California Still in Drought?  Yes, No and Maybe — Part 2

News Analysis by Kip Hansen — 30 January 2023

There are claims that despite being flooded, washed away, landslided and buried in snow California is really still in drought. Cliff Mass says that The California Drought is Over. Definitively.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I asked the question: “Is it possible that both claim and counter-claim are true?“ and answered, “Yes, very much so”.  And I told readers how it could be so.

What is the drought situation in California now, as of this week?

If you’ve read Part 1 (and you really should), you will not be surprised that the answer to this question is:

It depends on who you ask

Mark Arax, who writes about California and water, penned an Guest Essay for the NY Times’ Opinion section with the title: “My State Is 1,000 Miles Long, and Not Everyone Living in It Hates the Rain”.  The title gives his take on the rain and the whole piece, full of interesting history, is well worth reading.

The California Department of Water Resources just made the following announcement:

Jan 26, 2023  SACRAMENTO, Calif. –The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced that recent storms will allow the State Water Project (SWP) to boost deliveries to 29 public water agencies serving 27 million Californians. Based on the amount of water captured and stored in recent weeks, DWR now expects to deliver 30 percent of requested water supplies – or 1.27 million acre-feet — in 2023, up from the initial 5 percent announced on December 1.

The allocation increase is the direct result of extreme weather in late December and nine atmospheric rivers in early January that helped fill reservoirs and dramatically increase the Sierra Nevada snowpack. The SWP’s two largest reservoirs (Oroville and San Luis) have gained a combined 1.62 million acre-feet of water in storage — roughly enough to provide water to 5.6 million households for a year. While Water Year 2023 began with below average precipitation, conditions shifted to extreme above average conditions.”

Things to note:  The water department has increased its expected water deliveries by a factor of 6 – they will deliver six times as much water.  But even with that huge increase, it only comes to 30% of requested deliveries. (But that improves upon the miserable previous estimate of 5% of requested.)  That represents the true condition of California’s water supply – demand is always far greater than supply.

As I explained in Part 1, drought is a very complex and complicated topic, and is not just “not enough rain recently”.  There is no doubt that California’s drought situation has vastly improved – they got a lot of rain and a lot of snow in the mountains in the last two months.  But we still cannot answer the question:  “Is California still in drought?” because:

It depends on exactly what you ask and who you ask.

My solution to the conundrum of explaining California’s current drought situation is just to show images of various drought-related indicators from several sources.  Readers are invited to arrive at their own conclusions.  I am well aware that the physical reality on the ground in California will not change based on my or your opinions.

First, what is the long-term average precipitation in California?

This is the 30-year average, one climate period, showing the entire southwest  U.S.A.  I’ll pick out some features, as you need to be aware of this overall pattern to understand today’s California drought maps.

1) The Northwest-most corner of California, the purples,  is a temperate rain-forest, receives over 100 inches of rain per year.

2)  There are several regions, the blues,  that receive over 50 inches of rain with darker blues being 60-70 inches per year.

3)  The greens are moderately wet; southern Sierras, Big Sur region, the high mountains surrounding the LA Basin.

4)  Guesstimating (everything browner-than-yellow) 80% of California is dry to very dry.

Today, if we ask the California Department of Water Resources, we get this answer:

Note:  A 12-month SPEI version.  About 50% of the state is in some sort of drought, still.  The Colorado Desert, southeast-most corner, is still very dry – it got almost no rain in the recent storms.

The U.S. federal site,, gives us this most current view:

Note:  This is current up to five days ago.  Huge difference between this and the image just above from California Water Watch. 

And again,, with its Multi-Indicator Drought Index (MIDI):

Still more disagreement – this shows even part of the Colorado Desert (lower right) as “W2” wet.

California’s stored water resources?  Its major reservoirs:

After all that rain, why aren’t they all full? …or even up to historical averages (green lines) ?  The first answer is exact location.  Not all the rain fell evenly everywhere in California.  Secondly, not every reservoir’s first priority is to retain as much water as possible – they double as flood control devices, and must not be full if-and-when more heavy rain comes.    The general condition is that the reservoirs are in good shape. [ see the California Department of Water Resources statement far above ]

Remember, come April and May, the snowpack begins to melt, sometimes very rapidly.  A very rapid snow melt causes the creeks, streams and rivers to flood  — and the reservoirs must have room for all that extra water.

