Topic: Drought

Overview

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 Riverside Press-Enterprise

State water board releases new conservation targets

Despite previous vows of close monitoring, State Water Resources Control Board leaders said they expect independent researchers – such as environmental groups, journalists and other members of the public – to scrutinize water suppliers’ data that the board posted online Tuesday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

84 percent of California water agencies choose zero as conservation target

Under fire from water agencies who were losing millions of dollars in lost water sales, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration two months ago dropped all mandatory water conservation targets and allowed cities, water districts and private water companies across the state to set their own targets.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Most water agencies can ease up on conservation under new standards

California may be in its fifth year of drought, but on Tuesday, state water regulators effectively turned back the clock to 2013.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California water districts: We can handle three more years of drought

State officials will not force most California water districts to reduce water use this year, even as they caution that the five-year drought persists and note that drought-fueled wildfires continue to wreak havoc.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Man arrested on suspicion of arson in wildfire that has devastated Northern California community

The ferocious spread of the Clayton fire offers fresh evidence of how five years of unrelenting drought in California leave the state particularly vulnerable to destructive wildfires this year. Wildfires this year have already burned more than 360 square miles and destroyed more than 400 homes and other structures.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Northern California towns are running out of water

Paskenta, population 112, is an out-of-the-way place where rustic ranches grace grass-covered hills rolling west toward Mendocino Pass. … A water crisis has triggered a rude awakening.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases

California’s drought is costing farmers an estimated $603 million this year, although the impact is far less than a year ago, according to a study released Monday by UC Davis.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California wildfires: Where have the most fires raged this year?

While Lake County has suffered more than its share of devastation in the last 12 months from wildfires, this weekend’s destructive Clayton Fire has been one of the few blazes to cause major damage in Northern California this fire season.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: What’s behind Lake County’s back-to-back wildfire catastrophes? Blame the drought

The last two years have been some of the worst for California wildfires, with record heat and historic drought weakening trees and drying the landscape.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across state

Surrounded by barren brown hills and cracked, dry clay, San Luis Reservoir was so empty this week that the nearly milelong, meandering path from the old high-water mark to the waterline could have doubled as a set in the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” film franchise.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years

Robert Haskins walked across a vast expanse of cracked mud, littered with old beer bottles and millions of tiny clam shells, that in most Augusts would be 50 feet underwater. But the San Luis Reservoir, the vast inland sea along Highway 152 that is a key part of Silicon Valley’s water supply, is only 10 percent full, its lowest level in 27 years.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Forests of fatalities: after 70 million tree deaths, worst ’still to come’

State leaders are paying attention. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. More than 80 federal, state and local agencies, electric utilities and other organizations have formed the Tree Mortality Task Force, co-chaired by Pimlott, to combat the problem. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Almonds lead all crops in Fresno County for gross value

Fresno County’s overall crop value fell to $6.61 billion last year from a high of $7 billion in 2014 as the region battled drought, lower commodity prices and production issues.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

8 dead, 350 square miles burned, 300 homes destroyed in grim beginning of California fire season

As California enters traditional brush-fire season, there is something ominous in the air and on the ground. … Already, the fire statistics for 2016 are grim.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California agencies warn of harmful algal blooms across state (with audio)

The algal blooms are occurring all over the state – in San Luis Reservoir, Lake Shasta and Oroville, coastal and inland areas and even in the Sierra. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

The ‘new normal’ for wildfires in California (with audio)

Blame the increase in frequency and severity of wildfires in California on drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Californians using more water as drought controls ease

Urban consumption grew by 8 percent in June compared to a year earlier, according to figures released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Californians continue water conservation with 21.5 percent cut despite relaxed drought rules

Californians are continuing to save significant amounts of water despite the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to relax drought rules two months ago. Statewide, urban residents cut water use 21.5 percent in June, compared with the same month in 2013, the year the state has been using as a baseline, according to new data released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Californians conserve less water under new rules (with audio)

Californians used 21 percent less water in June than they did in 2013. That wasn’t as much savings as last month or even last year, but state water regulators say they expected conservation to dip.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water conservation dips as relaxed drought rules take effect

Water conservation in California dipped slightly during the first month that the state’s mandatory water-savings rules were significantly relaxed, regulators said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Californians’ water conservation returns to local leadership

State water regulators will release the month’s [water conservation] figures on Tuesday as California endures a hot, dry summer in a fifth year of historic drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will replacing thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants make Los Angeles hotter?

In a paper published Monday in Geophysical Research Letters University of Southern California post-doctoral research associate Pouya Vahmani and USC civil and environmental engineering professor George Ban-Weiss analyze what would happen to the city’s overall temperature during the month of July if every lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Despite drought, California farming prospered

It might not be what you expect to hear about California agriculture in the throes of drought: After four years of historic water shortages, farm earnings in the state increased 16 percent, and total employment increased 5 percent. Yet those are real numbers gathered by federal agencies that track economic data.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought intensifies as wildfires grow in Western U.S. (with audio)

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports July 28 that drought intensified in the Western U.S. as the region bakes under record-setting heat and firefighters battle large wildfires.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

A warmer, less clear Lake Tahoe in 2015, UC Davis scientists say

Lake Tahoe got warmer and cloudier last year, according to UC Davis researchers.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Lake Tahoe: Warmest water temperatures ever recorded threaten famed clarity, new study shows

