California’s drought hit major milestones this week. On Tuesday, the state State Water Resources Control Board enacted unprecedented emergency restrictions on agricultural water use in the San Joaquin and Sacramento River watersheds. Two days later, officials were forced to shut down the Hyatt Power Plant as water levels in Lake Oroville fell below minimum levels for power generation. It is the first time the plant has shut down since it started operations 54 years ago. The outage is unlikely to cause immediate blackouts, but could contribute to rolling power outages later in the summer. It underscores the severity of drought made worse by human-caused climate change.
“This is just one of many unprecedented impacts we are experiencing in California as a result of our climate-induced drought,” Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, which owns the dam, told reporters. (Ag use restrictions: LA Times $, Modern Farmer, CBS, Gizmodo, The Guardian; Dam shutoff: (Mercury News, LA Times $, ABC-7 KGO News, KCRA Sacramento , Washington Post $, Politico Pro $, AP, Daily Beast; Climate Signals background: Drought)