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.
This 2-day, 1-night tour traveled through the San Joaquin Valley
to explore the impacts of California’s unprecedented four-year
drought on the nation’s breadbasket and what steps are being
taken to avert disaster.
California Gov. Jerry Brown called for an overhaul in water
pricing as part of his sweeping drought order, and regulators
on Wednesday will discuss how to best do that in light of legal
questions over rates designed to encourage conservation.
Modesto is poised to take a big step Tuesday in its project to
send highly treated wastewater to drought-stricken West Side
farmers as soon as 2018, though the Turlock Irrigation District
remains a staunch opponent over concerns of how the project
will affect its groundwater basin.
Soquel Creek Water District leaders are looking at purchasing a
new piece of water main-flushing technology as one of several
potential water-saving projects that they could fund through
fees paid by new district development permits.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials, who operate the Central
Valley Project, relied on a faulty gauge in April and
overestimated the amount of cold water behind Shasta Dam. That
error might seem trivial, but not in this fourth parched year
of the drought.
For most of the 1900s, the bureau’s [of Reclamation] system —
which grew into the largest wholesale water utility in the
country — worked. But the West of the 21st century is not the
West of Roosevelt.
He’s a fifth-generation cattle farmer, who bought land in the
1960’s — with water rights that were granted before 1914. But
two weeks ago, the pumps were turned off and there’s no water
now in his irrigation canal.
Bruce Nelson was just a baby when Lake Mead was at its
mightiest. That was 1983 — ancient history to the 32-year-old
whose family has run marinas here for three generations — when
the lake gushed over Hoover Dam like a desert Niagara Falls.
Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits,
guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess -
a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst
records for water conservation in drought-stricken California
is turning things around, proving it’s possible to get people
to change their ways.
For many Californians, the state’s long drought has meant small
inconveniences such as shorter showers and restrictions on
watering lawns. But in two rural valleys, the Coachella
southeast of Los Angeles and the San Joaquin to the north,
farmworkers and other poor residents are feeling its impact in
a far more serious and personal way.
Strands of silver hair fell into Annie Costanzo’s face as she
wielded a sledgehammer against the brick walkway in her
backyard. Plumes of dust and debris filled the air, and
reddish-pink shards scattered in the wake of the 64-year-old
sculptor’s latest water conservation project.
Californians trembled two years ago as 200-foot flames from the
Rim fire sent up pyrocumulus clouds visible 100 miles away from
the central Sierra Nevada. Burning from August to October, it
left a charred footprint nearly the size of Los Angeles — a
reminder that the state had just passed through two dry
Californians in May shot past Gov. Jerry Brown’s water
conservation targets in response to the drought emergency — a
profound shift in behavior for a state that until recently
prized its hot tubs, lush landscaping and spotless cars.
A Mendocino County lawman and a former marijuana grower
defended small-scale cannabis cultivation Wednesday at a
legislative hearing on the impact of the drought and marijuana
on North Coast fisheries.
California residents cut their water use by nearly 29 percent
in May compared with the same month in 2013, the steepest
reduction since officials began calling for people to conserve
last year, according to figures the state released Wednesday.
Water use in drought-stricken California plunged by record
levels in May, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration cited that
as proof cities can hit steep summer conservation targets they
have blasted as unfair.
In a rare bit of encouraging news in a state gripped by
drought, regulators reported Wednesday that urban Californians
reduced their water consumption by 28.9 percent in May from the
same month two years ago.
Northern California Rep. Jared Huffman came to Southern
California to push his $1.4 billion drought bill and find some
common ground in what he called the state’s water wars being
waged in the halls of Sacramento and Washington.
The city sued the state this month after it learned it would be
rejected for inclusion in a special reduction tier that allows
suppliers to reduce water use by just 4% if they do not import
water and have at least a four-year supply.
Breeding waterfowl populations have suffered a 19 percent drop
in the Sacramento Valley this year and a steeper decline
statewide due to the drought and poor habitat conditions,
according to the latest annual survey released by the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Madera County farmer Tom Rogers thought he knew a lot about how
to irrigate his family’s 175-acre almond ranch. But several
droughts, including the current four-year dry spell, made him
reconsider his approach on how to get the most out of his
ever-shrinking water supply.