Lake Tahoe’s average surface temperature last year was the warmest ever recorded, the latest evidence that climate change is altering California’s iconic Sierra Nevada landmark.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sierra Nevada giant sequoias respond to water stress with clever adaptations

The leaves atop giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada are better at storing water than those closer to the ground, an adaptation that may explain how their treetops are able to survive 300 feet in the air, researchers at American River College and Humboldt State University have found.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Daily Star

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Tribes, farms wary of proposed cuts in water deliveries from Lake Mead

Tribes are apprehensive, cities are more upbeat and farmers stand somewhere in between over a proposed plan to cut CAP water deliveries to keep Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels. … The drought-contingency plan is being discussed by Arizona, California and Nevada as a way to avert catastrophic cuts later.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

New poll shows Californians’ opinions on climate change, water (with audio)

A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows, despite a partisan divide, 62 percent of likely voters favor the law [AB 32]. … The poll also found that water supply and drought remain the top environmental concern for Californians.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Why wildfire relief is nearly impossible this time of year in California

California wildfires often become massive infernos that destroy lives and livelihoods, especially during the summer and fall months. Because of a drought that has persisted since 2012, the fire season seems to be expanding, with some fires even occurring during the winter months.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Hotter weather expected near blaze that killed 1

Firefighters are bracing for hotter weather and lower humidity in the area near Big Sur where a wildfire has destroyed 34 homes and killed a bulldozer driver working to contain the massive blaze.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Awareness of toxic algae urged when swimming in North Coast streams, lakes

State Water Resources Control Board officials issued a warning last week for the North Coast, noting that high temperatures and continuing drought conditions increase the likelihood of potentially lethal algal blooms in area streams, rivers and lakes.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Homes on edge of the wilderness complicate wildfire efforts

When Pat Telleria saw the wind-driven flames sweeping across the grass foothills toward his dream home, he picked up the phone.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wildfires sweep through nearly 50,000 acres in California

Thousands of firefighters were battling wildfires on Monday in central and Southern California that have burned through nearly 50,000 acres and prompted thousands of people to evacuate their homes, the authorities said.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California wildfire season at ‘extreme point’ with months to go

Wildfires are nothing new in Southern California, but as the record-breaking drought stretches into its fifth year, conditions in the southern part of the state are ripe for severe wildfires.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Governor’s office considering various strategies to combat wildfire amid drought and tree mortality

Gov. Jerry Brown’s office recently held the first in what’s expected to be a series of private meetings with scientists, conservationists and fire professionals to discuss how to prevent massive blazes in the face of climate change and prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Judge — Yorba Linda residents can’t use a referendum to void water rate hikes

Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Monday in a closely watched case that customers of a water district cannot void rate increases using a referendum.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Algae in drinking water causes Santa Clara Valley water officials to scramble

On most sunny summer weekends, Coyote Lake, a 4-mile-long reservoir in the hills east of Morgan Hill, would be busy with people boating, water skiing and fishing for bass and blue gill.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Regulators ordered Californians to cut water use 25%. In the desert, golf courses cut back 8%

During the past year of drought, while many Californians have heeded the call to conserve and managed to achieve water-savings of nearly 25 percent statewide, one group of water users hasn’t measured up: the golf courses that spread out across thousands of acres in the desert.

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Toxic algae is blooming more often in lakes, reservoirs. Does that threaten drinking water?

In California, cyanotoxins have become more of a problem amid the drought and the same toxin that shut down Toledo’s water supply has been detected in lakes, reservoirs and streams across the state. But because standard treatment processes usually get rid of cyanotoxins, water officials say it’s unlikely a similar crisis would unfold here.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California eyes recycling wastewater for drinking

The state is currently investigating whether it is feasible to develop standards for direct potable reuse, which would allow treated wastewater to be sent direct to customers for drinking without first being stored in a reservoir or aquifer.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California rice harvest expected to be near normal

Jim Morris with the California Rice Commission says this year is an average planting, but it’s welcome news to rice farmers who have had to idle fields during the drought.

Aquafornia news MSN

7 states recovering from severe drought

California and parts of the Southwestern United States have now endured a fifth consecutive year of drought. … A few states that were drought-stricken just last year are no longer in drought. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed drought levels estimated as of the week ended July 4 and as of early July last year from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Concern raised over water agencies’ stress tests

California has shifted its message on the drought. Now, instead of calling on residents to cut their water consumption collectively by 25 percent, water agencies are saying something akin to this: “Trust us, it’s all under control.”

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Drought felt in low-income Bay Area communities

California’s drought, now in its fifth year, has grabbed headlines – many of them focused on the state’s mandatory conservation measure enacted last year or the impacts on the agricultural sector, said Heather Cooley, the water program director of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. … That’s changed since the Pacific Institute teamed up with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and eight grassroots organizations to put together a community-based participatory research project on Drought and Equity in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Aquafornia news The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Experts: Why California should be stingy with water

Water suppliers are loosening water-use restrictions and reporting they’ll have enough water to meet demand for the next three years. But is that a good idea in the midst of ongoing drought?

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought and water bills are stuck on Capitol Hill

California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming days, with compromise nowhere in sight. … Underscoring the many complications entangling California water, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over measures intended to protect endangered species.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought persists, conservation still ‘top priority’

While mandatory statewide conservation is over, California water officials say conservation remains a “top priority.” “Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How much did your community conserve during California’s year of water cuts?

A year ago, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered urban districts to meet conservation standards or face penalties.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Low or no water conservation targets ’shortsighted’ (with audio)

California water suppliers are increasingly shifting to voluntary conservation targets for their customers. And, some water experts say the move may be premature.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Californians still saving water, even after restrictions are loosened

In May, the month when state officials said they would ease up on a year-old water conservation plan, consumers used less water than they did three years before.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Big drops in urban water use, state finds

Californians are saving an extraordinary amount of water, new records show, even after winter rains prompted state regulators to begin easing drought-driven restrictions on cities and towns.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California May water conservation rate is 28 percent (with audio)

The California Water Resources Control Board says the 28 percent May water conservation rate, compared to May 2013, was “phenomenal.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Downtown L.A.’s five-year rain total is lowest ever recorded

Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in its growing almanac of drought. … News of L.A.’s record low precipitation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board announced a 28% drop in residential water use for May, compared with the same month in 2013.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California wildfires burn more than 50,000 acres as crews make gains on containment

A series of wildfires continued to burn throughout California on Tuesday as flames charred more than 50,000 acres and occupied the efforts of nearly 3,000 firefighters, authorities said. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Before battling blazes, firefighters chop down dead trees in Sierra

It has been a scene playing out daily in the Sierra this spring and now summer: Cal Fire firefighters cutting down trees and thinning out parts of the forest in the wake of an unprecedented crisis, the deaths of 66 million California trees, said Edwin Simpson, a forester with Cal Fire.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Summer of Fire: Climate change driving wildfires

California’s Rim Fire in 2013 was the third largest in the state’s history, and the 2012 Rush Fire, the second largest. And last year’s Butte and Valley fires were some of the most destructive in state history. These grim statistics are part of an alarming trend in western states: The number of large fires is growing, and so is the area burned and the length of the annual fire season.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Summer of wildfires as drought persists in California

The drought in California is now in its fifth consecutive year and conditions throughout the state have increased potential for wildfires. Cal Fire says it has already responded to more than 2,400 wildfires in 2016.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

How Stanford researchers discovered a gigantic underground reservoir in California’s Central Valley (with audio)

The Central Valley has been hit hard by the long-running drought. La Niña has failed to deliver the relief everyone was hoping for, but researchers at Stanford have discovered what could be good news for the region and for the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California has an immense groundwater supply, study finds

A recent study that found that there is more water beneath California than previously thought would seem like great news for a drought-stricken state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Science groups to Congress — Climate change is real threat

Thirty-one of the country’s top science organizations are telling Congress that global warming is a real problem and something needs to be done about it.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

More wildfires, starting sooner, burning more acres (with audio)

A report by the nonpartisan Climate Central says that 11 million people in California are at risk of wildfire and that climate change is lengthening the wildfire season.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento region to California: We’ve got plenty of water

Under the state’s newly relaxed conservation rules, California’s 400 urban water district were to submit an analysis of their supply conditions and conservation outlook by last Wednesday. The water board won’t publish the responses until next month. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Dead trees aren’t a wildfire threat, but overlogging them will ruin our forest ecosystems

There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a “catastrophic” wildfire threat—or so claims U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  While Vilsack’s assertion may resonate with many in the general public because it makes intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Fire crews making inroads against deadly California wildfire

The fire tore through small communities of houses and mobile homes that surround the lake [Lake Isabella] - actually a reservoir – and the Kern River, a popular spot for fishing and whitewater rafting.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: How much water are top suppliers committing to save this year? Zilch.

A year after California attacked the drought with an unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not exactly setting a high bar.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California’s drought isn’t over. Why are so many water agencies ending mandatory conservation?

Coachella Valley residents have slashed their water use nearly 25 percent over the past year in response to California’s historic drought. Now they face a new conservation mandate: zero percent.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

80 homes burned, 1,500 threatened in ‘extremely dangerous, extremely volatile’ fire in Kern County

At least 80 homes have burned and 1,500 others are threatened by a wildfire racing across Kern County that grew to 8,000 acres in less than 24 hours and quickly became the state’s most destructive fire of the year.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Elevated fire danger in California as drought persists (with audio)

The “dry season” in the western U.S. is not expected to bring any major changes to the level of drought, but four consecutive years of drought has increased wildfire concerns in California.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Some water agencies say ‘no’ to mandated water cuts despite drought (with audio)

Municipal water agencies across California are required to report to state officials by midnight Wednesday on whether they have enough water to withstand three more years of drought. … Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board are calling it a “stress test.”

