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Along with California’s Continuing Drought, Bloggers Cover Current and Potential Federal Action, Hydrology in the Colorado River Basin and the Impact of Storms in Texas and Oklahoma

Although some showers of rain this past month brought relief to the drought-stricken West, it was only temporary. Bloggers urge water managers to continue to plan and take action with long-run interests in mind. In addition, they covered federal government attempts to protect bodies of water and water ways and made suggestions for further federal action. Bloggers also look at the water demands of cotton farming in Arizona and the impacts of recent rains in the Colorado River Basin and elsewhere in the southwest.


California’s Drought 

California Farmers Have Agreed to Water Cuts. What Exactly Does That Mean?
Upon the voluntary decision that some of Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta farmers’ will reduce water use by 25%, in order to avoid any further mandatory water reductions, Julia Lurie for Mother Jones investigates the intricacies of western agricultural water.

Big Coastal Cities, Not Wealthy Cities and Farms, Have Drained Northern California Reservoirs
Wayne Lusvardi argues in a post on the Hydrowonk Blog that the state’s metric for measuring water use—which is based on the amount of water used per person per day—misstates where the state’s water supplies have gone. He argues that “city size and percent of dependence on imported water, not gallons of water used per person per day, is what has substantially drained northern California reservoirs,” and proposes using those metrics for determining who the largest water users are for the purpose of imposing conservation targets.

California Farm Economy Surprisingly Resilient Amid Drought
Dale Kasler and Phillip Reese, for the Sacramento Bee, report that farmers all over California are leaving a percentage of their fields fallowed. Despite the fallowing and other methods to decrease water use, the agricultural economy has shown signs of employment increase and gross revenue increase. However, even though still considered a seller’s market, other aspects of the agricultural industry are thirsty for attention.

Harsher Drought Impacts Forecast for California Agriculture
In collaboration with four other authors, Richard Howitt, for California Waterblog, summarizes the results of a study that calculates that farmers will experience 2.7 million acre-feet less of water compared to an average year. The study focused on the San Joaquin Valley but applies its findings to California as a whole, illustrating the various future costs in the agriculture industry that California will incur due to the drought.

Australia’s Water Rights System – A Look of Things to Come in the State of California Post-Drought?
On the Hydrowonk Blog, Jeff Simonetti considers the argument that California should rethink its water system and move toward a system like Australia’s and presents some of the obstacles the state would face in making such a change.


EPA Fracking Study Released

 EPA Study Finds Fracking Contaminated Drinking Water
On the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard, Briana Mordick writes that the EPA released its findings of their study of the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. Although the EPA found negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, they did not find evidence of the methods or mechanisms due to gaps in data.

EPA: Fracking Doesn’t Pose “Widespread, Systemic” Danger to Drinking Water
With the recent release of the EPA’s report on fracking, Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones, illustrates how and where the EPA looked for information and why there are gaps within the collected information. He also highlights the EPA’s inability to answer the definite question that the Obama administration set.


Federal Action

New US Water Rule is Crucial for Clean Drinking Water and Resilience to Droughts and Floods
Sandra Postel, writing in National Geographic Water Currents, discusses the implications of the decision made by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in May. This new ruling clarifies which U.S. streams and wetlands are protected with the Clean Water Act. Though this rule does not create new requirements, it does open up new political strategies.

Senate Advances Bill to Limit the Clean Water Act to “Traditional Navigable Waters”
With the recent finalization of the Clean Water Rule, within the Clean Water Act, Republican Senator John Barrasso from Wyomning, introduced a bill to encumber the new rule. John R. Weinberger, on his blog Energy and Environmental Policy Consulting, discusses what the new bill calls for and the implications it sets within the Republican party.

Ten Ways the Feds can Help Ease Drought in the West
Staff and experts associated with the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center’s research network, for California Waterblog, recommend ten strategies that the federal government can undertake in order to help California and other western states in a time of drought. These recommendations cover rural communities, cities and farms, ecosystems, statewide water operations and long-run possibilities.


Colorado River Basin

“Miracle May” Leaves Colorado River Reservoirs in Much Better Shape Than When the Month Started
John Fleck, of JFleck at Inskstain, highlights that the rainfall in May 2015 has improved the drought impact “at the margins” for the Colorado River Basin. “Miracle May” has left the elevation of both Lake Powell and Lake Mead higher than projected, influencing how water managers will take their next step. (For JOW’s monthly tracking of current and projected elevations in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, see Hydrologic Conditions).

Holy Crop
Abrahm Lustgarten and Naveena Sadasivam, for ProPublica, write about the widespread farming of cotton in Arizona. The authors illustrate the crop from its water needs to consumer demand by following Wuertz, an Arizona farmer. Lustgarten and Sadasivam touch on the role of cotton throughout U.S. history from western expansion to present day political action. Most notably they discuss the effects and farmer’s reactions to the government’s subsidy of cotton.


Elsewhere in the Southwest

Drought Relief and Flooding in Texas and Oklahoma
Jeff Simonetti, of the Hydrowonk Blog, discusses the drought-busting benefits, as well as the damaging impacts of the recent storms that hit Texas and Oklahoma.


Written by Stratecon Staff