Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a
fact of life in California and the West, with water resources
following boom-and-bust patterns.
No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last
century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the
West than in other regions of the country.
Most of the West experiences what is classified as severe to
extreme drought more than 10 percent of the time, and a
significant portion of the region experiences severe to extreme
drought more than 15 percent of the time, according to the
National Drought Mitigation Center.
Experts who have studied recent droughts say a drought occurs
about once every 10 years somewhere in the United States.
Droughts are believed to be the most costly of all natural
disasters because of their widespread effects on agriculture and
related industries, as well as on urbanized areas. One of those
decennial droughts could cost as much as $38 billion, according
to one estimate.
Because droughts cannot be prevented, experts are looking for
better ways to forecast them and new approaches to managing
droughts when they occur.
If the storm systems keep coming, state and regional water
managers say, 2017 could be the end of a dry spell that has,
for more than five years, caused crops to wither,
reservoirs to run dry and homeowners to rip out their lawns and
The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the
past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and
flash floods. … Officially, California’s drought won’t
end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency
drought declaration he signed in January 2014.
A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern
California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding
while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the
state’s once-grim drought picture.
After many long years of waiting, California’s drought relief
may finally be here. … Central California is on track to
be the second wettest water year on record, and Southern
California is expected to tie the wettest year, which was the
year of ‘68-’69.
As much of the state heads into a sixth year of drought, water
officials on Wednesday, Jan. 4, cheered Californians’ continued
conservation while urging them to stay stingy with water after
residential savings slipped below 19 percent in November.
The first manual survey this year of California’s snowpack
revealed Tuesday that it holds about half as much water as
normal, casting a shadow on the state that’s hoping to dodge a
sixth straight year of drought, officials said.
Around the start of each year, California water officials make
a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for
reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was
fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53
percent of average, about a third as much water as the same
time last year at that site.
Surveyors will plunge poles into the Sierra Nevada snowpack
near Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, taking the season’s first
measurement by hand of the snow’s water content as California
flirts with a sixth year of drought.
The federal government will be pouring nearly a quarter-billion
dollars into several dozen projects aimed at tackling the
effects of drought in the West and restoring watersheds that
provide drinking water to communities around the nation.
[Arizona] Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke
is meeting with other Colorado River system users in Las Vegas
at the annual Colorado River Water User Association Conference
running through Dec. 16. … On Dec. 15, Secretary of the
Interior Sally Jewell will unveil the program for management of
the Colorado River between Lakes Powell and Mead.
When California water officials assess the drought, the first
place they look is the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Rain
and snowmelt from the area feed into a complex system of
rivers, canals and reservoirs that send water across the state.
California is working to put into place a framework that will
help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as
future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a
changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a
draft report released last week, is the collective effort of
five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive
Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the
House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water
infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown
with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a
filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in
Despite a wet start to the fall in Northern California, nearly
two-thirds of the state remains wracked by extreme drought. In
the future, climate change is likely to make dry periods more
frequent, more intense and longer.
Urban Californians used about 1.8 percent more water in October
compared with a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. It
marked the fourth straight month in which conservation has
slipped following the state’s decision to relax drought
Now, if past weather patterns are fulfilled this year, experts
say, Northern California’s winter — and long-term relief from
years of drought — could be just around the corner for the
state’s most important watershed.
California’s water regulators will start using aerial images to
measure the green grass and irrigated landscapes of hundreds of
communities across the state as part of a new long-term
strategy to boost conservation.
California officials crafting a new conservation plan for the
state’s dry future drew criticism from environmentalists on
Thursday for failing to require more cutbacks of farmers, who
use 80 percent of the water consumed by people.
In a series of proposals released Wednesday, state officials
said they might require urban water districts seeking to avoid
state conservation mandates to prove they have a five-year
water supply on hand.
In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group
of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early
funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its
drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from
over-watering big lawns are illegal.
In a preliminary outlook, the state Department of Water
Resources said it can count on allocating as little as 20
percent of requested water supplies to start, hinting drought
fears are far from over in California.
