Water is for Fightin’

Faced with last month’s call to leave more water for fish and wildlife, San Francisco started a fight for water, authoring a guest editorial stating “The consequences of these cutbacks potentially could cripple our Bay Area economy.” In a separate action that spreads the water fight to a vast watershed that supplies southern California and the Bay Area, the California State Water Board said “scientific information indicates that restoration of more natural flow functions is needed now to halt and reverse the species declines”.

Our rainy season is off to a good start. In October, we received 1.72″ of rain, more than twice the normal .76″.

With cooling temperatures and rain, native plants are reviving after the hot and dry summer. Shown above, a California polypody (polypodium californicum) shakes off summer dormancy in late October, sending up fiddleheads in a thicket of snowberry (symphoricarpos albus). Both grow in the deep shade of a California live oak (quercus agrifolia), and all are California native plants.

Los Altos Weather

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, our October rainfall of 1.72″ was more than twice normal, breaking a streak of four months with zero rain.

October rain more than twice normal
October rain more than twice normal
Cumulative rainfall jumps to 63% from 61%
Cumulative rainfall jumps to 63% from 61%

As usual, our weather starts to cool in October.

Daytime highs normal
Daytime highs normal

Local Groundwater

Groundwater in the aquifer under the Santa Clara Valley is rising this year, despite five years of drought. We are recharging the aquifer at more than twice the rate of the past 5 years, while pumping for local customers is down 30%. Helped by water imported from watersheds outside our valley, our county is replacing water to the local aquifer faster than we’re pumping it out, so the groundwater level is rising in the fifth year of drought.

2016 recharge higher than pumping (source: Santa Clara Valley Water District)
2016 recharge higher than pumping, October 2016 (source: Santa Clara Valley Water District)

Water to halt species decline

In response to the editorial from San San Francisco claiming crippling cutbacks, the guest editorial How to revive a dying delta says that the San Francisco claims are overstated and calls for discussion about how urban and farming users could share the reduction and whether the urban reduction could be handled through conservation.

Illustrating the long-term problem for fish, “A major milestone is expected by the end of the month, when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the stretch of the San Joaquin River will be flowing year-round for the first time in more than 60 years.” The San Joaquin River is the major river of the watershed draining the southern Sierras, where San Francisco draws its water.

The State Water Board set the stage to cut back water sent to southern and central California, releasing a science report stating “A significant and compelling amount of scientific information indicates that restoration of more natural flow functions is needed now to halt and reverse the species declines—ideally in an integrated fashion with physical habitat improvements.”

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charley280

I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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