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 New York Times

A thirsty Colorado is battling over who owns raindrops

To encourage conservation, cities and water agencies in California and other states have begun nudging homeowners to use captured rain for their gardens, rather than water from the backyard faucet. But Colorado is one of the last places in the country where rainwater barrels are still largely illegal because of a complex system of water rights in which nearly every drop is spoken for.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Federal agencies pledge another $110 million in drought aid

Federal agencies pledged another $110 million in aid Friday to help states struggling with the crippling drought after President Barack Obama talked to leaders from seven western states.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Why do they keep building homes during a water crisis?

California is in a severe drought, the outlook is uncertain, yet residential development continues unabated. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento considers lifting longtime ban on artificial turf

While the artificial-turf industry points to studies that show its products are safe and environmentally friendly, some critics worry about toxins from synthetic yards and fields leaching into air and waterways. … Some of those raising concerns, including a California state senator, cite potential risks to human health.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Drought drains water resources for firefighters

Cal Fire officials are taking stock of water resources typically tapped during large fires.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California’s water czar, part empathetic confessor and part friendly scold

Felicia Marcus peered over her desk the other day as the State Water Resources Control Board came to order in a hearing room here, bracing for another day of bad drought news.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Gov. Brown preaches adaptation but ducks big fights

As for the drought, [Gov. Jerry] Brown told [Los Angeles Times Publisher Austin] Beutner that Californians need to “take water and use it and use it again and use it again. The metaphor is spaceship Earth. In a spaceship you reuse everything.” OK, but where’s the state’s crash recycling program?

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Gov. Jerry Brown pushes budget measure to consolidate water agencies

The Brown administration is pushing late-emerging budget legislation to let state officials force the consolidation of troubled water systems with larger, better-funded agencies, with the goal of improving Californians’ access to safe drinking water after four years of drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California curtails senior water rights

In a dramatic and controversial move that reflects the severity of the drought, California water regulators Friday ordered farmers and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state to stop pulling water out of California’s rivers.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sacramento Valley senior water rights cuts fall unevenly

Even in dry years, water rights that date back before 1914 usually hold strong. However, Friday the State Water Resources Control Board announced water rights would be curtailed even for landowners who had rights dating back to 1903.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California moves to restrict water pumping by pre-1914 rights holders

For the first time in nearly 40 years, state regulators are telling more than 100 growers and irrigation districts with some of the oldest water rights in California that they have to stop drawing supplies from drought-starved rivers and streams in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Decades-old water rights in California halted amid drought

Despite California’s drought, Richard and Danna Jones’ cattle grazing pasture has stayed green thanks to water flowing free from a gulch claimed by his grandfather in 1911.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Breaking News: California moves to restrict water pumping by pre-1914 rights holders

For the first time in nearly 40 years, California regulators are telling more than 100 irrigation districts and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state that they have to stop pumping supplies from drought-starved rivers and streams in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Good news on groundwater

San Joaquin County is once again eligible for millions of dollars in grants to bolster the region’s water supply, after landowners agreed to provide private well construction details to the state, officials announced Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Switchboard

Blog: Now or never — It’s time for State Board to require stormwater capture and help California mitigate the drought

California is at a critical moment in deciding how we’ll deal with stormwater in Los Angeles … and beyond. Next Tuesday, June 16, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) will consider whether or not it will uphold the current stormwater permit for Los Angeles County, which was last renewed in 2012.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

‘Extreme Drought’ expands in California (with audio)

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that conditions worsened in two California counties in the midst of a fourth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California tries to save salmon in wine country creeks

California is taking desperate steps to save the last endangered salmon in Wine Country creeks that are going dry because of over-pumping and the drought, officials said Thursday. … Threatened steelhead trout are also being pulled from drying stretches of the waterways.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Surprise storm means 48-hour sprinkler ban

Gov. Jerry Brown’s emergency drought regulations prohibit outdoor watering within 48 hours of rain, with fines of up to $500 for violators.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Sticky seats? California ballparks get creative to conserve

Earlier this season, the grounds crew that watches over the lush green playing field where the San Francisco Giants play tried something new: They cut back on overnight watering.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

El Niño continues to build, bringing increased chances of a wet winter

In a promising trend that increases the likelihood of steady storms this winter that could ease California’s historic drought, federal scientists on Thursday reported that El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean are continuing to grow stronger.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Odds of a strong El Niño climb

El Niño, which dragged its feet last year and ended up a big disappointment, continues to intensify this year and holds increasing promise for delivering a wet winter to parched California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Dying trees may force a new outlook on irrigation during drought

The unrelenting drought that has ravaged parts of California’s forest land is now taking a toll on the trees that line urban parks, boulevards and backyards.