California’s Department of Water Resources has made its initial
projection of how much water public agencies can count on
receiving from the canals and pipelines of the State Water
Project next year: 20 percent of their full allotments.
More than 102 million dead trees now litter California’s
drought-flayed forests, according to the latest aerial survey,
a finding likely to fuel a heated public-lands debate during
the incoming Trump administration.
President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to
one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California. On
the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring,
“There is no drought” here.
Wastewater recycling is being hailed in many communities as the
answer to ongoing drought problems. By cleaning sewage effluent
to extract pure water, it’s possible to create a sustainable
water supply that is cheaper than seawater desalination or
buying a new water supply. But there’s a little-recognized
downside to water recycling: It may damage wildlife habitats
already imperiled by water scarcity.
The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken
forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what
officials described as an unparalleled ecological disaster that
heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion.
… Scientists say five years of drought are to blame for
much of the destruction.
Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara
County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s
historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer —
7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark
that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous
How low can the Colorado go? When will we get back to “normal”
winters? Can we blame it all on climate change? To address
some of these questions, the Colorado River Research Group
recently released a concise four-page paper explaining how
climate change is affecting the river.
If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in
California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water
during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the
up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water
diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the
learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets
water during shortage.
California water agencies that spent more than $350 million in
the last two years of drought to pay property owners to rip out
water-slurping lawns are now trying to answer whether the
nation’s biggest lawn removal experiment was all worth the
The San Juan Water District’s especially steep backslide stood
out as part of a statewide trend: With mandatory state
restrictions lifted, the overwhelming majority of local
suppliers saved less this summer, according to a Times analysis
of state water data.
As the state enters its sixth year of drought, Northern
California is seeing some significant relief thanks to a series
of powerful storms, while Southern California remains mired in
record dry conditions.
It might have been sprinkling outside the Stockton Memorial
Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, but inside the building some of
the state’s brightest water experts were taking stock of
California’s enduring drought. As we enter into what could be a
sixth year of shortage, here are six lessons gleaned from
Tuesday’s forum sponsored by the nonprofit Water Education
As the rainy season begins in California, so too does the
potential for dangerous flash flooding. … California
agencies are using a new computer monitoring tool to understand
ground conditions in real-time, including areas burned by
Back-to-back bouts of rain that began Monday will make for an
unusually wet week leading up to Halloween, said forecasters
who are beginning to grow concerned about potential flooding
this winter in fire-scorched areas.
As the days darken, all eyes are on the Sierra Nevada, then the
sky, with a glance back at the mountains, to the Internet for
forecast information, over to the thermometer — all in a
fidgety search for a sign, any sign, that this winter will be
For those with a financial stake in water, drought can mean
boom or bust, depending on the investment. And even without a
specific market to trade water, there are numerous ways to
invest in it – from buying land with water rights to stocks in
water-dependent companies to municipal bonds. Take Michael
Burry, for instance, the hedge fund manager featured in the
book and movie “The Big Short” who outsmarted the subprime
housing market crash.
By any measure, California is confronting a complicated new
chapter as it enters the sixth year of a drought that has
forced it to balance huge demand for a sparse resource — water
— from farmers, residents, municipalities and developers.
Forecasts are already showing a possibility of La Niña in our
future, with the Climate Prediction Center for the National
Weather Service rating our chances at about 70 percent.
… La Niña was originally not in the cards as recently as
early September, according to NOAA.
In a move that could have ramifications across the arid West, a
government watchdog agency accused federal water regulators of
wasting taxpayer funds when they gave Klamath Basin farmers
more than $32 million to stop growing crops and to pump
groundwater instead of drawing from lakes and rivers.
California’s drought has brought about a strange partnership
that includes corporations like Coca-Cola and environmental
groups like the Nature Conservancy. They’re partnering on
projects aimed at helping increase water supply in
California has been trying to fill its reservoirs for 5 years,
and it will get a little help from a storm expected to hit
later this week. Right now, Lake Shasta is only at 60% capacity
and Lake Oroville is at 44%, with other reservoirs across the
state even lower.
Climate change from human activity nearly doubled the area that
burned in forest fires in the American West over the past 30
years, a major new scientific study has found, and larger, more
intense fires are all but guaranteed in the years ahead.
Four years into the drought, bark beetles did what was expected
of them in the conifer woods of Tuolumne County. They bored
into the trunks of moisture-stressed pines, cutting off the
trees’ nutrient flow.
Wildfires in California and across the West have become twice
as destructive over the past three decades due to climate
change, taking a toll that will only continue to escalate,
according to research published Monday.
Californians continued to backslide on water conservation
during the hottest summer on record, worrying regulators and
frustrating environmentalists critical of a new policy enacted
this spring that allows most urban water districts to avoid
mandatory cuts in water use.
Californians’ water conservation slipped for the third
consecutive month in August, prompting new alarm from
regulators about whether relaxed water
restrictions may be causing residents to revert to
old habits as the state enters its sixth year of
Already dealing with parched conditions, the U.S. Southwest
faces the threat of megadroughts this century as temperatures
rise, says a new study that found the risk is reduced if
heat-trapping gases are curbed.
Californians conserved about a third less water in August than
a year earlier, state regulators announced Wednesday, evidence
that the decision to ease up on conservation mandates caused
some to revert to old habits.
Devastating wildfires like the giant that is still chewing
through Big Sur are driving the nation’s firefighting costs to
unprecedented levels, prompting the Obama administration to say
the government is ill-equipped to handle the increasingly busy
fire seasons of the historically dry West.
The end of September meant both the end of the 2016 water year
and a deadline for signing new legislation. In the past few
weeks California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bevy of new
bills into law, many of them addressing drought or water issues
in the state.
After the state entered into its sixth year of drought on
Saturday, Humboldt County walked away with its best rainfall
total in the last five years. … A year ago at this time,
the Eel River was approaching record low flow levels with
salmon showing alarming signs of blindness and lethargy as they
waited for heavy rains.
The Loma fire is one of 9 major active blazes burning across
California, after a record-breaking heatwave last week and a
weather phenomenon known as the Santa Ana wind, which brings
hot, dusty air sweeping across the already-desiccated landscape
of drought-ridden Southern California.
Who’s the homeowner who managed to use 11.8-million gallons of
water in a single year? The city isn’t naming names, but the
Center for Investigative Reporting has narrowed down the list
to seven likely suspects.
Los Angeles officials have steadfastly refused to identify the
Wet Prince of Bel Air, the homeowner who pumped an astonishing
11.8 million gallons of water during a single year of
California’s crippling drought.
California’s five-year drought created ideal conditions for
brewing toxic levels of the naturally occurring bacteria, which
multiplies rapidly in hot temperatures, low water flows and
stagnant water choked with fertilizers and nutrients.
In a move that foreshadows sweeping statewide reductions in the
amount of river water available for human needs, California
regulators on Thursday proposed a stark set of cutbacks to
cities and farms that receive water from the San Joaquin River
and its tributaries.
As Southern California firefighters battled the Blue Cut Fire
last month, there was nothing they could do to fend off an
unfortunate reality: Global warming is already lengthening
wildfire season and increasing the likelihood of extreme
fires across the West.
So far this 4,636 wildfires in California have burned more than
200,000 acres. That’s more fires than this time last year and
more fires than the five-year average. … California has an
added challenge of dealing with a five-year drought.
[Sen. Dianne] Feinstein asked Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack to shift $38 million in the Department’s budget to
pay for removing trees from federal land identified by the
California Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force.
Years of drought have sapped California’s water supply, creating
an accumulated deficit exacerbated by increasingly warmer
temperatures, a top researcher said at a recent briefing.
Michael Dettinger, research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological
Survey, said parts of California have fallen more than two years
behind where they should be in terms of receiving “normal”
precipitation. The situation augurs what would be expected under
projected climate change conditions as average annual
temperatures warm and the snow level declines.
La Niña may not happen after all. Federal climate scientists on
Thursday dialed back their forecast for the influential weather
pattern that is sometimes associated with dry years in parts of
the Americas, including California — where another winter of
scant rain could wreak havoc on the drought-plagued state.
