Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
California ends one of driest-ever water years
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Sep 30, 2014
The 2014 water year (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30) was one of the driest on record, with California receiving less than 60 percent of average precipitation. Collectively, major reservoirs in the state held only 57 percent of average storage, as of Sept. 1.
Drought declared in parts of S.C.
GreenvilleOnline (Greenville, South Carolina), Sep 16, 2014
The South Carolina Drought Task Force considers Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton, Lexington and Orangeburg to be in incipient drought after the region’s third driest summer on record.
California dairy farmers struggling to survive prolonged drought
Los Angeles Times, Oct 03, 2014
Years of drought have driven California hay prices to record heights, threatening the viability of dairy farms. Organic farms are even more hard pressed to continue because organic feed is pricier than regular feed. Premium alfalfa sells for up to $350 per ton, up from $200 to $250 per ton in 2013. The cost of water on average in the Central Valley was 10 times higher than last year. Milk prices have risen as farmers pass along their increased costs, but during drought, farmers can only hang on so long. One to two percent of the dairy farmers in California went out of business in the past three years.
Decreased wheat production due to drought
The Kansas State Collegian (Manhattan, Kan.), Oct 03, 2014
Drought early in the growing season hurt the Kansas winter wheat crop. Although 9.6 million acres were planted, just 8.8 million were harvested.
California harvest much smaller than normal across crops
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Sep 28, 2014
Drought has curbed agricultural production in California during the state’s third year of drought because there was less water for irrigation. Production was down for rice, grapes, oranges, hay, corn, pistachios and almonds. The economists at UC Davis found in a study earlier this year that agriculture would likely suffer a $2.2 billion loss and higher water costs as an estimated 420,000 acres of farmland were left unplanted.
Alabama peanut farmers worry about lower yields
Montgomery Advertiser (Ala.), Sep 26, 2014
The hot, dry conditions this summer made Alabama peanuts prone to aflatoxins, making them inedible. Aflatoxin-affected peanuts can still be crushed and used for oil. A research associate for Auburn University stated that about half of the peanuts had aflatoxin.
Business & Industry
Construction delayed on canola processing plant, but project still is going forward
Enidnews.com (Enid, Oklahoma), Sep 17, 2014
Construction of a canola processing plant in Enid has been delayed, in part, to the poor canola crop in the region. The past few years have been dry, which has hurt the canola and wheat crops. Work on the $250 million Northstar Agri Industries canola processing plant will continue at a later date.
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.
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.
Wildfires prove costly for California budget
Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 2014
The expense of fighting California’s many wildfires has used the $209 million set aside for the task, prompting Gov. Brown to access another $70 million from a reserve account, containing $449 million designated for unexpected costs like natural disasters, as fires continue to burn. The federal government may reimburse the state for some of the firefighting costs incurred so far.
State officials set aside more money than usual for firefighting, but the funds were spent less than three months after they were marked for firefighting. In addition, the extra money spent on firefighting has made the governor reluctant to commit funds to other programs.
Pacific Northwest wildfire season: Oregon and Washington topped nation in acres burned
Oregon Live (Portland, Ore.), Sep 24, 2014
Oregon and Washington endured 3,270 wildfires that burned 1,284,013 acres of federal, state and private land from the start of 2014 through Sept. 22, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The number of fires was lower than the 10-year average, but the spatial extent of the fires was nearly three times the 10-year average of 452,039 acres. The largest fire in each state was the Carlton Complex in Washington at 256,108 acres and the Buzzard Complex in southeastern Oregon at 395,747 acres. Both states have been affected by drought since the start of the year.
Total firefighting costs have risen to $446 million, in comparison with $235 million at this time last year, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
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.
Plants & Wildlife
Drought triggers Southern California tumbleweed infestation
Los Angeles Times, Sep 24, 2014
Los Angeles area
Tumbleweeds are thriving in Southern California since drought and meager late spring rainfall offered enough moisture for Russian thistles to flourish and crowd out other vegetation. The worst afflicted areas include parts of the San Fernando Valley, Griffith Park, the hill country between Orange and Riverside counties, the foothills of the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains, and the Antelope Valley. The tumbleweeds pose a fire danger as the vegetation dries out, breaks off and rolls with the wind.
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.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
Brown vetoes $100 million boost for UC, Cal State
Beaumont Enterprise (Texas), Sep 27, 2014
Gov. Brown of California vetoed legislation that would have given $100 million to the University of California and California State University partly because the cost of firefighting has been excessive this year. The governor listed several other reasons for withholding the funds, saying that California’s aging infrastructure needed maintenance and the state has debts. Nearly 5,000 wildfires have scorched the state this year, up 26 percent from an average of about 3,900 fires, said state fire officials.
Brown signs bill to regulate pumping of underground water
Los Angeles Times, Sep 16, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed a package of regulations instituting the management of groundwater pumping, which has been regulated in other western states. The three bills that he signed included SB 1168, which instructs local agencies to create management plans. AB 1739 establishes when the state can intervene if the local groups don't manage groundwater adequately. A third measure, SB 1319, is meant to dispel some farmers' concerns by postponing state action in places where surface water has been depleted by groundwater pumping.
The ongoing drought helped build the political will to develop and pass such legislation.
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.
