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.
With rivers still flowing low, the freshwater Delta is once
more turning salty. Officials are already considering
installation of another emergency drought barrier in the Delta
in April, to keep that saltwater at bay.
Public water agencies that serve millions of residents in
drought-weary California might only receive 10 percent of
expected supplies in 2016 – half the amount that flowed to them
this year through the state’s massive system of reservoirs and
canals, state officials say.
Californians posted a 22 percent savings in water use in
October, marking the first month residents have missed the
state’s mandatory 25 percent conservation target since
enforcement of the cutbacks began in June, officials said
Tuesday in Sacramento.
California officials announced Tuesday that the state’s massive
water delivery system, which carries mountain runoff to cities
and farms, will likely supply 10 percent of the water requested
next year due to the drought — half of what was provided this
But during an unusually hot October, state regulators say,
water savings hit a snag. For the first time, residents and
businesses fell short of the statewide target, cutting their
water consumption by 22.2% in October compared with the same
month in 2013.
Largely lost in the statewide discussion about fallowed crops,
depleted reservoirs and brown lawns, is the impact of
California’s drought on hunting. The succession of four dry
years has dried up many of the natural marshes and rice fields
used by the estimated 55,000 people who hunt waterfowl in
Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest executive order provisionally extends
California’s drought restrictions into next fall and calls on
the State Water Resources Control Board to consider adjusting
the rules in the coming weeks.
This month’s rainfall and cooler temperatures have helped
lessen the strain on salmon migrating on the Eel River, but not
near enough to ease the concerns of local researchers. And they
have their reasons.
As many as 27 percent of Californians say they will not buy a
live Christmas tree this year because of the ongoing drought.
That’s according to a new survey by the American Christmas Tree
Association. … In Oregon, which produces more Christmas trees
than any other state, the market is holding up just fine, even
though that state is experiencing a milder drought of its own.
Thanks in part to El Niño, a series of strong storms have
blanketed the Sierras with snow. Another storm this week is
expected to deliver another layer of the white stuff — and draw
skiers back to resorts.
A massive storm, reaching across about half of the state, is
expected to move in Tuesday and peak Wednesday, where it will
drop up to 18 inches of snow on mountain summits from Shasta
County and Lake Tahoe to Yosemite, said Nathan Owen, a
meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which manages the
salmon on the Mokelumne River, relies on a camera that records
every single salmon swimming past Woodbridge Dam. The footage
is relayed to East Bay MUD’s office three miles away.
A California law – that was passed to respond to the drought -
allows artificial turf on all residential property. But, a
Sacramento city councilman says the law should allow cities to
restrict its use.
Four years into the worst drought in California’s recorded
history, the contrast between the strict enforcement on
Californians struggling to conserve and the unchecked
profligacy in places like Bel Air has unleashed anger and
indignation — among both the recipients of the fines, who feel
helpless to avoid them, and other Californians who see the
biggest water hogs getting off scot-free.
One of the most powerful El Niños on record continues gathering
strength and is looking increasingly likely to bring heavy
rains to key Northern California areas that provide water for
the rest of the state, according to a new forecast.
After four years of unrelenting drought, nearly all of
California is likely to see at least some relief this winter,
federal climate experts said Thursday, offering a first real
message of hope for the bone-dry state.
October’s temperature was the most above-normal month in
history. … [NOAA climate scientist Jessica] Blunden and
other scientists blame a potent and strengthening El Nino on
top of accelerating man-made global warming.
The report from the Public Policy Institute of
California says the state’s system for allocating water is
fragmented, inconsistent and lacks transparency. It says
the problems keep the state from adequately managing water in a
In 35 years, nobody’s seen numbers like these. In a personal
survey this week of 125 recreation lakes, 33 are under 25
percent full, and that includes 19 that are less than 10
percent full and four that are empty.
Escalating the fight over California’s diminished water supply,
a coalition of environmental groups sued Central Valley farmers
and the federal government over the possible extinction facing
an endangered run of salmon.
It will take dozens of rain storms to alter the effects of
California’s four-year drought. … With Folsom Lake now
at just 15 percent of capacity, water experts are once again
urging Californians to conserve.
