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.

Public Domain

Rains finally came to the region recently. 

And now they're leaving. 

Which means we're essentially back to where we were a few weeks ago: looking at a drought, likely a severe one. 

The Earth Law Center and other groups warn of stream flows too low for salmon and other fish to survive this year. 

Klamath County Prepares For Drought

Feb 21, 2014

California got there first, but Oregon is not far behind: declaring drought before winter is even over. 

Gov. Jerry Brown made the California declaration in mid-January.  Gov. Kitzhaber has only made declarations for four Oregon counties so far: Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur. 

How Low Is The Snow? A Drought Update

Feb 11, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

Recent rain and snow are good to have, but probably not good enough. 

The region is way behind in precipitation, and California's governor already declared a drought weeks ago.  Oregon may follow suit if the conditions demand. 

Ski Season Woes

Feb 3, 2014

It's already February and some skiers still haven't been able to hit the slopes.

Winter storms have been rare visitors this winter, and winter recreation areas have little or no snow to work with.  Both Mt. Shasta Ski Park and Mt. Ashland Ski Area remain closed. 

VENTSday: Legal Marijuana + Drought Strategies

Jan 21, 2014

Is it time to talk seriously about legalizing marijuana in your state?

And what changes are you prepared to make if the regional drought should continue?  Let's get your thoughts...