State water officials not only told more Central Valley farmers
Friday that they need to stop drawing water from low-flowing
rivers and creeks — but they tossed the city of San Francisco
onto the list as well.
The lawsuits hit the courts within days of the state mailing
notices to some Central Valley irrigation districts: They were
to stop diverting from rivers and streams because there wasn’t
enough water to go around.
With Gov. Jerry Brown imposing new mandatory water
reductions to respond to the statewide emergency, school
districts are grappling with how to adhere to those
requirements while continuing to meet the needs of students and
communities. … Some wells serving schools are drying up.
Four years of dry, hot weather have raised lake temperatures
and depleted many of the state’s reservoirs. In response, the
state has cut flows from Lake Shasta to protect an endangered
species of salmon and raised flows from Folsom Lake to prevent
salt water from intruding into the Delta.
Over the past few weeks, the state’s largest
reservoir—Shasta—has been in the spotlight as managers struggle
to meet multiple demands with dwindling reserves. Surface
reservoirs are central to managing California’s water supplies
for a variety of purposes. … This year the trade-offs at
Shasta are particularly challenging, since the survival of a
run of endangered salmon may be on the line.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval welcomed water experts and managers
from around the West on Tuesday to scenic Lake Tahoe, where
they reviewed a final report on dealing with drought and
meeting the myriad challenges that come with competing demands
for a dwindling resource.
The new state rules for water conservation kicked in June 1,
requiring residential customers in Chico to use 32 percent less
water than they used during the same months in 2013. Oroville
customers have to use 28 percent less.
City water officials are getting personal with their efforts to
boost conservation. … The [Los Angeles Department of Water
and Power] letters urging homeowners to improve their
water-wasting habits went to about 4,600 homes, largely in
upscale neighborhoods with big lots and lush lawns.
House Republicans are swinging for the fences with an ambitious
new, but familiar, California water bill introduced Thursday.
… The legislation speeds studies for water storage projects,
including proposals for raising Shasta Dam and building a new
reservoir at Temperance Flat on the Upper San Joaquin River.
A major multiday, multiagency law enforcement operation
targeting large marijuana farms in the heart of the pot-rich
Emerald Triangle has uncovered serious environmental damage
along with huge numbers of pot plants, according to a state
Fish and Wildlife officer participating in the operation.
In recent months, the Department of Water and Power has reduced
its take from Mono’s tributaries by more than two-thirds.
Still, the 1-million-year-old lake is within two feet of the
level that state officials say threatens the alpine ecosystem
at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada.
For residents and regular visitors, the expanded exposed
lakebed, growing landbridge, and dramatically changing
topography of key visitation sites are hard to miss. While less
immediately visible, the effects of the drought on the streams
of the Mono Basin are no less severe.
As California’s prolonged drought dries up irrigation supplies
for agriculture and forces cutbacks in urban water deliveries,
it also creates opportunities for prospectors and miners
panning, sluicing, chiseling and diving for gold.
A handful of Central Valley water agencies that have been
warned to stop pumping water from rivers to farms, in light of
the drought, say they’re considering running their pumps
anyway. … The State Water Resources Control Board said
Wednesday that is not a good idea, warning that the water
agencies could face penalties for drawing water illegally.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board is the latest to
balk at subsidizing synthetic turf after hearing complaints
that it has undesirable environmental effects even if it does
well in reducing outdoor water use.
A plan to save endangered fish has pushed California’s fragile
water system almost to the breaking point, putting additional
strain on farmers while drawing down reservoirs at Folsom and
Oroville to historically low levels.
California’s drought has killed so many trees that the Board of
Forestry and Fire Protection is adopting emergency regulations
to remove them. The board is concerned about the growing threat
Longtime farmers hoping to block state-imposed cuts suffered a
defeat Tuesday after a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge
said the case must be heard in another county, potentially
leaving those farmers without a legal water supply. But in a
new twist, attorneys for the farmers now are questioning
whether the cuts actually are required in the first
Valley cities — from the biggest to the smallest — have no
excuse for not having water meters by now. Water is no
different than gasoline or electricity: Consumers should pay
for precisely what they use, especially during this historic
Folsom Lake water levels will likely drop to historic lows by
summer’s end, possibly hovering just above the point where
cities and water agencies can still draw water from the
reservoir, according to interviews with federal and local
Significant figures by Peter Gleick —In a climate where
rainfall is so variable from one year to the next, it makes
little sense to talk about what is “normal” but California
farmers know to expect that some years will very dry and that
sometimes there will be a string of dry years back-to-back.