The drought is driving up water rates all over California as
utilities scramble to cover revenue losses and pay for
additional supplies. There will be no relief for low-income
residents, who are caught in a legal conundrum that prevents
most water agencies from discounting their rates.
When the California Water Commission this year surveyed water
agencies about storage proposals that might qualify for funding
under Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond approved by state
voters, half the responses involved groundwater projects,
including one from [Gary] Serrato’s [Fresno Irrigation]
As California enters the fifth consecutive year of
unprecedented drought, Congress is debating two competing bills
designed to provide federal drought relief to California
agriculture. The proposals reveal stark differences in proposed
federal water and environmental policy.
Two areas of California considered to be in “exceptional”
drought were upgraded to the “extreme” category
— the best either area has seen since at least the
beginning of summer, according to the U.S. Drought
It takes a lot of water to feed the lush lawns that drape in
vibrant folds across the Menlo Country Club’s golf course on
the edge of Woodside. And, apparently, a crippling drought is
seen as no reason to pull back on the spigot.
A legal battle is brewing in Washington over President Barack
Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting states
economically dependent on fossil fuels against those already
suffering from longer droughts, stronger storms and higher
Across California, after years of punishing drought, reservoirs
that normally fill canals and make crops bloom are greatly
depleted or even empty. Some say that getting more water into
storage by building more dams is key.
California is soul searching right now on how to deal with the
drought. Should it build more dams? Or are there already enough
dams — more than 1,400 — in the state, and not enough water to
fill them up anyway?
With portions of the Tahoe region reporting 465 percent above
the average snowpack following the first winter storm of the
season, Monday, Nov. 2, it’s clear the Sierra Nevada is in for
a winter for the ages. Right?
Unfazed by the taint of “toilet-to-tap,” the Water
Replenishment District of Southern California unveiled another
in a series of water recycling projects Tuesday that will help
end its reliance on imported water and provide
drought-insurance for its customers.
As the worst drought in California history threatens to enter a
fifth straight year, officials are advocating a variety of
water reuse projects they say will reduce Southern California’s
unquenchable thirst for imported water.
Calling it “the worst epidemic of tree mortality in modern
history,” Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency this
week, asking for swift removal of dried-out trees either
through controlled burns or as feed for biomass energy plants.
California’s four-year drought has lowered Mono Lake more than
five feet. … In this case, another dry winter that pushes the
state into a fifth drought year would push new and potentially
contentious Mono Lake management issues to the forefront.
Lamenting “the worst epidemic of tree mortality” in the state’s
modern history, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday sought federal aid
to remove dead trees from California forests and called for
more controlled burns to reduce the risk of wildfire.
UC Riverside economist Christopher Thornberg told hundreds of
business leaders at a recent economic forecast that there is no
drought. … The content of his address surprised and
frustrated some water officials, who said the declaration of
drought is based on hydrology, not economics.
Regulators are praising the Californians who conserved water in
September, but issuing the first fines to four urban water
suppliers who waited too late to conserve or failed to enforce
In their zeal to conserve water during the fourth year of a
historic drought, many East Bay residents have become water
snitches, tattling on neighbors for hosing down driveways,
leaving sprinklers on all night and even excessive bathing.
Recent high tides and brief mid-September rains gave some Eel
River salmon a fleeting chance to move closer to their spawning
grounds. But a lack of adequate flows on the river is causing
many fish to fall ill as they crowd within small pools for
weeks at a time, according to a recent survey by the Eel River
The batch of 1,098 East Bay Municipal Utility District
customers who sucked up more than their share during a 60-day
billing period this summer was a who’s who of some of the
richest people in the Bay Area.
Right now, migrating waterfowl are looking for wet places to
land and feed. … This week, several Sacramento River farm
water districts finalized a deal with the federal Bureau of
Reclamation to use water later in the year, to provide water
for birds in November.
State officials plan to tell Californians what penalties they
are taking against communities that fail to meet a mandated 25
percent reduction in water use when they announce usage figures
Friday, in the state’s battle against a widespread drought.
In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a
new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water,
hidden hundreds of feet underground. … This week, a
helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the
Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of
As California braces for torrential downpours this winter from
El Niño, authorities have stockpiled extra sandbags across the
state while putting hundreds of personnel through flood-control
training, officials told state lawmakers on Wednesday.
A Wednesday state Senate hearing dove into a topic on the mind
of many Californians, examining how an anticipated El Niño
surge of wetness could affect residents and force a pivot from
drought preparedness to flood response.
One of the last wild runs of chinook salmon in California is
sinking fast amid the four-year drought and now appears
perilously close to oblivion after the federal agency in charge
of protecting marine life documented the death of millions of
young fish and eggs in the Sacramento River.
For the second straight year, huge numbers of juvenile
winter-run Chinook salmon appear to have baked to death in the
Sacramento River because of California’s drought-stretched
water supplies, bringing the endangered species a step closer
Over the last four months, the residents and businesses of the
Indian Wells Valley Water District have cut their water
consumption by about 25%, and General Manager Don Zdeba thinks
that’s “pretty darn good.”
Many Californians have already mentally deposited oceans of
rainwater into our depleted reservoirs, thanks to the hype
surrounding a projected Godzilla El Niño this year. The only
problem is that actual deposits haven’t really amounted to much
With the harvest largely over, the State Water Resources
Control Board said there’s enough water in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin watersheds so that holders of senior water rights could
once more divert water from rivers and streams.
Irrigation leaders illegally agreed to sell Stanislaus River
water to outsiders, an Oakdale Irrigation District customer
alleges in a formal complaint. … The district has explained
the deal in meetings, a news release and an Oct. 18
advertisement in The Modesto Bee.
The cash-for-grass program has existed for years in Southern
California, but it reached a pinnacle this year, as the drought
intensified and local water districts increased the size of the
rebates, sometimes to as much as $4 a square foot. … But the
costly initiatives are not simply about conservation.
An epic rainstorm brought mudslides, flooding and road closures
to Southern California recently, but it did little to ease the
state’s four-year drought. … The problem revolves around
El Nino’s typical behavior and the lopsided nature of
California’s mostly man-made plumbing system.
With the strongest El Niño conditions in nearly 20 years
already underway in the Pacific Ocean and chances increasing
for heavy storms this winter, federal emergency officials on
Friday urged Californians to buy flood insurance — even those
who don’t live near creeks or rivers.
Former sewer water was the drink of choice Saturday at an event
in Alivso to show off the county’s new advanced water
purification plant and tout the potential for recycled water.
… The verdict? Many thought it tasted pretty good.
The governor should use his emergency powers under the existing
drought to ban new wells in areas where groundwater pumping is
causing significant economic damage. I [Gerald H. Meral] don’t
take this position lightly. I understand it would harm people
who need groundwater to keep their farms going.
Decades before someone coined the Twitter hashtag
#droughtshaming and people began posting YouTube videos of
their neighbors’ drowning lawns, California water suppliers
encouraged conservation by releasing the names of their biggest
Few places in California are more remote from urban life than
Round Valley, but the watershed and [Richard] Wilson are
central to understanding why Governor Jerry Brown and other
powerful interests are avidly pursuing several
multibillion-dollar dam projects and two massive water tunnels
that are strikingly similar to plans laid out in economic and
engineering charts in California in the early-1950s.
It was the latest in a series of October storms that could
provide a preview of what’s in store in the coming months as an
El Niño system moves in and threatens to bring unstable weather
to the Southwest…. California is bracing for a rainy winter,
potentially easing the drought while creating new problems such
as flooding and mudslides.
Suburban homeowners ripping out thirsty lawns are dotting their
new drought-tolerant landscapes with milkweed native to
California’s deserts and chaparral – plants that have the
potential to help save water and monarchs at the same time,
because the female monarch will only lay her eggs on milkweed.
The Forest Service had estimated that nearly 12.5 million trees
in the state’s southern and central forests were dead. But as
[Greg] Asner peered down upon the same forests from his
airplane at 6,000 feet, he saw something far worse.
Drought doesn’t instantly ravage the way flooding
does. It advances at a steady, determined pace, building and
spreading during several years. Fields wither, reservoirs drop to
dangerously low levels and the memory of what constitutes a
normal water supply becomes more distant.
Read the excerpt below from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue along
with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and
get full access.
Around California, drought has taken a toll on small
“agritourism” farms that once thrived on the Halloween season
crowd. Some have shut down, while others have stopped growing
their own pumpkins or trimmed acres from their corn mazes and
canceled activities that require water.
The ash of the Rocky fire was still hot when Gov. Jerry Brown
strode to a bank of television cameras beside a blackened ridge
and, flanked by firefighters, delivered a battle cry against
With October comes a waiting season. Californians have more or
less survived one more dry year — with shower buckets and brown
lawns, with ever deeper wells and fallowed croplands; in short,
with every trick known to those who consume or manage water.
Water suppliers take different approaches on what they reveal
about guzzlers even though California’s more than 400 water
districts are under state orders to reduce use. … East Bay
water officials said it’s simple to them: Customers were outed
for violating a district policy.
As Congress considers an appropriate response to the Western
drought, our experience in California gives us a keen sense of
how Congress can best help. … I [California Natural Resources
Agency Secretary John Laird] take passage of
Proposition 1 as a resounding endorsement of a constructive
approach that does not pit urban or agricultural users against
one another and does not undermine water rights or
environmental protection laws.
Oakland A’s big cheese Billy Beane, famous for his statistical
money-saving approach to assembling a baseball team, has been
far less economical with his water, according to an East Bay
Municipal Utility District roster that places him among the top
water hogs in the East Bay.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District on Thursday released a
list of customers who were hit with monetary penalties because
they pumped about 1,000 gallons of water per day during the
past two months. That’s compared to what the average
residential customer uses: about 250 gallons per day.
As California enters a potential fifth year of drought, the
swimming pool demolition industry — a niche, to be sure — is
thriving, operators say, with new companies entering the
business to profit from Californians’ concerns about water
The tow trucks are busy these days at Lake Camanche, rescuing
drivers who get stuck on the sandy road that drops toward the
receding shoreline. … And at New Melones Lake, a ghostly
forest and portions of an old town have emerged as the water
drops nearly one vertical football field below the spillway at
Wildlife managers are worried again this year: Will there be
enough wet habitat for millions of birds in the Sacramento
Valley? Before the drought, 250,000-300,000 acres of California
rice lands was flooded each winter.
Northern Los Angeles County was pummeled Thursday by a series
of torrential downpours that caused mudslides and flash floods
that inundated roads, trapped drivers and forced the closure of
nearly 40 miles of Interstate 5, cutting off California’s main
In the latest sign that El Niño conditions are likely to bring
wet weather to drought-parched California, federal scientists
on Thursday announced for the first time that the entire state
— including the northern part of California from the Bay Area
to the Oregon border — is now expected to receive average or
above-average rainfall this winter.
On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is
continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it’s on track to
produce potentially record rainfall. … The forecast for
a wet winter now covers the mountains that feed California’s
most important reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville.
It [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration] reiterated earlier predictions that
California can expect one of the strongest El Niño winters
ever, with above-average rains increasingly likely for the
central and southern parts of the state. Northern California,
home to most of the state’s major reservoirs, remains tougher
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed Wednesday
to study ways to curb excessive water use after the City
Council called for a crackdown that could include “severe
financial penalties” and “as a last resort, shutting off
The Marin Municipal Water District has set a public hearing as
it looks to raise rates to deal with reduced water consumption,
the drought and land management responsibilities. It is also
looking at establishing a “drought surcharge” option.
As members of the California Water Commission convened
Wednesday night in Clovis to update the public on the Water
Storage Investment Program, conversation centered on one topic:
Temperance Flat Dam. … Water bond money is seen as
Even as Sacramento waits for the soaking El Niño forecast to
hit this fall, Folsom Lake continues to lose water and will
almost certainly fall Thursday to its lowest level in more than
20 years, government data show.
Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5
million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming
weeks. Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government
officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the
deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement.
A group of environmentalists accused the federal government on
Tuesday of not pushing Nestle Corp. to update its permits to
tap and divert water in the San Bernardino Mountains, an
operation they say is sapping vital water from public land.
Environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday,
alleging that the agency has allowed Nestle Waters to draw
water from a creek in the San Bernardino Mountains under a
permit that expired more than 25 years ago.
A new Field Poll released Tuesday showed that 76 percent of
registered California voters now call the state’s water
situation “extremely serious,” up from 66 percent in May and 60
percent in April 2014. … Some regional differences persist.
A much-anticipated “Godzilla” El Niño this winter may refill
California’s drought-diminished reservoirs, but it won’t do
much to restock the severely depleted aquifers we rely upon to
get by during droughts. One reason for this is the sheer depth
of California’s precipitation deficit – the deepest of any
drought in 120 years of recordkeeping. The state has been drier
than normal for 10 of the past 14 years.
Californians sharply cut water use this summer, prompting state
officials to credit their new conservation policies and the
sting of thousands of warnings and penalties that they had
issued to people for overuse. But the most effective enforcers
may be closer to home: the domestic water police.
Evidence is mounting that the El Nino ocean-warming phenomenon
in the Pacific will spawn a rainy winter in California,
potentially easing the state’s punishing drought but also
bringing the risk of chaotic storms like those that battered
the region in the late 1990s.
Cities under pressure from California for failing to slash
water consumption enough during the prolonged drought are
cracking down on residents. That’s prompting an outcry in
places such as this Fresno suburb [Clovis], where officials
handed out more than $500,000 in fines this summer for
violations including lawn watering.
With California withering through a multiyear drought, Gov.
Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation banning cities and
counties from prohibiting drought-tolerant landscaping,
including synthetic grass and artificial turf.
Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
[Sen. Lisa] Murkowski convened the two-hour hearing
Thursday primarily to consider significantly different House
and Senate versions of California water legislation. The
morning hearing was the first to be held specifically on the
Fort Bragg officials will be reconsidering some of the strict
emergency water rules they implemented last week following a
flurry of objections from restaurateurs, who say ordering them
to use only paper plates and plastic utensils is expensive,
counterproductive and unfair.
Along a picture-postcard stretch of coast in Carlsbad near San
Diego, fishermen cast their lines into an emerald seawater
lagoon. In a few short weeks, the lagoon will also be feeding a
steady supply of water into what will be the largest operating
desalination facility in North America.
In the latest indicator of the severity of the drought, the
federal government’s main reservoirs serving California have
begun the new “water year” at just a quarter full and in worse
shape than last year.
California needs water. Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska, has a lot.
So a company that holds the rights to up to 9 billion gallons
of the lake’s water is pitching an idea that would send some of
it — via tanker ship — to the Golden State as it endures the
fourth year of severe drought.
Things are bad everywhere in California, but the big dry has
gotten so severe in the coastal city of Fort Bragg that fancy
restaurants are now being ordered to plop their filet mignons
on disposable plates and pour wine into plastic cups to avoid
When Gov. Jerry Brown announced sweeping mandatory reductions
in water use last spring, some questioned whether the
California dream was over. But since then, cities across the
state have adapted to the drier new reality by reshaping the
way they operate.
Long gone are the luxury boats that drew stars inland from
Hollywood to this accidental sea that first filled with
Colorado River water after a massive 1905 canal
breach. … The Southwest’s worsening water shortage will make
saving the Salton Sea difficult, because any fix requires water
from an over-stressed Colorado River.
More than 300 farmers, workers and elected officials from
throughout the Valley gathered Friday at Rojas Pierce Park in
Mendota to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special legislative
session to deal with California’s water crisis.
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Jimmy Carter, Rahm Emanuel: All
of them were quoted at the Southern California Energy and Water
Summit in Palm Springs on Thursday. But the quote that best
summarized the summit came from Felicia Marcus’ father.
Forecasts of an approaching El Niño winter have ski resort
operators dreaming of the kind of snowy peaks that were a
common sight in California before a four-year drought dried up
the state’s $3-billion ski industry.
Californians cut water use by 27 percent in August, marking the
third consecutive month that residents and businesses surpassed
the 25 percent conservation goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown to
deal with the relentless drought, officials said Thursday.
Whether an act of goodwill or a desperate move under duress, an
agreement by Delta farmers to voluntarily reduce their water
use last spring likely spared them from deeper cuts in the
middle of the summer growing season, a state official said this
In the midst of a searing drought, one home in this exclusive
West Los Angeles neighborhood used an astonishing 11.8 million
gallons of water in one year – enough for 90 households. …
It’s the same story throughout urban California. Despite the
drought, well-heeled residential customers in affluent
neighborhoods are being allowed to use as much water as they
want to buy, according to a review of utility records from the
state’s biggest urban water agencies.
A state water official said Californians have met a mandate to
save water for a third consecutive month during the grinding
drought. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday
will release statewide conservation figures for August.
The last rainfall in Riverside was a windfall for Michael
Hickman, a retiree who has a home project underway to use rain
gutters and barrels to collect some of the precipitation that
lands on his roof.
Last winter, residents [of Lompico in the Santa Cruz
mountains] agreed to have the neighboring San Lorenzo Valley
Water District take over their mom-and-pop operation. … At
least 18 districts have been consolidated since 2013, according
to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Experts say people affected by the drought also face stress,
which can escalate to anxiety, depression and a host of other
mental conditions. Studies show those findings are especially
true for people who rely on water for economic survival, such
as farmers, and people living in rural areas with fewer options
for income and care.
The [Orange] county’s diverse efforts to keep water flowing are
a model for other communities across the nation with stressed
supplies. Roughly 112 million Americans are now affected by
drought, according to federal calculations.
Plastic pipes that will go over Folsom Dam and connect to pump
barges were rolled out Thursday as the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation continues to work on a temporary emergency floating
pump system. … Currently, Folsom Lake is at 19 percent
capacity and has dropped 3 feet this month.
Flames from California’s third-most destructive wildfire on
record not only consumed hundreds of homes but also left deep
burn scars that can be seen from space. … Years of aggressive
firefighting, drought and few prescribed fires left the forest
overrun with brush and timber, according to NASA.
The changing nature of fire, and its consequences, is Topic A
at meetings of the Society of American Foresters, of which
[Char] Miller is a member, and it’s also a fundamental
part of his forthcoming book, “America’s Great National
Forests, Wildernesses and Grasslands.”
The Eastside Water District board voted Thursday to ask its
farmers for $6 million for a groundwater recharge project. The
system would eliminate no more than 10 percent of the overdraft
in the 61,000-acre district, which straddles Stanislaus and
Merced counties southwest of Turlock Lake, but backers said it
would be a worthwhile start.
The ongoing drought, combined with slower but significant
shifts brought about by climate change, is changing the
way California’s largest fire protection agency does business,
according to state officials.
California environmentalists plan to file a new water bond
proposal with the secretary of state next week, a measure
backers say will provide critical money for programs that were
under funded by the $7.8 billion bond passed by voters last
In just two years, Chinook salmon could be swimming above
Shasta Dam for the first time in nearly eight decades under a
proposal that would truck endangered hatchery-raised fish into
a cold-water tributary that feeds the state’s largest
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm
district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been
fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first
state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas
Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was
published in 1946.
Giant Sequoias growing in California’s Sierra Nevada are among
the largest and oldest living things on earth, but scientists
climbing high up into their green canopies say they are seeing
symptoms of stress caused by the state’s historic drought.
For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Water District has
paved the way for Southern California’s epic growth by securing
water from hundreds of miles away. This week, the mammoth
agency said it wants to invest closer to home in what would be
one of the world’s largest plants to recycle sewage into
Among the many consequences of California’s severe drought is
an escalating dispute involving San Diego County’s northern and
southern communities over the price of recycled water, which is
treated sewage used primarily for irrigation.