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.
Suburban homeowners ripping out thirsty lawns are dotting their
new drought-tolerant landscapes with milkweed native to
California’s deserts and chaparral – plants that have the
potential to help save water and monarchs at the same time,
because the female monarch will only lay her eggs on milkweed.
The Forest Service had estimated that nearly 12.5 million trees
in the state’s southern and central forests were dead. But as
[Greg] Asner peered down upon the same forests from his
airplane at 6,000 feet, he saw something far worse.
Drought doesn’t instantly ravage the way flooding
does. It advances at a steady, determined pace, building and
spreading during several years. Fields wither, reservoirs drop to
dangerously low levels and the memory of what constitutes a
normal water supply becomes more distant.
Read the excerpt below from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue along
with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and
get full access.
Around California, drought has taken a toll on small
“agritourism” farms that once thrived on the Halloween season
crowd. Some have shut down, while others have stopped growing
their own pumpkins or trimmed acres from their corn mazes and
canceled activities that require water.
The ash of the Rocky fire was still hot when Gov. Jerry Brown
strode to a bank of television cameras beside a blackened ridge
and, flanked by firefighters, delivered a battle cry against
With October comes a waiting season. Californians have more or
less survived one more dry year — with shower buckets and brown
lawns, with ever deeper wells and fallowed croplands; in short,
with every trick known to those who consume or manage water.
Water suppliers take different approaches on what they reveal
about guzzlers even though California’s more than 400 water
districts are under state orders to reduce use. … East Bay
water officials said it’s simple to them: Customers were outed
for violating a district policy.
As Congress considers an appropriate response to the Western
drought, our experience in California gives us a keen sense of
how Congress can best help. … I [California Natural Resources
Agency Secretary John Laird] take passage of
Proposition 1 as a resounding endorsement of a constructive
approach that does not pit urban or agricultural users against
one another and does not undermine water rights or
environmental protection laws.
Oakland A’s big cheese Billy Beane, famous for his statistical
money-saving approach to assembling a baseball team, has been
far less economical with his water, according to an East Bay
Municipal Utility District roster that places him among the top
water hogs in the East Bay.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District on Thursday released a
list of customers who were hit with monetary penalties because
they pumped about 1,000 gallons of water per day during the
past two months. That’s compared to what the average
residential customer uses: about 250 gallons per day.
As California enters a potential fifth year of drought, the
swimming pool demolition industry — a niche, to be sure — is
thriving, operators say, with new companies entering the
business to profit from Californians’ concerns about water
The tow trucks are busy these days at Lake Camanche, rescuing
drivers who get stuck on the sandy road that drops toward the
receding shoreline. … And at New Melones Lake, a ghostly
forest and portions of an old town have emerged as the water
drops nearly one vertical football field below the spillway at
Wildlife managers are worried again this year: Will there be
enough wet habitat for millions of birds in the Sacramento
Valley? Before the drought, 250,000-300,000 acres of California
rice lands was flooded each winter.
Northern Los Angeles County was pummeled Thursday by a series
of torrential downpours that caused mudslides and flash floods
that inundated roads, trapped drivers and forced the closure of
nearly 40 miles of Interstate 5, cutting off California’s main
In the latest sign that El Niño conditions are likely to bring
wet weather to drought-parched California, federal scientists
on Thursday announced for the first time that the entire state
— including the northern part of California from the Bay Area
to the Oregon border — is now expected to receive average or
above-average rainfall this winter.
On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is
continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it’s on track to
produce potentially record rainfall. … The forecast for
a wet winter now covers the mountains that feed California’s
most important reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville.
It [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration] reiterated earlier predictions that
California can expect one of the strongest El Niño winters
ever, with above-average rains increasingly likely for the
central and southern parts of the state. Northern California,
home to most of the state’s major reservoirs, remains tougher
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed Wednesday
to study ways to curb excessive water use after the City
Council called for a crackdown that could include “severe
financial penalties” and “as a last resort, shutting off
The Marin Municipal Water District has set a public hearing as
it looks to raise rates to deal with reduced water consumption,
the drought and land management responsibilities. It is also
looking at establishing a “drought surcharge” option.
