drought

The World’s Looming Water Crisis

Climate Change Worsens Chronic Water Shortages for One-Quarter of Earth’s Population

The World Resources Institute recently released a disturbing report chronicling increased, dire water shortages around the globe that threaten millions of the earth’s inhabitants.  Climate change is a major contributing factor.  Public health crises, social unrest and global political conflicts are the inevitable consequences if the problem is not addressed successfully–and soon. “17 Countries, Home …

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Making Key Policy Decisions in Advance of Droughts

Part 6 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities.  This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts. My recent posts have explored why the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) should develop a contingency-based framework to support its drought decisions …

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Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment

Part 5 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

During a drought, California’s limited water supplies should be allocated transparently, efficiently, and predictably in accordance with the priorities that flow from state and federal law.  But what does this mean in practice? What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed?  California water rights law says that certain …

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A Contingency-Based Framework to Support Drought Decision Making

Part 4 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In my last post, I outlined actions the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) can take to improve its future drought response capabilities. Our core recommendation is for the Board to bring greater predictability, timeliness, and effectiveness to water rights administration and oversight during droughts by proactively developing a contingency-based framework to support its drought …

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Actions to Improve California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

Part 3 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In California, the next drought is always looming on the horizon.  While we don’t get advance warning of when a drought will occur, how long it will last, or how severe it will be, we do have advance knowledge that drought planning and preparation are important.  First, we know water management during droughts can have …

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Water Rights Administration and Oversight During Past California Droughts

Part 2 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In the first post in this series, I talked about why it’s important for the state of California to spend time preparing for future droughts even in wet years like this one.  This post examines some of the lessons from past droughts that can inform these preparations. Past droughts have stress-tested California’s water management institutions, …

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Why It’s Important to Prepare for Drought During a Deluge

Part 1 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities.  And yet, they need to be.  In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can …

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The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in …

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A Thanksgiving Day Reflection

Thoughts about the impacts of extreme events and climate change on food security, and hopes for the Paris negotiations

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude for the food and community we share. But as many of us feast with loved ones today, our gratitude might also prompt reflection about the sources of our food and, more generally, the fragility of the environment. This seems especially appropriate, as Native American tribes are among those most …

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Dueling California Drought Relief Bills Debated on Capitol Hill

Stark Differences Emerge Between Competing House and Senate Bills

What can and should the federal government do to assist the State of California in weathering the worst drought in recorded state history? While the U.S. House of Representatives is embroiled in a chaotic political debate over selection of a new House Speaker, the more deliberate consideration of new legislation continues apace in the Senate. …

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