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How Capturing Floodwaters Can Reduce Flooding and Combat Drought

Chardonnay grapevines in the Russian River Valley flood on March 12, 2018, near Sebastopol, California. Credit: George Rose/Getty Images Farmers toil at the mercy of nature’s whims, which can prove particularly vexing in California.

Even before climate change, bouncing between drought and deluge was routine in the Central Valley, the state’s richest farming region. Humans have amplified these natural cycles by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, studies show, creating a future filled with what scientists recently dubbed “ whiplash events .”

California got a taste of whiplash four years ago, when one of its wettest winters immediately followed one of its deepest, longest droughts. Heavy runoff from rivers in the Sierra Nevada damaged the main spillway of the Oroville Dam, the largest in the nation, forcing more than 180,000 people to evacuate.

Such dramatic swings will create even more headaches for California farmers and water managers, who have more than their share in a good year.

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Now, as California farmers grapple with reduced federal water allocations amid an intensifying drought, a […]

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