As members of the California Water Commission convened
Wednesday night in Clovis to update the public on the Water
Storage Investment Program, conversation centered on one topic:
Temperance Flat Dam. … Water bond money is seen as
Even as Sacramento waits for the soaking El Niño forecast to
hit this fall, Folsom Lake continues to lose water and will
almost certainly fall Thursday to its lowest level in more than
20 years, government data show.
Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5
million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming
weeks. Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government
officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the
deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement.
A group of environmentalists accused the federal government on
Tuesday of not pushing Nestle Corp. to update its permits to
tap and divert water in the San Bernardino Mountains, an
operation they say is sapping vital water from public land.
Environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday,
alleging that the agency has allowed Nestle Waters to draw
water from a creek in the San Bernardino Mountains under a
permit that expired more than 25 years ago.
A new Field Poll released Tuesday showed that 76 percent of
registered California voters now call the state’s water
situation “extremely serious,” up from 66 percent in May and 60
percent in April 2014. … Some regional differences persist.
A much-anticipated “Godzilla” El Niño this winter may refill
California’s drought-diminished reservoirs, but it won’t do
much to restock the severely depleted aquifers we rely upon to
get by during droughts. One reason for this is the sheer depth
of California’s precipitation deficit – the deepest of any
drought in 120 years of recordkeeping. The state has been drier
than normal for 10 of the past 14 years.
Californians sharply cut water use this summer, prompting state
officials to credit their new conservation policies and the
sting of thousands of warnings and penalties that they had
issued to people for overuse. But the most effective enforcers
may be closer to home: the domestic water police.
Evidence is mounting that the El Nino ocean-warming phenomenon
in the Pacific will spawn a rainy winter in California,
potentially easing the state’s punishing drought but also
bringing the risk of chaotic storms like those that battered
the region in the late 1990s.
Cities under pressure from California for failing to slash
water consumption enough during the prolonged drought are
cracking down on residents. That’s prompting an outcry in
places such as this Fresno suburb [Clovis], where officials
handed out more than $500,000 in fines this summer for
violations including lawn watering.
With California withering through a multiyear drought, Gov.
Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation banning cities and
counties from prohibiting drought-tolerant landscaping,
including synthetic grass and artificial turf.
Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
[Sen. Lisa] Murkowski convened the two-hour hearing
Thursday primarily to consider significantly different House
and Senate versions of California water legislation. The
morning hearing was the first to be held specifically on the
Fort Bragg officials will be reconsidering some of the strict
emergency water rules they implemented last week following a
flurry of objections from restaurateurs, who say ordering them
to use only paper plates and plastic utensils is expensive,
counterproductive and unfair.
Along a picture-postcard stretch of coast in Carlsbad near San
Diego, fishermen cast their lines into an emerald seawater
lagoon. In a few short weeks, the lagoon will also be feeding a
steady supply of water into what will be the largest operating
desalination facility in North America.
In the latest indicator of the severity of the drought, the
federal government’s main reservoirs serving California have
begun the new “water year” at just a quarter full and in worse
shape than last year.
California needs water. Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska, has a lot.
So a company that holds the rights to up to 9 billion gallons
of the lake’s water is pitching an idea that would send some of
it — via tanker ship — to the Golden State as it endures the
fourth year of severe drought.
Things are bad everywhere in California, but the big dry has
gotten so severe in the coastal city of Fort Bragg that fancy
restaurants are now being ordered to plop their filet mignons
on disposable plates and pour wine into plastic cups to avoid
When Gov. Jerry Brown announced sweeping mandatory reductions
in water use last spring, some questioned whether the
California dream was over. But since then, cities across the
state have adapted to the drier new reality by reshaping the
way they operate.
Long gone are the luxury boats that drew stars inland from
Hollywood to this accidental sea that first filled with
Colorado River water after a massive 1905 canal
breach. … The Southwest’s worsening water shortage will make
saving the Salton Sea difficult, because any fix requires water
from an over-stressed Colorado River.
More than 300 farmers, workers and elected officials from
throughout the Valley gathered Friday at Rojas Pierce Park in
Mendota to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special legislative
session to deal with California’s water crisis.
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Jimmy Carter, Rahm Emanuel: All
of them were quoted at the Southern California Energy and Water
Summit in Palm Springs on Thursday. But the quote that best
summarized the summit came from Felicia Marcus’ father.
Forecasts of an approaching El Niño winter have ski resort
operators dreaming of the kind of snowy peaks that were a
common sight in California before a four-year drought dried up
the state’s $3-billion ski industry.
Californians cut water use by 27 percent in August, marking the
third consecutive month that residents and businesses surpassed
the 25 percent conservation goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown to
deal with the relentless drought, officials said Thursday.
Whether an act of goodwill or a desperate move under duress, an
agreement by Delta farmers to voluntarily reduce their water
use last spring likely spared them from deeper cuts in the
middle of the summer growing season, a state official said this
In the midst of a searing drought, one home in this exclusive
West Los Angeles neighborhood used an astonishing 11.8 million
gallons of water in one year – enough for 90 households. …
It’s the same story throughout urban California. Despite the
drought, well-heeled residential customers in affluent
neighborhoods are being allowed to use as much water as they
want to buy, according to a review of utility records from the
state’s biggest urban water agencies.
A state water official said Californians have met a mandate to
save water for a third consecutive month during the grinding
drought. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday
will release statewide conservation figures for August.
The last rainfall in Riverside was a windfall for Michael
Hickman, a retiree who has a home project underway to use rain
gutters and barrels to collect some of the precipitation that
lands on his roof.
Last winter, residents [of Lompico in the Santa Cruz
mountains] agreed to have the neighboring San Lorenzo Valley
Water District take over their mom-and-pop operation. … At
least 18 districts have been consolidated since 2013, according
to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Experts say people affected by the drought also face stress,
which can escalate to anxiety, depression and a host of other
mental conditions. Studies show those findings are especially
true for people who rely on water for economic survival, such
as farmers, and people living in rural areas with fewer options
for income and care.
The [Orange] county’s diverse efforts to keep water flowing are
a model for other communities across the nation with stressed
supplies. Roughly 112 million Americans are now affected by
drought, according to federal calculations.
Plastic pipes that will go over Folsom Dam and connect to pump
barges were rolled out Thursday as the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation continues to work on a temporary emergency floating
pump system. … Currently, Folsom Lake is at 19 percent
capacity and has dropped 3 feet this month.
Flames from California’s third-most destructive wildfire on
record not only consumed hundreds of homes but also left deep
burn scars that can be seen from space. … Years of aggressive
firefighting, drought and few prescribed fires left the forest
overrun with brush and timber, according to NASA.
The changing nature of fire, and its consequences, is Topic A
at meetings of the Society of American Foresters, of which
[Char] Miller is a member, and it’s also a fundamental
part of his forthcoming book, “America’s Great National
Forests, Wildernesses and Grasslands.”
The Eastside Water District board voted Thursday to ask its
farmers for $6 million for a groundwater recharge project. The
system would eliminate no more than 10 percent of the overdraft
in the 61,000-acre district, which straddles Stanislaus and
Merced counties southwest of Turlock Lake, but backers said it
would be a worthwhile start.
The ongoing drought, combined with slower but significant
shifts brought about by climate change, is changing the
way California’s largest fire protection agency does business,
according to state officials.
California environmentalists plan to file a new water bond
proposal with the secretary of state next week, a measure
backers say will provide critical money for programs that were
under funded by the $7.8 billion bond passed by voters last
In just two years, Chinook salmon could be swimming above
Shasta Dam for the first time in nearly eight decades under a
proposal that would truck endangered hatchery-raised fish into
a cold-water tributary that feeds the state’s largest
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm
district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been
fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first
state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas
Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was
published in 1946.
Giant Sequoias growing in California’s Sierra Nevada are among
the largest and oldest living things on earth, but scientists
climbing high up into their green canopies say they are seeing
symptoms of stress caused by the state’s historic drought.
For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Water District has
paved the way for Southern California’s epic growth by securing
water from hundreds of miles away. This week, the mammoth
agency said it wants to invest closer to home in what would be
one of the world’s largest plants to recycle sewage into
Among the many consequences of California’s severe drought is
an escalating dispute involving San Diego County’s northern and
southern communities over the price of recycled water, which is
treated sewage used primarily for irrigation.
To nudge California out of drought territory, it will take
almost double the amount of rain that falls in a normal year
during the upcoming rainy season that starts in less than two
weeks, according to a recent analysis prepared by National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists.
