March 2014 Sacramento & San Joaquin River Basins

November 2014 San Joaquin River Basin

August 2015 Mojave Desert in CA & AZ

March 2016 Central Coast and San Joaquin River Basin

September 2016 Central Coast, Delta, Sierra Mountains, San Joaquin River Basin / SEJ Conf.

October 2017 Coastal Estuaries of California

July 2018 Coastal California

February 2019 Mojave Desert and Coastal CA


Reliable flows of fresh water from the Sierra Mountains are critical to the stability of California – the world’s 5th largest economy, per GDP. Fortunately, the 2023 historic snowstorms reduced US West megadrought conditions in the Golden State from affecting 80% of California to a mere 3%. Yet despite the state’s complex water delivery infrastructure that controls and distributes water from huge reservoirs, this drought (begun in 2000) has taken a toll and demanded adaptations in Central Valley agriculture, in reservoirs wildly fluctuating with rain or lack thereof, and urban water supplies. 

Our NWNL quest for California Drought images began with photo requests from American Rivers of the bone-dry San Joaquin River in March 2014. We pursued solutions to protect businesses, residences, agriculture, industry and many natural river systems – especially the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers and their vital Delta running into the San Francisco Bay. 

The stresses of this prolonged drought in California’s “‘breadbasket” emphasize many vital issues NWNL has investigated in its 6 case-study watersheds: water infrastructure (dams, tunnels, aqueducts, canals, etc.); urban water needs; fracking’s dependence on water; growing risks of wildfire; water pricing; wastewater recycling; and desalination. California has become a model to which other regions can refer as they too face increasing climate-change droughts.