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Archive for May 7th, 2014

California Groundwater Levels 100 Feet Below Previous Historic Lows

Posted by feww on May 7, 2014


Vital groundwater provides up to 60% of California’s water supply during droughts

California groundwater resources are at historically low levels, and recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historic lows in some parts of the state, according to a recent report released by the California Department of Water Resources.

About 30 million Californians, over three quarters of the state’s population, receives at least part of their drinking water from groundwater, said California Water Foundation.

Groundwater is the only supply available for some regions during drought, and it’s critical to the state’s agricultural economy.

Drought causes water famine leading to crop disasters. It degrades water quality, and leads to surface and groundwater level declines, land subsidence, soil erosion, intense wildfires, humongous dust storms, and spread of disease.

30 Percent of California Water Comes from Snowpack

Snowpack provides about a third of the water used by California’s cities and farms. As of  May 6, 2014, the California statewide water content of snowpack (weighted average) stood at only 13% of normal for this date, and just 9%  of April 1 average, according to the Department of Water Resource.

Snow Water Equivalents – Statewide Summary

Provided by the California Cooperative Snow Surveys – Updated May 6, 2014 06:37PDT

Average snow water equivalent:  2″
Percent of April 1 average: 9%
Percent of normal for this date: 13%

May 5, 2014

Average snow water equivalent:  3″
Percent of April 1 average: 9%
Percent of normal for this date: 13%

The monthly snow survey on May 1, 2014 showed the average water content in the northern Sierra snowpack that helps fill the state’s major reservoirs at a dismal 7 percent for this time of the year.

Tragedy of the Commons

Between 2003 – 2010, California’s groundwater “overdraft” averaged almost 2.5 million acre-feet per year, and more than triple that amount (nearly 8 million acre-feet per year) in 2012 (a dry year) and 2013 (a critically dry year), according to Hydrologic Modeling Center at the University of California.

[An acre-feet is about 1.23 million liters. Editor ]

“This overdraft is, in many respects, a ‘tragedy of the commons:’ the accumulation of what could be viewed individually as benign actions, i.e., small amounts of pumping, that has broad impacts extending beyond individual pumpers,” said the report.

[Overdraft: The condition of a groundwater basin in which the  amount of water withdrawn by pumping exceeds the amount of water that recharges the basin over a period of years during which water supply conditions approximate average. Because groundwater is extracted at a higher rate than it is replenished over this period of time, groundwater levels decline persistently under this condition.]

The report has identified the following potentially devastating effects associated with the depletion:

Land Subsidence. Groundwater pumping can cause deformation of the land surface, leading to subsidence. The sinking or deformation of land could in turn cause:

  • Increased coastal and inland flooding
  • Reduced conveyance capacity of canals, aqueducts, and flood bypass channels
  • Damage to buildings, roads, bridges, pipelines, levees, wells, and other infrastructure
  • Development of earth fissures, which can damage surface and subsurface structures and allow for contamination from the surface to enter shallow aquifers

During the 1960s and 1970s, parts of the Central Valley experienced a drop of more than 25 feet due to groundwater pumping. Occurrences of land subsidence have been discovered in many areas across the state, costing billions of dollars to the federal and state government, farmers, irrigation districts, and local agencies to repair. Subsidence continues in many of these areas as discussed in “Land Subsidence from Groundwater Use in California” LSCE, Borchers & Carpenter (2014), sometimes at near historically high rates.

Increasing energy costs. Overdraft has caused groundwater levels to drop hundreds of feet in certain areas of the state. As groundwater levels drop, water users must pump from greater depths, increasing energy used to operate pumps and thereby increasing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Water quality degradation. Overdraft can damage water quality through a variety of mechanisms. It can allow saltwater intrusion, as has occurred in Pajaro Valley, the Central and West Coast Basins, and elsewhere, or draw in adjacent plumes of pollution. The interconnection between surface water and groundwater means that contamination in one may migrate to the other. Ironically, by over pumping groundwater to meet a current need, water users may be contaminating the aquifer and effectively reducing their future groundwater supplies.

Streamflow depletion impacts on surface water rights and ecosystems. Many aquifers naturally release water into surface water bodies. When groundwater is depleted the aquifer may instead draw from adjacent or connected surface water bodies like lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands; this reduces streamflows and lake levels.
Streamflow depletion impacts surface water right holders, degrades aquatic habitats and harms the flora and fauna that depend on these habitats. For example, partly due to groundwater overdraft, the lower Cosumnes River recently has been completely dry throughout most of the salmon migration period and impacting surface water flows into the Delta.

Related Links

First State of Emergency Issued in January

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 17  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

Second State of Emergency

Brown proclaimed a second State of Emergency on April 25, 2014 to “redouble state drought actions, and has called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.”

“We are playing Russian roulette with our environment,” said Brown.

However, it’s doubtful whether he knows exactly how many bullets there are in the cylinder, contends FIRE-EARTH.

California State Resources

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty – with the critical phase occurring by as early as 2011.

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered/censored by Google, WordPress and others. Editor]

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Federal Disaster Declared for Florida

Posted by feww on May 7, 2014


Major Disaster Declared for Florida (DR-4177)

Federal Disaster has been declared in the state of Florida in the areas severely affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding from April 28 to May 6, 2014.

Areas most affected by multiple disasters are the counties of Escambia and Santa Rosa.

The Federal Disaster Declaration follows a State of Emergency Proclamation issued by the state last week.

Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 panhandle and north Florida counties on April 30, 2014.

The State of Emergency Proclamation included the counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, and Alachua.

Latest Federal Disaster Declarations

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Extremely Critical Fire Weather Conditions Persist in U.S. South

Posted by feww on May 7, 2014


Extreme Fire Danger Forecast for parts of  Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arizona

Extremely critical fire weather conditions are worsening across parts of Southern Plains, according to the latest forecast by the National Weather Service (NWS).

Record heat, gusty winds and low relative humidity values will continue the high fire danger through at least Wednesday across parts of the southern Plains and Southwest. The most extreme conditions are expected from the eastern Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles into parts of southern Kansas and northwestern Oklahoma. Elevated to critical fire weather conditions exist elsewhere across the region.

Extreme and Critical Fire Danger

About 8.3 million people live in the areas threatened by Extreme and Critical Fire Weather Conditions, a total of about 835,000km² (322,000 square miles), including the counties/cities of Amarillo, TX, Woodward, OK, Pratt, KS, Canadian, TX, Lahoma, OK, El Paso, TX, Oklahoma City, OK, Albuquerque, NM, Tucson, AZ, Wichita, KS…


600 Fires

Up to 600 active wildfires are currently burning across the U.S. , base on satellite images and ESRI.

Red Flag Warnings

Red Flag Warnings are in effect across parts of seven states—Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska.

Fire Danger in Oklahoma

Gov. Fallin has declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties in Oklahoma. Fallin also issued an executive proclamation declaring a burn ban for 36 counties.

The Governor’s Burn Ban covers 36 counties in western and south-central Oklahoma, according to the Proclamation. Those counties are Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Major, McClain, Noble, Oklahoma, Payne, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.

The largest fire in Oklahoma so far has burned more than 4,000 acres and destroyed at least six homes, and three dozen other buildings, killing one person, said fire officials in Guthrie, adding that the numbers are likely to rise.

More than 1,000 people were ordered to evacuate the fire disaster zone.

Latest Fire Headline News

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