California reservoir levels, 27 October 2014. Statewide, California’s major reservoirs (representing nearly 27.1 million acre-feet of storage), are at about 28% of total capacity and 50% of normal. Graphic: Pacific Institute

28 October 2014 (Pacific Institute) – Statewide, California’s major reservoirs (representing nearly 27.1 million acre-feet of storage), are at about 28% of total capacity and 50% of normal.

This week in… migratory birds

Migratory bird species will likely have a difficult year. This past year, federal wildlife refuges reliant on the Central Valley Project only received 50% of their water allocation, reducing the amount of habitat as well as food supplies for the birds. To make matters worse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is predicting that a larger than average population of migratory birds because of better breeding conditions last winter in Alaska and Canada.

The drought will also increase the spread of avian diseases. Crowding of birds increases the spread of diseases such as cholera and botulism, which also thrive in low, warm, oxygen-depleted waters. In the Tule National Wildlife Refuge in northern California, 10,000 ducks and geese have died this year from avian botulism.

A new program lead by The Nature Conservancy is allowing conservationists to “rent” land from rice farms, flooding the fields temporarily at the most critical points of the season when migration is highest and the amount of wetland habitat is expected to be particularly scarce.

In other news…

  • In a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, 26% of respondents listed “water” or “drought” as the most important issue facing California. Half of those polled said they’re following news of the drought “very closely.”
  • A new tool from the Center for Watershed Science at the University of California, Davis has identified 181 dams in California that are likely depriving downstream fish of the flows necessary for their survival. [more]

Update from the Pacific Institute California Drought Response Group –October 28

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