Waterline Drought

August 22, 2016

20160816_CA_trdFog this early Monday on California’s north coast — Duh!
Our summer weather pattern continues, but supposedly should be a bit cooler. Preliminary rainfall totals for last month from the NWS shows my little area was 203-percent of normal for July — definitely not our rainy season, but, a nasty-indicator of shitsville.

Dry continues — the California Drought Monitor released last week revealed we’re better in shape now than last year, but 59-percent of the state remains in the ‘severe’ category — the worst — yet way-down from 88-percent in January. However, not so fast. An ingredient most precious isn’t being watched too carefully — water.
Via WaterOnline this morning:

A new report from the think tank Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reveals gaps in the state’s water-information systems.
It also makes recommendations on how the state can improve its water data.
“The latest drought has highlighted critical weaknesses in California’s water accounting that challenged effective oversight and management of the state’s water resources,” the report said.

Also this particular note on the water contradiction — the lede from a Sacramento Bee story last week: ‘State officials will not force most California water districts to reduce water use this year, even as they caution that the five-year drought persists and note that drought-fueled wildfires continue to wreak havoc.’

WTF? Despite some good rainfall totals for northern California last season, and even with the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicting we’ll see above-normal rain up here this coming winter. rest of the state will continue to be dry, fueled by La Niña — seven out of the last 10 La Niña events were dry for the state.

Further from the SacBee:

Tracy Quinn, a policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said her research indicates water districts are overstating the strength of their supplies.
She said it is unlikely that almost nine out of 10 water districts would have adequate supply to meet three more years of drought.
“The requirements of the regulations allowed water districts to be overly optimistic,” she said.
“The zero percent (conservation targets) we are seeing aren’t real numbers.”

Seriously, folks — from Grist last week:

Shockingly, California isn’t tracking much of its water.
It’s like a business that’s opted to fire the accountants and operate under the honor system, using an abacus and semi-annual estimates from middle managers.
A new report from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, known as PPIC, says that the state’s five-year drought has exposed “serious gaps and fragmentation.”
California has the world’s sixth-largest largest economy (just ahead of France), and it runs on water.
But unless it settles upon some sensible way of fixing its accounting for water, the state will only be useful for shooting remakes of Dune and Mad Max.

California has attached the right to use water to certain properties.
Buy this land you also buy the water right.
But if you own a water right that was established before 1914, no one really knows how much water you are entitled to have.
There’s another form of water claim, called riparian rights, that isn’t limited to any specific volume.
That makes it nearly impossible for state officials to figure out how much you will take, and how much they can ask you to cut back.
The water laws in California are a contradictory muddle and any dispute can turn into decade of litigation — just the opposite of the nimble responsiveness California needs to deal with drought.

Water is probably the most-basic requirement for life…

(Illustration above: California Drought Monitor, found here).

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