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun Washington Bureau

Southern California braces for severe wildfire season

The thousands of acres burning across Southern California this week foreshadow what’s expected to be a severe wildfire season, the head of the U.S. Forest Service said.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds: Drought kills 66 million trees in California’s Sierra

The number of trees in California’s Sierra Nevada forests killed by drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warmer temperatures has dramatically increased since last year, raising fears they will fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives, officials said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

State: Dry California town soon to have running water return

The state announced plans to spend $10 million to begin connecting unincorporated East Porterville in Tulare County to the water system of neighboring Porterville. … Statewide, officials said roughly 2,000 wells have run dry during California’s most severe drought on record and stretching into its fifth year.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Study shows Sierra snowpack 3 years away from pre-drought levels

The Sierra snowpack, which is responsible for more than 60 percent of California’s water, won’t likely make it back to its pre-drought levels until 2019, scientists said in a study published this week, dashing the hopes of those who believed one extremely wet El Niño year could alleviate the state’s water crisis.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Alarm over fire danger as California tree die-off hits 66 million

The California drought is carving an unprecedented path of ruin through Sierra forests, killing trees by the millions and setting the stage for a potentially devastating wildfire season that’s already burning homes and closing freeways in the southern half of the state.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

26 million trees have died in the Sierra since October, raising fire risk

A lethal combination of drought, heat and voracious bark beetles has killed 26 million trees in the Sierra Nevada over the last eight months — an alarming finding for a state already raging with wildfires fueled by denuded landscapes and desiccated tinder.

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Drought FAQs

California is no stranger to drought. When conditions become dry, water storage declines and water conservation mandates make news headlines; questions from the public often surface about what appear to be easy solutions to augment the state’s water supply. But the answers can be complicated and, in the end, there is no silver bullet to ensure a resilient water supply, especially during drought.

We explore “frequently asked questions” often posed by the public and provide answers below. Simply click on the question for the answer to appear.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Snowpack unlikely to recover from drought until 2019, study finds

When forecasters last year warned of a massive El Niño, some Californians held out hope that a single extremely wet year could bust the state’s severe drought.   

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In Southern California, firefighters jump from one forest blaze to the next

Improving weather conditions overnight have diverted resources from a brush fire burning in Santa Barbara County to a pair of blazes burning above communities in the San Gabriel Valley foothills and a third in San Diego County, where hundreds of homes remain under threat.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Forest Service pushes for fire funding change

Some forest fires should be considered natural disasters and their damage paid for like hurricanes and tornadoes, according to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who laments that 56 percent of his budget is going to suppressing fires. … A bill pending in the House would allow for supplemental appropriations, like those made for natural disasters like hurricanes, as needed. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California snowpack won’t recover from drought for years (with audio)

The winter of 2015 capped four years of drought that resulted in an unprecedented water deficit in Sierra Nevada snowpack. Much of California’s water comes from snowmelt.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wildfires rage across Western US, but homes mostly spared

For days, wildfires have raged amid spiking heat across Southern California and much of the West, driving hundreds of people from their homes.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Research: California years away from making drought recovery

It could take California four years to recover from the most severe drought on record, even if the next several winters bring above-normal snowfall to the Sierra Nevada, researchers said Tuesday releasing a study.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Forest service: Tree die-off epidemic hasn’t yet hit North State

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest has not yet seen the die-off from drought and beetles that has killed large swaths of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, a forest official said Monday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Melting snow, water releases and La Niña complicate California’s drought picture

Word of the vanishing Sierra snowpack, which usually helps replenish reservoir levels later in the summer, arrives amid uncertainty over how California’s dams will be managed in coming months to protect endangered fish. It also comes at a critical juncture for urban water officials across the state.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Should California limit the number of small, new water systems?

California’s drought has revealed that when it comes to water, not every community is equal. … Now, a bill by a Bay Area state lawmaker aims to slow the spread of little “mom and pop” water providers by making it very difficult to create new ones.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

What Lake Mead’s record low means for California

When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last month that the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, had fallen to its lowest-ever level at 1,074ft (327m), the question many asked was: How will it affect one of California’s primary drinking sources? … Falling water levels are the result of a drought in the Colorado River Basin that has dragged on for 16 years and counting.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to fire up burners to battle dead tree epidemic

California’s drought and a bark beetle epidemic have caused the largest die-off of Sierra Nevada forests in modern history, raising fears that trees could come crashing down on people or fuel deadly wildfires that could wipe out mountain communities.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Obama gets personal with Yosemite in speech, long hike

President Barack Obama mixed business with pleasure here Saturday, touting the importance of national parks and then seeing one up close for himself as he took in the sights at what is arguably the crown jewel of the national park system.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Fire torched us last year, and the blazes keep coming

Summer starts Monday, and the state faces another fire season. Many worry it could be a repeat of last year, when massive wildfires tore through populated areas and ravaged landscapes parched by years of drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought bummer — Sierra water runoff coming up short

The El Niño-fueled storms that coated the Sierra with nearly normal snow this winter brought blasts of hope to drought-weary California. But after the flurries stopped and the seasons changed, the melt-off from the high country has been swift and disappointingly scant, according to new water supply estimates from the state.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Santa Barbara fire bad omen for dangerous California fire season

The fire started smoldering Wednesday afternoon off a curvy mountain road in the coastal hills north of Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Fires threatening communities around West

Fueled by hot and dry weather, wildfires threatened homes in California and other Western states as crews struggled to corral flames that have scorched miles of brush and timber.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Water supply a ‘concern’ this summer in California (with audio)

The U.S. Drought Monitor says a lack of rain in May and in early June has caused the expansion of abnormally dry conditions in northwest California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wildfire near California oil refinery burning out of control

Winds and rising temperatures across the dry Western U.S. also worsened wildfires in other states.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Is drought causing a health crisis in California?