The state on Friday cleared some farmers, water agencies and
others to resume pumping from three Northern California
waterways, easing one of the toughest restrictions stemming
from the state’s four-year drought.
Drought-stricken cities in Southern California will soon get
some help courtesy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. …
Pending approval from its board, the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California will pay the authority almost
$44.4 million for the water, which equates to about a six-month
supply for the Las Vegas Valley.
Strong market prices and increased production helped push
Madera County’s 2014 crop values to a record-high $2.2 billion.
… Hardest hit by the drought were field crops, including
cotton, corn, oat hay and wheat.
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Climate
Change, scientists estimate that the amount of snow in the
Sierra Nevada was the lowest in more than 500 years. … The
report is the latest in a series of studies that have sought to
characterize the depth of California’s four-year drought and
place it in a broader historic context.
Extreme weather conditions and steep topography were factors in
the rapid spread of the Butte Fire. But Daniel Berlant with Cal
Fire says the state’s historic four-year drought was a factor
in the Butte Fire and the Valley Fire.
Citing the damage to homes and crucial infrastructure, Gov.
Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Sunday for Lake and
Napa counties, allowing the state to mobilize various
resources, including the California National Guard. He had
already declared a state of emergency Friday for Amador and
Calaveras counties, where the Butte fire has forced residents
to evacuate and threatened scores of homes and businesses.
Taxed by years of drought, the lake [Folsom Lake] is currently
filled to 19 percent of its total capacity, with officials from
the federal Bureau of Reclamation foreseeing it may yet drop
below the 1977 record-low of 150 acre feet. Low water levels
change more than the lake’s aesthetics.
The gates will open Monday on the fish ladder to the Feather
River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, beginning the two-month
process that will see 15 million chinook salmon eggs harvested
for further continuation of the species.
After four parched years, most California voters seem to be
taking the drought in stride, saying it has had little to no
effect on their daily lives. They oppose sacrificing
environmental protections to expand water supplies and
generally approve of how Gov. Jerry Brown has handled the
crisis, according to a new statewide USC Dornsife/Los Angeles
A soaking El Niño weather system is in the forecast, promising
to pummel California with torrents of rain by the end of the
year. That would seem like Champagne-popping news as this state
suffers through its worst drought in a millennium.
As Sacramentans endured another round of triple-digit
temperatures Thursday, weather forecasters offered predictions
of relief in the months to come: A strong El Niño winter is
almost certainly heading toward California, likely bringing
If the California drought continues, many of California’s
native freshwater fishes are at imminent risk of extinction.
This is a key finding of our recent report What If California’s
Drought Continues?, which projects the potential consequences
of ongoing drought on key sectors, including the
For decades, bits and pieces of local history and the ghosts
that guard them remained deep beneath the murky waters of New
Melones Reservoir, Lake Don Pedro, Folsom Lake and other
man-made drowners of artifacts.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the Eastern District
of California fired the latest shot in the most recent court
skirmish in the Golden State’s endless water wars. In denying
two Central Valley Project water districts’ attempt to halt
fish kill prevention flows from the Trinity to the Klamath
River, Judge O’Neill delighted Hoopa and Yurok tribal officials
Many counties throughout the state and the San Joaquin Valley
have successfully reduced the amount of ozone in the air. But
levels of soot, or particle pollution known as PM-2.5, have
started to increase after years of decline, according to state
figures. Officials are blaming the drought.
Among all the apocalyptic disasters that Californians routinely
prepare for — earthquake, drought, wildfire, carmageddon –
the most welcome is rain, even though giant El Niño events like
the one currently massing in the Pacific can bring their own
set of calamities: flooding, mudslides, carmageddon with
[John] Stoffan is among the California homeowners living near
wild lands who have seen their rates increase sharply because
insurance companies are increasingly wary of high fire-risk
areas. Factors fueling insurer’s fears include the drought and
some huge recent blazes, such as the 2013 Rim fire that burned
more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite.
The unseasonably high temperatures have sweeping, statewide
repercussions well beyond adding a few extra dollars to a
homeowner’s September electricity bill. Almond farmers across
the state face an unexpectedly urgent need to keep their
lucrative trees’ roots soaked in the middle of the harvest,
when the trees are at their most vulnerable.