That leads to California Snowpack:  (see link for larger image)

Statewide averages:  128% of normal for 1 April (end of the snow season – two months still to go in which to gain even more snow) and 214% of normal for this date.  The Southern Sierra, which includes Mount Whitney, is at 255% for this date.  This is water content, not just “feet of snow”.  Skiers care about snow base depth, but the water department cares about water content.

If your interest is in skiing, see this report of snow depths at California ski resorts:  almost all report snow depths of over 100% of normal 1 April averages – with two moths of snow season yet to go.

Now this one was a surprise even to me, the Palmer Drought Index for California.  Take note of the explanation below the excerpted image (taken from the national map).

Groundwater is measured by vertical distance downward to the level to the top of the water column in a water well. Groundwater is very important to Californians, many of whom depend on wells for their home’s drinking water and for California’s farmers and ranchers, who pump water up from wells to irrigate crops or water animals.

Low in the image, just above and a bit to the left of Los Angeles county, is a concentration of pink dots indicating a water levels of greater than 500 feet down until water can be found.  This is the southern San Joaquin Valley.  In total, the valley produces about 13% of California’s agricultural output.  Due to groundwater extraction over the last century,  the valley floor has subsided by 20-30 feet (6 to 10 meters). (Note: After publication, I corrected the title of the image above.)

In speaking to a colleague recently, she presented Lake Mead water level as a “proof” of Global Warming/Climate Change.  The Lake Mead watershed only includes a tiny bit of California.

That  very small part of the Colorado Desert,  within the Colorado River watershed, is below Lake Mead and does not feed into it.

As Cliff Mass clearly explained, and as is widely understood, Lake Mead’s low water levels are almost entirely down to the fact that water withdrawals keep increasing and always exceed water input to the lake.  The two major reservoirs along the Colorado River, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, combined must supply water to over 40 million people.  Phoenix, Arizona alone has added an additional 500,000 people since the turn of the century.  Input into Lake Mead is highly variable and has been increasing ever so slightly.

I offer one last set of images:  California Drought/Wetness since the turn to the 21st Century  and  the same for the last 2,000 years.

Using the eyeball test, we see that California has always been either very dry or pretty wet.  A lot of extreme years, both dry and wet, and so many years in the +/- 20% range. 

That’s California

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

It almost never suffices to grab some likely looking data set off the internet, bash it about until it is compliant, graph it up, and present it as the-truth-the-whole-truth….

Most of the subjects discussed on this blog just aren’t that way in the real physical world. 

Like “drought in California”.

I’d like to read your opinions/conclusions, see any further data inputs you might suggest, and answer any of your questions if I can.  Address your comment to “Kip” if speaking to me.

Thanks for reading,

# # # # #

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Ron Long
January 29, 2023 6:42 am

Nice two part report by Kip. Demand always greatly exceeds supply? And the simple answer is that there is too much demand. However, it is possible to adapt to this by developing additional sources of water, and I don’t mean stealing it from neighboring states. Why aren’t there nuclear desalinization plants in every bay from central to south California? Use pebble bed reactors with thorium 233 and get over the idea that the movie “China Syndrome” was a documentary.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 9:22 am


There’s an even bigger de-sal plant (50,00 acre-ft/year) in Carlsbad. A similar plant was proposed for Huntington Beach, but was shot down by the CA Coastal Commission (grrr).

The city of Las Vegas was considering paying the MWD to build de-sal plants in trade for a transfer of water rights from the MWD to LV.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 11:32 am

There will not be new reservoirs – the killing off of free flowing streams by reservoirs is now politically impossible.

The underlying issue is excess consumption. That can actually be addressed if the population and their politicians ever got serious. Of non-agricultural water demand, most is used for landscape irrigation, not human consumption (drinking, laundry, bathing, cooking, and waste disposal). But everyone wants their expansive green lawns, hedges, trees, and golf courses just like the humid eastern half of the nation. Agriculture and the food supply is important for humans, but at some point choices must be made to supply less to ag if more is needed for human consumption. Perhaps certain crops should not be grown in CA that can be produced more economically in other, wetter parts of the nation.

But nobody wants to get serious, and leaders and their voters keep putting off the days of hard reckoning.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 2:34 pm

The problem is that there are not “many” banning water wasting landscaping in CA, the biggest water using state by far, just a very few.

Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2023 12:22 pm

In our community, the public landscaping is watered using grey water. But that is just our town. And the new homes are not being plumbed for grey water.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 2:40 pm

The water demand for growing cannabis typically exceeds that of commodity crops by nearly double. On average, the researchers found, a cannabis plant consumes an estimated 22.7 liters, or 6 gallons, of water per day during the growing season, which is typically 150 days long from June through October.

Tree nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews are actually some of the most water-intensive crops grown today.

It takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut.

Most walnuts are now produced in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, with more than half of the acreage being located in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Butte, and Sutter Counties. California growers produce 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply,


California’s Almonds Suck as Much Water Annually as Los Angeles Uses in Three Years – Mother Jones

Douglas R. Noble: California’s agricultural water policies are nuts (

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2023 12:20 pm


Not all of us want grass lawns, but the Home Owners’ Associations are adamantly opposed to anything else. They used to be opposed to anything but shake roofs. Finally, in the face of the fire hazard, the State legislature voided such restrictions. Time to do the same with grass.
But the main problem is the population of California has grown phenomenally over the years, but there have been no substantial surface-water retention systems built. Any attempts to do so are blocked by the usual suspects. Or the State is unwilling to spend the money. It is a problem of our own making.

Last edited 1 month ago by Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 2:33 pm

After 25 years of intensive research, adding up to a total of at least 47 minutes, I have discovered the main problem is California nuts.

Not only the nutty people who live in CA, and govern the state, but also the nut farmers, who need a lot of fresh water to grow their nuts.

Growing nuts, in a relatively dry state, is nuts.

Along with having green lawns, like my family had in Fremont, CA when they lived there.

The leftist solution to the fresh water supply problem did not include rain dances, hoping for rain, which would have been scientific. They have a political solution: Make living in CA so miserable that lots of CA residents will move elsewhere. Reducing the demand for fresh water in California. I’m hoping for a Nobel Prize for my California Nuts Theory.

Also waiting for Nobel Prize for my 1997 Climate Change Theory:
“The climate will get warmer, unless it gets colder”. That has been right for the past 25 years, and not even a Nobel Prize participation trophy for me.

Richard Greene
Graduate: Academy of Lame Humor
(Honors: Voted most likely to bomb at a comedy club)

Randy Bork
Reply to  Ron Long
January 29, 2023 7:15 am

As it is sometimes dicussed in economics, almost everything people desire is in a situation where demand exceeds supply [price is the thing that hold demand ‘in check’ to some degree]. I think I read somewhere that this central fact is why some called their field the ‘dismal science.’

Reply to  Randy Bork
January 29, 2023 2:52 pm

As the former writer of the for-profit ECOOMIC LOGIC newsletter, from 1977 to 2020, I can say that economics HAS become a dead discipline.

The Economics discipline has devolved into statistics, models, and hard science envy. Is the profession doing any good, or active harm? Per Bylund joins Jeff and Bob to discuss. This was decribed in a video I watched a few days ago:
Is Economics a Dead Discipline? | Mises Institute

In ECONOMIC LOGIC I reminded subscribers every year that US economists, as a group, had never predicted a recession. And I explained the reason why: If economists never predict a recession, they can be “right” in 9 out of 10 years. And when they are wrong in that one recession year, they won’t lose their job. They can claim “90% accuracy”. But is an economist predicted a recession that did not happen, he or she would be likely to soon need a new job.

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 30, 2023 12:25 pm

I thought that economists had predicted 18 of the last 3 recessions.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 29, 2023 7:30 am

CA could also retain more water by storing it under ground rather than hanging it out to dry in reservoirs.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 3:23 pm

Farm ponds, perhaps one to two acres each, have been used in India with considerable success to recharge ground water and provide water for crop irrigation. They are located, and built, to drain a fairly large area. Being small, many can be constructed without displacing people from their homes, destroying farm land, or covering over extensive natural resources.

Other landscaping approaches have also been used in India, Israel, China, and other parts of the world, especially those with relatively little rainfall. There are many videos about these types of projects.

The basic idea is store the water near where it falls rather than letting it run unused to the sea. You can easily predict the response of California greens to such rational practices.

