Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
Scientists say California hasn’t been this dry in 500 years
The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2015
An analysis of blue oak tree rings from California’s Central Valley revealed that mountain snowpack has not been as low as it was this spring since the 1500s, found researchers from the University of Arizona and elsewhere.
A monster El Niño is likely, but there are 'no guarantees'
Los Angeles Times, Sep 10, 2015
The latest El Niño forecast issued by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said that computer models unanimously point toward a strong El Niño with a 95 percent chance of the event lasting through the winter.
Study: Global warming has made California’s drought worse
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 20, 2015
Man-made global warming has worsened California’s drought and “substantially increased” the chances of extreme droughts in the future, found researchers from Columbia University and the University of Idaho. Climate change was found to be responsible for 15 to 20 percent of the deficit in soil moisture in California from 2012 to 2014.
If drought lasts, it could mean bigger fires, wildlife die-offs, study says
The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Aug 20, 2015
A new report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that, if drought continues through 2016 and 2017, the biggest crises will be devastation among wildlife populations, immense wildfires and more dry wells among poor rural communities.
Global Economic Losses From Drought to Top $8 Billion-Report
The New York Times, Sep 03, 2015
Total economic losses from the drought in the western U.S. were expected to top $3 billion within the next few months, largely due to agricultural damage in California, said reinsurance broker Aon Benfield.
Fresno State study says drought causes $3.3 billion in farm losses
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Aug 27, 2015
A Fresno State study of the California drought estimated that agricultural losses in the Central Valley could reach $3.3 billion while energy consumption rises as farmers pump more groundwater for their crops. Farm workers tended to find less work and experienced a drop in income. Public health can suffer from illnesses such as Valley fever, West Nile virus and diarrheal diseases with the deterioration of air and water quality.
Despite drought, California has record high crop revenue
USA Today, Aug 26, 2015
California agricultural revenue was $33.524 billion in 2014, second highest in state history, despite intense drought. Revenue was high due to the cultivation of more high-value crops, such as almonds, pistachios and wine grapes, which were irrigated with groundwater, according to a study by the Pacific Institute. The agricultural sector also employed about 417,000 people, another record high.
California drought impact pegged at $2.7 billion
The Sacramento Bee, Aug 18, 2015
Drought in 2015 has been estimated to cost California's economy $2.7 billion, said researchers from the University of California at Davis. Direct crop revenue losses come to $900 million and will cost dairy and livestock producers $350 million. Rice, alfalfa and corn production were most affected by the drought.
Heavy groundwater pumping this year has added an estimated $590 million to farmers’ costs, which has been figured into the estimated impact of $2.7 billion.
With fewer acres in production, farm workers were expected to be out of 10,100 seasonal farm jobs. Including indirect job losses, the overall job loss figure climbs to 21,000.
Business & Industry
Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave
The New York Times, Aug 19, 2015
Continued economic growth requires building more homes, creating new jobs and drawing in more people, but it is not clear that water supplies will be able to meet demand. Some see drought as being cyclical, while other view it as the new normal, leading to conflicting perspectives on new development.
California drought brings a golden lining
The Sacramento Bee, Jun 22, 2015
Sierra Nevada, California
Low water levels in California’s drought-sapped rivers and streams have exposed more riverbed for prospectors seeking gold. Some stretches have become too dry for panning and sluicing, but in the meantime, prospectors keep finding new areas rich with gold. Hardware and mining supply stores from Columbia in Tuolumne County to Auburn in Placer County benefited from the renewed interest of locals and tourists hoping to find a few pieces of gold.
Bottled-water business grows during drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), May 10, 2015
Californians were becoming increasingly outraged at companies bottling and selling the state’s water amid a four year drought. Crystal Geyser Water Co. was opening a plant at the base of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County and intends to take up to 365,000 gallons of groundwater daily, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nearby residents worry that the plant will run their wells dry.
California pool, hot tub filling bans have industries steaming
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), May 10, 2015
Bay Area pool builders and hot tub retailers were struggling to keep customers from cancelling construction contracts as water restrictions and intense drought deter people from using water. Contractors have also had to find new sources of water to fill the pools, given that water restrictions prohibit the use of potable water for pool and hot tub filling.
California Golf Courses Tee Up Water-Saving Measures
Associated Press, May 13, 2015
California’s golf courses were tearing out turf and replacing it with drought-tolerant landscaping to cut down drastically on water use and the cost of irrigation and maintain an attractive appearance. The landscaping change is being carried out in areas where play will not be affected.
Turf replacement rebate programs have golf courses snapping up the assistance with landscaping costs because they can be reimbursed $2 to $3 for each square foot of turf removed.
