In the 1980s, "Hiware Bazar, a village tucked deep inside the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Back then, the hamlet was a crime-ridden backwater, desperately poor and largely abandoned by government agencies," writes Puja Changoiwala in FERN's latest story, published with Grist.
On Tuesday, the Interior Department’s new water restrictions for the Colorado River offered a warning: If stakeholders fail to make further cuts in usage, one of the nation’s most vital watersheds could face, according to assistant secretary Tanya Trujillo, “catastrophic collapse.” Robert Glennon, one of the country’s leading experts in water policy and law, discusses what it means and what comes next. (No paywall)
Faced with the worst drought in 1,200 years and a dwindling water supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a new, long-term water strategy for California at a press conference on Thursday. His plan, he said, would prepare the state for a hotter, drier future.
So far, 2022 is California’s driest year on record — but that hasn’t stopped residents from watering their lawns. According to the state’s Department of Water Resources, Californians used almost 19 percent more water last March than they did in March two years ago, despite the state’s deepening drought and increasingly strapped reservoirs. Residents also used more water last March than they have in any March since 2015. (No paywall)
California’s San Joaquin Valley is getting drier, hotter and more polluted as climate change intensifies, and its communities will need to embrace more equitable agricultural strategies in order to survive, according to local experts and political leaders.(No paywall)
Some of California’s agricultural areas are bracing for water cuts later this year after the chair of the state’s Water Resources Control Board said escalating drought conditions will require the state to prepare for the “worst-case scenario.”
As California enters its third year of drought, pressure is mounting for lawmakers to update the state’s antiquated water laws. On Thursday, a coalition of legal experts and retired state officials released a report with a list of suggested reforms, which they say would make California’s water politics more equitable and sustainable as climate change gets worse. If implemented — a major if — many of the reforms would provide a check on the state’s massive agricultural industry, which sucks up some 80 percent of all the water used in California.
An onslaught of rain and snow has pulled most of California out of exceptional drought, but experts warn that the state’s dry spell is far from over. Officials issued emergency water regulations this week — including a controversial exemption for agriculture — even as the northern part of the state braced for possible flooding from winter storms.(No paywall)
One-third of agricultural land worldwide, more than 2 million square miles in all, suffers from soil degradation caused by human use, said an FAO report on the mounting pressure on land and water for food production. "The pressures on soil, land and water are now intense and many are stressed to a critical point," wrote FAO director general Qu Dongyu in a foreword.
As part of an administration initiative, the USDA will consider including reused water, also known as recycled or reclaimed water, in its land stewardship and community development programs. "Water reuse is going to be how agriculture continues to increase productivity while decreasing our environmental footprint," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday.
During a visit Wednesday to California's Central Valley, President Trump announced the completion of a regulatory review that will send more water from the San Joaquin Valley to farms and cities in the southern half of California. Environmentalists say the new allocation of water poses a risk to endangered fish and other native species.
More than one-third of the world’s population lives in water-scarce regions, and by mid-century, half of the projected 9.8 billion people on Earth “could be at risk due to water stress,” said a report out today from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
A decade or more ago, farmers in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado began to run out of irrigation water. The solution, after years of court cases and finger-pointing, was an agreement to raise the price of water, says the NPR blog The Salt.
"Simple and familiar conservation practices, if applied in the right places," are key to reducing worrisome levels of nitrates and other types of farm runoff in the drinking water of rural communities, says the Environmental Working Group. In a report, "Trouble in farm country," the green group said stewardship of all working land should be a requirement for growers who want farm and crop insurance subsidies.
The USDA will open a three-month enrollment period on Nov. 14 for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays farmers and ranchers for making soil, water and wildlife conservation a part of their daily operations. A small-farm group says producers should submit an initial application if they're interested in the program, but it says USDA has yet to fully describe its changes to CSP.
A wetter fall has convinced California regulators to ease up on water restrictions for farmers and ranchers in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and its watersheds, says Reuters. A foot of rain fell on the northern half of the state in October, making it the second wettest on record in the northern Sierra Nevadas. The south remained dry.
In California, so-called dry farmers say that they’ve avoided the worst of the drought and produced more flavorful crops by keeping their plants thirsty, reports Ari LeVaux in FERN’s latest story, produced with National Geographic's blog, The Plate.
On paper, Republican Rep. David Valadao should be at a disadvantage, running for re-election in a U.S. House district that is 57 percent Latino and where Democrats have a 17-point advantage in voter registration. Yet, in the Central Valley of California, "the nation's most productive agricultural region, the drought drives everything," says the Los Angeles Times.
Seven major food companies, with $124 billion in combined annual revenues, will work with growers around the world to reduce water use and pollution, said World Wildlife Fund and Ceres, a nonprofit group promoting sustainable food. The companies, Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, Kellogg, PepsiCo and WhiteWave Foods, will submit detailed sustainable sourcing and water stewardship plans as part of the AgWater Challenge.