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Water in the West

Felicity Barringer on KJZZ’s ‘The Show’

About 180 miles south of San Diego, in the arid region of Baja California in an area called the San Quentin valley, there are seemingly endless fields full of strawberries.

It’s a region that’s already incredibly dry, and a crop that’s incredibly thirsty. Despite this, they are so profitable, farmers there won’t stop growing them anytime soon.

So with an ongoing drought and climate change on the horizon, how will the industry sustain itself?

Planning for America’s Water Infrastructure Needs

A paper based on ideas participants discussed at the conference “Planning for America’s Water Infrastructure Needs,” namely the five challenges that all water managers face and three particular water infrastructure issues: the opportunities afforded by considering water systems as “loops,” the importance of resiliency in response to climate change, and the reforms in federal, state, and private funding mechanisms that can facilitate water infrastructure financing. 

Evaluating Environmental Governance along Cross-Border Electricity Supply Chains with Policy-Informed Life Cycle Assessment: The California–Mexico Energy Exchange

This paper presents a “policy-informed” life cycle assessment of a cross-border electricity supply chain that links the impact of each unit process to its governing policy framework. An assessment method is developed and applied to the California–Mexico energy exchange as a unique case study.

Stanford Study Probes Psychological Resistance to Recycled Water

Stanford researchers have found that Californians’ views on recycled water depend heavily on how that water is eventually used.

The study, which appeared in the August 2017 issue of Water and Environment Journal, revealed that psychological resistance to using treated effluent can be reduced, to some extent, by explaining the treatment process to people and informing them of an existing program in Orange County.

Dry Groundwater Wells in the Western United States

Debra Perrone and co-author Scott Jasechko validate concerns of many California homeowners in areas like Ceres and Denair that domestic wells are more susceptible to drying. The researchers analyzed millions of well depth records in 17 western states and found that during 2013 to 2015, about 1 in 30 wells were dry. Further, dry wells tended to be concentrated in rural communities. In some rural areas, the research suggests that as many as 1 in 5 wells were dry at certain times.

America’s Biggest Water Users – Farmers – Learn to Use Less of It

In the Southwest and beyond, irrigation technology and other steps such as planting 'cover crops' to enrich the soil are making a difference. The third article in a series on solving water challenges in the American West.

Reporting for this story was supported by a media fellowship from the Bill Lane Center for the American West.

For Water Users on Colorado River, a Mind-set of Shared Sacrifice

A wet winter is easing water strains in the Southwest, but the longer-term outlook is generally hotter and drier. States now have that in mind in water bargaining. The sixth article in a series on solving water challenges in the American West. 

Reporting for this story was supported by a media fellowship from the Bill Lane Center for the American West.

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