Is California still in a drought? The state thinks so. Or maybe we should stop talking about a “drought,” which implies a short term situation beyond our control, and start talking about a water crisis. In May the state upped its delivery of water through the massive state water project to 45 percent of requests. They started the year promising 5% of requests. So this is a good thing, right? Since when is 45% a good thing? The “normal” delivery (over the past 10 years) has been 68% of requests.
Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said “While the increase in deliveries is good news, we will continue to have a water supply crisis until we improve our conveyance system, increase storage and resolve the complex environmental problems of the Delta.”
Solutions? We need to use water, of course, but we are also victims of engineering. The system is designed to direct good rain into storm drains and send it to the ocean, bypassing the soil and groundwater basins. This way we lose enough water every year to supply over a million people. In the words of Dorothy Green, we need to unpave LA!
By turning yards into rain gardens and streets into water recharge facilities, we can ensure we have enough clean water for the future.
We took a small step in that direction with the completion of Elmer Avenue this May. Elmer recharges 16 acre feet a year, which is enough water to replace that used by residents of the street plus a few more households. Plus with their new drought tolerant and native landscaping and education about water conservation, we expect the residents will be using even less water into the future.
We have more pictures on our website.
Elmer Avenue bioswale working to capture and infiltrate rain
A friend who works at JPL clued me in to a website hosting live webcams the USGS has installed at real-time stream-gaging sites around the state, which is even cooler than the graphs I showed you in my post Is It Raining Now? The California Water Science Center currently hosts thirteen webcams around the state, including the Ventura River, Malibu Creek, and Arroyo Seco near Pasadena.
You can even control the webcams, selecting from pre-set views or creating your own, and other images are available, like this one showing flood stage flows in the Arroyo Seco.
The prettiest view has got to be San Pedro Creek near Goleta, which shows a lovely waterfall.
Let me know if you’ve found other webcams allowing us to monitor special places in the watershed.
It’s raining, and with the rain brings the usual mixed feelings (oh boy we need the rain but oh no the traffic is going to be bad) colored by the very real dangers from mud and debris flows in the watersheds burned by the recent fires. The web makes it easy to keep track of weather, but what if you want more specific information? Here are some lesser known web resources to track local rainfall. Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has numerous rain gauges throughout the basin and their site allows you to track rainfall County-wide. Another one of my favorites is the USGS stream gaging stations. You can search by the specific stream gauge number (e.g., Arroyo Seco near Pasadena is #11098000) or click on the map to get real time, hour by hour data. Here is an example of the graph you will see, from the station in the Arroyo Seco.
The final resource I found is a little less useful here in the Los Angeles Basin because there are fewer stations: California Irrigation Management Information System, in the State Department of Water Resources. You have to set up a log in, but once in you can view a variety of weather-oriented information.