In Parched California, a Farmer’s Market Is Emerging for Power
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Sep 03, 2015
California farmers were pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of drought and were using hundreds of millions of dollars more electricity than normal to power the pumps. In the Central Valley, farmers may use groundwater to meet more than 60 percent of their irrigation needs in 2015, one-third more than a normal year, At that rate, electric bills would rise 77 percent, or $600 million, compared to a year with normal precipitation.
California First To Feel Hydro-Power Crunch Of Drought
CBS2/KCAL9 (Studio City, Calif.), Mar 21, 2015
During the past three years, declining hydropower production in California cost utility customers $1.4 billion as power from alternate sources, such as natural gas-fired plants, was purchased to compensate for reduced hydroelectric production. The use of more fossil fuels also drove California carbon dioxide emissions up 8 percent.
Hydropower production at Lake Mead in May is expected to dip to 50 percent of mid-2014 levels.
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.
Butte and Valley fires among most destructive in state history
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Sep 16, 2015
The Valley and Butte fires were among the most destructive fires in California’s history, based on the number of homes lost to the flames. The Valley Fire, consuming at least 585 homes, was ranked the 9th most destructive, while the Butte Fire, destroying at least 233 homes, was ranked the 14th.
West Coast residents caught in a line of fire from California to Washington
The Washington Post, Sep 12, 2015
More acres have burned since the start of the 2015 Western fire season than in any other year on record. Nearly 600,000 acres burned in California, a record 990,000 acres burned in Washington and nearly 1 million acres burned in Oregon. Across the nation, more than 7 million acres have burned since the start of the year, with about 5 million of those acres belonging to Alaska.
US wildfires could be costliest on record
Yahoo News, Sep 05, 2015
At least $1.23 billion has been spent fighting wildfires in the U.S. so far in 2015 with numerous wildfires continuing to burn in the West. The record was set in 2002 when firefighting efforts topped $1.65 billion.
Unpredictable fire behavior marks Montana’s fire season
Great Falls Tribune (Mont.), Sep 03, 2015
Drought conditions in 2015 have allowed wildfires in Montana to run for miles, unlike fire model predictions. Exceptionally low moisture in in fine fuels and large fuels fell to about 4 percent and 12 to 15 percent, respectively, from typical moisture levels ranging up to 20 percent and 70 percent, respectively.
Wildfires have now burned a massive 8 million acres across the U.S.
The Washington Post, Sep 02, 2015
Wildfires charred 8,202,557 acres from the start of 2015 through Sept. 1, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Scores of wildfires continued to blacken the landscape in the western U.S., mainly in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The wildfire preparedness level remained at five since Aug. 13. Alaska contributed heavily to the 2015 fire season with more than 5 million acres burned.
The U.S. Forest Service spends as much as $100 million per week on firefighting while at national wildfire preparedness level 5.
Plants & Wildlife
Drought is taming wild horses in Southern Nevada
Las Vegas Sun (Nev.), Sep 18, 2015
The Bureau of Land Management rounded up 201 wild horses from the Cold Creek range northwest of Las Vegas in late August because drought stripped the land of vegetation. The malnourished horses had been eating bark from Joshua trees to survive. Twenty-eight horses were euthanized.
Drought-related bluetongue outbreak killing area deer
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.), Sep 15, 2015
White-tailed deer around Spokane were dying from bluetongue, a drought-related viral illness, said Washington wildlife officials. Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists have received 50 reports of more than 100 sick or dead deer, according to a regional wildlife manager. More reports were emerging from Lincoln County and southern parts of Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
California drought may exacerbate wildlife-human encounters
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 22, 2015
Unusual animal activity has been observed amid California’s drought and some have thought that the lack of food and water was to blame. State officials and animal experts claim that drought has exacerbated long-term trends, such as habitat fragmentation, and natural animal behaviors in a region that was becoming increasingly developed.
Drought sets up 'emergency situation' for California's trees
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 16, 2015
Water conservation in California has had an unintended effect: trees have gone unwatered and were showing signs of stress. Statewide, trees were dying, which will reduce habitat, shade and property values, prompting cities to act before more trees are lost. Species suffering the most along the Sierra’s western slopes included pine trees, especially Jeffrey, lodge pole, ponderosa, sugar and white bark varieties. The giant sequoia trees in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks were also affected by drought, with more dead foliage than usual in 2014 and 2015.
Trout in trucks: Drought forces evacuation of San Joaquin Hatchery
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Aug 12, 2015
About 80,000 pounds of rainbow trout were moved from the San Joaquin Hatchery in Millerton Lake to the cooler water in Shaver Lake to save the fish from warm water temperatures near 70 degrees. The first trout transport began on Aug. 12, and more trout will be moved to lakes in Fresno and Madera counties. This was the first time fish had to be rescued from warm waters of the San Joaquin Hatchery.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
Scientists conduct drought study in 6 western states
The Sacramento Bee, Sep 10, 2015
Scientists with U.S. Geological Survey were studying low stream flows to learn what factors might help resource managers better allocate water supplies during drought. Water flows and temperatures were measured in nearly 500 streams mostly in upper tributaries in Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington through September. One of the main goals of the study was to determine which basins were most vulnerable to a low snowpack scenario and which basins were geologically situated to mitigate a lack of snow with groundwater use.
