drought

Hot Spots

Climate change isn’t uniform. Some parts of the U.S. are seeing conditions that won’t hit elsewhere for decades.

Friday’s Washington Post had a fascinating article about climate change hotspots within the United States.  The largest one was on the Western Slope of the Rockies, which has already seen 2 °C of warming.  The story is a reminder that the impacts of climate change will be global and yet also very much local. Before …

CONTINUE READING

California Appellate Court Upholds Water Board’s Broad Drought Response Authority

Court of Appeal Rejects Water Users’ Legal Challenge to Board’s Emergency Regulations, Temporary Curtailment Orders

California’s Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently upheld the State Water Resources Control Board’s temporary emergency drought response regulations–enacted in 2014-15–as well as related curtailment orders the Board issued to specific water users to implement those regulations.  In doing so, the Water Board rejected a legal challenge agricultural water users brought against …

CONTINUE READING

Bless the Rains Down in Los Angeles

As a wet winter approaches, Los Angeles County focuses on initiatives to capture rainwater and reduce ocean runoff

(Note: I previously wrote a law review article published in 2016 in the Villanova Environmental Law Journal, accessible here, about related policy suggestions for improving rainwater capture in reference to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.) If you live in California, or have been in the state over the last couple weeks, you’ll know that we …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

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, …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING