NWNL Spotlight

Field Expedition: Nov. 15 – Dec. 2

San Joaquin River Basin (Stockton to Tulare)
Expedition Sponsored by Jane Mattson

San Joaquin River, aerial view

Expedition Team: Alison Jones, NWNL Director; Annette Alexander, NWNL Photographer
Office Support Team: Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director
Outside Resources: American Rivers; The World View of Global Warming

Justifications / Criticality of Issues Investigated:
This 3-year-drought in California is being seen as a one-in-500-year drought. Information garnered will be publicized and shared to help others mitigate and adapt to droughts elsewhere. Globally, droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe due to increased water demands and global warming.

Nearly 50% of US consumption of vegetables, fruit and nuts come from California, so the impact of farming and job losses will affect global and US food supplies and prices; the state of US economy in general; and foreign trade.

Expectations / How this Spotlight matches NWNL Mission and Goals:
This Spotlight will help raise awareness of drought causes and impacts.

The current California drought offers interesting comparisons to Africa’s Omo River Basin (a NWNL case-study watershed), despite obvious regional disparities. California and the Omo Basin both face issues of water scarcity, dam infrastructure, livelihoods at risk, and fair groundwater and riparian rights.

This Spotlight follows the NWNL Methodology of establishing watershed values, stakeholder identities, present and future threats, consequences of those threats and sustainable management solutions. Resulting research and documentation is expected to enhance NWNL visibility.

Outputs: Still photographs, video footage and stakeholder interviews will document the causes, impacts and potential solutions of California’s ongoing drought. Resulting materials will be reported in NWNL Spotlight blogs, social media, videos, magazine articles, lectures and exhibits.

Parameters: This November expedition follows a March 2014 preliminary investigation by NWNL of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins. Like all NWNL Spotlights, this CA Drought Spotlight has a short-term focus, unlike that of other NWNL case-study investigations, and has met required approval by the NWNL Director and three advisors.

San Joaquin River

Above: The San Joaquin is reduced to a trickle west of Fresno due to the many diversions of its Sierra Nevada run-off for agriculture. See the NWNL blog for American Rivers on the documenting of the San Joaquin River, titled “A Desert Runs Through It.”