The California Legislature approved a budget bill that would
grant the state authority to force water systems to consolidate
to serve disadvantaged communities where a steady supply of
clean drinking water is not available. Senate Bill 88 also
would give public water suppliers the power to impose civil
fines of up to $10,000 for violations of water conservation
programs, impose new measuring and reporting requirements for
water diversions, and suspend environmental review for certain
The economics of water scarcity is crucial to sustainable water
management, particularly during droughts. … Luckily,
California has a wealth of young, talented economists already
active in public water policy and who will be around for future
droughts. California WaterBlog asked five of them what
California should be doing to prepare for a fifth year of
drought and beyond.
The importance of water conservation during this record dry
spell notwithstanding, sound water management turns out to be
about a lot more than just water use. Today on Sea Change
Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Abrahm Lustgarten of
ProPublica, who is writing a multi-part series exposing
unfortunate policies and practices vis-à-vis our most precious,
Water will continue to flow to Mountain House under a deal
reached Monday, and a separate water sale pending approval
Tuesday would slake the community’s thirst for the rest of the
year, officials said.
Whether it’s East Palo Alto and Hillsborough, Beverly Hills and
Compton, or Richmond and Orinda, a huge disparity in
residential water use is posing a challenge for water agencies
as they try to curb consumption and write rules that treat all
customers fairly. The divide is the focus of the latest
installment in this newspaper’s series “A State of Drought.”
The majority of California growers, irrigation districts and
others who have been ordered to stop drawing water from rivers
and streams due to worsening drought conditions have failed to
register their compliance before an official deadline,
officials said Monday.
Mountain House, an upscale community near Tracy, learned of its
precarious situation this month when the State Water Resources
Control Board issued a notice ordering the [Byron Bethany
Irrigation] district to “immediately stop diverting
The lawsuit, filed in Stanislaus Superior Court, challenges the
State Water Resources Control Board’s decision last week to ban
diversions by 114 different rights holders in the Sacramento
and San Joaquin river watersheds.
More than one-tenth of the largest wild population of
threatened salmon in the Central Valley died after repair work
near a power plant led Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to cut off a
cooling flow of water into a creek, wildlife and utility
officials said Friday.
The Delta smelt, a tiny fish, steals most of the attention in
the war of words over water use and environmental goals in
California. But other species play a role, too. This week,
state and federal agencies ordered water restrictions for two
northern California watersheds in order to guard the health of
With water monitors like [Don] Wells on the prowl, Fresno is
taking a more aggressive tack than most cities in California’s
battle against the severe drought. In one month, Wells and his
water conservation team handed out 347 of the 838 penalties
issued by all the water districts statewide.
The history beneath your feet in this Valley goes far deeper.
It’s a piece of the story about the nation’s second-largest
groundwater basin — California’s Central Valley, the San
Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.
Three California irrigation districts sued the state on Friday,
claiming officials overstepped their authority by ordering
farmers with some of the strongest water rights to stop pumping
from some rivers during the drought.
Nearly a year and a half after East Porterville’s first dry
well was reported, residents and experts say not having running
water and breathing increasingly dusty air is worsening their
pre-existing health issues and contributing to the development
of new ones.
A California budget bill that would allow the state to force
consolidation of water systems, exempt certain water projects
from environmental review and make other far-reaching changes
in response to the drought cleared the Legislature on Friday
over the angry objections of Republicans.
Thousands of homes, businesses and apartments in the
drought-stricken central San Joaquin Valley lack water meters,
complicating efforts by city officials to reduce consumption as
mandated by the state. … By state law, all urban water
hookups in California must be metered by 2025, and the drought
is prompting some communities to speed up their programs.
Santa Barbara, known for its landscapes fed by coastal fog, has
always had a cautious relationship with water. And its history
of conservation may hold lessons for other upscale communities
such as Beverly Hills and Rancho Santa Fe being forced to slash
their hefty water consumption because of the drought.
