Voices on Water

Boost in Flows Underscores Need for Delta Improvements

With a series of recent downpours sending huge volumes of water into rivers, streams and reservoirs, drought-weary Northern Californians are seeing images they haven’t seen in years.

Lake Shasta picked up about 1 million acre-feet of storage in two weeks, while the Bureau of Reclamation is making flood control releases from Folsom Reservoir, which was at near-historic lows just two months ago. Sacramento River water flowed into the Yolo Bypass for the first time since 2012, and the statewide snowpack is close to average.

When it Comes to Drought Readiness, 2016 is a Far Cry from 1991

In January 1991, local water managers were bracing for a fifth year of drought. Key reservoirs were at just 50% of historic average and steep cutbacks were announced for both the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP).

Proposed Emergency Urban Water Conservation Regulation Framework’s “No Stacking Rule” Could Undermine Regional Water Planning

On Dec. 21, State Water Resources Control Board staff lifted the curtain a bit and shared their initial thinking on what could be in store for emergency drought regulation in 2016. While the draft framework for the next version of the emergency urban conservation regulation provides a cursory nod to the notion that local conditions should be accounted for in the state’s drought plan, the proposal turns a blind eye to the sea change that has occurred in 21st century water management in California. We can do better.


Let’s Get the Right Approach to Drought Response in 2016

There is no question that California is in a drought of epic proportions. By now, the statistics are well known: driest sequence of water years in a millennium; lowest April 1 snowpack in 600 years; hottest temperatures on record.

In early 2015, there was broad agreement that we faced a drought emergency that required statewide action. The State Water Resources Control Board – at the direction of Gov. Jerry Brown – responded by implementing the first-ever mandatory statewide reductions in urban water use.