Aquafornia news NPR

Californians look to Sierra Nevada Native Americans for drought solutions (with audio)

In the Sierra Nevada mountains, North Fork Mono American Indians are working to thin the forest.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Cities eye Riverside’s legal challenge to drought rules (with video)

Communities across California are waiting to see the outcome of the city of Riverside’s legal challenge to the state’s new mandatory water cutbacks.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Crisis or not? Jerry Brown avoids offering stern advice on drought

[Gov. Jerry] Brown has always had the capacity to be fascinating and maddening in the same instant, and he was both during an hour of questioning at USC by Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner. The governor offered little in the way of advice for Californians wondering how, exactly, to trim a quarter of their water usage, the level necessary statewide to satisfy his plan.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California rice farmers find Japanese trade negotiators a bit starchy

Yet even as California farmers eye what could be a lucrative expansion into the world’s most discriminating rice market in Japan, their ambitions have been complicated by the state’s severe drought and the surge in the dollar.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pools, water slides not affected by conservation mandate

Families from San Bernardino to Temecula will still be able to cool off at their neighborhood pools and water slides this summer, despite orders from the state to cut water use an average of 25 percent.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Amid drought, Indio, Desert Hot Springs get lower water cutbacks

State officials have reduced the mandatory water cutbacks required of Indio and Desert Hot Springs. But the Desert Water Agency had no such luck with a similar request.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water wasters beware: #DroughtShaming on the rise

[Tony] Corcoran alone estimates he’s put more than 100 videos of water-wasters, complete with their addresses, up on YouTube. Others tweet out addresses and photos of water scofflaws on Twitter, using hashtags such as (hash)DroughtShaming.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought and record-breaking heat are bad combination as fire season begins

Record-breaking heat and continuous drought could make for an active and dangerous fire season this year.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco water supply in OK shape, but officials keep on pressure

Four years into a drought that has left many cities and farms desperate for water, the vast Sierra-fed water system that serves San Francisco and much of the Bay Area is in relatively good shape — and should get the region through the dry months ahead, officials said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California’s rice crop predicted to be 30 percent below normal (with audio)

California’s drought is contributing to a sharp drop in rice production, about 30 pecent below normal. This raises concerns for both the ecnoomy and wildlife that call the shallow flooded fields home.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

More water may flow for some

The Stockton East Water District might send more water to farmers than originally expected next month, despite the fact that the reservoir on which the district relies has dwindled to 18 percent of capacity.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California lawmaker proposes steep tax for water guzzlers

California’s worst water-guzzling residents and businesses could get slapped with 300 percent taxes on their bills under drought-inspired legislation that was proposed Tuesday but faces a tough path before it could actually affect local water bills.

Aquafornia news Oakland Tribune

Editorial: CEQA fast track for Silicon Valley water recycling could include Delta tunnels

The governor’s obsession with building massive tunnels under the Delta could muck up what should be a simple issue: granting CEQA exemption requests for emergency drought projects. The request in the form of Trailer Bill 831 is part of the budget process for dealing with the drought.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD approves higher water rates to reduce use and buy extra supplies

As East Bay water officials on Tuesday were about to increase rates and impose the toughest penalties yet against water wasters, Raven Brown had one concern. She’s held off from bathing her dog, which has fleas, for fear her water bill would go up and she might be fined.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

24 percent water rate hike approved for East Bay

East Bay residents will see an average 24 percent hike in their water bills, starting next month, after the East Bay Municipal Utility District on Tuesday approved a bump in rates, largely to make up for revenue lost during the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown sees California getting through drought

In a broad-ranging conversation that touched on the “existential threat” posed by man-made global warming, as well as the arcane laws delineating state water rights, [Gov. Jerry] Brown said Californians must learn to live more frugally when it comes to their most precious resource.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds say Southwest, Northwest could see major wildfires

[Interior Secretary Sally] Jewell said climate change and drought are to blame for worsening wildfires, which she said destroy homes and businesses, threaten power grids and drinking water and cause damage river valleys that cost millions and take decades to restore.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Colorado River Basin conservation agreements take shape

With water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir and a bellwether for water supplies in the Southwest, setting a new record low every day, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are finalizing a pair of novel water conservation agreements that will keep more water in the shrinking lake.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

North County districts expand use of recycled water

Recycled water, and more of it, will flow into new corners of Carlsbad under a recently approved $30 million expansion of the city’s production and distribution system.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Drought barrier wreaking havoc on Delta currents, ferry service

Ever since the state’s salinity barrier stopped water from flowing through a segment of False River on May 29 — a last-ditch drought effort to keep salty bay water from encroaching on the clean Delta drinking water — the currents have shifted dramatically, endangering boaters and threatening nearby levees, island officials and residents say.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Three Sacramento water agencies get breather on drought cutbacks

The city of Lincoln, Sacramento Suburban Water District and Georgetown Divide Public Utility District have been told they have to reduce water consumption by 32 percent over the next nine months compared to 2013.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: City of Riverside sues state over water-saving drought rules

The city of Riverside has filed a lawsuit against the state over water-cutting drought mandates ordered by the governor.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

In drought and desperate times, an unlikely water source: the desert?

Mining desert groundwater, as far-fetched as it may seem, seems among the most plausible additions to the region’s existing sources of imported water: the Colorado River, and State Water Project – which transfers water from Northern California to Southern California. But, like many grand water schemes, this one is attracting its share of detractors.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Gov. Jerry Brown says $10,000-a-day fines for water-wasting cities are not ‘bluster’

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday said he won’t back down on his threat to fine cities, water districts and private water companies $10,000 a day if they fail to meet strict water conservation targets during California’s relentless drought.

