Topic: Drought



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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How drought has hit farmworkers hard in Fresno, Tulare counties

Despite statewide increases last year in farm employment and gross production value, the drought has dealt farmworkers in some parts of the central San Joaquin Valley a big blow.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Egg injection may be a tool of the future for saving salmon

Scientists were knee deep in the Feather River on Friday, systematically injecting 20,000 fertilized salmon eggs into the bottom of the river. … The eggs were injected near the Oroville Wildlife Area, just a few miles north of Gridley.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: We need fairer water conservation goals for inland California

The State Water Resources Control Board meets Monday on potential changes to mandatory water conservation targets should the drought persist into 2016. … The Regional Water Authority is joining several other water providers from across the state to propose an objective, science-based approach to adjust water conservation targets for climate.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Democrats criticize GOP attempt to insert drought plan in federal spending bill

California Democrats are fuming over an attempt by the state’s Republican House members to insert language addressing the state’s drought into a must-pass bill to fund the federal government.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Even if El Niño delivers rain and snow, drought may never release its grip

Will the drought ever really end? … By most expert accounts, a wet El Niño winter will help, but not solve, the Valley’s water problems. Drought, it seems, is the new normal.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Amid complaints about secrecy, California water bill bogs down again

A California water bill that skeptics say has been cloaked in excessive secrecy will probably miss its Capitol Hill train this year. … The latest plot turn in California water politics bears a striking resemblance to past Capitol Hill narratives.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Christmas tree farmers tough out the drought

Some of California’s Christmas trees are looking a bit more like a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree this year. After four years of drought have stressed and stunted trees on area farms, growers are feeling the pinch.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

San Joaquin Valley farmers now see drought as rule, not exception: ‘There is a real fear out there’

Farmers are no strangers to struggle or drought. But this four-year drought is different than others, they say. It’s more widespread, touching nearly everyone who turns on the tap or starts an irrigation pump.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Yurok call for better Scott River flows (with audio)

Fish can take a beating in drought years in Western rivers. 

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Salmon RIP?

Officials with the US Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that operates Shasta Dam, have blamed the drought for the mass salmon die off and say there simply wasn’t enough water to go around. … But environmentalists and fishermen note that by the end of summer 2015, many farmers in the Central Valley had received 75 percent of their water contract allotments, while at least 95 percent of the endangered winter-run Chinook’s fertilized eggs and newborn fish had been killed.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water savings slip, but state still on target

With rivers still flowing low, the freshwater Delta is once more turning salty. Officials are already considering installation of another emergency drought barrier in the Delta in April, to keep that saltwater at bay.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water supplies not looking good for 2016

Public water agencies that serve millions of residents in drought-weary California might only receive 10 percent of expected supplies in 2016 – half the amount that flowed to them this year through the state’s massive system of reservoirs and canals, state officials say.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California misses October target for saving water

Californians posted a 22 percent savings in water use in October, marking the first month residents have missed the state’s mandatory 25 percent conservation target since enforcement of the cutbacks began in June, officials said Tuesday in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s snowpack is deeper than last year, but more is needed, officials say

First, the good news: Thanks to a series of frosty winter storms, California’s snowpack is now double what it was last year at this time, according to officials.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State water deliveries projected to be sparse again

California officials announced Tuesday that the state’s massive water delivery system, which carries mountain runoff to cities and farms, will likely supply 10 percent of the water requested next year due to the drought — half of what was provided this year.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water conservation lagged in October, but state is still on course

But during an unusually hot October, state regulators say, water savings hit a snag. For the first time, residents and businesses fell short of the statewide target, cutting their water consumption by 22.2% in October compared with the same month in 2013.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Catalina Island aims to avoid more water rationing with new desalination plant

The new desalination plant has been built through a partnership between Los Angeles County, the city of Avalon and Southern California Edison.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Groups seek fast ruling in suit to halt Nestle water use

Three environmental groups who sued the U.S. Forest Service in federal court to keep Nestle from piping water out of a national forest filed a motion Monday to get a fast ruling in the case.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California Christmas tree farmer: ‘90 percent of what I planted died’

