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Commentary: Californians Need to Do More to Prepare for Wet Years

By Letitia Grenier, Ellen Hanak

Climate change is supercharging the extremes of drought and flood in California. But our infrastructure and institutions remain woefully underprepared for rising flood risk and increasingly erratic rainfall. It’s time to take this threat—and this opportunity—seriously and accelerate preparations.

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A Look Back at 2023’s Volatile Year in Water

By Letitia Grenier

Volatility was the name of the game in 2023, as drought-weary California suddenly found itself inundated by atmospheric rivers—and the changes kept coming. We look back on California’s weird (and sometimes wonderful) year in water.

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Addressing Groundwater Overdraft in the Sacramento Valley

By Spencer Cole, Kyle Greenspan, Andrew Ayres

As the Sacramento Valley seeks to bring its groundwater basins into balance under SGMA, the valley’s groundwater sustainability agencies recently submitted plans to manage overdraft. Do the numbers add up? Our researchers take a look.

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A Better Way to Promote Urban Water Conservation

By David Mitchell, Ellen Hanak

Californians have been making great strides in water conservation in recent years. Now the State Water Board is considering new urban water use regulations whose statewide costs would far exceed their benefits—and significantly impact affordability. Are there better approaches? We take a look.

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Video: Stewarding California’s Wet Years

By Sarah Bardeen

Wet weather brought relief to our parched state last winter. And while full reservoirs are great, is there room to improve California’s wet year management? At our fall conference last week, three panels of experts gave a resounding yes—and then offered insights on how to improve. Read our recap!

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Are Carbon Offsets Actually Working?

By Sarah Bardeen, Caitlin Peterson

In a world that urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon offsets have emerged as one possible solution. We asked PPIC adjunct fellow Van Butsic, a cooperative extension specialist at UC Berkeley who recently studied offsets for a carbon management firm, to tell us more.

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Measuring Groundwater Overdraft in the Sacramento Valley

By Spencer Cole, Kyle Greenspan, Andrew Ayres

As the Sacramento Valley works to bring its groundwater basins into balance, we review the valley’s groundwater sustainability plans to understand how they’re estimating overdraft in their basins—and to see just how much overpumping they found.

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Seasonal Weather Predictions Are Elusive in California

By Sarah Bardeen

California urgently needs to improve its precipitation forecasting: this could help the state better manage its water supply and prepare for disasters, among other things. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, says Dr. Xianan Jiang, a UCLA researcher. We asked him to tell us more.

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The Weird Weather of 2023: Better Get Used to It

By Jeffrey Mount, Gokce Sencan, Michael Dettinger

Water Year 2023 comes to an end on September 30. For most weather-watchers, this was an unusual year, with very wet conditions following several very dry years—but are the frequency and intensity of these variations increasing as the planet’s temperature rises? And if so, what might be the implications for water management? We take a look.

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Video: Managing Water and Farmland Transitions in the San Joaquin Valley

By Sarah Bardeen

For the past seven years, the PPIC Water Policy Center has been researching how the San Joaquin Valley can adapt to a future with less water. On September 20, we held a special half-day event that drew together an array of growers, water managers, agency staff, and others to discuss how to best manage the changes ahead. Read our writeup—and watch the videos!

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