In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; information about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin.
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April 14 2015 — Salt Lake City issues water-shortage advisory — Salt Lake City took the first official step Monday to notify its residents of possible water shortages this summer. Mayor Ralph Becker issued a "stage one advisory," the first of five steps in the city's contingency plan for dealing with drought.
. . . Steve Erickson, the Utah Audubon Council's legislative advocate, called the city's advisory "an appropriate move to get people's attention. It's been a grim winter. We're likely to see this get worse so people need to start thinking about how they can conserve water — not just in Salt Lake City but around the state — Salt Lake Tribune
April 14, 2015 — California: Higher water rates on tap as utilities cover losses from drought Planning to save water this year to help with the drought? Don’t expect to save money. Water departments across California, including dozens in the Bay Area, are now looking to raise rates — in many cases by double digits — to shore up revenues as customers use less water during dry times and water sales plummet — SFGate.com
April 14, 2015 — Press Release: Snowpack melts early across the West — WASHINGTON: West-wide snowpack is melting earlier than usual, according to data from the fourth 2015 forecast by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “Almost all of the West Coast continues to have record low snowpack,” NRCS Hydrologist David Garen said. “March was warm and dry in most of the West; as a result, snow is melting earlier than usual.” — NRCS
April 14, 2015 — OPINION: Making Sense of Water — BERKELEY, Calif. -- Almost every number used to analyze California’s drought can be debated, but this can be safely said: No level of restrictions on residential use can solve the problem. The solution lies with agriculture, which consumes more than its fair share. That doesn’t mean homeowners can’t and shouldn’t cut back — NyTimes.com
April 14, 2015 — A guide to California's water crisis — and why it's so hard to fix — California saw this drought coming. Even if people in the state didn't know it would be this bad — now the worst in recorded history — they've known that dry years are inevitable and had all sorts of ideas for how to deal with them. But for all that planning, California's current drought has been a total disaster. Reservoirs are drying up. Crops are wilting in the fields. For the first time ever, towns and cities will face a mandatory 25 percent cut in their water use — VOX.com
April 14, 2015 —
Climate Change Caused California Drought — The science behind the drought is unquestionable —A lot has been written about the California drought. A lot. Sadly, and a bit surprisingly, very little of it touches on the climate connection. Which is too bad, because there are some obvious (and not-so-obvious) science-based studies that touch on the unfolding disaster – with implications for what the future holds for the most populous state in the United States — usnews.com
April 13, 2015 — In California, a Wet Era May Be Ending — When Gov. Jerry Brown of California imposed mandatory cutbacks in water use earlier this month in response to a severe drought, he warned that the state was facing an uncertain future. “This is the new normal,” he said, “and we’ll have to learn to cope with it.” The drought, now in its fourth year, is by many measures the worst since the state began keeping records of temperature and precipitation in the 1800s. And with a population now close to 39 million and a thirsty, $50 billion agricultural industry, California has been affected more by this drought than by any previous one — NyTimes.com
April 13, 2015 — One chart sums up the real problem in the California drought— and it isn't almonds — You might've heard that if there's one food you shouldn't be buying in the middle of California's drought, it's almonds.
Compared with many other nuts and veggies, almonds seem particularly wasteful, requiring a whole gallon of water per nut. But what about the foods we eat that aren't nuts or vegetables? I'm talking about meat — BusinessInsider.com
April 12, 2015 — Megascale Desalination: The world’s largest and cheapest reverse-osmosis desalination plant is up and running in Israel. — On a Mediterranean beach 10 miles south of Tel Aviv, Israel, a vast new industrial facility hums around the clock. It is the world’s largest modern seawater desalination plant, providing 20 percent of the water consumed by the country’s households. Built for the Israeli government by Israel Desalination Enterprises, or IDE Technologies, at a cost of around $500 million, it uses a conventional desalination technology called reverse osmosis (RO). Thanks to a series of engineering and materials advances, however, it produces clean water from the sea cheaply and at a scale never before achieved — Technologyreview.com
April 12, 2015 — OPINION: Guest Commentary: Heed California water woes, Colorado — The Denver Post
April 10, 2015 — This is how we avoid climate catastrophe: The simple –yet radical – steps needed to solve California’s water crisis — California’s worsening drought is an environmental disaster, the result of multiple years of below-average rainfall and above-average heat and very likely amplified, experts say, by man-made climate change. But not everyone is suffering the unprecedented deficit equally. Some, you might even go so far as to say, are winning — Salon.com
April 09, 2015 — Crap Detecting and California Water — Aquadoc.typepad.com
April 08, 2015 — Sandoval creates drought panel, says Nevada much better off than California — WASHOE LAKE STATE PARK — Gov. Brian Sandoval stood on the dusty shore of a shrinking lake bed Wednesday to sign an executive order creating a forum to study Nevada’s lingering drought and recommend state policies. Sandoval, joined by state and local government water officials, said the Nevada Drought Forum, comprising water managers and climate experts from around the state, will craft a blueprint on best practices for water use and conservation — RJ.com
Read the Governor's Executive Order
April 05, 2015 — Beneath California Crops, Groundwater Crisis Grows Even as the worst drought in decades ravages California, and its cities face mandatory cuts in water use, millions of pounds of thirsty crops like oranges, tomatoes and almonds continue to stream out of the state and onto the nation’s grocery shelves. But the way that California farmers have pulled off that feat is a case study in the unwise use of natural resources, many experts say. Farmers are drilling wells at a feverish pace and pumping billions of gallons of water from the ground, depleting a resource that was critically endangered even before the drought, now in its fourth year, began — NyTimes.com
April 05, 2015 — Will Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water Help Drought-Hit California? — Last week, Governor Jerry Brown made water conservation mandatory in the drought-stricken state of California. "As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can," he said. But if the four-year drought continues, conservation alone — at least what's required by the governor's plan — won't fix the problem — NPR
April 05, 2015 — Californians with century-old water rights face restrictions — Thousands of California farms and other businesses have rights to divert water for their needs, including irrigation and for hydroelectric dams. But if dry conditions continue through summer, they will likely face restrictions on taking water — AP
April 05, 2015 — California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth — LOS ANGELES: For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty.