Christmas trees are the latest casualties of California’s devastating drought. Northern California tree farmers are reporting that this year’s crop is suffering due to the water shortage. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Official — California water savings take a dip in October

The State Water Resources Control Board is expected Tuesday to reveal how much water cities conserved in October.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought squeezes duck hunters – that could be bad news for fowl

Largely lost in the statewide discussion about fallowed crops, depleted reservoirs and brown lawns, is the impact of California’s drought on hunting. The succession of four dry years has dried up many of the natural marshes and rice fields used by the estimated 55,000 people who hunt waterfowl in California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s hard-hit water districts will get a chance to ask regulators for relief

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest executive order provisionally extends California’s drought restrictions into next fall and calls on the State Water Resources Control Board to consider adjusting the rules in the coming weeks.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Eel River flows still too low in peak salmon spawning period

This month’s rainfall and cooler temperatures have helped lessen the strain on salmon migrating on the Eel River, but not near enough to ease the concerns of local researchers. And they have their reasons.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

Blog: Drought means no tree for some Christmas shoppers

As many as 27 percent of Californians say they will not buy a live Christmas tree this year because of the ongoing drought. That’s according to a new survey by the American Christmas Tree Association. … In Oregon, which produces more Christmas trees than any other state, the market is holding up just fine, even though that state is experiencing a milder drought of its own.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

El Niño bringing California a big snow season

Thanks in part to El Niño, a series of strong storms have blanketed the Sierras with snow. Another storm this week is expected to deliver another layer of the white stuff — and draw skiers back to resorts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

4 arrested in vandalism of Bay Area dam that caused loss of 50 million gallons of water

Under the cover of darkness, a group of vandals this spring slashed an inflatable dam in the Bay Area, sending millions of gallons of water into San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Holiday travelers be warned — Huge snowstorm coming to Sierra Nevada

A massive storm, reaching across about half of the state, is expected to move in Tuesday and peak Wednesday, where it will drop up to 18 inches of snow on mountain summits from Shasta County and Lake Tahoe to Yosemite, said Nathan Owen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Woodbridge Dam salmon spotters

The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which manages the salmon on the Mokelumne River, relies on a camera that records every single salmon swimming past Woodbridge Dam. The footage is relayed to East Bay MUD’s office three miles away.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Salmon returning, but drought concerns persist

As the salmon counters at East Bay Municipal Utility District can attest, the fall salmon run is well underway — and the fish are coming, drought or no.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

Blog: DroughtPro — 5 ways to save water on laundry

You probably don’t need to wash your clothes as often as you do. Here are some tricks to tweak your wardrobe and habits to cut back one of the biggest water users in the home.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Councilman pushes for limits to artificial turf installations

A California law – that was passed to respond to the drought - allows artificial turf on all residential property. But, a Sacramento city councilman says the law should allow cities to restrict its use.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In California, stingy water users are fined in drought, while the rich soak

Four years into the worst drought in California’s recorded history, the contrast between the strict enforcement on Californians struggling to conserve and the unchecked profligacy in places like Bel Air has unleashed anger and indignation — among both the recipients of the fines, who feel helpless to avoid them, and other Californians who see the biggest water hogs getting off scot-free.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Scott River flow ‘crisis’ preventing salmon spawning

Near-record low flows on the Scott River are causing salmon to bash their heads on rocks in an attempt to reach spawning grounds, according to Yurok Tribe Senior Fisheries Biologist Michael Belchik.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Massive El Niño gains strength, likely to drench key California drought zone

One of the most powerful El Niños on record continues gathering strength and is looking increasingly likely to bring heavy rains to key Northern California areas that provide water for the rest of the state, according to a new forecast.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Recent storms help Sierra snowpack not water supply (with audio)

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update says the storms that have brought snow to the Sierra Nevada had no effect on California’s long-term water supply deficit.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: El Niño forecast to ease drought as odds of wet winter rise again

After four years of unrelenting drought, nearly all of California is likely to see at least some relief this winter, federal climate experts said Thursday, offering a first real message of hope for the bone-dry state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Absurdly hot October as Earth sets 8th heat record this year

October’s temperature was the most above-normal month in history. … [NOAA climate scientist Jessica] Blunden and other scientists blame a potent and strengthening El Nino on top of accelerating man-made global warming.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Study: California drought management lacking (with audio)

The report from the Public Policy Institute of California says the state’s system for allocating water is fragmented, inconsistent and lacks transparency. It says the problems keep the state from adequately managing water in a drought.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Water conservation in Chico brought up the water levels below our feet

Chico’s efforts to save water are showing up in an increase in groundwater levels. … The same is not true in ag-rich areas.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California water agencies want more flexibility to meet conservation requirements

Sacramento-area water agencies are hoping that the state will give them less stringent water conservation requirements going forward.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: El Niño could be the most powerful on record, scientists say

Some scientists say the readings show that this year’s El Niño could be among the most powerful on record — and even topple the 1997 El Niño from its pedestal.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Water-wasting rules may continue after California drought ends

Hope to hose down your driveway one day? It might never happen again.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Watchdog: Water fines rise as tempers flare

There’s that house in Yorba Linda owned by folks who live out of the country: The sprinklers were never adjusted for a state-ordered 36 percent water cut.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Governor Brown issues order to prepare for fifth year of drought (with audio)

California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order to prepare for a fifth year of drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought sends Folsom Lake to record low as rain moves in

The 60-year-old reservoir held 140,501 acre-feet of water at mid afternoon [Nov. 14], or roughly 14 percent of capacity, according to California Department of Water Resources data.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California water cutbacks likely to be extended next year

Despite forecasts of a wet winter, Californians can expect another year of water conservation in 2016 under an executive order issued Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mandate on California water cuts slated to continue if drought persists

California’s urban areas should prepare to keep conserving water until at least next fall, Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

El Niño is here, and it’ll be ‘one storm after another like a conveyor belt’

The strong El Niño in the Pacific Ocean is becoming even more powerful, setting the stage for an unusually wet winter in California that could bring heavy rains by January, climate experts said.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Commentary: Many California lakes are shockingly low

In 35 years, nobody’s seen numbers like these. In a personal survey this week of 125 recreation lakes, 33 are under 25 percent full, and that includes 19 that are less than 10 percent full and four that are empty.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union Tribune

Rancho Santa Fe has top water user

California was scandalized when one home in the Los Angeles area was found to be using 11.8 million gallons of water a year amid a drought. Well, how does 13.8 million gallons sound?

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Environmentalists sue over Sacramento River water, fish perils

Escalating the fight over California’s diminished water supply, a coalition of environmental groups sued Central Valley farmers and the federal government over the possible extinction facing an endangered run of salmon.

Aquafornia news KCRA-TV Sacramento

Folsom Lake near historic-low depth despite rainfall (with video)

It will take dozens of rain storms to alter the effects of California’s four-year drought. … With Folsom Lake now at just 15 percent of capacity, water experts are once again urging Californians to conserve.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Another nice bit of rain, but with less drama

For the second Sunday and Monday in a row, Northern California got a pretty good soaking, without the thunderstorm drama of Nov. 2.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thunderstorm in Bay Area means snow in the Sierra

When hundreds of lightning strikes lit up the Bay Area during an early morning downpour Monday, Ed Beyeler looked out his window in San Francisco and thought one thing — snow.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

Blog: No relief for low-income homes as water rates soar

The drought is driving up water rates all over California as utilities scramble to cover revenue losses and pay for additional supplies. There will be no relief for low-income residents, who are caught in a legal conundrum that prevents most water agencies from discounting their rates.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

To save water, an underground movement to bank El Niño’s rainfall

When the California Water Commission this year surveyed water agencies about storage proposals that might qualify for funding under Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond approved by state voters, half the responses involved groundwater projects, including one from [Gary] Serrato’s [Fresno Irrigation] district.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Dueling drought relief bills reveal stark differences

As California enters the fifth consecutive year of unprecedented drought, Congress is debating two competing bills designed to provide federal drought relief to California agriculture. The proposals reveal stark differences in proposed federal water and environmental policy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Early-season storm makes small dent in California’s drought outlook

Two areas of California considered to be in “exceptional” drought were upgraded to the “extreme” category —  the best either area has seen since at least the beginning of summer, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Rain brings some ‘drought relief’ to California, Nevada

The storms that brought rain and snow to California and Nevada over the past week brought slight improvement in the drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area country club gulps over 2 million gallons of water a week

It takes a lot of water to feed the lush lawns that drape in vibrant folds across the Menlo Country Club’s golf course on the edge of Woodside. And, apparently, a crippling drought is seen as no reason to pull back on the spigot.

Aquafornia news Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Answers to your burning California drought questions

Despite prodigious reporting on California’s historic drought, many details remain hidden from view or shrouded in secrecy. So we decided to put a call out to our readers: What stones remain unturned?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

More states wade into legal fight on greenhouse gases

A legal battle is brewing in Washington over President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting states economically dependent on fossil fuels against those already suffering from longer droughts, stronger storms and higher seas.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California rice takes top spot in international competition

A rice variety developed and grown in California has won the top award in a worldwide competition, and the state’s drought may have had something to do with it.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

McCarthy: Use high-speed rail funds to quench California’s drought

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a persistent critic of California’s high-speed rail program, said that the funds for the project should be diverted to quench the state’s severe drought.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

To build or not to build, that’s the dam question in dry California (with video/audio)

Across California, after years of punishing drought, reservoirs that normally fill canals and make crops bloom are greatly depleted or even empty. Some say that getting more water into storage by building more dams is key.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Why dams are at the heart of California’s water wars

California is soul searching right now on how to deal with the drought. Should it build more dams? Or are there already enough dams — more than 1,400 — in the state, and not enough water to fill them up anyway?

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Not El Niño yet: Tahoe Basin sees significant snow from first winter storm

With portions of the Tahoe region reporting 465 percent above the average snowpack following the first winter storm of the season, Monday, Nov. 2, it’s clear the Sierra Nevada is in for a winter for the ages. Right?

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Recycled wastewater to give Los Angeles County some water independence

Unfazed by the taint of “toilet-to-tap,” the Water Replenishment District of Southern California unveiled another in a series of water recycling projects Tuesday that will help end its reliance on imported water and provide drought-insurance for its customers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water purification plant would eliminate need for imported water, officials say

As the worst drought in California history threatens to enter a fifth straight year, officials are advocating a variety of water reuse projects they say will reduce Southern California’s unquenchable thirst for imported water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California drought keeps water delivery companies busy (with audio)

More than 2,000 California homeowners have run out of water in the drought, according to the state website that tracks such data. But many homeowners whose wells have run dry haven’t reported it.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Heavy snows in Sierra Nevada raise hopes of relief from drought

A day of heavy snow may have turned swaths of the Sierra Nevada into a winter landscape, but it’s too early to tell if it will have a lasting effect on the winter snowpack, forecasters say.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

California dead tree ‘emergency’ could fuel wildfires, El Niño floods

Calling it “the worst epidemic of tree mortality in modern history,” Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency this week, asking for swift removal of dried-out trees either through controlled burns or as feed for biomass energy plants.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities get drought-related grants

East Porterville and other Valley communities suffering the effects of California’s worst drought in decades are getting financial aid from the federal government to buoy their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee The Mono-logue

Blog: New twists as Mono Lake’s level falls — Spotlight on lake level forecasting in 2016

California’s four-year drought has lowered Mono Lake more than five feet. … In this case, another dry winter that pushes the state into a fifth drought year would push new and potentially contentious Mono Lake management issues to the forefront.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Should we be carving jack-o’-lanterns during a drought?

You may have heard a few things about pumpkins: There’s a shortage nationwide or there’s a shortage in California due to the drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown declares emergency for dying trees

Lamenting “the worst epidemic of tree mortality” in the state’s modern history, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday sought federal aid to remove dead trees from California forests and called for more controlled burns to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Why a UC Riverside economist says there is no drought

UC Riverside economist Christopher Thornberg told hundreds of business leaders at a recent economic forecast that there is no drought. … The content of his address surprised and frustrated some water officials, who said the declaration of drought is based on hydrology, not economics.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California fines water suppliers for failure to cut back

State officials for the first time are fining California water suppliers for failing to meet a mandated 25 percent reduction in water use in the battle against a widespread drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

New plant tests appetite for seawater desalination

There’s far more riding on the Americas’ largest seawater desalination plant than the 50 million gallons of drinking water it will produce for the San Diego area each day.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Drought transforms Sacramento Valley, right in our own backyards

Acre by acre, Sacramento Valley farmland is being transformed. Pastures and row crops are giving way to more valuable orchards.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

First fines in California drought issued to cities and agencies (with audio)

Regulators are praising the Californians who conserved water in September, but issuing the first fines to four urban water suppliers who waited too late to conserve or failed to enforce conservation standards.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Folsom Lake: Stark, wondrous landscape amid drought (with video)

Thanks to the drought, a visit to Folsom Lake right now is a chance to walk through California history.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

As East Bay water use drops, snitching on the rise

In their zeal to conserve water during the fourth year of a historic drought, many East Bay residents have become water snitches, tattling on neighbors for hosing down driveways, leaving sprinklers on all night and even excessive bathing.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Eel River salmon go blind awaiting rain

Recent high tides and brief mid-September rains gave some Eel River salmon a fleeting chance to move closer to their spawning grounds. But a lack of adequate flows on the river is causing many fish to fall ill as they crowd within small pools for weeks at a time, according to a recent survey by the Eel River Recovery Project.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

New list of water hogs includes bankers, lawyers, former Warrior

The batch of 1,098 East Bay Municipal Utility District customers who sucked up more than their share during a 60-day billing period this summer was a who’s who of some of the richest people in the Bay Area.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Farmers near Sacramento River save water for winter birds

Right now, migrating waterfowl are looking for wet places to land and feed. … This week, several Sacramento River farm water districts finalized a deal with the federal Bureau of Reclamation to use water later in the year, to provide water for birds in November.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: State releasing latest water figures, discussing penalties

State officials plan to tell Californians what penalties they are taking against communities that fail to meet a mandated 25 percent reduction in water use when they announce usage figures Friday, in the state’s battle against a widespread drought.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Stanford project maps underground water — aimed at taking the guesswork out of well drilling

In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water, hidden hundreds of feet underground. … This week, a helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of California.

Aquafornia news Reuters

California officials outline preparations for El Niño flooding

As California braces for torrential downpours this winter from El Niño, authorities have stockpiled extra sandbags across the state while putting hundreds of personnel through flood-control training, officials told state lawmakers on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

After long summer, water pumping resumes

With the harvest ending and demand for water on the decline, senior water-right holders can once more draw from the San Joaquin River, state officials announced this week.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lingering drought heightens worries of extinction for salmon

Another deadly summer of drought has heightened fears of extinction in the wild for an iconic California salmon, federal officials said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

What El Niño could mean for California: 5 takeaways

A Wednesday state Senate hearing dove into a topic on the mind of many Californians, examining how an anticipated El Niño surge of wetness could affect residents and force a pivot from drought preparedness to flood response.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought-driven salmon deaths could have far-reaching impact

One of the last wild runs of chinook salmon in California is sinking fast amid the four-year drought and now appears perilously close to oblivion after the federal agency in charge of protecting marine life documented the death of millions of young fish and eggs in the Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Feds: Winter salmon run nearly extinguished in California drought

For the second straight year, huge numbers of juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon appear to have baked to death in the Sacramento River because of California’s drought-stretched water supplies, bringing the endangered species a step closer to extinction.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Chinook salmon spawning season looks like a disaster for second year in a row

This year’s spawning season for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon is looking like another disaster, placing one of California’s most prized native fish in an even more precarious position.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

These water districts are way short of their conservation targets

Over the last four months, the residents and businesses of the Indian Wells Valley Water District have cut their water consumption by about 25%, and General Manager Don Zdeba thinks that’s “pretty darn good.”

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Despite hype of El Niño Grande, California rainy season starts with a whimper

Many Californians have already mentally deposited oceans of rainwater into our depleted reservoirs, thanks to the hype surrounding a projected Godzilla El Niño this year. The only problem is that actual deposits haven’t really amounted to much just yet. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California lifts restrictions on senior water rights

With the harvest largely over, the State Water Resources Control Board said there’s enough water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin watersheds so that holders of senior water rights could once more divert water from rivers and streams.

Western Water Magazine

Rewriting History: California’s Epic Drought
September/October 2015

This issue examines the impacts of California’s epic drought, especially related to water supplies for San Joaquin Valley rural communities and farmland.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

This new app, Smart H2O, wants you to report water waste

Running your lawn sprinklers when you shouldn’t? Got a leaky pipe that’s sending water onto the street?

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Grower says Oakdale Irrigation District broke state law with secret water sale

Irrigation leaders illegally agreed to sell Stanislaus River water to outsiders, an Oakdale Irrigation District customer alleges in a formal complaint. … The district has explained the deal in meetings, a news release and an Oct. 18 advertisement in The Modesto Bee.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In drought-ridden California, the classic lawn loses ground

The cash-for-grass program has existed for years in Southern California, but it reached a pinnacle this year, as the drought intensified and local water districts increased the size of the rebates, sometimes to as much as $4 a square foot. … But the costly initiatives are not simply about conservation.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: South state storms show no easy remedies for California drought

An epic rainstorm brought mudslides, flooding and road closures to Southern California recently, but it did little to ease the state’s four-year drought. … The problem revolves around El Nino’s typical behavior and the lopsided nature of California’s mostly man-made plumbing system.

Aquafornia news Australian Broadcasting Corporation

US politicians hoping to learn from Australia’s experience of drought (with audio)

With California in the group of a five-year drought, a group of politicians from the state are in Australia, hoping to learn from the experiences here in the millennium drought.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

El Niño: Californians urged to buy flood insurance even if they’re not near water

With the strongest El Niño conditions in nearly 20 years already underway in the Pacific Ocean and chances increasing for heavy storms this winter, federal emergency officials on Friday urged Californians to buy flood insurance — even those who don’t live near creeks or rivers.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Water district opens doors to wastewater plant, serves residents treated sewer water

Former sewer water was the drink of choice Saturday at an event in Alivso to show off the county’s new advanced water purification plant and tout the potential for recycled water. … The verdict? Many thought it tasted pretty good.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Place some limits on new pumping until drought ends

The governor should use his emergency powers under the existing drought to ban new wells in areas where groundwater pumping is causing significant economic damage. I [Gerald H. Meral] don’t take this position lightly. I understand it would harm people who need groundwater to keep their farms going.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Big water users, take note: Los Angeles DWP is considering outing you

Decades before someone coined the Twitter hashtag #droughtshaming and people began posting YouTube videos of their neighbors’ drowning lawns, California water suppliers encouraged conservation by releasing the names of their biggest water hogs.

Aquafornia news Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Vote for the California drought question you want answered

For all our reporting on the secrets of California’s historic drought, we know there still are many stones left unturned. … Which question do you most want our reporters to answer?

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Congressional Republicans demand plan for collecting El Niño water

The Republican members of California’s delegation are demanding a government plan to store the deluge of water that could come with El Niño this winter.

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Commentary: Damning California’s future

Few places in California are more remote from urban life than Round Valley, but the watershed and [Richard] Wilson are central to understanding why Governor Jerry Brown and other powerful interests are avidly pursuing several multibillion-dollar dam projects and two massive water tunnels that are strikingly similar to plans laid out in economic and engineering charts in California in the early-1950s.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Secret water sale complaints spill into Oakdale Irrigation board meeting

Irrigation leaders agreed to refund drought surcharges paid by farmers this year, an action that was overshadowed Tuesday by a dispute over a recently unveiled sale of water to outsiders.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers head to Australia to study drought response

While the rest of us hope for a strong El Niño this winter, California lawmakers are looking to farther-flung locales for solutions to the state’s historic drought, now deep into its fourth year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

El Niño on the way

It was the latest in a series of October storms that could provide a preview of what’s in store in the coming months as an El Niño system moves in and threatens to bring unstable weather to the Southwest…. California is bracing for a rainy winter, potentially easing the drought while creating new problems such as flooding and mudslides.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Los Angeles DWP, other utilities to raise water rates because of drought

Throughout California, consumers have conserved during this four-year drought and purchased less water from their utilities, leaving some water agencies operating in the red and drawing down reserves.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers travel to Australia for drought lessons

California lawmakers are joining environmental, labor and business leaders on a trip to see how Australia managed its longest and most severe drought on record.

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

How the drought lowered Central Basin Municipal Water District’s bond rating

Citing concerns the drought might reduce revenue for Central Basin Municipal Water District, Moody’s Investor Service has downgraded by one notch its rating for the district from Aa3 to A1.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monarchs get help from unlikely source: California’s drought

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought-stressed California forests face a radical shift (with video)

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.

Western Water Excerpt

Rewriting History: California’s Epic Drought
September/October 2015

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought creates fresh produce shortage at Central Valley food banks

The four-year drought in California is beginning to squeeze food banks.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought takes toll on ‘agritourism’ farms that once thrived on Halloween crowds

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Gov. Brown’s link between climate change and wildfires is unsupported, fire experts say

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 climate change.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: In the drought-parched Central Valley, a waiting game begins

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.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Naming high water users in the drought — It depends where you live

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Commentary: Congress can help California with comprehensive water plan

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Oakland A’s Billy Beane is among water district’s top users

Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane and a retired Chevron Oil executive are among the top excessive water users in a district east of San Francisco, utility records show.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A’s Billy Beane near top of East Bay water hogs list

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.

Aquafornia news Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Billy Beane and oil exec among East Bay’s biggest water guzzlers

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Why some homeowners are no longer cool with backyard pools

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 scarcity.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Our driest days: The sad state of local reservoirs

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 the dam.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Wildlife managers use careful management to prepare for winter bird migration

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County mudslides trap numerous cars; I-5 closed to traffic

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 north-south artery.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: El Niño — Wet winter likely across California, not just in south, new report says

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

El Niño looking like a rainy winner for state’s watersheds

The areas that need strong El Niño storms the most are likely to get them, forecasters said Thursday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

El Niño rains forecast to reach far into Northern California, where they’re most needed

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Warm weather complicates El Niño, drought outlook

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 to forecast.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Bel-Air water hogs spur move to impose stiff penalties on Los Angeles guzzlers

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 water.”

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District sets date for rate increase hearing

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Temperance Flat Dam dominates California Water Commission meeting in Clovis

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 competitive.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Irrigation season ends with more in storage than expected

Some irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley ended the season with more water than expected to carry over into 2016, but the drought still looms.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Folsom Lake hits lowest depths in 20-plus years

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.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District reveals big-money water sale to outside buyers

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.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Groups sue over Nestle water operation in San Bernardino Mountains

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Nestle drawing millions of gallons of California water on expired permit, suit claims

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California drought: New poll shows growing majority calls it ‘extremely serious’

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.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences California WaterBlog

Blog: Capturing El Niño for the underground

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.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A culture of nagging helps California save water

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Evidence mounts for El Niño that could ease Calif. drought

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Poll — California’s drought heavy on the mind

California’s punishing drought has taken a firm grip on the electorate’s conscience, with more than 3 in 4 voters describing the state’s water shortage as extremely serious, according to a new poll.

Aquafornia news Wall St. Journal

Fines over water use rankle Californians

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown clears way for artificial turf, blasts Prop. 218

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.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun Washington Bureau

Drought relief legislation proves challenging in D.C.

Thursday’s Senate committee hearing on legislation to provide drought relief in the West showed why passing anything on this issue is so difficult.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Senators drill into California water bill

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 bills.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Rain no help for California reservoirs (with audio)

A fifth year of drought is likely in California, and El Niño won’t end it, say water scientists and forecasters.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Massive El Niño is now ‘too big to fail,’ scientist says

A massive El Niño is among the strongest on record as it gains strength in the Pacific Ocean, and climate scientists say California is likely to face a wet winter.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Restaurants object, Fort Bragg reconsiders strict water rules

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.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Radio for Northern California

Could Israeli ingenuity (and seawater) help California slake its thirst? (with audio)

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s federal reservoirs even lower than last year

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.