For the first time ever, a survey tool developed by the Centers for Disease Control to assess public health in disaster settings has been applied to a drought.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

San Joaquin County groundwater levels still falling

For anyone who doubts that we’re still in a drought, San Joaquin County’s groundwater “savings account” was even more depleted this spring than last, despite improved rainfall over the course of the winter.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Do Southern California water wholesalers have enough supply for 3 more years of drought?

Wednesday will be a day of reckoning for California water wholesalers like Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District (MWD). They have to prove to the state that they have enough water to get through three more years of drought.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: How long can droughts last? Los Angeles County’s trees may have the answer

The DWR [California Department of Water Resources] hired [Dave] Meko and his crew to perform the massive tree-ring study beginning last year. … The Southern California watershed data will be analyzed and compared with tree-ring data from Northern California and the Colorado River area, three key sources of drinking water for a state of 36 million people.

Aquafornia news PPIC

Blog: A weatherman explains California’s volatile climate

What does the future hold for California’s weather and climate? Is drought the new normal? And what about La Niña? We talked to Daniel Swain—founder of the popular California Weather Blog and a Stanford University climate scientist—about our volatile climate.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Interior Department Announces $30 Million for Water Reuse and Reclamation Projects in California

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor announced more than $30 million in funding through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program for seven projects that will provide clean water to California communities and promote water and energy efficiency.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: How plans to save fish species could cut summer water supply

This year was supposed to be different. With Northern California’s reservoirs finally brimming and cities liberated from stringent conservation rules, farmers were expecting more water for their crops. The worst of the drought seemed over. Or maybe not.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Scientists bid farewell to a slightly underwhelming El Niño

Though El Niño’s impacts in the state, particularly Southern California, fell short of expectations, worldwide effects from the event were significant, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. . . . in its declaration, NOAA estimated a 75 percent chance for a La Niña phase, characterized by cooler-than-average sea temperatures, to roll around this fall, though it’s unlikely to cause extreme changes in the Bay Area’s rainfall, forecasters said.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Earth’s super-sized El Nino is over; coming up, La Nina

In its monthly update Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the El Nino has ended, 15 months after its birth in March 2015. El Nino is a natural warming of parts of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Sen. Feinstein: ‘We’ve got to reach consensus’ on drought bill

At the first hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s controversial drought legislation, it emerges that the Obama administration supports the bill. But a deeper look shows that many concerns remain, leaving consensus still in doubt.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Santa Clara County prepares to ease conservation rules

Following the wettest winter in five years, water conservation rules for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents are likely to be relaxed in the next few weeks. The staff of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale water provider for the county, is recommending a 20 percent cut in water usage compared with 2013 levels through Jan. 31, down from the current 30 percent.

Aquafornia news Charter Local Edition

Video: California Assemblyman James Gallagher on water, drought

Charter Local Edition Host Brad Pomerance interviews California Assemblyman James Gallagher about water, the drought and transportation.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Illegal pumping cases dismissed

State water regulators on Tuesday formally dismissed complaints against two Delta water districts accused of diverting water illegally during the worst of the drought last summer.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought sparks larger wildfires throughout California

Firefighters are tackling larger and more aggressive wildfires as drought conditions continue for a fifth year in California, drying out swaths of forest land.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: State water board drops record $1.5-million drought fine

State water regulators Tuesday dismissed a record $1.5-million fine against a Northern California irrigation district accused of diverting water last year in violation of a drought order.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

New California drought threat: Bark beetles and tens of millions of dead trees

More rain arrived in Northern California this year, which is good news overall. Yet, more bad news is lurking in the forest: Bark beetles.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Conservation sticks as Californians cut water use 26%

Californians fought the urge to take long showers and generally slosh water around after all the rainfall this year, cutting water use instead by 26.1 percent in April, state officials said Monday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California April water conservation rate is 26 percent (with audio)

The statewide water conservation rate in April 2016 was 26.1 percent, compared to 2013, as Californians exceeded the mandatory rate.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Californians continue to rack up water savings

State officials lauded Californians’ continued water savings Monday while issuing a stern warning: State-mandated restrictions will be imposed again on suppliers that fail to take extended conservation needs seriously.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Californians cut water use by 26 percent in April

Californians continued to save water in April despite the easing of the drought, reducing use by about 26 percent compared to 2013, the State Water Resources Control Board said Monday.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The drought solution that’s under our feet

When California searches for relief from the drought, and explores different solutions, from conserving water to desalination, one avenue that often gets overlooked is what’s under our feet – soil.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Thanks to La Niña, drought could get worse this winter

Last month, state water officials eased conservation mandates in response to slightly above-average winter rain and snow in much of California, leading many to speculate that the state’s long-running drought has tapered off. If only.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Note to Donald Trump: Why the California drought is real

As the issue of how to manage California’s water supply continues to be debated, here is what scientists and water experts tell us about the drought.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

State says it’s looking into Nestle water rights in San Bernardino Mountains

The state Water Resources Control Board has launched an investigation into Nestle’s water rights in the San Bernardino National Forest, adding a new layer of scrutiny to the growing public outcry into the water bottler’s operations during a drought.

