. The TMWA will begin using water from its reserves, something the agency has not done since 1994.
Cities running out of water
USA Today, Aug 04, 2014
Bakersfield, Hanford, Salinas, Gilroy-Morgan Hill and Santa Maria were recognized as being in direst straits in terms of water supply.
Spanish drought stirs fears of olive oil shortage
MarketWatch, Inc., Aug 15, 2014
Drought may have trimmed the Spanish olive crop by 40 percent. Extremely dry weather in Andalusia in May and June hurt the olive trees during the flowering period.
Central America braces for drought-linked food crisis
Reuters, Aug 14, 2014
Parts of eastern and western Guatemala and El Salvador, southern Honduras and northern and central Nicaragua saw their maize and bean crops damaged by exceptional heat and drought this summer. Food insecurity is already a problem for some in the region, but is expected to intensify rapidly in early 2015 as shortages drive up food prices.
Panama Canal Chief: Drought Could Limit Shipping
Associated Press, Aug 10, 2014
The draft of ships moving through the Panama Canal could be limited by the end of 2014 or early 2015. Lakes Gatun and Alajuela, which supply water for the locks, were low from poor rainfall.
USGS: PR rain deficit indicates drought
Caribbean Business (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Aug 08, 2014
Despite the heavy rain delivered by Tropical Storm Bertha that delayed water rationing in the San Juan area, precipitation deficits still plagued parts of Puerto Rico.
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.