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee The Mono-logue

Blog: One drop and a dozen options — Sierra Watershed Progressive

This is a follow-up post to the “One drop, a dozen options” article in the Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter. The article mentions longtime Mono Lake Committee member Regina Hirsch and her business Sierra Watershed Progressive with respect to the greywater system she helped us create in 2012.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Keeping fish on track

Yes, it will rain again someday. And when it does, and the Calaveras River once more becomes a flowing stream, officials want to give migrating fish their best possible chance at journeying to prime spawning habitat below New Hogan Dam.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought, heat suggest West Nile virus danger in Sacramento region

Rising temperatures and a historic drought suggest that the Sacramento region and Central Valley will likely see high West Nile virus activity this summer, researchers say.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: How DC can help fight the drought in California

The tremendous challenge of upgrading our water infrastructure will require federal cooperation. That’s why I [Dianne Feinstein] plan to introduce drought legislation soon to lay out the federal role in this long-term effort.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

No rain, but ‘the sky is not falling’

The Santa Ana River is a robust and beautiful sight these days. Five miles west of the Prado Dam in Yorba Linda, the water has cut a narrow channel in a sandy bed and courses briskly over submerged rocks and tree limbs.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Thirsty valley east of Lake County could become massive reservoir

Cattle rancher Mary Wells lives in a remote valley of summer-gold grass where eagles wheel in the sky, wild pigs roam the surrounding hills and rattlesnakes slither over a parched 14,000-acre domain that looks almost untouched by humans.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought spurs sports to look at water use on fairways and fields

In coming months, his [Jack Nicklaus] design firm will oversee the installation of high-efficiency irrigation and add native plants to the Thousand Oaks course. Workers will strip away seven or more acres of turf in places where members rarely hit the ball.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water losses ‘huge,’ new thinking required on drought, panel says

panel of water experts on Sunday mapped out the challenges California faces in meeting future demands for water at a time when water sources are under stress and future supplies appear uncertain.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California farmers dig deeper for water, sipping their neighbors dry

There’s a well-drilling boom in the Central Valley, and it’s a water grab as intense as any land grab before it.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Imperiled fish add to California’s drought stress

Their populations dwindling, Northern California’s fish suddenly are taking a leading role in the drought-related drama gripping the state.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Who needs an ocean? San Joaquin Valley projects give new life to salty water

A glistening spectacle on the west Fresno County prairie could be a rock star in California’s next drought. It’s a mirrored solar array longer than a football field, collecting heat to boil salt and other impurities out of irrigation drainage. … The technology is among Valley water stories that The Bee will tell this month in a weekly series.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s congressional delegation can’t agree on response to drought

The state’s splintered congressional delegation — despite its size and influence — has been stymied by fundamental disagreements over the causes of the drought and the role of the federal government in mitigating its consequences.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Can Californians create enduring drought relief?

On the perennially vexing subjects of water and the drought, Gov. Jerry Brown has been on something of a roll. … The drought has risen to the top of the list of Californians’ concerns, a new poll shows, and not just in regions of the state where water is a constant problem.

Aquafornia news NPR

California’s war over water has farmer fighting farmer (with audio)

Most of the Delta’s small, family farms trace back to the Gold Rush, when the wetlands were dammed and levies were built to grow food to feed the miners. It was only later that the federal government began pumping water from here, through canals, to farms in more arid areas hundreds of miles to the south.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

‘Extreme’ drought expands in California

Extreme drought conditions expanded by 3 percent in California the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released June 4.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Feds, California agencies sued over water management plan (with audio)

A federal lawsuit claims California and federal water managers are harming several fish species in the way water is allocated.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

3 million infected hatchery fish quarantined, could be euthanized

Some 3 million hatchery rainbow and brown trout are in quarantine at two North State hatcheries after captive-raised fish at the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery in Paynes Creek tested positive for whirling disease.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Killing the Colorado Series: Las Vegas Water Chief Pat Mulroy preached conservation, but pushed growth

One afternoon last summer, Pat Mulroy stood in 106-degree heat at the broad concrete banister atop the Hoover Dam, the wall that holds back the mighty Colorado River, and with it the nation’s largest reserve of water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Correction: California drought story

In a story June 2 about the California drought, The Associated Press, relying on figures from the State Water Resources Control Board, reported erroneously that the city of Escondido performed worst in the state on water conservation in April 2015, with a 20 percent increase in use from April 2013.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California’s drought spurring water recycling at home

The Berkeley couple – she runs a pre-school, he’s an architect – are early adopters of a home plumbing do-over that’s becoming more popular during California’s record four-year dry stretch.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Environmentalists sue over California drought management plan

In a fresh challenge to California’s management of the drought, a group of environmentalists has sued state and federal officials, charging that they’re harming fish and wildlife in their efforts to deliver more water to farms and cities.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

See which California cities are conserving the most water

California residents cut their water use by 10 percent between June and April compared to 2013 but conservation varied widely across the state.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

New growing technique relieves drought stricken avocado farmers (with audio)

Farmers are being widely criticized during the California drought because agriculture uses the majority of the state’s water. But some farmers are cutting back by employing new techniques. A recent study used half as much water to yield twice as much fruit.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Contra Costa Water District raises rates to prompt conservation

Water rates are going up immediately for 208,000 central Contra Costa County residents in response to a state push to slash water use. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Drought may cost California’s farmers almost $3 billion in 2015

California’s drought isn’t just turning green lawns brown or #droughtshaming into a trending topic. It’s taking a multi-billion dollar toll on the state’s agricultural industry as well.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Historic drought trumps economy

Water and the lack of it is the No. 1 issue confronting California, and most people across the state believe their neighbors aren’t doing enough to deal with the drought, a survey reported.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

It’s the drought, stupid: Water worries surpass jobs, economy in poll

For the first time, Californians are more concerned about the state’s dogged drought than they are about jobs and the economy, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Californians say drought is top issue for state (with audio)

The Public Policy Institute of California survey results show that 39 percent of Californians identified drought and water as the state’s biggest issues.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Steamed: Californians critical of neighbors’ response to drought, poll finds

Most Californians don’t believe others in their region of the state are doing enough to respond to the four-year drought, with the harshest criticism being dished out in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Californians cite drought as state’s biggest problem

A survey released Wednesday found state residents for the first time put the water shortage ahead of jobs, housing and state finances as California’s most pressing issue, with a large majority thinking that they and their neighbors should be doing more to address the problem.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Backers of desalination hope Carlsbad plant will disarm critics

For the expected 1,500-plus people attending the International Desalination Assn. World Congress, the highlight will be a Sept. 4 tour of the $1-billion desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Californians are encouraged by sharp drop in water use

The report on water conservation, issued Tuesday by the California State Water Resources Control Board, was encouraging but not conclusive.

Aquafornia news Brookings Institution

Population surging in drought-stricken areas

Water may be scarce in California and other parts of the Southwest, but people are flooding in, according to newly released Census data. The influx of residents into these areas not only coincides with a changing labor and housing market, but also has far-reaching implications for water infrastructure.  

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought defies easy solutions at U.S. Senate hearing

Expanding California’s San Luis Reservoir may present a “great opportunity for increasing water supplies,” a key Obama administration official said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences California WaterBlog

Blog: Harsher drought impacts forecast for California agriculture

The drought is expected to be worse for California’s agricultural economy this year because of reduced water availability, according to our preliminary estimates released today. The study, summarized below, estimates farmers will have 2.7 million acre-feet less surface water than they would in a normal water year — about a 33 percent loss of water supply, on average.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Drought cost: $2.7 billion to California economy, says UC Davis

The drought is expected to cost California’s agricultural economy $1.8 billion this year, about four percent of California’s $45 billion agricultural economy, according to a new economic analysis by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers brace for more water cuts

In a potentially significant setback for a system already stressed by epic drought, California regulators have ordered a temporary curb in the flows being released from Lake Shasta in order to protect an endangered species of salmon.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: California farmers to fallow 560,000 acres of crops this year

California farmers will fallow hundreds of thousands of acres and employ fewer workers in 2015, but the drought will not cripple the state’s agricultural industry, UC Davis researchers said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Californians conserved more water ahead of mandatory cuts

Californians are using less water, but they’ll have to conserve a lot more to reach the mandatory drought cuts taking effect this month, according to the latest numbers released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water use dropped 13.5% in April, state board reports

After lagging during the first part of the year, water conservation in California improved significantly in April following Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic order requiring big cuts in water use amid the worsening drought.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Water releases from Lake Shasta to be reduced to help fish

Citing drought conditions and low water levels in Lake Shasta, state officials have ordered releases from Keswick Dam into the Sacramento River be reduced to help salmon spawning later this summer and fall. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As California drought worsens, experts urge water reforms

As mandatory water restrictions took effect Monday across California, a panel of experts called upon the drought-plagued state to upgrade its water infrastructure and reform its antiquated water rights system.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Editorial: Lack of water starts to take economic toll

Most of the state has no idea the drought isn’t just an inconvenience about brown lawns. In farm country, it’s actually an economic catastrophe for many.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Sacramento region water conservation on par with 2014

The Sacramento Regional Water Agency released its April conservation figures Monday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Warm water, limited supply for salmon run (with audio)

The California State Water Resources Control Board has temporarily suspended a Sacramento River management plan in order to protect a salmon run. The Board is expected to consider its next moves during its Tuesday meeting. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: California agriculture — It’s worth the water

Pundits here in drought-stricken California have become fond of proclaiming that farms consume 80% of the state’s water and generate only about 2% of its gross domestic product.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s required statewide water cuts kick in

California on Monday officially began its unprecedented effort to conserve water in the midst of a fourth year of severe drought, marching out orders for communities statewide to make reductions of up to 36 percent.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Pool industry touts water savings in California drought