Reply to  AndyHce
January 30, 2023 12:27 pm

About 15 years ago, the Santa Ana riverbed in Orange county was modified to improve the percolation into the Santa Ana Aquifer. That’s where our water comes from.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  AndyHce
January 30, 2023 2:41 pm

We’ve always called the tail-water pits. I live in an old pasture with waterways. They all channel water into a tail-water pit that’s a few hundred yards southeast of me. It’s not deep enough for fishing but it catches a heck of a lot of water when it rains. Cattle use it but it also works to fill the ground water table.

Where do all the cities dump all their runoff when it storms? Into the sewers or into storm drains? Where do storm drains feed? Into rivers and then to the ocean? Require all cities to provide reservoirs to catch storm drain runoff and some of the water shortages would disappear.

abolition man
Reply to  Ron Long
January 29, 2023 7:34 am

The original California Water Plan envisioned almost twice as much storage capacity as exists currently. The paleo-Greens were able to bring all water projects to a screeching halt about 50 years ago! Then, to make matters worse, the Commiefornia elites decided to encourage the Mexican reconquista by opening the borders and public coffers to all.
Now the population hovers around 40 million, and there is only enough water storage for about 1/3 of that! But nuclear power is verboten, so desalinization is not a viable solution! All in all, it seems to be a conspiracy of dunces, ruling over one of the most propagandized people in the nation, if not the world! I’d wager that a fair sized majority of residents actually believe in CAGW and the other malarkey of the DemoKKKrat Party!

Last edited 1 month ago by abolition man
abolition man
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 2:00 pm

Love that movie, Kip!
I imagine you’ve read “Cadillac Desert,” but I was wondering if you know anyone interested in property fronting on Owens Lake?

Reply to  abolition man
January 29, 2023 2:33 pm

One goes not need to be a paleo green to not want to see any more free flowing rivers dammed up just to water golf courses and large green lawns. Even those streams that were damned up are now naturally silting up behind the dams.

Indeed there is strong sentiment these daysto see some existing dams removed.

Most people want to see nature preserved not destroyed.

The problem here is over consumption by too many people in a desert climate.

abolition man
Reply to  Duane
January 29, 2023 5:49 pm

I’m more in agreement with you than not, but I think that there is still a place for well planned storage projects. I don’t know if you’re familiar with San Luis or Millerton, but to me those are good examples of where proper planning and siting can bring a great deal of value to an otherwise marginal landscape.
As far as removing existing dams, I would be loathe to try and restore Hetch Hetchy after the valley has been flooded for a century, even if there were other sources of water available to those who rely on it at present. Maybe at a future date when the current water and power problems of the state have been corrected, but to remove it without first developing other water sources would be insane!

Reply to  abolition man
January 30, 2023 12:31 pm

Sort of like switching to renewable energy, shutting down nuclear and FF plants, without having done a successful pilot project.

Last edited 1 month ago by Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Duane
January 30, 2023 12:30 pm

Building a damn doesn’t destroy nature – it merely changes the local ecosystem, sometimes for the better.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 30, 2023 2:44 pm

Once the reservoir is full (to whatever level that is) then it doesn’t have to affect downstream stream and river flow very much. Much of CA is semi-arid desert and doesn’t have a large number of year-round flowing streams and rivers to begin with.

Reply to  abolition man
January 30, 2023 12:28 pm

“I’d wager that a fair sized majority of residents actually believe in CAGW and the other malarkey …” I’m not taking that bet – you will win.

Ed Zuiderwijk
January 29, 2023 6:48 am

The Netherlands has a reputation for being a wet place. But the annual precipitation is 85cm, 34”.
It looks to me that large parts of California are wetter than that.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
January 29, 2023 7:24 am

Fort William in Scotland is one of the wettest places I’ve spent any time averages 919mm / 36″ so I’d agree. One caveat is that averages don’t tell the whole story. Fort william is wet virtually every year California is either very wet or dry

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
January 29, 2023 2:55 pm

Never visit Seattle without an umbrella!
We did, and had to buy two overpriced umbrellas there.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
January 29, 2023 6:51 am

Kip, do you have any notion of how long it has been since California built a water reservoir or desalination plant?

It seems both could be important to them.

