Water News
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California’s severe drought is forcing the nation’s largest state to reconcile old assumptions about water supply and management with the reality of long-term drying trends, declining groundwater, and polluted drinking water, according to an expert panel of scientists and journalists convened during a Circle of Blue interactive drought briefing conference call on February 13.

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

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Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is a beautiful hill station city in Northeast, India.

A correspondent’s thoughts on food, wildlife, transport, and politics.

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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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When layered, weekly images of the U.S. Drought Monitor for California show how much worse this drought is than any in the past decade.

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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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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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Click here to register for this special interactive Maestro teleconference.

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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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John Burchard, General Manager of the Alpaugh Community Services District, walks a ditch bank on the outskirts of town. The small farmworker community in California's Central Valley suffers from high levels of arsenic and other contaminates in its drinking water.

Federal and state agencies, communities and businesses not positioned well enough to respond, says new Circle of Blue report.

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

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Droughts – especially severe droughts – are terribly damaging events. The human and ecosystem costs can be enormous, as we may relearn during the current California drought.

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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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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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Algae washed up on the shores of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

A national park’s wildlife, allure, and purpose are challenged by a green mess.

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The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, completed in 2007, is large enough to hold 40,000 worshippers.

A plan for when fuel runs out.

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It is now early 2014 and the rains have not come, for the third year in a row.

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Harmful algae bloom. Pelee Island, Ohio. Lake Erie. Photo by T. Archer. September 4, 2009.

Years of inaction make green blooms the most unhealthy, unsightly, and urgent water quality problem in the world’s largest source of fresh surface water

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Farmers are in the field from dawn to dusk during harvest season. Stuart Beckman's field in Thomas County produced 198 bushels per acre, well above the state average of 125 bushels per acre in 2013. Irrigation, using water from the Ogallala Aquifer, allows farmers to grow three to four times as much grain per acre compared to a field that relies solely on rainfall.

Water restrictions, no doubt, will change agriculture in Sheridan County.

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Grain is the economic fulcrum for towns that dot the Great Plains. But growing the millions of bushels of corn, soybeans, and wheat is slowly draining the region's primary water source, the Ogallala Aquifer. Unless consumption rates change, some prime farming regions in Kansas and Texas have only a few decades of water remaining.

Federal law influences the demand for water in the Great Plains. The 1996 U.S. farm bill removed most government incentives for farmers to grow particular crops, freeing them to chase market prices.

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