‘Rice-enomics’ in a drought
By Brad Hooker
When herbicides swept from farms into rivers, George Tibbitts adopted better water-management strategies. With field burning phased out, the Colusa County farmer, like many rice growers, flooded his fields to dissolve the straw remaining after harvest. When water was scarce, he fallowed. But now that a possible fourth year of drought threatens his crucial water allocations, Tibbitts is at a loss.
His deep ties to UC Davis have led him to harvest some of the highest yields in the state. They will also help Tibbitts take on what will likely be his most challenging year.
Read the entire ‘Rice-enomics’ story here.
DWR analisis details how drought is sucking away CA's groundwater
A new study by the State Department of Water Resources finds that hundreds of new wells dug this year have contributed to drawing down water to historically low levels, causing some land to sink.
The report also details gaps in monitoring several major groundwater basins, exposing the "pump as you please" issue.
Read the full DWR groundwater report here.
Expanding California’s water supply: You can’t store what isn’t there
California’s approval of a $7.5 billion water bond has bolstered prospects for expanding reservoirs and groundwater storage, but the state can effectively use no more than a 15 percent increase in surface water storage capacity, according to a new UC Davis analisis.
The report,“Integrating Storage in California’s Changing Water System,” found that exceeding this expansion runs into limits of available precipitation and the ability to transport water.
“Reservoir storage does not equate to water supply,” said Jay Lund, lead author of the report and director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
Ranchers encouraged to become spotters for U.S. Drought Monitor
Farmers and ranchers attending a drought workshop at UC Davis were told their participation is key to making sure data displayed on U.S. Drought Monitor maps is accurate.
Details in this Drought Watch report.
Year-to-year water savings: 20 percent
UC Davis has saved 80 million gallons of water since Jan. 1, a reduction of more than 20 percent from the year before. Amid the state’s three-year drought, Gov. Jerry Brown has asked all institutions of higher learning to reduce water use by at least that much by the year 2020.
“We’ve done it already, and we hope to do even better next year,” said Cary Avery, an associate director in Campus Planning and Community Resources.
He said the campus has 10 years of experience with “smart” control irrigation, and this allowed for an immediate cut of 20 percent or more in turf watering except on fields that are used for athletics.
Continued analysis will allow for irrigation cuts of up to 50 percent in certain areas, depending on tree irrigation needs.
“New technologies now also allow our team to further refine irrigation settings with more site-specific information, including plant and soil type, and sun exposure,” Avery said.
Did you know…
You can help the campus save water by reporting leaks, broken fixtures, sprinkler malfunctions and other water waste to Facilities Management?
New UC Davis housing complex saves water and energy
More than 1,300 students are experiencing the latest in sustainability as residents of the new Tercero North Residence Halls this year.
The complex features a water and air supply system heated with steam.
Drought busters include a 30 percent savings for inside water, and a 50 percent reduction in outside water required for landscaping.
Plus, all buildings are individually metered for water and energy use.
When in drought, drink beer
Who is the most water stingy? - Beer brewers or wine makers?
In this drought, it’s all about the beer, according to Charlie Bamforth, distinguished professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis:
That’s less water than it takes to process wine. Chik Brenneman is the winery manager and winemaker for the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “Within the industry, it takes five volumes of water to make one volume of wine, he says. “That can become a significant impact.”
For breweries, Bamforth says the more beer you make, the more efficient the water use. Check out the rest of the story in this Drought Watch report.
Current California reservoir levels
In migrant camp and beyond, California drought brings a familiar desperation (National Geographic)
Drought brought permanent changes to California water policy in 2014 (Contra Costa Times)
California drought brings smaller harvests, more hunger among farmworkers (San Jose Mercury News)
Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, can discuss the impacts of drought on California’s water supply.
Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics, can talk about the economic effects of drought on agriculture.
Thomas Harter is a hydro-geologist and expert on groundwater supplies, and on how human activities and agriculture affect groundwater quality.