Last edited 1 month ago by mkelly
Reply to  mkelly
January 29, 2023 6:54 am

That’s a good point, in the UK they haven’t built a new reservoir in over 40 years.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  strativarius
January 29, 2023 7:35 am

The last major reservoir in the UK, Carsington Water, is filled by pumping water from (mainly) the River Derwent and supplies the West Midlands. The Derwent has major reservoirs upstream Howden, Derwent then Ladybower so in times of shortage the Derwent is doing a lot of heavy lifting.
Derwent Reservoir was used for training by the Dambusters (without droppping bouncing bombs)

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 29, 2023 7:52 am

Derwent abstraction strategy…

“Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies (CAMS) set out how we will manage the water resources of a catchment and contribute to implementing the Water Framework Directive. You need a licence from us if you want to abstract more than 20 cubic meters (4,400 gallons) of water per day from a river or stream, reservoir, lake or pond, canal, spring or an underground source. Whether a licence is granted depends on the amount of water available after the needs of the environment and existing abstractors are met and whether the justification for the abstraction is reasonable.”

One day they might wake up to the decades old idea of piping water from north to south, but not any time soon.

Last edited 1 month ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
January 30, 2023 12:33 pm

But did the population expand a great deal, as in California?

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  mkelly
January 29, 2023 9:30 am

The Carlsbad de-sal plant was finished a few years ago, after many years of trying to get regulatory approval. As mentioned in a reply to Kip, a plan for a de-sal plant in Huntigton Beach was shot down by the Coastal Commission.

The most recent reservoir, Diamond Valley, was finished recently, BUT this reservoir is primarily to store water from the Colorado river and state water project. I would be surprised if local runoff contributed more than 5% of the capacity.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 3:02 pm

Thanks. I looking over the list it appears as 1993 was last one. A couple in ‘80’s and several in ‘70’s.

it does seem as evidenced by the list that water storage was a priority.

Reply to  mkelly
January 30, 2023 2:55 am

My last sentence should have said “storage was NOT a priority”.

Reply to  mkelly
January 29, 2023 3:02 pm

The last REGIONAL dam built, the New Melones Reservoir north of Sonora was completed in 1980, about 42 years ago. SACRAMENTO, Calif.

List of all dams and reservoirs in California – Wikipedia

The proposed Sites Reservoir Project will be situated on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, approximately 10 miles west of Maxwell, Calif., in Glenn and Colusa Counties. The Sacramento Valley is a unique region, known for its farming community, rich agricultural benefits, and natural beauty.

The Sites Reservoir would be able to store up to 1.8 million acre-feet of water for the Sacramento River system — an acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons. There’s been a recent shift in moving this project forward, which includes applying for a $2 billion federal loan, which would cover about half of the overall project cost.

New mega reservoir in final planning phase for California (

Reply to  Richard Greene
January 30, 2023 12:36 pm

Be aware that the State of California is projecting a big budget deficit this year, so State money will probably not be available.

January 29, 2023 6:52 am

“It depends on who you ask”

Indeed it does. So, what is the propaganda mainstream is pumping out? (Geddit?)

“10 January 2023

California – one of the driest states in the US – is being inundated with torrential rain and flooding.

And given the decades-long drought in the region, which has led to restrictions on water usage in some areas, you might be wondering if this extreme weather could in some ways be a positive.

But the downpour is unlikely to have a big impact on the drought.

In fact, experts say it would take consecutive years of severe wet weather to reverse it in the long-term.”

areas under severe to extreme drought have slightly shrunk.

You could say it’s another form of negative climate feedback.

Last edited 1 month ago by strativarius
January 29, 2023 7:30 am

thanks for the good info

January 29, 2023 7:45 am

Great article. It sure looks like the drought is over for this year. But two swallows don’t make a summer. Given the long-term fluctuations in California, I’m curious what the next 200 years will look like.

Steve Case
January 29, 2023 8:49 am

“What is the drought situation in California now, as of this week?

It depends on who you ask”

Watching what they do is a better indicator of California’s water issues.

     U.S.News February 2022

     Major Hurdle Cleared in Plan to Demolish 4 California Dams

     Federal regulators have issued a draft environmental impact
     statement saying there are significant benefits to a plan to
     demolish four massive dams on Northern California’s Klamath
     River to save imperiled migratory salmon.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 1:08 pm

What is the problem regarding building salmon ladders?

Steve Case
Reply to  Kip Hansen
February 1, 2023 9:09 am

Since most of those dams hydroelectric ….. Oh I see your Enviros want a free river post below. What they really want is for the world to be one large national park that they can enjoy while jet setting between points of interest. Was that an over the top exaggeration? Sue me.