As residents struggle to cut waste at the tap, the California Pool and Spa Association is lobbying water districts to quash proposed bans on filling pools and spas.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Much of Sierra sees big rainfall, snow totals in May

For a lone, lovely month, it hasn’t much felt like a drought in the Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news KCRA-TV Sacramento

The great, grassy California lawn marked for extinction (with video)

California regulators voted Friday to limit how much water can be used to irrigate lawns on new and renovated buildings. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California drought throws cold water on swimming pools

Once a pillar of suburban comfort, the backyard swimming pool is now the prey of many California communities trying to save water.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette-Journal

Rains push Lake Tahoe to its rim

Recent rains have Lake Tahoe lapping at its natural rim and while it may stay there for a time, the lake should soon start dropping again during this year of drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California drought: ‘Mild impact’ to state’s economy (with audio)

A new forecast shows the California economy will maintain strong growth despite the drought and a “soft” U.S. economy. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California panel mandates low-water lawns on new buildings

Driven by a historic drought, California regulators on Friday mandated that lawns and other landscaping on new and renovated homes and buildings across the parched state guzzle less water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Celebrities make splash with California drought awareness

From drought-shaming to eco-boasting, willing or not, celebrities are playing a role in raising awareness about California’s debilitating drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Pool industry touts water savings in California drought

The California swimming pool and spa industry has launched a campaign to market itself as a drought-friendly landscaping option as the state enters a fourth summer of drought that has residential pools and other conspicuous water users in the crosshairs.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

A look at competing math on pools versus lawns

The drought gripping California has the swimming pool and spa industry on the offensive.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Water shortages mean less rice planted this year

If this had been a normal year, it would have been a perfect season for planting rice — clear skies, not much wind and plenty of time to do things right.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Past thinking about California’s water may still bear pointers for future

The decline of Lake Mead to a water level not seen in nearly eight decades, or since the giant reservoir was still filling behind the just-completed Hoover Dam, is more than a visual reminder of the severity of the drought.

Aquafornia news NPR

For California swimming pools, this is hardly a dry spell (with audio)

Despite the severe drought, Californians built more backyard swimming pools in 2014 than in any year since the peak of the housing boom.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. County drought plan decried by residents facing big water bills

To conserve during the statewide drought, the letter said, Antelope Valley water customers would have to collectively reduce consumption 32%. But Chadd’s family of seven would be required to cut consumption 70% or potentially see their bill triple.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Rebates drive grass removal frenzy during California drought

There’s a torrent of Californians taking advantage of rebates for ripping out water-guzzling lawns during the drought, and that’s providing a big boost to landscapers.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Amid California drought, oil industry wastewater attracts new scrutiny

In the fourth year of an unrelenting drought emergency, every use of water in California is being put under the microscope. Watering a lawn, filling a pool, washing a car, growing food — all are familiar practices now viewed with a more critical eye. The same is true of California’s oil industry, the nation’s third largest.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County homeowners ditching lawns for drought-friendly options

And lawn, whether real or synthetic, is not the only surface safe for play. As homeowners turn away from water-guzzling, time-sucking lawns, they’re looking at other grounds materials, from decomposed granite and bark to shredded tires.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Assembly OKs artificial grass for homeowner associations

A bill that would allow Californians who live in homeowner associations to replace their lawns with artificial turf, without fear of fines, was resoundingly approved by the state Assembly on Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Hundreds turn out to oppose San Jose Water Company’s strict drought rules

More than 350 people turned out, and nearly all in opposition, to voice their concerns at the only public hearing on strict new water conservation rules that will affect 1 million people across Silicon Valley starting June 15.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Farmers’ ’senior’ water rights under siege

A 143-year-old piece of paper proves that Rudy Mussi has a legal right to water from the gently meandering Middle River that nourishes his family farm.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Some water officials save, some don’t

Thirty-seven public officials who set the region’s water policy have collectively cut back 11 percent on their home use so far this year, falling short of the 20 percent reduction sought by state officials amid a historic drought.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s largest lake is slipping away amid an epic drought

The Salton Sea needs more water — but so does just about every other place in California. 

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Southern California immigrants face the drought with conservation habits learned long ago (with audio)

It doesn’t take much water to wash dishes — not in Jess Cullen’s kitchen, at least.  … Cullen is one of a multitude of Southern California residents who grew up in countries where water wasn’t unlimited.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Jose Water Company to allow extra drought allocations for larger families

Silicon Valley’s largest water company is changing how it will roll out some of the state’s strictest water conservation rules to address complaints that the new per-household allocations unfairly penalize large families.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

First William Shatner, now Moby: Celebrities’ ideas for tackling California drought

Move over Capt. James T. Kirk. Now Moby wants to boldly go forward with a plan to ease California’s drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

El Niño won’t end dry times in California (with audio)

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and meteorologists in other countries show that strong-to-moderate El Niño conditions are present in the tropical Pacific. But it won’t end the drought in California.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Folsom Lake’s recreation stays afloat despite drought conditions (slideshow)

Capital Public Radio’s Andrew Nixon captured these images of Folsom Lake … 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Bring your water conservation questions to BMU in Chico Wednesday night

In just a few days, people in Chico will be expected to use 32 percent less water than they did two years ago.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

‘Cash for grass’ program gets $350 million boost

Rebates for turf removal and other water-saving efforts got a $350 million boost from Metropolitan Water District leaders Tuesday.

