Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Drought summit examines California’s water crisis


Peter Moyle of UC Davis noted the impact droughts have on native fish at the UCD Drought Conference in Sacramento on Friday. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | April 29, 2014 |

SACRAMENTO — As the region soaked up much-needed rain Friday, academics and policymakers gathered in the state Capitol to discuss California’s looming water crisis at the UC Drought Summit.
“The time to plan for drought is when it’s raining, and it seems fortuitous that it’s raining today,” said Ruth Langridge, a professor from UC Santa Cruz.
About 35 panelists — academics, policymakers and lawyers — discussed and debated research focused on water management before a couple of hundred attendees. Barbara Allen-Diaz, a vice president of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, kicked off the symposium with Mark Twain’s famous adage.
“Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over,” she said. “This was true then and it remains true today.”
With rain conspicuously absent this winter, this rainfall year is expected to be the third-driest in California’s recorded history and the drought now affects 100 percent of the state. Because 2011-13 precipitation levels also fell below average, reservoirs are strained, and record-low snowpack levels offer little hope for rejuvenation.
“We will not be able to drought-proof California,” said Jay Lund, a UC Davis professor who organized the summit. “Imagine if we tried to traffic-proof California, how wide our highways would have to be.”
The Indian Valley Reservoir, which supplies irrigation water to Yolo County, hovers at just 9 percent of its water line, said Tim O’Halloran, the general manager of the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District. The public agency will not sell any water to agriculture operations this year, and 
faces layoffs and furloughs because a majority of profit comes from water purchases.
While Lund recognized that agriculture will always suffer during droughts, he pointed out the industry now makes up less than 3 percent of California’s economy. Still, as the nation’s top agricultural producer, it requires about 80 percent of the state’s human-allocated water.
“If we don’t better manage our groundwater, we’re going to face a permanent reduction in agriculture profitability in this state,” Lund said.
Groundwater regulation, one of the most talked-about topics at the summit, remains controversial. Farmers and agricultural interests argue that it can be best managed at a local or individual level, but local use strains state resources. California and Texas are the only two states without statewide regulation, though that may change this year.
“I think we’re poised for a huge run on ground water,” warned Jay Famiglietti, a hydrology professor at UC Irvine. Langridge, a fellow panelist, encouraged the development of local ground-
water reserves in partnership with the state.
Another difficulty in water management is that some 3,000 agencies manage California’s water, making it difficult for the state to set and enforce limits. In Yolo County, these include elected city officials, the flood control and water conservation agency, and the Bureau of Land Management, among others.
“California’s water is starkly depleted, extremely fragmented, quite local and very opaque,” said Stephanie Pincetl, the 
director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. “Water district boundaries are like accordions — they may not have the same boundaries from year to year.”
Here are some highlights from the conference:
* Glen MacDonald, a UCLA professor, explained that this drought shows similarities to one that lasted from 1130 to 1180 AD. While it isn’t yet clear if we’re at the beginning of a 50-year drought, he 
emphasized that the state needs to plan for drier and hotter decades to come.
* Peter Moyle of UCD discussed the impact droughts have on native fish — 67 percent of 
endemic species are found only in California, and seven have gone extinct.  “Every drought cycle, native fishes have less opportunity to recover,” Moyle said. “When the going gets tough, wildlife loses.”
* Frank Loge, also of UCD, focused on how more and better data can help reduce water usage. For example, he helped design a database with information from water utility agencies. When customers were messaged with their water habits, he saw a 5 percent reduction in 

— Reach Elizabeth Case at ecase@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052.



Elizabeth Case



Planning begins for Davis Neighbors’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

Davis is not immune: Are you ready for a big quake?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

6 militants killed in U.S. strike in Somalia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

San Francisco is first to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Sword-attack suspect awaiting trial in Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Tickets still available for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Cuddle up at Project Linus’ meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A3

International folk dancing offered Sundays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Rose garden bricks to be dedicated Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

It’s About Time plays Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park

By Anthony Siino | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Learn about RNA at Science Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Google Glass will be discussed, demonstrated

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Register year-round at Davis Chinese School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



Tesla has state walking a tightrope

By Tom Elias | From Page: A4

Special-needs passengers ignored

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

A cure for Davis’ problems

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

A good use for the MRAP

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

Have the facts before you judge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Marriage vs. male instinct

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



Fruits of their Labor Day

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS boys looking to replicate a big cross country performance

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Life without MacDonald starts Friday for DHS

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Clark recalls his hole-in-one — the first at Davis Golf Course

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD roundup: Aggies edge Quinnipiac in overtime

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Baseball roundup: Aces end River Cats’ season

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

Sports briefs: Hot Shots basketball tryouts coming up

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Junior Blue Devils strong in home debut, winning 3 on the field

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery









Elaine Dracia Greenberg

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5



Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7