water

Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

The Colorado River is like a giant bank account for seven different states. Now it's running short.

For decades, the river has fed growing cities from Denver to Los Angeles. A lot of the produce in supermarkets across the country was grown with Colorado River water. But with climate change, and severe drought, the river is reaching a crisis point, and communities at each end of it are reacting very differently.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The lakes and streams of southeast Oklahoma are vital to the area’s economy, and Broken Bow resident Charlette Hearne has made it her mission to stand in the way of attempts to move water out of her part of the state.

It’s Christmas season in North Pole, Okla., a blip on the map near Broken Bow. No one’s sure how this community along State Highway 3 got that name, but Charlette Hearne embraces the community at her North Pole convenience store, and holiday decorations abound. Hearne is from Colorado, but fell in love with Broken Bow Lake back in the 1970s.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

President Barack Obama on Friday signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which passed the U.S. Senate in the wee hours Saturday morning. The $10 billion federal bill directs money to Oklahoma to help fix and address multiple water-related problems and issues across the state.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oil prices are on the rebound, which should eventually generate revenue and help Oklahoma’s state budget situation. Still, another budget hole — that could be as large as $600 million — will likely have to be filled during the 2017 legislative session. One emerging idea that could put an extra billion dollars in state coffers: Selling the Grand River Dam Authority.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

J.D. Strong has been an influential leader in Oklahoma water issues for many years, and served as Executive Director of the state water regulator since 2010. Earlier this year he left the Water Resources Board to head the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

StateImpact talked to Strong in his new office to talk about the water challenges that remain and the issues facing wildlife conservation that are now his problem.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A decade after the government-owned Texoma Lodge and Resort was sold to a private company that never fulfilled its promise to develop a multi-million dollar resort on the former state park land, Gov. Mary Fallin and the Chickasaw Nation on Thursday announced the tribe’s plans to build a resort hotel and casino instead.

From its state legislature and governor to its congressional delegation, Oklahoma is a solidly Republican state. So while polls and political analysts predict a Trump victory, several key ballot questions are causing a stir.

One of them, called “Right to Farm,” limits government restrictions on farming. Another focuses on alcohol sales.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young checks in with StateImpact Oklahoma reporter Logan Layden for the latest in Oklahoma politics.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The section of the Arkansas River that runs through Tulsa is changing. For much of the city’s history, business owners constructed buildings facing away from what has been considered a polluted eyesore. But now Tulsa is embracing its most prominent physical feature.

Health workers are piecing together a complicated puzzle in El Paso County, Colo. In January, three cities — Security, Fountain and Widefield — noticed synthetic chemicals known as PFCs in the drinking water.

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