Don Curlee: Agriculture, urban goals are similar in California

The powerful Westlands Water District recently withdrew its support for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, action that might light a fire under other water organizations in the state.

The bold action by Westlands indicates that it is no longer willing to put up with unwanted and unmerited federal interference in the conscientious efforts by water interests in California to make the best use of water.

Westlands’ concerns regarding political interference by the Department of the Interior and its creation of further water restrictions without scientific basis are well-justified. Among other questionable activities, this department has been criticized recently by federal and state legislators for holding secret meetings on its planning process and for manipulating science to support its drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the loss of 12,000 jobs.

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Massive snowfall in Sierra eases California’s three-year drought

Three years of drought in California could be over if the rest of the winter continues to see at least average snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.

The water content of the snow in the Sierra is as much as 263 percent of the average (Leavitt Meadows) for Dec. 27, according to remote sensor readers for the California Department of Water Resources.

Precipitation in the Truckee River basin is 203 percent of average and 211 percent in the Lake Tahoe basin, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The ski resort Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe reports about 250 inches of snow in parts of its property, including nine inches of snow added from Sunday’s storms, a spokeswoman says. At this time of the season, the resort has averaged about 130 inches of snow.

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State increases water allocation as rainy season storms continue

With California’s rainy season shaping up as an unusually wet one, thanks to recent storms, the California Department of Water Resources is easing up on the spigot.

The department has increased its early projected allocation to cities and farms from 25 percent to 50 percent of the requested water for 2011, pleasing water officials who have seen much lower estimates at this time in previous years.

The early estimates are purposely conservative, and are typically raised as the water outlook becomes clearer, the department said last week.

This year, the department originally estimated that it could deliver 5 percent of requested water, and on Friday increased that amount to 50 percent.

While the storms don’t mean the state’s three-year drought is over, they greatly ease concerns about the supply, water officials said.

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Population, immigration, and the drying of the American Southwest

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The looming water crisis in the American Southwest – and the role of immigration-driven population growth – is the topic of a paper published this month by the Center for Immigration Studies and authored by New Mexico journalist Kathleene Parker.

The paper, “Population, Immigration, and the Drying of the American Southwest,” online at http://cis.org/southwest-water-population-growth, explores the link between the possibility of the potentially catastrophic economic and environmental water crisis and the fact that the Southwest is the fastest-growing region of the world’s fourth-fastest-growing nation – a growth rate earlier cautioned against by various presidential commissions. It also looks at how that growth rate is driven by historically unprecedented immigration – legal and illegal – into the United States, the world’s third-most-populous nation after China and India. Immigration is responsible for more than half of the population growth in the Southwest this past decade, and nearly all of the growth in the largest southwest state, California.

Such high immigration has happened absent discussion or acknowledgement of its impacts on population or limited resources, such as water. Parker presents evidence that indicates there is insufficient water for the region’s current population, much less the larger future populations that will result if immigration continues at its present high rate.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/29/3218296/population-immigration-and-the.html#ixzz16inTPvbZ

California issues 25 percent water delivery forecast

California water officials on Monday announced a 25 percent delivery forecast for customers who depend on the State Water Project.

The projection is preliminary, and usually increases over the course of winter. It primarily concerns urban areas in the south San Francisco Bay Area and in the Los Angeles-San Diego metro areas, which depend on the State Water Project for a significant share of their supplies. It has no bearing on the Sacramento area, except as a general guide to statewide precipitation amounts.

The allocation announcement is the first of the year and reflects a conservative approach that is customary for the Department of Water Resources. Even so, it is far better than last year’s initial forecast, which was just 5 percent.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/23/3205512/california-issues-25-percent-water.html#ixzz169U3ReXL

La Niña may reduce California water allocations

Despite an unusually wet October and weekend storms that deposited more than 10 feet of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada, the state next year expects to deliver about one-quarter of the water requested by agencies that depend on the California Aqueduct, state hydrologists said Monday.

By definition the estimate is preliminary and certain to change as the rainy season wears on. But experts at the Department of Water Resources say that “strong” La Niña conditions are likely to offset this fall’s deluges.

“We’re off to a good start for this year’s precipitation … but La Niña could mean dry conditions later in the (water) year … especially in Southern California,” Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said in a conference call with reporters.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/22/BAP21GFSFK.DTL#ixzz169RXDztC

Researchers Say Strong La Niña Means Dry Winter For California

Climate experts say a strong La Niña means a dry winter for Southern California. Water supply should be fine, but fire danger could increase next year.

Despite rain in October and in the weekend forecast, it looks like dry times for San Diego this winter.

Researchers say a strong La Niña means below normal rainfall for Southern California and a wet fall and dry spring for Northern California.

La Niña is defined as cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that impact global weather patterns. La Niña conditions happen every few years and can last as long as two years.

That’s what University of Colorado researcher Klaus Wolter is forecasting.

“I believe that the odds are much enhanced that we have a La Niña that goes on and on rather than disappear again,” said Wolter.

Read more… http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/nov/17/researchers-strong-la-nina-means-dry-winter-southe/

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