More than 200,000 rainbow trout suffocated in a matter of
minutes Tuesday at the American River Hatchery near Rancho
Cordova due to an unexpected release of gunk from Folsom Dam
that clogged water intakes.
Although the state’s electrical grid has taken a punch from the
drought and record-high summer month temperatures, it has
remained standing. A state mandate to convert from burning oil,
coal and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere and contribute to global warming, to solar, wind and
geothermal energy has helped.
Californians across the state have responded en masse to the
call for lifestyle changes, curtailing water use, particularly
when it comes to watering their lawns. And some have responded
in a manner more concerning to government officials: They
canceled their flood insurance.
The four-year drought that has ravaged California and the
wildfires charring through the state’s dry forests have exposed
prehistoric Native American sites as water levels drop and
thick brush and poison oak are burned away.
California homeowners who replace their water-gulping grass
lawns with artificial turf in response to the drought would be
protected from sanctions by homeowner associations under one of
10 bills signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Thanks to a novel injection of cold, clear water from Camp
Meeker’s water system, about 3,400 imperiled coho salmon and
steelhead trout have a better chance of surviving in Dutch Bill
Creek until rain sweeps them to safety in the Russian River.
Across California this summer, residents have been racking up
water conservation numbers that defy expectations — a 27%
reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in July. … The
conservation performance raises a host of possibilities, and
profound questions, for water policy analysts and managers
The state Legislature last month balked at a measure that would
have provided $10 million for grants and low-interest loans to
replace private dry wells. The bill is now in limbo, even
though many lawmakers seemed to like it.
California growers took in more revenue in 2014 compared to the
year before, although their profits declined by about 10
percent, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the Pacific
Institute, a water policy think-tank. … Farm advocates say
the numbers for 2015, which won’t be calculated until next
year, will show a more pronounced impact.
Armed with evidence captured by surveillance cameras,
California regulators have ordered a business to stop tapping
Sierra Nevada spring water that is later bottled and sold in
stores, officials said Wednesday.
A new recycled water fill-up station opened in Sonoma Valley
this week, becoming the second facility in the county where
residents can go to get highly treated wastewater to irrigate
their gardens and ornamental landscaping.
How many domestic wells are having trouble throughout the
state? More than 2,500. That’s not an exact figure, but its
better than the smattering of reports that had been collected
before the most recent statewide summary.
With California mired in the fourth year of a drought, Central
Basin Municipal Water District officials say their free
programs for K-12 schools can serve as another tool to reduce
water consumption. The district offers nine programs about
water, energy and the need to conserve for teachers to use in
In fact, the longer and hotter the heat wave, the bigger the
jump in the odds that it coincided with drought conditions,
according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.
The number of water agencies that met or exceeded their mandate
increased to 290 in July, from 265 in June. … Longtime
California water watcher Rita Schmidt Sudman [adviser to the
Water Education Foundation and former executive director of the
Sacramento-based nonprofit] said the response is
An Alaska company is planning to be the first to ship
massive amounts of fresh water to drought-plagued
California, potentially as much as 10 million gallons a
month. … Water experts in California are skeptical, not
necessarily because of the idea but as a result of the
Jail officials are revamping the environment in and around the
Theo Lacy jail, embarking on a conservation effort that ranges
from tearing out grass to testing low-flow toilets and
upgrading shower valves and testing low-flow toilets.
In the past two years, the lesser-known longfin smelt has
slipped down to the single digits in trawl surveys of Delta
fish populations. The dramatic downturn is likely a result of
the drought, as with the tinier delta smelt.
The record wildfire season scorching the West is prompting
renewed calls for Congress to change how it funds firefighting,
a push that comes as the head of the Forest Service said the
agency would soon exceed its firefighting budget for the year —
Driven by drought, California stands ready to build a water
system for the 21st century. Ideas are flowing: conservation,
recycling, desalination, aquifer recharge, floodplain
restoration, storm water capture. But the biggest, most
expensive, most popular item of all is the foundation of the
20th century water system — dams.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife helicopter
circled over steep timberland in Humboldt County’s coastal
mountains, prowling for potential water diversions and
environmental damage caused by what is arguably the state’s
most lucrative agricultural product: marijuana.
Gerald Meral, a former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural
Resources Agency, sent draft language for “The Water Supply
Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016” to water agency
officials, environmentalists and others in recent days.
