Water supplies and drought outlooks are grim in most Western states.
Kate Schimel March 20, 2015 Web Exclusive
Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency in three Washington regions. Two days later, it rained across the state. In Seattle and Olympia, it poured enough to break decades-old records, and in Walla Walla County, one of the state’s dry spots, a half an inch fell.
But the weekend’s rain won’t break Washington’s drought. Farmers, ski area operators and water managers are waiting on snows that haven’t come and that likely won’t until next winter. In the Pacific Northwest, as in other mountainous regions of the West, mountain snow normally acts as a reservoir, melting off in the spring and carrying the region through dry summers. But this year, the snow just hasn’t appeared. According to the latest federal data, the Cascades and the Olympics have less than a third of their normal snowpack for this time of year. In some areas, that number is less than ten percent.
You can finish this article here: http://www.hcn.org/articles/drought-persists-in-the-northwest-despite-winter-rains?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
California has one year of water left: Hype or reality?
When a NASA scientist speaks in blunt terms about water supply, other scientists take notice.
Jeremy Miller March 18, 2015 Web Exclusive
A Los Angeles Times op-ed penned by NASA senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti last week caused a stir in drought-racked California. In forceful and vivid language, Famiglietti announced that the state has only about a year of water left in its reservoirs, rivers and lakes, as well as in its snowpack and soil.
Based on data acquired from NASA satellites, Famiglietti reported that the persistent drought conditions in the state have led to a 34-million acre-foot deficit in surface water – a volume 50 percent larger than Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir. “… (O)ur strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti wrote. “California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.”
When scientists drop the academic posture and speak in blunt terms, other people – in particular, other scientists and water watchers – take notice.
Some took issue with the op-ed’s headline – “California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?” – saying it was out of sync with the rest of the article. New Mexico journalist and water reporter John Fleck fired back on his blog, calling it “scary as hell, a click-generating machine.”
Fleck also tapped Jay Lund, a professor of environmental and civil engineering at UC Davis (and a noted California water commentator in his own right), for comment. “It’s not the right impression that one more year of this and we’re toast. There’s quite a bit more left in groundwater,” Lund wrote. “A little bit less every year because we’re pumping, trying to make up for the drought.”
But it’s hard to deny that the metrics of California’s ongoing drought demand serious attention. The most recent snow survey at the beginning of March pegged snowpack statewide at less than 20 percent of average. “Nearly a third of our SNOTEL sites in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada are reporting the lowest snowpack ever measured,” said Cara McCarthy, a hydrologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “For the first time, some sites were snow-free on March 1. These areas can expect reduced summer streamflow.”
you can find more here: http://www.hcn.org/articles/drought-california-shasta-water?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email