Aquafornia news KQED

Easing drought boosts California hydropower, for now

The easing of California’s drought has boosted the state’s early spring hydropower generation to its highest level since 2011, helping it to recover from a 15-year low reached last year.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought improvement in northwestern California (with audio)

There was a slight reduction in moderate and severe drought in California over the past week but extreme and exceptional drought maintains its grip over a large swath of the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Officials heed warnings as early heat wave hits the West

Parts of the Western U.S. are getting an early taste of scorching summer heat, forcing officials in California, Oregon and desert Southwest states to heed the warnings of dangerous, triple-digit temperatures in this first week of June.

Aquafornia news Vox

Lake Mead helps supply water to 25 million people. And it just hit a record low.

It’s a good time to revisit the slow-motion water crunch in the American Southwest.

Aquafornia news Vox

Watch Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, shrink dramatically over 15 years

Earlier this week, I [Brad Plumer] wrote about how Lake Mead, America’s largest man-made reservoir, has shrunk to its lowest level ever. … Now NASA’s Earth Observatory has posted two satellite images that show the dramatic decline of Lake Mead between 2000 and 2015.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Bernie Sanders takes on Trump over drought and climate change

Bernie Sanders, traipsing across far-flung regions of California as he seeks a comeback victory here next week, swatted at likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for minimizing the state’s water shortage and the effects of climate change.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

As one of its chief sources of water dries up, California eases restrictions on use nonetheless

Earlier this month, California lifted its sweeping restrictions on how its towns and cities use their water, signaling that even though much of the state continues to face extraordinary drought, a moderately wet winter has blunted officials’ sense of urgency over water shortages. Seemingly overlooked, however, is the state’s enormous reliance on the Colorado River for its urban water supplies — and the fact that the Colorado is approaching its worst point of crisis in a generation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Good news: Trees and other foliage have regrown, despite drought

Over the past year, scientists have studied California’s trees from the air, the ground and even using X-ray technology.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Water crisis not on presidential candidates’ radar

The 20th century dams and canals that gave birth to modern California — to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to the San Joaquin Valley farms that feed the nation — are near the end of their engineered lives. … So far, the three major presidential candidates have hardly noticed these problems as they barnstorm the state heading into the June 7 primary.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Trump tells California ‘there is no drought’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told California voters Friday that he can solve their water crisis, declaring, “There is no drought.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In agricultural heartland, Trump sides with California farmers over environmentalists

Donald Trump waded into California’s perennial water wars Friday, taking the side of agriculture and vowing to boost the state’s farmers even if it means cutting back environmental protections.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The winter was wet, but California could get thirsty again

When California officials announced an end to restrictions on urban water use last week, they cited the recent wet winter as one reason. El Niño, the climate pattern that brought a succession of storms to Northern California, had given the state a reprieve from its water woes, they said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Water board moves to dismiss record fine against irrigation district

State water regulators are proposing to dismiss a record $1.5-million fine they intended to levy against a Northern California irrigation district accused of ignoring drought-related cuts in water diversions.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Water supply concerns as drought persists in Western U.S. (with audio)

There was “minor improvement” in California drought conditions over the past week. But as long-term drought persists throughout the west, and storage levels drop, water supply concerns rise.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Two Delta districts may be off the hook

In a significant reversal on Thursday, state water officials moved to drop their case against two Delta water districts accused of illegally diverting water during the drought last summer.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Tree mortality skyrockets in 2016 wildfire season (with video)

Despite the rain and snow, California is experiencing unprecedented levels of tree mortality. Fire officials believe the worst is yet to come.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

House rejects bid to strip California water provision from appropriations bill

The House voted 247 to 169 Wednesday to keep to a measure affecting California’s drought in an appropriations bill.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

Blog: Northern reservoirs brimming early but warm weather taking its toll in the south

Photos of brimming lakes and reservoirs, flowing rivers and raging waterfalls have been splashed across news headlines and in social media. It’s a welcome change from last year when California was entering its fifth year of drought. Yet, the reservoirs are filling because the snow is melting early, not necessarily because the state has more water that fell as snow or rain this winter.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette-Journal

Drought parched Nevada warms up for fire season

Nevada’s wildland firefighters are readying themselves for a treacherous fire season in months ahead. That’s because a multi-year drought interrupted by El Nino moisture created conditions that cranked up the risk of wildfire in both the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin.

Aquafornia news NPR

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: With drought the new normal in the West, states scramble to prepare (with audio)

As the Colorado River dries out, the seven states that rely on this body of water risk water scarcity.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules

Before throngs of TV news cameras in April last year, Gov. Jerry Brown stood on a patch of bare Sierra dirt that should have been covered in snow and told Californians they had to be unified in conserving water. … Flash forward to this week.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Californians navigate changing tide of drought rules

California’s decision to let local entities regulate how much water people use has residents hoping their bills will get a little more manageable and their yards a little less ugly.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lake Mead shrinks to record low amid ongoing Western drought

The surface level at Lake Mead has dropped as planned to historic low levels, and federal water managers said Thursday the vast Colorado River reservoir is expected to continue to shrink amid ongoing drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought conditions improve in California, Nevada

The lastest drought update shows that as California moves toward the dry summer months, conditions continue to improve.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California regulators end unprecedented water restrictions (with audio)

Californians will still be expected to save water, but state regulators Wednesday lifted unprecedented mandatory conservation measures in place since last year. 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

‘Deeply disappointed’ with Garamendi bill — Delta congressman faces pushback from his own allies