It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards. But now a punishing drought – and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption – is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature — NyTimes.com
April 01, 2015 — California water mandates won’t affect southern Nevada rules — In the wake of a landmark California water conservation mandate announced Wednesday, Southern Nevada officials said water policies here will not be changed.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a four-term Democrat, called for a mandatory, statewide 25 percent reduction in water usage for cities and towns. The mandate is the first of its kind in the Golden State and is expected to save nearly 489 billion gallons of water by January 2016 — RJ.com
April 01, 2015 — [And this is NOT an April Fools hoax]: Fraud & Coverup Alleged in Water District — Las Vegas Valley Water District fired 17 senior employees to cover up illegal spending and misrepresentations of its finances, one of the former workers claims in court. Lyndalou Bullard sued the water district in Clark County Court, claiming she is one of 17 senior employees that the water district fired on a pretext. "In truth, they were terminated before they could publicly acknowledge facts they had privately learned to be true," Bullard says in the March 25 complaint — By MIKE HEUER, CourtHouseNewsService.com
March 31, 2015 — TMWA calls for 10% reduction in water use — RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Truckee Meadows Water Authority customers are being asked to reduce their water use by at least 10 percent this spring and summer, effective immediately — Mynews4.com
March 31, 2015 — The Water Revolution Is Here — At current usage and population rates, international demand for water in 2030 will outstrip supply by 40 percent. As fresh water supplies dwindle, nations across the globe will face unprecedented, unsettling, and formerly unthinkable choices regarding water, compelled to make difficult decisions about how to allocate the precious resource — EnvironmentalLeader.com
March 30, 2015 —
Drought Hits Lake Mead, Lake Tahoe — Drought conditions are wreaking havoc with Nevada’s lakes and rivers. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday that the mountain snowpack this year is the ‘worst in a century.’ The Lake Tahoe Basin’s snowpack was only 3 percent of normal for the date and the Truckee River Basin’s was measured at 14 percent. . . . Pat Mulroy, the senior fellow for climate adaptation and environmental policy at Brookings Mountain West, told KNPR’s State of Nevada that when it comes to water supply in the West there is not one single solution — KNPR
March 30, 2015 — Work on $650 million Lake Mead pump station starts — On an island at Lake Mead that stopped being an island more than a decade ago, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is about to launch the next phase of a 12-year building binge expected to last until 2020 and cost almost $1.5 billion. Design work is underway for a new $650 million deep-water pumping station that will draw from the very bottom of the lake. Seven construction firms have bid to build the facility on Lake Mead’s Saddle Island, which scarcely qualifies as a peninsula these days with the reservoir approaching another historic low — RJ.com
March 30, 2015 — Colorado’s snow is dust-free for the first time in a decade — Last March, while kayaking the sandstone labyrinth of Utah’s San Juan River, I was punched in the face with a wall of wind. It howled up-canyon with a biting ferocity, carrying particles of red sand that scoured our faces and forced us into a cave for hours to seek shelter. The next day, as we drove home to Colorado, it followed us . . . hcn.org
March 30, 2015 — What severe drought in the Colorado River Basin looks like — Lake Powell, one of the nation’s largest reservoirs, is now below 45 percent of its capacity. Straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, the man-made reservoir is part of the Colorado Water Basin that supplies water to 40 million people. Lake Powell stores water from states in the upper Colorado basin — New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming — for the states in the lower basin: Nevada, Arizona and California. Along with generating electricity, the reservoir also protects the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from flooding — WashingtonPost.com
March 28, 2015 —
California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack hits historic low — The abominable snowpack in the Sierra Nevada reached an unprecedented low this week, dipping below the historic lows in 1977 and 2014 for the driest winter in 65 years of record-keeping.
Electronic surveys show the water content of the snow throughout the Sierra is a shocking 8 percent of the historical average for this time of year, by far the driest it has been since 1950, the year record-keeping began . . . SFgate.com
March 25, 2015 — Las Vegas Water Tapped For NV Assemblyman's Bottling Business — Many people don't think twice about what's in that bottle of water they just bought at the grocery store. The taste, compared to tap water, might be worth it. But in a recent article in Desert Companion, one of those bottles was looked at a little more closely.
On the back of the label of Real Water - a bottle sold in many grocery stores around town - it says in fine black print: "Source of water: Las Vegas Valley Water District." . . . There's also the moral argument of bottling water in one of the driest cities in the country - which Howard Watts, communications specialist for the Great Basin Water Network, says is "highly irresponsible." — KNPR.org
March 22, 2015 — Water expert discusses actions Southern Nevada has taken and what we should plan for — Lake Mead’s elevation is just 1,087 feet above sea level and dropping steadily. Another 12 feet and the most severe drought-protection program the Southwest has ever seen will be triggered. If and when Lake Mead hits 1,075 feet, the government will declare a federal water shortage for the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River, forcing Nevada and the others to limit water use.
Worse, a report by climate scientists and NASA predicts the Southwest will be in a decades-long drought by midcentury — the worst in 1,000 years. Despite the sobering predictions, former Las Vegas water czar Pat Mulroy is confident life will go on in the West — Las Vegas Sun