Aquafornia news NPR

California’s drought makes it rain big bucks for local businesses

[Leigh] Jerrard’s company helps homeowners with the complicated process of installing their own Greywater systems.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

EBMUD makes another emergency water purchase

The [East Bay Municipal Utility District] EBMUD board agreed Tuesday to buy up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the Placer County Water Agency this year. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southland water importer OKs $350-million boost in lawn-removal rebates

Responding to a surge of interest in removing grass amid California’s worsening drought, the Metropolitan Water District agreed Monday to spend an additional $350 million to help homeowners and businesses replace the turf.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California looks to Australia for tips on surviving drought

California has turned to the world’s driest inhabited continent for solutions to its longest and sharpest drought on record. … But Californians may find Australia’s medicine tough to swallow.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Popular cash-for-grass program expands during drought

A major water wholesaler on Tuesday added $350 million to its budget to replenish a cash-for-grass program that has gained popularity during the California drought with homeowners, landlords and businesses looking to replace water-draining lawns.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee Earth Log

Blog: Fresno’s million-dollar water deal — What a bargain in this drought

Fresno bought nearly 3,000 acre-feet of Millerton Lake water last week for $1 million — a deal so uncommon this year that I [Mark Grossi] had to read reporter George Hostetter’s story twice.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought angst shrivels Californians’ views of state

A new poll shows Californians’ perceptions of the state have soured in recent months as Gov. Jerry Brown and others imposed new conservation mandates.

Aquafornia news BBC News

California Governor Jerry Brown defends drought management (with video)

As California struggles through the fourth year of a historic drought, Governor Jerry Brown is taking measures to preserve the state’s dwindling water supply.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Drought looms over summer Russian River recreation season

There will be less water in the Russian River this summer than last year, a fact that some river-oriented business people don’t want to talk about.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In Central Coast cattle region, drought continues to shrink the herds

From the front porch of the ranch house where Daniel Sinton grew up, the toll of drought is all too plain to see.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Stream fishing on the decline in Nevada due to drought (with audio)

Stream fishing around Lake Tahoe and western Nevada is struggling because of the drought. But fishing may actually be better at the lake itself.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Forest Service ready for wildfire season (with audio)

The U.S. Forest Service has finished hiring most of the firefighters needed this summer in California. 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Local water suppliers await state response on lower conservation request

Five local municipal water suppliers are currently awaiting the response from the State Water Resources Control Board that will determine whether they will be granted a low monthly water conservation quota or be hit by cuts up to seven times that amount.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Parks cutting wet play to save water

Memorial Day weekend traditionally signals the start of summer and the opening of popular water play areas at Inland parks, but that wasn’t the case everywhere this year.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

California redwood trees stressed to breaking point by drought, dying in Southern California (with video)

These colossal columns of nature are dying throughout Southern California, victims of a prolonged drought, unseasonably hot winter temperatures and reduced irrigation from a state-mandated 25 percent water conservation order.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

State losing market share as water shortage cuts rice planting

With California farmers not planting as much rice due to water restrictions, Southern rice-growing states are jumping in to fill the gap by expanding their production and taking some of the Golden State’s markets in the process.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California, farmers reach water deal, but enforcement a challenge

When California officials struck an unprecedented conservation deal Friday with a group of farmers who have the strongest claims on the state’s dwindling water supply, it showed no one was immune from the fallout of the drought.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Voluntary cuts approved by state

Delta farmers can voluntarily reduce water use during the drought without capitulating to outside interests who are targeting their water rights, according to supporters of an unprecedented plan approved Friday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California builds emergency barrier in Delta to protect water supplies (with audio)

In a normal year, fresh water flowing from rivers into the Delta pushes back tidal ocean water. In this fourth year of drought, not enough water is flowing down river.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid huge demand, MWD considers $350 million for more turf replacement

Citing heavy demand for fake turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is considering a $350-million increase in the money it spends on conservation rebate programs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water agency approves farmers’ voluntary water reduction plan

In a move reflecting the growing severity of California’s drought, state water regulators have accepted a historic proposal by Delta region farmers to voluntarily cut water usage by 25%, or, alternatively, to allow a quarter of their fields to lay idle.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farm economy surprisingly resilient amid drought

The land is bare, except for a few weeds, and the ground is cracked. For the second year in a row, Dan Errotabere is fallowing one third of his ranch: 1,700 acres of California farmland that might have grown tomatoes, garlic, onions and garbanzo beans.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Your contribution to the California drought (interactive graphic)

California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

No Klamath water left to combat salmon-killing parasite

A deadly parasite is thriving in the drought, infecting all the juvenile chinook salmon in the Klamath River in Northern California as they prepare to migrate to the ocean.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Q&A: California farmers with oldest water rights face cuts

Farmers in drought-stricken California with nearly guaranteed rights to water are bracing for historic orders to stop diverting water from rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought-ridden California faces decision on new water cuts

Farmers along the river delta at the heart of California agriculture expected to get an answer Friday on their surprise offer to give up a quarter of their water this year in exchange for being spared deeper mandatory cutbacks as California responds to the worsening drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: It’s not just a ‘California drought’

In a somber opening to wildfire season this month, federal and state officials meeting in Nevada warned that kindling-dry forests and a rainless forecast could lead multiple states in the Great Basin to erupt in flames at once, stretching firefighters and equipment thin across the region. … Dryness stretches throughout the American West. Yet the nation is captivated by the notion of a “California drought.”