A fight over Crystal Geyser Water Company’s plans to tap water
at the base of Mount Shasta is headed to court after a group
sued to block the company from starting up a bottling plant
that would produce sparkling mineral water, tea and juice
The state’s historic drought has hit the San Joaquin Valley
hard, with farm losses in the billions, an increase in health
issues and a decline in income, according to a Fresno State
study released Thursday.
After Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% reduction in urban water
use statewide, regulators spent much of the spring chastising
water districts for not conserving enough during California’s
stubborn drought. Data released Thursday suggest the message is
Californians answered the call for conservation in July,
slashing water use by 31.3 percent and exceeding state targets
for the second straight month that communities face potential
fines for falling short.
They [Californians] are saving billions of gallons of water
every day. The extent of this commitment was evident Thursday
as the state released new figures showing that urban water use
statewide dropped by 31 percent in July compared with 2013.
Researchers from California’s top universities agree with
scientists across the globe that climate change is not some
future threat but is already happening, causing extreme
weather, record-breaking heat, mega wildfires and shifting
Last month, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney ripped the governor’s twin
tunnels plan, calling it “misguided” and wasteful. … “But I
can’t just say ‘No,’ ” McNerney said Tuesday after hosting
a drought forum at the Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center in
A U.S. District Court judge has denied two Central Valley
Project water districts’ attempt to halt fish kill prevention
flows to the Klamath River on Wednesday, making it the second
year in a row that the federal court has sided outright with
protections of Klamath River fish.
A coalition of non-profit organizations and businesses has
started a crowd-funding campaign called the California Drought
Relief Fund to provide assistance to families affected by the
state’s unprecedented drought and wildfires, said Dianne Saenz
of Climate Nexus.
Agricultural employment soared to a record 417,000 jobs,
largely because gains in the Central Coast, deserts and
Sacramento River Valley overcame losses in the San Joaquin
Valley, according to a report by the Pacific Institute, a
nonprofit public policy organization based in Oakland.
Fresno County agriculture set a record in 2014, with crop
values reaching $7 billion for the first time. … The county’s
total value was just the third best in the state – behind
Tulare and Kern counties – as the drought continued to drag
down Fresno’s overall crop production.
While drought-plagued California is eager for rain, the
forecast of a potentially Godzilla-like El Niño event has
communities clearing out debris basins, urging residents to
stock up on emergency supplies and even talking about how a
deluge could affect the 50th Super Bowl.
In what researchers suspect is another troubling side effect of
the state’s epic drought, the Delta is exploding with algae
particles that in intensified concentrations could pose a
substantial threat to the central hub for California’s vast
water delivery network. The algae bloom is not limited to the
Neighbors and activists in Mount Shasta have been pressing
Crystal Geyser Water Co. for months to conduct a full
environmental review before opening a bottling plant just
outside the small Northern California town.
Last summer, a narrow, rock-rimmed stretch of the Sacramento
River near here turned into a mass graveyard for baby salmon.
Upstream releases of water from Shasta Dam were so warm that
virtually an entire generation of endangered winter-run Chinook
was wiped out.
With water scarce in Northern California’s Klamath Basin, a
federal agency is again releasing cool, clean water into the
Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that
left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead.
Nestled high in the Sierra mountains among the pine and fir
trees, a little-known man-made wonder may help resolve a
pressing energy concern: how to store wind and sun power that
the grid increasingly can’t handle.
The San Joaquin Valley now battles California’s epic drought in
cities as much as its nation-leading farm fields. From
Bakersfield to Modesto, people struggle to meet some of the
highest state-ordered cutbacks anywhere in California.
On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to
release fish-kill preventative flows from a Trinity River dam
starting this weekend in order to protect fish on the lower
Klamath River from deadly pathogens caused by warm, low-flowing
water conditions, tribal fisheries officials said.
In a dramatic sign of climate change’s growing impact, this
July was the warmest month on Earth since modern temperature
records were first kept in 1880, federal scientists announced
Thursday. While climate change isn’t causing California’s
drought, it’s making the disaster worse, according to a
separate report released Thursday.
Another month, another record high for global temperatures,
U.S. government scientists announced Thursday. … The report
bolstered predictions from NOAA’s Climate Prediction
Center that an El Niño is likely later this year.