Statewide water conservation numbers dropped again in July, the
second month of the state’s new, relaxed plan to save water
during a record drought. Californians used 20 percent less
water in July as compared to the same month in 2013, state
water officials reported Wednesday.
A hydrograph illustrates a type of activity of water during a
specific time frame. Salinity and acidity are sometimes measured,
but the most common types
are stage and discharge hydrographs. These graphs show how
surface water flow responds to fluxes in precipitation.
Locked in a multi-year drought, California’s urban water
suppliers have, for the most part, happily enforced rules that
prohibit specific wasteful water practices, such as hosing
down driveways and over-watering lawns.
Lake Powell has been called “Jewel of the Colorado” by the
federal agency that built it, the Bureau of Reclamation. It’s
been a vital force for the intermountain West because of its
ability to store vast amounts of water and generate electricity
for farmers, cities and towns in 13 states.
Five years of drought have severely taxed California’s rivers,
reservoirs and groundwater. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta –
the hub of California’s water supply, an agricultural center
and a crucial ecological resource – hasn’t been immune from the
impacts of the prolonged drought.
At this free one-day briefing in Stockton
on Oct. 25, keynote speaker Jay Lund, Director of the UC Center
for Watershed Sciences, and other experts will
discuss the drought’s effects on the Delta.
Other confirmed speakers include Delta Watermaster Michael
Patrick George, Michelle Banonis, Manager of the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Bay-Delta Office, Michael Dettinger, senior
scientist and research hydrologist at USGS, and Peter Moyle, one
of the foremost experts on California’s freshwater fish.
Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium
525 N. Center Street
A law signed late Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown requires retail
urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to put in
place rules that define “excessive water use” and impose them
during drought emergencies.
Farm revenue in California dropped by more than $9 billion last
year as the drought forced farmers to scramble for water and
crucial commodities declined in price, according to data
released by the state and federal governments Tuesday.
At the height of California’s fierce wildfire season, the
Sierra Nevada and North Coast forests are choked with tens of
millions of dead and dying trees, from gnarly oaks to elegant
pines that are turning leafy chapels into tinderboxes of highly
The Bureau of Reclamation released water from the Trinity
Reservoir early Thursday morning to the lower Klamath River to
help prevent the spread a parasitic fish disease, within
Chinook salmon. Supplemental flows from the Lewiston Dam will
also extend into late September to protect the fall salmon run.
Ill-timed releases from New Melones Reservoir led to a 75
percent drop in rainbow trout on the lower Stanislaus River
last year, according to two water purveyors that could have
used some of the supply.
The drought has consequences for human health, both physical
and emotional. One study in Tulare County recently attempted to
quantify these effects via door-to-door polling. This was one
survey in two small communities. Now Kurt Schwabe at the
University of California Riverside plans a statewide study to
assess the drought’s effect on human health.
California’s iconic natural features, from salmon runs to
Joshua trees, could dwindle or disappear, as climate change
rearranges the state’s weather patterns and landscape, leaving
much of the state hotter and drier, scientists warn.
A measure to expand public disclosure of commercial, industrial
and other institutional water uses in California fell far short
of passage in the state Senate on Friday. … Another bill
this year also sought more disclosure as part of a
“drought-shaming” campaign to discourage excessive water use.
Despite previous vows of close monitoring, State Water
Resources Control Board leaders said they expect independent
researchers – such as environmental groups, journalists and
other members of the public – to scrutinize water suppliers’
data that the board posted online Tuesday.
Under fire from water agencies who were losing millions of
dollars in lost water sales, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration
two months ago dropped all mandatory water conservation targets
and allowed cities, water districts and private water companies
across the state to set their own targets.
State officials will not force most California water districts
to reduce water use this year, even as they caution that the
five-year drought persists and note that drought-fueled
wildfires continue to wreak havoc.