Long considered an ally of Delta advocates, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi introduced legislation this week that appears likely to test that reputation. … The Feinstein-Garamendi bills are pitched as a more moderate alternative to a bill by U.S. Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, that already has passed the House.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California board allows water districts to set their own conservation targets

For its first four years, the California drought spread its pain across most corners of the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Drought, dead trees add up to big fire danger for California

Stubborn drought conditions and an epidemic of dead and dying trees mean California is facing a potentially catastrophic fire season, federal officials said Tuesday as they promised to send extra money and personnel to the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California weighs next step for saving water in drought

Strict rules adopted at the height of California’s drought leading many people to let their lawns turn brown may soon end as state regulators Wednesday consider letting local communities decide how to keep their own water use in check.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Sen. Dianne Feinstein pushes Senate subcommittee for water bill to address California’s drought

El Niño’s rains didn’t end California’s drought, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein urged Senate colleagues Tuesday to hurry and find a compromise on a package of bills to address the water crisis in the West.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Is California drought new norm for water use?

With the drought fading and temperatures heating up, it’s no wonder more sprinklers are popping up. But is it too soon?

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California water bill — Here’s why it’s so hard for Congress to pass

Five years into California’s latest drought, a major water bill compromise can seem as far away as ever. The perennial conflict, often summed up as fish vs. farms, subtly surfaced again Tuesday at a key Senate hearing.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Visitors enjoy higher water levels at Lake Shasta

The sounds of watercraft and families enjoying Lake Shasta on Sunday carried across the water against a vibrant backdrop of the tree line. The scene is a far cry from last year’s low water levels on the lake, which became a visual indicator of the state-wide drought and the impact to the local environment.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Lake Tahoe water levels keep rising

After the best winter in years, Lake Tahoe is slowly refilling.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Slight slump leads Gov. Jerry Brown to shrink spending plan

The budget also contains significant money to address the historic drought: an increase of $11 million to fund the removal of some of the estimated 29 million trees, many in the Sierra Nevada, that have died over the past two years from drought and bark beetles.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Why did El Niño miss SoCal? It’s complicated, National Weather Service says

A mix of rising global temperatures, mysteriously warmed waters off Baja California and unusually far-reaching storms in the western Pacific Ocean conspired to block this year’s El Niño storms from hitting Southern California, the National Weather Service said this week.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Severe and extreme drought eases in California (with audio)

The U.S. Drought Monitor released May 12 shows some minor improvement in California drought conditions and the removal of the short-term drought designation. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Blog: California changes course in fighting drought

Those at the helm of California’s drought response and water policy have decided to make a tactical shift. … A new draft plan from Water Board staff calls for allowing water suppliers to develop their own plans based on each area’s unique conditions.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Relaxed state water rules should be good news in Sacramento Valley

Nobody has called an end to California’s drought. Yet, it looks like people in Northern California will have more wiggle room when it comes to water use.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In another sign drought may be easing, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California ends water limits

Citing the state’s improved hydrology and impressive regional conservation, officials at Southern California’s massive water wholesaler voted Tuesday to rescind the cuts they imposed on regional water deliveries last year. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California Senate backs bill to fine excessive water users

The California state Senate has passed legislation that seeks to crack down on people who use too much water during droughts.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Leeway for water agencies under new Calif. drought rules

California water regulators announced new drought rules on Monday that will loosen mandatory conservation targets while making permanent some of the measures that have helped reduce water use during the past year.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Some water restrictions to become permanent under Gov. Brown’s executive order

Some of the temporary water-saving measures imposed on homeowners and water agencies — including how you wash your car at home and how you water your lawn — are now permanent under an executive order issued Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California braces for unending drought

With California entering its fifth year of a statewide drought, Gov. Jerry Brown moved on Monday to impose permanent water conservation measures and called on water suppliers to prepare for a future made drier by climate change.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California looks at easing drought cuts after wet winter

Members of the state Water Resources Control Board – czars of the state’s drought emergency program – will decide May 18 whether to remove the 11-month-old statewide order.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Governor Jerry Brown announces new permanent water-conservation rules

On the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown sought to make water conservation a way of life for Californians by permanently banning some wasteful practices, regulators in Sacramento prepared to significantly ease the current drought restrictions for urban residents and businesses.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

California drought rules eased significantly

California’s historic drought rules are going to be a whole lot looser this summer. In a major shift, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday plans to drop all statewide mandatory water conservation targets it had imposed on urban areas last June.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Some emergency drought rules might be eased, but don’t start hosing down sidewalks

Gov. Jerry Brown and top water regulators on Monday laid out a revised game plan for dealing with California’s persistent drought, making some conservation rules permanent while also moving to give communities more of a say in deciding how much water they must save.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Sierra meltdown: What snow we got is going fast

California’s “frozen reservoir” is melting fast. Unusually high temperatures this spring have acted like a blow-drier on accumulated winter snows, despite a healthy boost during the stormy month of March.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Long-term drought persists in California (with audio)

The U.S. Drought Monitor released May 5 shows some minor improvement in California drought conditions. But looking ahead to the dry season shows drought persisting for a fifth consecutive year in the Golden State.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

El Niño rains added fuel to California’s upcoming fire season, experts say

Thanks to El Niño rains and a fifth year of drought, experts say, California’s landscape has provided enough water to spring up new vegetation to ignite while swaths of forest continued to dry out, priming them to burn and creating a dangerous mix that state and federal firefighters will have to contend with this year.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Hope survives in East Porterville, even as wells continue to run dry

No fewer than nine government agencies and nonprofit organizations have had a hand in helping the [East Porterville] community, which drew international media attention for its exceptional suffering in the fourth year of California’s drought.

