Tag Archives: California

Farm To Water Table

California repurposes farmland to save its water supply.

By Lisa Owens Viani

Orchards planted in the old Tulare Lake bed were flooded in atmospheric river storms.Ken James/California Department of Water Resources
Orchards planted in the old Tulare Lake bed were flooded in atmospheric river storms. Photo by Ken James/California Department of Water Resources.

Last winter, 31 atmospheric rivers drenched California after an extended drought, filling the state’s reservoirs to the brim for the first time in years and enabling the state’s two main surface water supply systems—which bring fresh water from the mountains to thirsty cities and farms via a complex network of reservoirs, canals, and pipes—to provide all of their promised water allocations. Massive, long-disappeared wetlands such as Tulare Lake in the southern San Joaquin Valley reemerged, and other parts of the valley were still underwater in late spring. But despite the soaking, the state continues to plan for a hotter, drier future, including ways to recharge parched aquifers. “This year was an exception to the rule,” says Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist and manager of the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’re in an aridifying climate and things will just continue to get drier.” Continue reading Farm To Water Table

Toward Reclamation

This article is also available in Spanish

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta,  where five major waterways converge, steps forward thanks to a new National Heritage Area designation.

By Timothy A. Schuler 

On August 29, 2005, the world saw what happened when a levee failed. A Category 3 hurricane slammed the Gulf Coast, 169 linear miles of federally constructed levees collapsed, and nearly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, killing almost 1,000 people, the majority of them African American and over the age of 65. Continue reading Toward Reclamation

Interview: Fire at the Doorstep

The Los Angeles-based designer Greg Kochanowski researches wildfire mitigation close to home.

By Timothy A. Schuler

Greg Kochanowski documented the loss of his own home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 110 of 217 houses in Seminole Springs, California. Photo by GK.

Earth is a water planet. It is also, as Stephen J. Pyne has written, a fire planet. The Earth “has held fires as long as plants have lived on land,” Pyne recently wrote in Yale Environment 360. To remove fire from landscapes that have coevolved with it “can be as ruinous as putting fire into landscapes that have no history of it. Continue reading Interview: Fire at the Doorstep