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Could lake water from Alaska be shipped to Los Angeles, Long Beach ports?

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Lemoore gets state relief on water mandate

California water officials have issued an alternative compliance order for Lemoore, which means the city will not have to meet the state’s mandate for cutting 32 percent of its water consumption. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Marijuana growers are new drought target

Pot growers have been put on notice by state regulators that they will have to follow the same rules as the rest of the agriculture industry in protecting the state’s drought-stricken water supply.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fort Bragg orders restaurants to use disposable plates, cups

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 washing dishes.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Will El Niño ‘solve’ drought? Not if the rain falls in Southern California

In recent weeks, conditions have gelled for what forecasters say could be one of the strongest El Niño weather patterns in recorded history. Will it substantially ease California’s historic drought?

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A sunny outlook for jobs in the Golden State

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.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Once a fishing paradise, Salton Sea withers in California drought

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Mendota water rally calls for special legislative session

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Millions of dollars in California fire prevention money goes unspent

Amid a drought that has created bone-dry conditions across much of California’s wildland area, a state fire prevention account has ended recent fiscal years with tens of millions of dollars unspent.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Felicia Marcus: Amid drought, no simple solutions on California water

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Skiers, resorts cast hopeful eye toward El Niño

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California meets water savings target for third month

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.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Delta farmers: Voluntary water cuts pay off

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 week.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s drought consequences are snowballing, so to speak

Conservation numbers for California come out Thursday. Residents have been seriously saving water in the last few months, spurred by severe drought conditions. … So how bad is the drought?

Aquafornia news Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

The Wet Prince of Bel Air: Who is California’s biggest water guzzler?

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.

Aquafornia news KCRA-TV Sacramento

California finishes water year with near record-low precipitation (with video)

State officials were preparing to close the books on California’s water year Wednesday and said 12-month precipitation totals were likely to be near record lows.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Officials: California meeting water conservation target

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Dramatic photos show California’s water-starved Folsom Lake Reservoir

The state’s ninth-largest reservoir, the main water source for the Sacramento suburbs, is currently at 18 percent capacity. The historical average for this time of year is 30 percent.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Poll: Californians willing to sacrifice in drought (with audio)

The Hoover Institution’s Golden State Poll focused on how to address the state’s fourth year of drought. It found 54 percent of likely voters back current water cuts. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Even in drought, California water rights politically toxic

It was the worst drought in California’s history. … Facing a crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown decided it might be time to tackle a thorny political subject: water rights. … It was 1978.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Wildfires: This season has been one of the worst, with worse to come

Because of California’s drought, historically low humidity in brush is allowing flames to spread more quickly than ever, creating serious implications for residents and firefighters.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Water, 2015, California: The no-good, very bad year — now, ‘pray for rain’

“Water year” 2015 was hot, dry and fiery, compounding the misery brought on by a fourth year of drought. … Water watchers keep track of precipitation and storage using Oct. 1 as a starting point.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Rain barrels, washing machines join conservation effort

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tiny mountain community finally gives up its old-school water district

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

In East Porterville, drought escalates mental health issues

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Orange County offers model for places without enough water

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Why El Niño won’t save us from the drought

For Californians, for whom the sound of rain has become an exciting novelty, the idea of a rainy season sounds like the promise of salvation. The drought will end, and we will be saved.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Exports suffer as Sacramento Valley rice crop takes hit in drought (with video)

It’s harvest time in Sacramento Valley rice country, and like a lot of farmers in the state, rice grower Fritz Durst loves the idea that California agriculture helps feed the world.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Despite rain, drought unchanged in California

“Across California and the Great Basin, drought remained unchanged as the region continued through its climatologically dry summer season,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Sept. 24.

Aquafornia news KCRA-TV Sacramento

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Emergency drought measures move forward at Folsom Lake (with video)

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. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

NASA satellite images show deep burn scars from Valley fire in Northern California

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Q&A: California’s fire problem — Is it mostly a people problem?

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.”

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Groundwater recharge project moves ahead

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.