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California faces a tough test to tame its unquenchable thirst for water

In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Mandatory usage cuts loom even for those with senior water rights

In the 1976-77 drought, the state ordered growers with some of the oldest water rights in California to stop pumping from many rivers and streams. Now, in a sign of the spreading pain of another punishing drought, regulators are preparing to do the same thing.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno City Council buys water, passes water-conservation law

The Fresno City Council on Thursday bought some much-needed water and brought some unexpected peace to a dust-control program. … Weeks of negotiations with the Friant Water Authority and the federal Bureau of Reclamation led to a something-is-better-than-nothing scenario.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

As California thirsts, these apps help save water (with video)

California’s drought is a powerful reminder of the vulnerability and precious nature of our water resources. To become more responsible with water usage and waste, a few apps can help people learn about and reduce their water consumption.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Delta farmers offer to take 25 percent less water

Dozens of California farmers whose century-old claims to rivers and streams have assured them a nearly endless water supply, at least up until now, are offering to give up a quarter of their water in exchange for a guarantee that the drought-plagued state won’t come clamoring for a whole lot more.  … State officials have not yet acted on the offer.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Drought-minded protesters want Nestle to stop bottling water at Los Angeles plant

Protesters rallied outside a Nestle water-bottling plant in Los Angeles today [May 20], demanding that the company halt its operations in response to the state’s drought. A simultaneous rally was held at a plant in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

People support water conservation, in theory

Californians widely support Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for mandatory water cuts amid the deepening drought, according to a new poll of state residents — but many don’t know if they can pitch in.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Despite drought, Desert Water Agency not raising rates for water wasters

With mandatory 36 percent cutbacks looming, the Desert Water Agency has no plans to change the low, flat rate it charges for water.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County formally requests promised Trinity River flows

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to send a letter to the federal government making a formal request for its promised 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity River water in advance of another summer of drought and possible litigation.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno’s dilemma: Save water or pollute the air?

The [Fresno] council on Thursday will consider an emergency water-conservation law that, among other things, would give City Hall authority to suspend its hydrant-meter program.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Owens Valley ranchers and environmentalists brought together by drought (with video)

The drought has worked a miracle in the Owens Valley, as environmental activists and ranchers have buried decades of enmity to forge a plan to save ranch land — at the expense of hard-fought environmental protections.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Town fights turning on long-installed water meters

Morada, located northeast of Stockton, is one of three small towns in the county where water meters have been installed that aren’t being used because of Proposition 218. The other two, Acampo and Fairway Estates, surround Lodi.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Tough choice for Delta farmers

A plan under consideration by the state will allow farmers who claim senior riparian rights to continue taking water later this summer, if they will agree now to leave 25 percent of their land barren, or to conserve 25 percent of the water they would normally use.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Silicon Valley faces sweeping water cuts

Nearly 1 million Silicon Valley residents will face strict water quotas — and pricey premiums for going over — under what will soon be the Bay Area’s most far-reaching rationing plan in four years of drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farms added workers in 2014, even amid drought

Despite the drought, the number of workers employed in California’s agricultural industry rose to its highest level in at least 24 years, as many farmers shifted toward labor-intensive, permanent crops, according to the latest state and federal statistics.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: California farms use how much water? Nobody really knows

Information is the heart of California’s $US 2 trillion economy. … In nearly every sector, data — and the strategic decisions it enables — are a principal source of the Golden State’s economic triumph. But in agriculture, the bedrock water-consuming industry in a state buffeted by a deep four-year drought, water data are not collected with anywhere near the same rigor and dedication.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Commentary: We need a plan for the next inevitable drought

I [Lois Henry] fear more and more people will soon experience first-hand the lack of a true disaster plan for our prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Temecula: Water park dead again; drought blamed

Another deadline has come and gone and Temecula is no closer to getting a water park.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto’s water cops now out looking for waste

Modesto is stepping up its enforcement of its drought restrictions by sending water cops out in the early morning to check for homeowners, businesses and others watering their lawns and other landscaping when they shouldn’t or wasting water because of malfunctioning sprinklers.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought — New poll finds residents think it’s serious, but aren’t sure they can conserve more

An overwhelming majority of Californians believe the state’s drought is extremely serious and support Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory new water conservation rules, according to a new statewide poll released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Golf courses slice water use to cope with ongoing drought