The ferocious spread of the Clayton fire offers fresh evidence
of how five years of unrelenting drought in California leave
the state particularly vulnerable to destructive wildfires this
year. Wildfires this year have already burned more than 360
square miles and destroyed more than 400 homes and other
While Lake County has suffered more than its share of
devastation in the last 12 months from wildfires, this
weekend’s destructive Clayton Fire has been one of the few
blazes to cause major damage in Northern California this fire
Surrounded by barren brown hills and cracked, dry clay, San
Luis Reservoir was so empty this week that the nearly milelong,
meandering path from the old high-water mark to the waterline
could have doubled as a set in the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max”
Robert Haskins walked across a vast expanse of cracked mud,
littered with old beer bottles and millions of tiny clam
shells, that in most Augusts would be 50 feet underwater. But
the San Luis Reservoir, the vast inland sea along Highway 152
that is a key part of Silicon Valley’s water supply, is only 10
percent full, its lowest level in 27 years.
State leaders are paying attention. Gov. Jerry Brown has
declared a state of emergency. More than 80 federal, state and
local agencies, electric utilities and other organizations have
formed the Tree Mortality Task Force, co-chaired by Pimlott, to
combat the problem.
Californians are continuing to save significant amounts of
water despite the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration
to relax drought rules two months ago. Statewide, urban
residents cut water use 21.5 percent in June, compared with the
same month in 2013, the year the state has been using as a
baseline, according to new data released Tuesday.
In a paper published Monday in Geophysical Research
Letters University of Southern California post-doctoral
research associate Pouya Vahmani and USC civil and
environmental engineering professor George
Ban-Weiss analyze what would happen to the city’s
overall temperature during the month of July if every
lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.
It might not be what you expect to hear about California
agriculture in the throes of drought: After four years of
historic water shortages, farm earnings in the state increased
16 percent, and total employment increased 5 percent. Yet those
are real numbers gathered by federal agencies that track
The leaves atop giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada are better
at storing water than those closer to the ground, an adaptation
that may explain how their treetops are able to survive 300
feet in the air, researchers at American River College and
Humboldt State University have found.
Tribes are apprehensive, cities are more upbeat and farmers
stand somewhere in between over a proposed plan to cut CAP
water deliveries to keep Lake Mead from falling to dangerously
low levels. … The drought-contingency plan is being discussed
by Arizona, California and Nevada as a way to avert
catastrophic cuts later.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows,
despite a partisan divide, 62 percent of likely voters favor
the law [AB 32]. … The poll also found that water supply and
drought remain the top environmental concern for Californians.
California wildfires often become massive infernos that destroy
lives and livelihoods, especially during the summer and fall
months. Because of a drought that has persisted since 2012, the
fire season seems to be expanding, with some fires even
occurring during the winter months.
State Water Resources Control Board officials issued a warning
last week for the North Coast, noting that high temperatures
and continuing drought conditions increase the likelihood of
potentially lethal algal blooms in area streams, rivers and
Thousands of firefighters were battling wildfires on Monday in
central and Southern California that have burned through nearly
50,000 acres and prompted thousands of people to evacuate their
homes, the authorities said.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office recently held the first in what’s
expected to be a series of private meetings with scientists,
conservationists and fire professionals to discuss how to
prevent massive blazes in the face of climate change and
During the past year of drought, while many Californians have
heeded the call to conserve and managed to achieve
water-savings of nearly 25 percent statewide, one group of
water users hasn’t measured up: the golf courses that spread
out across thousands of acres in the desert.
In California, cyanotoxins have become more of a problem amid
the drought and the same toxin that shut down Toledo’s water
supply has been detected in lakes, reservoirs and streams
across the state. But because standard treatment processes
usually get rid of cyanotoxins, water officials say it’s
unlikely a similar crisis would unfold here.
The state is currently investigating whether it is feasible to
develop standards for direct potable reuse, which would allow
treated wastewater to be sent direct to customers for drinking
without first being stored in a reservoir or aquifer.
California and parts of the Southwestern United States have now
endured a fifth consecutive year of drought. … A few states
that were drought-stricken just last year are no longer in
drought. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed drought levels estimated as of
the week ended July 4 and as of early July last year from the
U.S. Drought Monitor.
