US Geological Survey

Gaze across the mountains of the Northwest these days and you may notice an unusual number of dead firs, pines and other conifer trees scattered among the green ones. Drought is usually considered the prime culprit. But recent research suggests the damage that has historically been done to conifer forests by routine dry spells is being compounded by climate change.


There's no place like home, but home is looking different over time. 

Oregon and California are both home to unique flora and fauna, and the flora is displaying notable changes. 

Susan Harrison from the University of California-Davis studies plant diversity, and she notices less of that diversity as drought and climate change take root in the region. 


If you're looking for rainfall comparisons between this year and last year, try this one: Redding got 15 more inches rain of since October 1st than in the previous year.  FIFTEEN inches. 

But many a meteorologist points out that the El Niño rains were not evenly distributed: much of Southern California is still experiencing drought conditions. 

Even so, some drought restrictions are being lifted.  The Bay Institute takes major exception to actions by the state Water Resources Control Board and other entities. 

NW California Sees Drought Improvement

Jun 2, 2016

The extreme northwest portion of the state, just north of San Francisco to Crescent City and east along the Oregon border, accounts for the portion of California where there is no drought.

California's Water Supply At Risk From Warmer Winters

Feb 15, 2016
Olivia Allen-Price/KQED

Any sign of precipitation in the forecast is a welcome sight for Californians these days. But with temperatures expected to be above normal this winter, California’s snowpack may not reach the heights it could.


We expect water to come out of the faucet when we turn the handle. 

But the task of providing water gets harder in a drought, and our region has been living with drought conditions for several years. 

A national awareness campaign called "Imagine a Day Without Water" brings together a number of water agencies and interested groups to press the case for wise use and conservation this week (October 6-8). 

Amy Quinton/CPB

California’s drought is having a devastating effect on its forests. Aerial surveys around the state show more than 20 million dead trees so far. And the drought has a partner in crime – the pine beetle. If this deadly combination continues, it could drastically change California’s forested landscape. 

Penguin Books

The California drought garners lots of headlines, but it's not the only place in the country concerned about water supplies.

Kansas and the states around it sit atop the Ogallala Aquifer, a critically important water source. 

And Julene Bair's ancestral family farm drew water from the aquifer, by the hundreds of millions of gallons every year. 

Her story of returning to the land and coming to grips with her life and its impact is told in her book The Ogallala Road. 


We're not even halfway through the summer, and drought concerns are rising, even in normally well-watered parts of Oregon.

Junction City recently had to declare a "moderate" water emergency and restrict water uses. 

EWEB in Eugene is keeping an eye on low river flows caused by the lack of snowpack. 

And Ashland is poised to increase warnings about water use, if its major reservoir drops below a certain level. 

Social media and the drought are combining for a new phenomenon in California: drought shaming.

Water your lawn too much, and you could end up on Facebook, singled out for scorn. 

Tell us what you think of the process in VENTSday. 

You can also comment on voter registration, and whether it should be open to any adult. 

Stormwater Capture: California's Untapped Supply

Jul 9, 2015
Curtis Jerome Haynes

When it rains in California, millions of gallons of water runs down city streets, into storm drains and out to the Pacific Ocean. But with the state in its fourth year of drought, it can’t afford to waste that resource. Some cities are capturing that rain by soaking it up like a sponge. Could this be California’s next big “untapped” water supply?

Lawns will die and crops will wither in the fields, but California's economy may not suffer as much from drought as you might think.

California Department of Water Resources

Snow surveys are supposed to find snow.  But in the mild winter we had, little precipitation fell as snow. 

Most of the later-in-the-season surveys turned up dirt. 

California's snow surveys came out even worse than Oregon's. 


The upper Klamath Basin figures to suffer through another drought this year. 

And when the skies don't deliver, groundwater is called upon to make up the difference. 

The Klamath Water and Power Authority pays irrigators to pump groundwater through its Water Use Mitigation Program. 

But the amount KWAPA is prepared to pay for is more than twice what the Oregon water agency recommends. 

Saving Water Without Losing The Lawn

Apr 9, 2015

Drought puts pressure on water users to find ways to use less water.

And in suburban environments, that quickly turns our attention to lawns: green and pleasant, but water-intensive.

Short of ripping out the lawn, there are grasses that require less watering.

The Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance teamed up with the City of Ashland on demonstration projects.


It surprised absolutely no one when California leaders announced drought emergency measures this week. 

Precipitation has been paltry for several years now, and the winter snowpack that would normally feed streams through the summer is virtually nonexistent. 

Groups focused on the environment, including Earthjustice, raise some issues with the official approach to drought. 

Mike Jenson / Merced Irrigation District

As California’s drought continues to deepen, one community that sits between two large reservoirs is running out of water. About 3,200 people in the Sierra Nevada foothill enclave of Lake Don Pedro rely on water from nearby Lake McClure. But the lake level is dangerously low. That’s forcing the community to find another supply. And so far, they've come up dry.

Ashland's Drought Summit

Jul 31, 2014

The euphemism "D word" went out of favor early in this calendar year. 

Public officials and water managers just came right out and said "drought" when it became clear the winter would not deliver the usual amount of snow and rain. 

California's governor made his drought declaration before the end of January, and efforts to conserve water have been widespread. 

The City of Ashland is one of several jurisdictions making special moves to encourage conservation. 


Car washing and outdoor watering could draw frowns and even fines in the city of Ashland this summer, if drought conditions persist. 

The city is beginning to use the word "will" rather than "might" in discussing water restrictions. 

Just before the rains of early May began, the city announced potential water restrictions for later in the year. 

Those could include banning all outdoor use of water, whether for gardens or car washing or anything else.

Taking Drought Action In Ashland Parks

Apr 28, 2014

There's not much we can do about drought, other than take actions that reduce our need for water. 

The city of Ashland is doing just that in its city parks.