Society & Public Health
Drought-conscious residents turn the water tables on public agencies
Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 2014
Californians are increasingly turning to social media to document water waste by government agencies. While government agencies are striving to limit their water use as they are supposed to do, broken sprinkler heads and such sometimes undermine good efforts and intentions. Even stricter limits on water use by city departments will come within the next week, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles mayor.
Another drought casualty: No chance to make key air standard
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Sep 27, 2014
San Joaquin Valley in California
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District cannot achieve a key federal air standard after the unusually dry 2013-14 winter brought a lengthy episode of stagnant air and high levels of soot and other microscopic debris. The district’s governing board has requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency postpone the deadline until 2019.
Surge in Sierra bears reported; 9 caught in 2 days
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Oct 02, 2014
Lake Tahoe area of California, Nevada
Nine hungry bears were captured in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area on the first two days of October and another bear was struck and killed by a vehicle in Reno. The bruins are ravenous as they go through hyperphagia when they eat excessively to fatten up for winter hibernation. The problem is that drought has dried up streams and cut down on berry production and insect populations, leaving the hungry bears to move into residential areas to look for food.
Mt. Shasta mudslide blamed on drought, melting glacier
Los Angeles Times, Sep 22, 2014
An immense mudslide in Mud Creek Canyon on Mt. Shasta has been attributed to drought after debris and mud flowed down the mountain on Sept. 20, crossing Pilgrim Creek Road and Forest Service Road 31. Experts think that glacial melting, hastened by drought, could have produced water which destabilized huge ice blocks and caused the debris flow in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
US Consumer Prices Fall 0.2 Percent In August
Associated Press, Sep 17, 2014
Food costs in the U.S. rose 2.7 percent over the last 12 months as the California drought cut into crop yields. In August, food costs inched up 0.2 percent after a 0.4 percent increase in July.
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 has 14 communities on the brink of waterlessness
Los Angeles Times, Sep 25, 2014
This year the California State Water Resources Control Board began tracking communities that could run out of water within 60 days, underscoring the severity of the drought. Some towns have gone on and off the list, but 14 locations remained on the “critical water systems” list and were having water brought in for residents. Some communities that have been on or were still on the list include Parkwood in Madera County, Montague in Siskiyou County, Arroyo Seco Resort in Monterey County, Lake Berryessa Resort in Napa and Woodside RV Park in Mendocino County.
Valley residents report drying wells
Idaho Mountain Express (Ketchum, Idaho), Sep 24, 2014
Near Ketchum, Idaho
Wood River Valley residents had low water pressure and discolored water streaming from their faucets as the area’s water table drops and wells run dry. Older homes with shallower wells seem to be having more problems as two relatively dry winters have depleted groundwater levels.
California water wholesaler supply drastically drained
CBS News, Sep 22, 2014
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has used slightly more than two-thirds of its stored supplies during the past three years, leaving about 18 months’ worth of water remaining. If the upcoming winter does not bring plenty of precipitation, the MWD may reduce water deliveries to its regional distributors in 2015, meaning rationing for its Southern California water customers.
State’s two Colo. River basin water districts eye drought contingencies
Post Independent (Glenwood Springs, Colo.), Sep 23, 2014
Colorado River Basin
The Colorado River and Southwestern water conservation districts, representing the entire Colorado River Basin in Colorado, devised three contingency steps to bolster low water levels at lakes Powell and Mead. Water could be released from Flaming Gorge, Navajo and the Aspinall Unit (Blue Mesa Reservoir) to increase the level of Lake Powell; thirsty non-native trees could be removed; and cloud seeding could increase precipitation during the winter to yield more run off.
'Hi, do you have water?' In a central Calif. town, answer is often no.
Los Angeles Times, Apr 18, 2014
Donna Johnson, a 72-year old woman living in East Porterville had been without running water for four months, when it occurred to her in July to count the number of wells in town that were no longer producing water. She was determined to bring people water as long as she’d made the journey to check whether they had any.
The local newspaper, The Porterville Recorder, gave out her phone number and address in an article describing her efforts to assess the problem of people with dry wells in the community. She was deluged with bottled water to share with those in need and very busy with phone calls from neighbors needing water. A teenager who used to live nearby came to assist her with her endeavor.
Eventually, word of the dire situation got out, and it was discovered that nearly 1,000 people of the 7,300 residents of East Porterville did not have running water. Nonprofit agencies stepped in to coordinate donations, grants and water deliveries, but Mrs. Johnson continued to seek out people who needed water because she knew that some of them wouldn’t get the help they needed otherwise.
Tilapia production falls due to drought
Fish Info & Services (Tokyo), Sep 30, 2014
Tilapia production was down 30 percent at fish farms in São Paulo state where about 22,000 tons of fish are produced annually.
Iran prays for rain amid acute water shortage
Los Angeles Times, Sep 27, 2014
Worshipers on the campus of Tehran University prayed for rain as lakes and rivers go dry, reservoirs shrink and tap water is cut for several hours per day.
Eastern Turkish bird sanctuary threatened due to drought
Hurriyet Daily News (Istanbul, Turkey), Sep 23, 2014
Severe drought in northeastern Turkey was drying out Lake Kuyucuk and the surrounding wetlands, which are one of the country’s most valuable stops for migratory birds. Only 17 ducks have arrived this year, in contrast to more than 40,000 birds a decade ago.
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.