California law sows seed for artificial lawns
The Sacramento Bee, Sep 04, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill preventing homeowners associations from prohibiting the use of synthetic grass or turf effective immediately. Assembly Bill 349 moved easily through the Legislature without any “no” votes.
California sets low-flow standards on new shower heads
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Aug 12, 2015
The California Energy Commission adopted more stringent low-flow standards for showerheads in an effort to conserve water in the state’s fourth year of drought. The present California standard for showerheads was 2.5 gallons per minute. Starting in July 2016, the standard will drop to 2 gallons per minute, and in July 2018, the standard will tighten further to 1.8 gallons per minute.
California drought: High court hands setback to water conservation fight
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Jul 23, 2015
The California Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling, making it unconstitutional for water providers to charge more for water than it costs to provide the service. California water officials urged the Supreme Court to “depublish” the ruling to allow water providers to punish water wasters with higher water rates and encourage conservation.
Catawba County’s drought status worsens
Hickory Daily Record (N.C.), Jul 21, 2015
North and South Carolina
Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group changed the status of the Catawba-Wateree River basin to Stage 1. Water users were urged to voluntarily conserve water, and Duke Energy made operational adjustments.
The updated drought status reflects declining water storage and below normal stream flows, due to low rainfall and high temperatures.
Society & Public Health
California lawmakers want special session to tackle drought
Associated Press, Sep 11, 2015
A bipartisan group of 47 state Assembly members signed a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to declare a special session to address problems stemming from California's ongoing drought. The letter stated, “We have seen from widespread reports that as much as half of the $687 million set aside to help drought-stricken communities remains unspent in state accounts - and will remain there until 2016. In addition, we are seeing the same slow and lethargic project pace with the funds raised as a result of last year's Proposition 1 ballot measure."
Amid drought, thousands of Californians cancel their flood insurance
The Sacramento Bee , Sep 04, 2015
Many Californians have canceled their flood insurance after years of drought and hearing that climate change could bring more droughts and heat. Since drought began in the state in 2012, the number of active federal flood insurance policies has dropped by 30,000 or 12 percent, according to figures from the National Flood Insurance Program.
With a potent El Niño system developing, the region could see heavy rains and extensive flooding this winter, and some may wish they had flood insurance.
When the wells run dry: California neighbors cope in drought
San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), Aug 30, 2015
Tulare County, California
Domestic wells have run dry in Okieville, a small community on the edge of Tulare, leaving a group of residents to rig up a system and share water from a nearby well at a cost of $50 per month. The manager of Tulare County’s Office of Emergency Services described such situations as “Third-World-type conditions.”
Others have water trucked to their homes to refill 2,500-gallon water tanks that sit in the yard and get boxed drinking water, courtesy of the state’s $3.7 billion drought relief program.
Tourism & Recreation
Drought forces cancellation of Lake Elsinore Grand Prix
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), Aug 20, 2015
Riverside County, California
The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, scheduled for November, was canceled for lack of water. Due to mandated water conservation, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District cannot provide the roughly 1 million gallons of potable water needed to rebuild and maintain the racetrack and control dust. The district offered recycled water, but there were not enough access points to distribute the water to meet the Grand Prix’s needs.
California drought hasn't killed summer vacations
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 09, 2015
Despite years of drought, travel spending continued to climb 3.6 percent in 2014 to $117.5 billion. This year was also on track to be another great year, despite boat ramps, swimming and picnic areas being closed at some lakes.
Drought emerges in Asheville-area counties
Asheville Citizen Times (N.C.), Jul 27, 2015
Asheville, North Carolina
Float trips on the French Broad River were taking nearly twice as long as usual because the flow of the river was 666 cubic feet per second, compared with the average of 1,300 cfs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Afternoon fishing to be shut down on Oregon rivers
Salem Statesman-Journal (Ore.), Jul 16, 2015
Fishing was prohibited or limited on more than 30 rivers in Washington to protect fish amid ongoing drought. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that the closures and restrictions, which began on July 18, would remain in effect until further notice.
Afternoon fishing on most Oregon rivers and creeks was suspended by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Sturgeon fishing was temporarily prohibited on the Columbia River upstream of the Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam. Oregon and Washington fishery managers found increased drought-related sturgeon mortality in some mid-Columbia River reservoirs.