Aquafornia news AgAlert Newspaper, California Farm Bureau Federation

Water officials outline outlook for 2016, beyond

What if 2017 is a dry year? “There are no predictions yet, but we have to be prepared,” said Jeanine Jones, resources manager for the state Department of Water Resources. Jones and other state and federal water officials outlined the challenges faced in meeting water demands and the limiting factors to delivery, during a Water Education Foundation seminar held in Fresno.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Debate over Nestle water permit heats up

The U.S. Forest Service’s proposal to grant Nestle a new permit to continue piping water out of a national forest for bottling has drawn a flood of written comments from the public, including a petition with more than 280,000 names demanding the agency “turn off the spigot.” 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought-stricken California boosts conservation for March

Residents of drought-stricken California doubled their water conservation efforts in March compared with the month before by turning off their sprinklers when the rain fell and changing habits, officials said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tree deaths rise steeply in Sierra; drought and insects to blame

Trees in California are dying at the highest rate in at least 15 years, raising the risk of faster-moving and more-intense forest fires, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians step up in March, cut water use by 24%

After months of flagging water conservation, Californians rebounded in March, cutting their urban consumption by 24.3% compared to the same month in 2013.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water bank project in southern San Joaquin Valley nearing approval

It’s too late for the current drought, but an ambitious water bank project in the southern San Joaquin Valley would give farmers a supplemental supply in future dry spells. 

Aquafornia news BBC News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Nestle — Bottling water in drought-hit California

Nestle extracted 36 million gallons of water from a national forest in California last year to sell as bottled water, even as Californians were ordered to cut their water use because of a historic drought in the state.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Almond industry growth continues despite drought

Despite California’s drought, almond growers expanded their orchards by an estimated 60,000 acres in 2015, marking the 12th consecutive year of growth for the crop, which now covers more than 1.1 million acres, or more than any other fruit, nut or vegetable crop in the state.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Forest Service clears 62,000 dead trees to prepare for fire season

State and federal agencies spent much of their fire-prevention efforts this winter clearing dead trees.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

California, Tahoe-area tree deaths climb to record levels thanks to bugs, drought

Twenty-eight million. That’s the estimated number of trees in California that were dead or dying in 2015 as a result of the ongoing drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

One-third ponder leaving Bay Area amid costs, congestion

The trifecta of complaints in 2016 pounded last year’s biggest concern — the California drought — like a heavy El Niño rainstorm. Only 1 percent of Bay Area residents named the lack of water as the biggest problem this year, compared with 24 percent last year.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Spring storms help snowpack as California drought persists (with audio)

There was no change in drought conditions last week in California and Nevada, but spring storms added snow to the northern Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

2016 wildfire season expected to be less severe

California is vulnerable because much of the state remains in a drought, despite an El Niño weather system that brought near-average snowfall to its northern mountains.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Plan to enlarge Los Vaqueros Reservoir gains momentum

For nearly two decades, Los Vaqueros Reservoir — a sprawling lake in eastern Contra Costa County nearly 3 miles long and 170 feet deep — has been a popular spot for boating, fishing, hiking and a key source of water for local residents.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Loretta Sanchez says relaxing species law ‘on the table’ to help state

Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, campaigning for U.S. Senate, said Tuesday that she would consider amending the federal law governing endangered species to help improve the water supply across the parched state of California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

This gated community insists California’s drought is over, wants green lawns again

With El Niño-fueled storms drowning out reminders that most of California remains in a state of severe drought, a growing number of communities and water associations are demanding an end to emergency water restrictions that were first imposed more than a year ago.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Thousands of Sierra trees getting cut to prepare for summer

Once bathed in deep green, the forests in the foothills and Sierra east of the San Joaquin Valley are increasingly turning reddish-brown as drought- and beetle-weary trees die by the month. … Local and state officials want the ponderosa pine’s territory, generally above 3,000 feet in elevation, declared a federal disaster area.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Lawsuit over Delta flows: Feds fail in oversight role, environmentalists say

Environmental groups sued federal regulators on Friday for allowing river flows in the fragile Delta to decline below levels that would normally be required even in the driest of years.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

On Earth Day, take a moment to consider these 10 local environmental issues

Earth Day, celebrated today across the globe, reminds us of the fragile state of our planet. From land contaminated with toxic chemicals to bad air spewed into the atmosphere, the most of us have been affected by pollution in some way. To bring all of this closer to home, we’re listing the 10 most critical environmental problems in Southern California.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

UC Davis reports Lake Tahoe clarity down in 2015, lake level returns to natural rim

Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity took a hit last year in part due to California’s fourth consecutive year of drought. … With spring snowmelt continuing, the lake is currently 2 inches above its rim and has begun spilling over into the Truckee River for the first time since October 2014.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

State Water Project increases allocations to 60 percent

The State Water Project announced Thursday that it will supply 60 percent of the water requested by its 29 contractors.

Commands