Western datebook

THE CALIFORNIA State Board of Food and Agriculture will hold its first 2010 Drought Meeting looking at how fluctuating supply affects water quality. The board will hear from speakers from the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board and conduct a panel discussion on “actionable solutions with agricultural farm organizations, water districts and state officials.” The word “actionable” usually refers to law suits, but in this case it connotes seriousness and is code for rent-a-mobs and posturing politicians to stay away. That said, public participation and comment is encouraged. Time: Wednesday, October 14, 10am-2pm. Place: Fresno Farm Bureau, 1274 West Hedges Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728

A walk in the woods with Cleverly and Fleck

SAN ACACIA, NM — When the weather heats up, James Cleverly’s instruments can detect the moisture coming off this little patch of woods alongside the Rio Grande.

Once the heat dries out the surface soil, the plants’ roots tap into deeper water, bringing it up and “transpiring” it through their leaves — essentially exhaling water, explained Cleverly, a University of New Mexico biologist.

Because the river and the nearby groundwater are closely linked, this ultimately means less water in the river.

The story Cleverly’s instruments are telling, scientists say, is increasingly important to understanding what will happen to water supplies in New Mexico and across the West in a warming world. …

Click here to keep reading John Fleck’s science column in the Albuquerque Journal.

Click or here for links to  studies by James Cleverly.  To visit John’s blog, jfleck at inkstain, click here.

Central Valley, observed

THANKS to Aquafornia, the news feed for the Water Education Foundation, for catching this NASA image from the Earth Observatory. From NASA: The image was made from data collected  by NASA’s Terra satellite between July 12 and July 27, 2009. This image shows how vegetation fared in 2009 compared to 2000 and 2008. To see a larger image with key and to read an excellent accompanying article, click here.

Officially dry

LOS ANGELES is poised today to record its fourth year in a row with below normal rainfall, reports the Los Angeles Times. From July 1 of last year to June 30—the period designated the “rain year”—only about 9 inches fell, compared with the average of just over 15 inches. 

For the full story, click here.

White House releases climate change impacts report, prognosis grim for Western water

Graphic: NOAA


A MULTI-AGENCY report released by the White House today includes predictions of worsening Western drought, falling water quality and insect infestations. Lest anyone imagine that this warming and its cascade of knock-on effects is somehow part of a natural cycle, the report repeatedly names the trigger for the changes as “human-caused.” 

Government certification of this mother of a problem was not released without some semblance of a solution. Would that this didn’t boil down to a cue to plan on disaster. As part of that, for Western water managers, the message is: All bets are off. We must rethink our system.

Bullet points from the water resources chapter of the report include:   
  • Regional differences in climate will become more prounounced. Rain will increase in the Northeast and Midwest and decline in much of the West, in particular the Southwest. 
  • Substantial changes in the water cycle are expected. A
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