Rud Istvan
January 29, 2023 9:01 am

Kip, excellent part 2. As a larger lesson about California water complexities, take all ‘official’ stuff with a large dose of salt. Especially concerning heavily agenda laden topics like climate.
CA water situation has at least two ‘man made’ major components.

  1. The last CA storage reservoir was completed in 1980, yet CA population has grown very significantly since. Self inflicted water wound.
  2. Thanks to federal milk price support structure (a function of distance from Wisconsin) CA has the largest dairy farming in the US, requiring 5.5 million acres of very water thirsty alfalfa. In a sane world, CA would import dairy from places better suited to dairy farming like Wisconsin. And we would not be paying for federal cold storage of surplus 220 million pounds of butter and 1.4 billion pounds of cheese, per the latest USDA numbers.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 30, 2023 12:39 pm

But the dairy farms in California will go away because of:
(1) Drought; and
(2) Cows produce methane
I have read that some cattle farms are shutting down and moving their herds out of state.

January 29, 2023 10:33 am

Kip…this is Cliff Mass. I think you are making some interpretative errors in this write-up. For example, the SPEI is integrative over time and includes temperature. Over the past years, much of CA has been relatively dry and warm…something picked up by SPEI. But everything has changed with massive precipitation. The soils are quite moist where SPEI shows very dry conditions. This is meaningless. SPEI does not reflect the huge changes of the past month.

Showing the USDA Drought Monitor is also without value…it is a highly subjective graphic and also attempts (wrongly) to integrate over time.

Everyone has to be careful in looking at fundamental measures of what is happening NOW (e.g., soil moisture, snowpack, reservoir levels) and not temporally integrative measures that can be very deceptive.

Finally, I should note that the latest extended forecasts show a lot more precip over CA…cliff

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 7:35 pm

Kip–I would argue that this is exactly what we should not do. We need to lead with facts, not simply repeat some of the nonsense that is out there. We need to show what is untruthful or without basis. If we simply show their material, we are aiding the dissemination of incorrect information…cliff

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 30, 2023 12:44 pm

I find both of your positions very valuable – educational. It is important to be very clear about what is meant by “drought” and very clear as to the many failings of all the different “official” statements. What I do know for sure, here in central Orange county, the ground is very wet, and there was some rain overnight. I’m glad to hear from Cliff Mass that there is more rain on the way.

Last edited 1 month ago by Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 29, 2023 11:19 am

The challenge for California ever since the beginning of the 20th century has been that the parts of the state that have the highest water demands, both potable water for direct human use and irrigation for agricultural production, are in the driest parts of the state, while the wettest parts of the state, in the north and in the Sierras are the least developed and have the lowest water demands. Consequently California officials, ag interests, and development interests have engaged in a constant struggle to import water from wet areas to the high demand dry areas. Which of course has nothing to do with “climate change”.

The climate in CA just keeps chugging along, with intermittent dry spells and wet spells, producing on average the same amount of rainfall per year over long timeframes. Just as it is throughout the entire arid southwest of the United States, over use of the water resource is the controlling feature of the arid climate of that quarter of our nation. It just goes with the territory, literally … and nothing can be done about it unless and until water demand is reduced.

Last edited 1 month ago by Duane
Ireneusz Palmowski
January 29, 2023 12:25 pm

SSW develops and the stratospheric polar vortex disintegrates from the upper stratosphere.
This could mean more precipitation in California, including snow.
comment image

January 29, 2023 12:27 pm

Desalination plants in California? Carlsbad never lived up to its’ rated capacity and the cost of the water exceeded promises. Santa Barbara was built, went fallow for years, and it takes two years (not my guess) to bring back fully on line. Desal plants are energy hogs and the brine returned to the ocean is not good for the environment. Desal plants are for areas that have no/little access to fresh water, only ocean water. California needs to make choices …..
less people, less agriculture during times of drought, or more storage. It has the fresh water though it comes in spurts (so to speak).

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 29, 2023 2:32 pm

Sorry Kip, I’m not a fan of desal water in California. CA has enough fresh water if it would manage it properly. CA only bemoans droughts when they’re in them and forgets about the future. Desal water is expensive and a continuing burden whether the water is needed or not. CA is currently in a self made slow moving train wreck with it’s energy needs and desalination requires lots of it. Drinking water is not the problem with only 20% of it used by households. Desalination plants in CA are nothing but long term guaranteed money makers with locked in contracts for the corporations and elites who finance it ….. special interests groups.

Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
January 30, 2023 12:48 pm

With regard to the brine, where did the salt come from to start with? The problem is not that the plants are returning the salt to the ocean, but the concentration of the salt in the outflow. A method of distributing the salt output into lower concentration flows might be a really good development.

Last edited 1 month ago by Retired_Engineer_Jim
Smart Rock
January 29, 2023 1:03 pm

If you live in southeast England, and most especially in London, a lot of the water that comes out of your taps has already been used, sometimes up to four times (if you get your water from the River Lee system). It’s been through municipal water systems, been drunk, excreted, washed laundry, hosed down storefronts, etc. etc. and gone back into the river after passing through sewage treatment plants. This was the case when I grew up there in the 1950s and I can’t imagine that they managed to find a new source of pristine water since then.

Nobody complains about it, though. It’s a system that grew up organically over a couple of centuries, and it shows what can be done to supply water to a large population in a rather dryish part of the world.

January 29, 2023 2:15 pm

This will be the first article on tomorrow morning’s list of the best articles i read. Today’s list was done by about 9am. The two Hansen articles on CA droughts were the best I’ve read on the subject in 25 years.

Unfortunately, once leftists have a boogeyman, like CA droughts, I believe they will never let it go. Similar to climate change — the UAH global temperature average shows no warming in over 8 years in spite of the largest increase of CO2 in history. That fact has had no effect on global warming scaremongering. It’s more hysterical than ever.

Leftists never let a boogeyman go to waste. And if they have to ‘adjust” the official data to support their CO2 is evil narrative, they will. Usually, they say whatever they want to say, even when it does not match their own “official” data. Until us pesky climate realists give them a hard time. Then the inconvenient 1940 to 1975 global cooling, with CO2 increasing, as reported in 1975, mysteriously “disappeared”.

Now that expert climate realist Hansen has expertly discussed CA droughts, I can only wonder if the official data will require some “adjustments”? There probably would have to be lots of similar articles first, before historical data “adjustments” were made. So far droughts don’t seem to be a popular subject among climate realists. They can be dry reading.

So leftists will probably follow their usual strategy: Say anything bad about CO2 and climate change, and don’t worry about fact checking, because the riff raff (the general public) will never look up source data, and the mass media will never question us. The usual appeal to authority logical fallacy, and confirmation bias, will work for us again and again.

I‘d say the new authority on California droughts is Kip Hansen!

PS: I always thought living in California caused one’s IQ to drop one point a year, based on the work of “social scientist” Truman Capote, and That belief seemed to apply to my family, after they all moved from New York to California after I moved from New York to Michigan. Apparently, Mr. Hansen is immune. And my family, all leftists, moved out of CA more than 10 years ago. It was too far left for them!

“It’s a scientific fact that if you stay in California, you lose one point of your IQ every year.” Truman Capote

Daily list of the best climate science articles I’ve read every morning is at: Honest Climate Science and Energy

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
January 29, 2023 2:54 pm

Very nice.

MIke McHenry
January 29, 2023 2:56 pm

California’s real problem is population increase. In 1950 it was 10 million and now 40 million in a semiarid environment

January 29, 2023 3:40 pm

Demand always exceeds supply. Perth Australia has had a population increase from approx. 900,000 in 1980 to 2.1 million in 2020. We have two desalination plants and are contemplating a third. We are bombarded with TV ads on saving water. All the ads blame climate change and none of them mention population increase. To be fair, climate change (natural) is partly to blame as Perth rainfall is slightly decreasing but as is frequently mentioned on WUWT we are Never given a balanced view.

January 29, 2023 8:56 pm

Juan Brown at the Blancolirio video blog has a great overview of some of the same data from California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in his video released 1/21/2023 with flight video filmed on 1/11/2023.

Great overview of the northern California water system, recent improvements, and plans for future changes.

The most interesting section is the planned overflow area in the Sacramento river flood plain. This allows for aquifer recharge and takes pressure off the Sacramento dikes. See at 16:30 in the video.

California Flood Drought Update 21 Jan 2023

This may be a good story tip.

California Drought Flood Jan 21 2023.jpg
January 30, 2023 11:13 am

Nothing depends on who you ask once you are an adult, unless you are talking to a judge.

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