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Severe – Exceptional Drought Plagues 100% of California

Posted by feww on May 16, 2014


All of California Falls into Severe – Exceptional Drought

Drought conditions are forecast to exacerbate as a heat wave settles in this week, said US Drought Monitor. Increases on water demand and the increased risk of fire will intensifies as the heat soars.

USDrought monitor Calif 13may14
Source: US Drought Monitor.

Calif Wildfires

Nine major wildfires are burning in San Diego County, Southern California, forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes.

A Week Ago …

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 15, 2014, the California statewide water content of snowpack (weighted average) stood at only 9% of normal for this date, and just 5%  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 15, 2014 08:38PDT

Statewide Summary
Statewide Average SWEQ: 2″
Statewide Percent of April: 5%
Statewide Percent of Normal: 9%

May 14, 2014

Average snow water equivalent:  2″
Percent of April 1 average: 6%
Percent of normal for this date: 10%

May 5, 2014

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

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 rest of the Internet Mafia. Editor]


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