Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis. Here’s What You Need to Know.


Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years. California’s is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin — which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California — is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation’s food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country.

The severe shortages of rain and snowfall have hurt California’s $46 billion agricultural industry and helped raise national awareness of the longer-term shortages that are affecting the entire Colorado River basin. But while the two problems have commonalities and have some effect on one another, they’re not exactly the same thing.

Just how bad is the drought in California right now?

Keep reading here.

Source:  Abrahm Lustgarten, Lauren Kirchner and Amanda Zamora; Killing the Colorado; Moyers and Company, July 14, 2015


Getting to Know El Niño: Five Things to Understand


The celebrated weather phenomenon is forecast to be in play this coming winter, and it’s often thought to be a drought-buster. Think again.

El Niño is the weather phenomenon in which equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean become warmer than average. It’s a natural cycle in the ocean and unrelated to climate change.

This shift in Earth’s largest ocean also shifts the jet stream, that highway of high-altitude air currents that drives storms around the globe. As a result, El Niño can change where storms strike around the world, and particularly in California.

The Spanish name, by the way, means “little boy” or “Christ child”, a tribute to the fact that El Niño often reveals its influence on the weather around December.

Continue reading here.

Source:  Matt Weiser, Water Deeply, July 13, 2015

An overview of the latest news on the California drought

California Drought Water School

Are Water Utilities Still a Good Bond Risk? Well…

A report out today suggests the bond rating and creditworthiness of California water utilities will depend largely on which agencies are willing to raise water rates.

The report by Columbia Threadneedle Investments notes that California’s water rates are already among the most expensive in the United States, largely because the state has a large and complex water infrastructure that must be maintained. Yet many water agencies will be required to raise rates further – even after the drought eventually ends – to secure additional water supplies and keep up with infrastructure decay.

The report states that California is not going to run out of water, because it has demonstrated the ingenuity and the will to secure additional supplies, whether by building new reservoirs or seeking it through new technologies such as wastewater recycling.

“From a credit quality perspective, California water utilities have generally remained stable due to a political willingness to exercise their unlimited authority to adjust rates to offset the rising costs of supplying water and meet infrastructure demands,” according to the report.

Continue reading here.

Source:  Matt Weiser, Water Deeply, July 15, 2015

10 Questions: Ralph Petroff, gray-water recycling pioneer


Ralph Petroff is changing the way California homes use water. As executive chairman of Nexus eWater, Petroff last week unveiled the first housing subdivision in the United States with on-site water recycling standard in every home.

At this groundbreaking neighborhood in San Deigo, the soapy water from showers and sinks — known as gray water — is cleaned, treated and stored to be reused in the home.

Nexus eWater is an Australian company, headquartered in California, that brought its residential water recycling technology to the United States. Petroff spoke with Water Deeply about how gray-water recycling is changing the way California thinks about drought.

Keep reading here.

Source:  Michelle Matus, Water Deeply, July 15, 2015

The Power and Potential of Improving Water Efficiency: California Toilets


Debates about water in California, the western U.S., and indeed, worldwide, have traditionally focused on the question of how best to further expand water supply to meet some hypothetical future increase in water demand. And the solution frequently offered is to build massive new infrastructure in the form of dams and reservoirs, drill more groundwater wells, or expand water diversions from ever-more-distant rivers, in order to “grow” the supply available for human use.

“Build more traditional water infrastructure” is increasingly the wrong answer to the wrong question.

Except for basic needs like drinking, cooking, and washing, we don’t want to “use” water – we want to grow food, produce semiconductors, generate electricity, and provide other goods and services society demands. These activities and products often require water; but they almost always can be done with less water than we currently spend on them.

The question we should be asking is: how can society satisfy its demands for goods and services with less water – in other words, how can we improve the efficiency and productivity of water use.

Keep reading here.

Source:  Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley from the Pacific Institute for the Huffington Post, July 9, 2015