California has shifted its message on the drought. Now,
instead of calling on residents to cut their water consumption
collectively by 25 percent, water agencies are saying something
akin to this: “Trust us, it’s all under control.”
California’s drought, now in its fifth year, has grabbed
headlines – many of them focused on the state’s mandatory
conservation measure enacted last year or the impacts on the
agricultural sector, said Heather Cooley, the water program
director of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank.
… That’s changed since the Pacific Institute teamed up with
the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and eight
grassroots organizations to put together a community-based
participatory research project on Drought and Equity in the San
Francisco Bay Area.
California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming
days, with compromise nowhere in sight. … Underscoring
the many complications entangling California water, the San
Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water
District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over
measures intended to protect endangered species.
While mandatory statewide conservation is over, California
water officials say conservation remains a “top priority.”
“Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or
not, Californians should keep conserving,” said State
Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in
its growing almanac of drought. … News of L.A.’s record
low precipitation comes as the State Water Resources Control
Board announced a 28% drop in residential water use for May,
compared with the same month in 2013.
It has been a scene playing out daily in the Sierra this spring
and now summer: Cal Fire firefighters cutting down trees and
thinning out parts of the forest in the wake of an
unprecedented crisis, the deaths of 66 million California
trees, said Edwin Simpson, a forester with Cal Fire.
California’s Rim Fire in 2013 was the third largest in the
state’s history, and the 2012 Rush Fire, the second largest.
And last year’s Butte and Valley fires were some of the most
destructive in state history. These grim statistics are part of
an alarming trend in western states: The number of large fires
is growing, and so is the area burned and the length of the
annual fire season.
The drought in California is now in its fifth consecutive
year and conditions throughout the state have increased
potential for wildfires. Cal Fire says it has already responded
to more than 2,400 wildfires in 2016.
The Central Valley has been hit hard by the long-running
drought. La Niña has failed to deliver the relief everyone was
hoping for, but researchers at Stanford have discovered what
could be good news for the region and for the state.
Under the state’s newly relaxed conservation rules,
California’s 400 urban water district were to submit an
analysis of their supply conditions and conservation outlook by
last Wednesday. The water board won’t publish the responses
until next month.
There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due
to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a
“catastrophic” wildfire threat—or so claims U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While Vilsack’s assertion
may resonate with many in the general public because it makes
intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.
The fire tore through small communities of houses and mobile
homes that surround the lake [Lake Isabella] - actually a
reservoir – and the Kern River, a popular spot for fishing and
A year after California attacked the drought with an
unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and
towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have
changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up
with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not
exactly setting a high bar.
At least 80 homes have burned and 1,500 others are threatened
by a wildfire racing across Kern County that grew to 8,000
acres in less than 24 hours and quickly became the state’s most
destructive fire of the year.
Municipal water agencies across California are required to
report to state officials by midnight Wednesday on whether they
have enough water to withstand three more years of drought. …
Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board are
calling it a “stress test.”
The number of trees in California’s Sierra Nevada forests
killed by drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warmer
temperatures has dramatically increased since last year,
raising fears they will fuel catastrophic wildfires and
endanger people’s lives, officials said Wednesday.
The state announced plans to spend $10 million to begin
connecting unincorporated East Porterville in Tulare County to
the water system of neighboring Porterville.
… Statewide, officials said roughly 2,000 wells have run
dry during California’s most severe drought on record and
stretching into its fifth year.
The Sierra snowpack, which is responsible for more than 60
percent of California’s water, won’t likely make it back to its
pre-drought levels until 2019, scientists said in a study
published this week, dashing the hopes of those who believed
one extremely wet El Niño year could alleviate the state’s
The California drought is carving an unprecedented path of ruin
through Sierra forests, killing trees by the millions and
setting the stage for a potentially devastating wildfire season
that’s already burning homes and closing freeways in the
southern half of the state.
A lethal combination of drought, heat and voracious bark
beetles has killed 26 million trees in the Sierra Nevada over
the last eight months — an alarming finding for a state
already raging with wildfires fueled by denuded landscapes and