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021514_potus_drought

The National Integrated Drought Information System puts federal data in the hands of farmers, state officials, and businesses.

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Building a long-debated reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Fresno would improve river habitat for salmon but would provide little additional water for farmers and cities, according to a Bureau of Reclamation feasibility report. The $US 2.6 billion Temperance Flat Dam would create a reservoir with a capacity of […]

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vinyard

Benefits go to agriculture, but won’t help cities.

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Most farmers in California who have contracts with the Central Valley Project, a federal canal system, will get no water this year, according to initial projections by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the canals. Contractors that supply water to industries and cities in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, the canal system’s service area, […]

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jerry-brown

Gov. Jerry Brown introduced a $US 687 million emergency spending bill Wednesday as his office works on comprehensive groundwater reform.

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Folsom1000

California’s record drought prompts water districts to increase conservation spending, drain rainy day funds, and dramatically swell water rates.

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Both chambers of Congress reauthorized a program that coordinates drought data, research, and outreach between the federal government, the states, and the public. The House funded the National Integrated Drought Information System at $US 13.5 million and the Senate at $US 12 million, two sums that will be reconciled. Drought Aid President Obama pledged $1.2 […]

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Snowman1000

California’s drought is a preview of the latter half of the 21st century.

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An overview map of the Central Valley project at the C.W. Jones Pumping Plant, a federal facility which supplies water to the project's network of irrigation canals and reservoirs.

President Obama urges cooperation. But Republican opposition and a maze of state plans are causing a frantic confusion, while vulnerable farmers see immediate and long-term pain.

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A dry irrigation ditch on the edge of the historic Tulare Lake Basin in California's Central Valley. Photo by Matt Black

The president announces $US 1.2 billion for those affected by severe weather now and proposes $US 1 billion more for adaptation and research.

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shutterstock_98566043

Seven states will release a water plan — either in draft or final form — this year, and at least six other states are talking about updating existing plans or creating a first-ever plan. For context, only two states released water plans in 2013 and five in 2012.

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Seaguls from the coast fly far inland and into the dry landscape of California's Central Valley.

California is poorly prepared for another severely dry year

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NASA_GPM

From soil to stratosphere, scientific understanding of the water cycle will take a giant leap in 2014.

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Language in the budget deal that passed Congress in January instructed U.S. representatives to the World Bank and other development banks to oppose loans, grants, or policies that support large hydroelectric dams, defined as those taller than 15 meters (49 feet). It is not clear, however, how that message, which was directed at international financial […]

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PRISM_Jan21precip

After a dry 2013, reservoirs are near record lows for the start of a calendar year, setting the table for widespread water restrictions, reduced agricultural and energy production, and political bickering in 2014.

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USGS-GRACE-GW

Snow is scarce, reservoirs are approaching bottom, and groundwater is being exhausted in the nation’s most populous state. More than a dozen communities face water shortages in the next 60 to 100 days, and there will be zero water deliveries from the state’s largest canal system this year.

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James Clapper, director of national intelligence, presented the 2014 assessment of global security threats to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week. For the fourth consecutive report, a section is dedicated to water. “Risks to freshwater supplies – due to shortages, poor quality, floods, and climate change – are growing,” according to the 31-page […]

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By Friday, a working group comprising state representatives, federal officials from the U.S. and Mexico, and environmental groups will submit a plan for using a high-volume surge of water in the Colorado River to revive its delta. The goal is to begin releasing the water – called a pulse flow – from U.S. dams by […]

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After a period of budget gloom, the $US 1 trillion spending bill approved by the House and Senate last week brought a little cheer to water programs, which fared relatively well. Some of the harshest sequestration cuts have been restored. The bill will add $US 10 million to the U.S. Geological Survey’s water resources program, […]

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Stuart Beckman (center) takes a break with his crew at the Menlo Co-op in Menlo, Kansas. Beckman asserts that farmers in his area are some of the most progressive around. They need to be in order to protect their livelihood. "Without irrigation this community would dry up and blow away," Beckman says.

The most daunting barrier to widespread adoption of locally-driven cuts in water withdrawals from the Ogallala are deep-rooted legal legacies. Like the plains geography and hydrology, the law of the land is not uniform.

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