Golf courses across the central San Joaquin Valley — like courses and country clubs throughout the state — are throttling back on irrigation and reducing the acreage of grass that they must water as they cope with California’s drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Even in a drought, selling some water makes sense

In 2000, most of the Sacramento region’s water agencies and environmental groups came together in the historic Water Forum Agreement that established a framework to provide a reliable water supply through 2030 and to preserve environmental resources of the lower American River. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Poll: Large majority of Californians support water restrictions amid drought

Nearly two-thirds of Californians support mandatory water restrictions ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown amid the state’s historic drought, though many fear it will be hard to cut back and think farmers can do more to conserve, according to a new Field Poll.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Oil waste doesn’t belong in California’s water supply

It’s time to stop temporizing about a bureaucratic foul-up that threatens underwater water supplies across a swath of California’s oil fields. … In a drought-damaged state, the situation is mind boggling.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds project Lake Mead below drought trigger point in 2017

Federal water managers have released a report projecting that Lake Mead’s water levels will fall below a point in January 2017 that would force supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Homeowners face dizzying new choices to fund energy, water improvements

Sonoma County homeowners seeking to add a solar energy system, replace that old furnace or install artificial turf soon will have an array of options to fund the improvements.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Healdsburg looks to expand use of recycled wastewater

The persistent drought has put a new emphasis on using more recycled water for irrigation, a practice that has long been allowed for some lawns, vineyards, golf courses and parks in Sonoma County, but isn’t spreading fast enough for officials in one city.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council Switchboard

Blog: What a load of…drought relief?

In addition to calling for an overall 25 percent reduction in urban water use, Governor [Jerry] Brown also announced plans for a statewide incentive program to replace appliances like inefficient clothes washers. While people commonly think of toilets and faucets (and even showers) as the greatest users of water indoors, older top-loading clothes washers—found in more than 4 million homes in California—are water guzzlers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Glendale considers lifting ban on artificial turf

Several years ago, Glendale restricted fake grass to residential backyards, where they were out of sight from the street. … But with the drought entering its fourth year, the city is considered lifting the ban as a way to conserve water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

USDA: Forest health can improve water supply (with audio)

USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie says controlled burns and forest thinning are imperative as California deals with drought and an increased threat of wildfires.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Uncharted territory: Delta farmers fear losing water supply

At the bottom of California’s Central Valley bathtub, Delta farmers always have drawn from the rivers and sloughs with confidence. … But now, in the fourth year of this drought, state regulators may cut off even riparian water users later this summer. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Recycled water not permitted for Candlestick demolition

Drought-shaming reached a new peak Friday when reports that the company working to tear down San Francisco’s Candlestick Park was using drinking water to control dust halted the demolition.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences California WaterBlog

Blog: Q&A on survival of Delta smelt — on air and off air

Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse recently spoke with [UC Davis fish biologist Peter] Moyle about the survival of the much politicized tiny fish, a federally designated “threatened” species with protections that at times have curbed the flow of water to many cities and farms. The interview resulted in only 10 seconds of air time. However, the reporter and biologist later agreed to post on California WaterBlog this more insightful series of questions and answers they had drafted in preparation for the interview.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southland saying goodbye to lawns

When Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% cut in urban water use, he declared war on the California lawn.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles getting no Owens Valley runoff for first time since 1913

For the first time since 1913 — when Department of Water and Power chief architect William Mulholland opened the waterway with the words, “There it is. Take it!” — the 233-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct has stopped carrying Owens Valley runoff to Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Orange County Water District eyes deal with planned desalination plant

Faced with the continuing drought, Orange County water officials are looking into the possibility of purchasing water from a proposed Huntington Beach ocean desalination plant.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water officials deliver sobering facts on depleted wells

Just a few months ago, the state’s top water officials said they had reason for optimism.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Way of life withers in California’s parched citrus belt

People don’t easily forget the moment the water dies. … In this corner of the scorched Tulare Lake Basin, where lives and livelihoods depend on water that comes from the ground, a human crisis is accelerating amid California’s unrelenting drought.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: As California withers, federal water bill mired in secrecy

Five months into a new Congress, and deep into a lasting drought, California water legislation still stymies and splits the state’s lawmakers. Draft copies are tightly held, as if stamped Top Secret. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Brown’s arid California, thanks partly to his father

When Edmund G. Brown Sr. was governor of California, people were moving in at a pace of 1,000 a day. … He was the boom-boom governor for a boom-boom time: championing highways, universities and, most consequential, a sprawling water network to feed the explosion of agriculture and development in the dry reaches of central and Southern California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

For California salmon, summer of truck rides, bucket lifts

What do you do when you have 30 million young salmon ready for their big journeys downstream, but drought and development have dried your riverbeds to sauna rocks? In California this year, you give the fish a ride.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

New water rules for Cal Water customers

How will newly-mandated conservation rules work for customers of California Water Service Company?

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

El Niño conditions strengthening, but don’t break out the galoshes yet

It was the big tease of 2014. Scientists reported that El Niño conditions were shaping up in the Pacific Ocean, potentially bringing winter rains that could end California’s historic drought.