An innovative restoration project at Lakeside Farms is a hopeful demonstration of cooperation in a region that has seen bitter fights between tribes, farmers and wildlife advocates over who gets scarce water.
California’s water use jumped dramatically in March, state officials said Tuesday, as one of the driest stretches on record prompted a wave of homeowners to start watering their lawns earlier than usual in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pleas for conservation amid a severe drought.
The water supply for Las Vegas has marked a milestone, with a water intake breaking the surface of drought-depleted Lake Mead and the activation of a new pumping facility to draw water from deeper in the crucial Colorado River reservoir.
Andrew Schwartz, manager of the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory for the University of California Berkeley, says researchers across the West are using outdated models and measurements to predict drought.
Across the Klamath Basin, water is drying up in aquatic ecosystems home to endemic endangered species, along with several national wildlife refuges meant to support the bulk of western North America’s migratory birds. Native American tribes, farmers and environmental groups are engaged in a bitter tug-of-war that signals future water conflicts throughout the West.
Farmers who rely on a federal irrigation project on the California-Oregon border will get one-seventh of the Klamath River water they would receive in a wetter year as historic drought grips the U.S. West.
There was a major drought last year that shortened crop seed supply. Now, a deepening drought this spring paired with a dearth of forage for cattle, is causing a Western-wide run on crop seed. Meanwhile, hay is in short supply. And Northwest cattle operators are surveying their empty, dried-up watering holes, calculating how much grass they’ll have this spring.