The Department of Water Resources held a media briefing yesterday to herald the launch of a new data mapping tool called California Water Watch, dubbed California’s drought monitor. The website provides real-time information not only on precipitation, but also heat waves impacting evaporation, groundwater levels, stream flows into reservoirs, soil moisture content and the dryness of vegetation—factors that played an outsized role in water loss last year.
Along with the website, a new data portal for land subsidence shows how sinking continued in 2021, though at a slower pace than during the 2012-16 drought. Satellite monitoring recorded about a foot of subsidence in some areas of the San Joaquin Valley, with a few inches less in the Sacramento Valley.
New long-term weather forecasting technology and practices to better capture rain from atmospheric rivers are also a priority. And through a new partnership with the state climatologist, DWR will be incorporating more climate modeling into their monthly outlook for the water year.
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Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa of the Sacramento Valley called in to join the conversation. He argued the state is releasing more water than needed to control salinity in the Delta and should preserve more storage in the critically low Oroville and Shasta reservoirs.
Meanwhile, the California Water Commission penned a lengthy op-ed in five newspapers ahead of a hearing Wednesday about the next steps for Prop. 1 funding, amid backlash the commission has been moving too slowly.
The commission chair and vice chair outlined the many pieces of the approval process and argued the commission is ready to advance proposals like Sites Reservoir, but the project proponents are in control of the schedule.
“Things are getting done. Progress is being made. The Commission is carrying out the voters’ intent,” they write.