Water Supply & Quality
Las Vegas, Los Angeles-area agencies ink water-for-cash deal
Las Vegas Sun (Nev.), Sep 16, 2015
Las Vegas, Los Angeles
The Southern Nevada Water Authority board was considering a water agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to send 150,000 acre-feet of water their way annually at accost of $45 million.
The weather is drying up streams, speeding up pumpkins
Concord Monitor (N.H.), Sep 09, 2015
Southern New Hampshire
Water flow management programs were active on the Lamprey in the Seacoast and the Souhegan in Southern New Hampshire, with some communities asked to take less water from streams, stated an administrator of the New Hampshire Watershed Management Bureau.
Further north, the Warner River at Davisville in Merrimack County was flowing at 4.4 percent of its 52-year average at nearly 6 cubic feet per second.
Thurmond Lake enters drought status despite wet August
The Augusta Chronicle (Ga.), Sep 08, 2015
Upper Savannah River basin in Georgia, South Carolina
The Upper Savannah River Basin entered Drought Level 1 when Thurmond Lake fell to 325.91 feet above mean sea level on Aug. 30. The discharge rate from Thurmond Dam was lowered to 4,200 cubic feet per second, averaged over the week.
Small cities find California water-conservation mandates hard to meet
The Fresno Bee, Sep 07, 2015
San Joaquin Valley in California
Small San Joaquin Valley cities with large food processors cannot meet their water conservation targets without causing economic harm to communities. Communities like Lemoore, Sanger, Hanford and Livingston have missed their reduction mandate by 10 percent or more and were on the state’s priority watch list to lower water consumption.
Feds reduce flows out of Folsom Lake to conserve Sacramento region’s water supply
The Sacramento Bee, Aug 31, 2015
Folsom Lake, California
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released an average of 3,000 acre-feet of water daily from Folsom Lake through August, but will slow the releases to 800 cubic feet per second by the morning of Sept. 4. As of noon on Aug. 31, Folsom Lake held roughly 196,000 acre-feet of water. The higher releases during August were to keep saltwater from pushing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and to retain more cold water in Lake Shasta for an endangered species of salmon.
With the smaller releases in September, Reclamation intended to “conserve water in storage,” and keep Folsom Lake above 120,000 acre-feet so the pumping infrastructure for suburban Sacramento would continue to work. Reclamation was constructing a specially outfitted barge that could pump water to the city of Folsom if the lake were to fall below the city’s intake valves.
As drought hits maize, Tanzania cooks up a sweet potato fix
Business Insider, Sep 08, 2015
The challenges of growing maize amid dry years prompted many Tanzanian farmers to plant drought-tolerant sweet potatoes instead. Farmers in Uganda and the Nyanza region of Kenya were also making the switch.
Severe droughts could lead to widespread losses of butterflies by 2050
Phys.org, Aug 10, 2015
The extinctions of drought-sensitive butterfly populations could occur in the United Kingdom as early as 2050, according to research by scientists from UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the charity Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and the University of Exeter. With considerable greenhouse gas emission reductions and better landscape management by curbing habitat fragmentation, specifically, drought-sensitive butterflies may exist through 2100.
Water stress takes toll on California's large trees, study says
Los Angeles Times, Jan 20, 2015
California’s forests have become denser with smaller trees and more susceptible to fast-moving wildfires, due to drought, fire-suppression techniques and changes in land use. Tree surveys performed between 1929 and 1936 and 2001 and 2010 were analyzed by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, UC Davis and the U.S. Geological Survey. The surveys showed a reduction in large tree density across the state with drops as high as 50 percent in the Sierra Nevada highlands, the south and central Coast Ranges and Northern California.
Ag uses for highly saline water researched
Albuquerque Journal (N.M.), Jan 05, 2015
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Experiments with alternative water sources, like wastewater and highly saline water, to irrigate crops and urban areas were underway at New Mexico State University. The aim is to conserve potable water and maintain agricultural practices, said a professor of soil physics at NMSU. Barley and triticale, biomass plants lepidium alyssoides and switchgrass, and fodder plants Atriplex and NiPa Grass are being used.
Floods Breed Cooperation, Droughts Breed Conflict
Water Online, Dec 16, 2014
Floods require emergency response that is short-lived, while droughts often mean sustained response efforts where decisions over water allocations must be made, sometimes leading to conflict.
Drought Headlines Archive
Company says evaporation suppression worked
Wichita Falls Times Record News (Texas), Jan 28, 2015
Wichita Falls, Texas
The evaporation suppression powder used on Arrowhead Lake during the 2014 summer was successful. A report by the Texas Water Development Board said the measure may have reduced normal evaporation by 15 percent.
Wichita Falls officials were evaluating the report and considered it inconclusive. The city spent about $294,000 on the project.
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.