Tuesday June 18, 2024

Los Angeles Times

In the face of climate change and worsening cycles of drought, California water managers have been increasingly focused on the precise tracking of water resources. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is measured with sensors and aerial images, reservoir levels are electronically logged, and the movement of water through aqueducts is apportioned based on rights and contracts.

Yet there is another key water metric that California has never adequately measured: the flow of rivers and streams.

New research by UC Berkeley scientists has found that only 8% of the state’s rivers and streams are equipped with gauges — devices that measure the level and rate of movement of water.

The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, details the large portions of the state’s waterways that aren’t monitored and examines the consequences for humans and wildlife as climate change intensifies the water cycle, alters watersheds and threatens vulnerable fish and other species. The researchers also outlined methods for California to select new monitoring locations to expand its network of stream gauges.

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