Less than a day after igniting, the wind-whipped Lake Fire in
the San Bernardino Mountains grew to more than 10,000 acres,
forcing the evacuation of 200 people and sending smoke
billowing over the northern Coachella Valley on another very
hot, dry day on Thursday. … Closer to home, trees are dying
in unusually high number in the San Jacinto and San Bernardino
The state’s wildlife department has counted about 1,950
spring-run salmon swimming upstream past a Vaki River Watcher
video system located in a fish ladder. Last year, the
department counted 5,083, with an estimated 16,782 in 2013 and
16,317 in 2012.
The Eel River Recovery Project is offering free field training
and public meetings to promote sustainable cannabis cultivation
in the Eel River watershed. The events will cover the best ways
to water gardens with the least amount of water and nutrients,
ERRP co-founder Patrick Higgins said.
The Banta-Carbona Irrigation District filed its complaint in
San Joaquin County Superior Court, asking a judge to overturn
the decision last week by the State Water Resources Control
Board to temporarily suspend water rights dating back as far as
Late-emerging legislation designed to deal with the drought
could be part of the budget package California lawmakers will
vote on Friday. Part of the legislation would give state
water regulators the ability to force local water agencies to
Some drought-related groundwater and water recycling projects
would gain exemptions from the California Environmental Quality
Act under late-emerging legislation at the Capitol. … The
bill includes language related to the consolidation of water
agencies, among other measures.
The pope [Pope Francis] says “a very solid scientific
consensus” indicates that global warming is real, and will
limit drinking water, harm agriculture, lead to some
extinctions of plant and animal life, acidify oceans and raise
sea levels in a way that could flood some of the world’s
State and federal fish and water managers are trying to find a
way to avoid a massive die-off of young fish in the Sacramento
River. … The changes in river flow might further impact the
amount of water that Sacramento River Settlement Contractors
are able to draw from the river for farms.
Dave Shields started the engine of his tractor on a recent
weekday and began toppling the hundreds of drought-stricken
cherry trees he and his wife planted 15 years ago in this north
Los Angeles County foothills community.
Unlike the vast majority of communities in California, Mountain
House purchases all its water from a single rural irrigation
district. And that agency was covered by the state’s order
curtailing water rights for some of those who have held them
for more than century due to the state’s worsening drought.
As streams holding rare native fish dry up, it will put more
pressure on the Department of Fish and Wildlife to choose
between two distinct and sometimes competing mandates:
sheltering endangered species to prevent their extinction,
while simultaneously producing ample fish stocks for
Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian
River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were
slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday,
including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the
state to cope with a fourth year of drought.
State and federal officials said Tuesday that they’re revising
their strategy for releasing water from the California’s
largest reservoir for the coming long, hot summer to avoid
killing off this year’s run of endangered salmon.
Less than 2%. That’s how much water has been provided from the
entire Central Valley in 2015 to help salmon and other fish
survive the drought. Here’s a pie chart prepared by staff from
the State Water Resources Control Board showing this breakdown
A state agency representing consumers said Tuesday that it will
try to overturn strict water conservation rules that took
effect this week for 1 million residents of San Jose and
neighboring Silicon Valley communities, on the grounds that
they violate state law by imposing penalties on homeowners but
not businesses or apartment owners.
In response to the worst drought in our state’s long memory,
our public institutions – with one unfortunate exception – are
stepping up. … That’s why I [Rep. Jared Huffman] developed
the kind of serious, comprehensive legislation this crisis
The State Water Contractors, which has 27 members that include
the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, filed a
complaint with state officials, accusing some Delta farmers of
illegally using water that the public agencies have stored in
Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted
new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts
of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and
concrete rivers into the sea.
The tension between California farm interests and the state’s
urban water users ratcheted up Tuesday, as a consortium of
mostly urban water districts filed a complaint alleging Delta
farmers are stealing water.
A 24-month look ahead by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said
the surface level of the largest Colorado River reservoir
should remain above a benchmark level used to determine if full
deliveries will be made in a seven-state region home to about
40 million residents, farms, tribes and businesses.
Only once before in the state’s history have the most senior
water rights been curtailed. But now, with the drought
persisting into a fourth year, state officials say that more
reductions for so-called senior water rights holders are nearly
certain, and the need for additional cuts will be evaluated
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
[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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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