Drought Watch 2015
How Bad Is It?
It’s bad. After heavy rains raised hopes in December, what should have been the heart of the rainy season then turned into the driest January-March period on record, exacerbated by record-high temperatures. Firmly into the fourth year of drought, one of the state’s top water regulators calls it “the most serious challenge our generation has ever faced.” In April, Governor Jerry Brown issued a first-ever executive order mandating statewide reductions in water use.
More than two-thirds of California remains in “extreme” drought, with more than 40 percent of the state in “exceptional” drought, the most extreme category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Share Your Story
This animation shows California’s drought through its development, from January, 2011, through early December, 2014, as expressed by NOAA’s U.S. Drought Monitor. (Olivia Hubert-Allen/KQED)
Meager river flows may not be enough to stem the tide of salt water that threatens freshwater supplies.
Agriculture consumes about 40 percent of the state's water, or 80 percent of water available for human use. Critics question the viability of growing water-intensive crops like almonds and rice, but others argue the state's water woes are too complex to pin on a single industry.
Madera County's DA tries to get out in front of an expected wave of water-related thefts.
The latest figures on water conservation in California would seem to bear out the need for more strict, mandatory measures, such as the governor recently announced.
Builders and developers are pondering the governor's new water mandates -- and scratching their heads.
Governor Jerry Brown orders the state Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory reductions to cut water use by 25 percent.
After four years of nowhere near enough rain, Californians are wondering where else to look for water, and many are talking about the ocean -- desalination. The problem is, it’s really expensive to turn salt water into drinking water. And it’s hard to do it in a way that’s friendly to sea life. But a group of mayors around Monterey Bay say they don't have any other options.
The State Water Resources Control Board is California's top arbiter of water supply conflicts. Lately it's been caught in a tug of war between those who would have it tread lightly with local water agencies and those calling for aggressive statewide rationing.
As California plods into its fourth year of drought, critics say the latest round of statewide water restrictions are too little -- and possibly too late.
Los Angeles is offering rice farmers in the Sacramento Valley more money than the city has ever paid for water — $700 per acre-foot. At this price, rice farmers could make more money selling water than they can make on their crops. That makes it easy to say “yes,” says Lance Tennis, whose family has […]
Uneven rainfall across the state has helped replenish Northern California reservoirs, while those to the south remain in mostly abysmal shape. Meantime, the latest snow report is in, and it's not good.
The Field Poll has been surveying Californians in good times and bad for decades, and rarely does it find respondents unanimous — or virtually unanimous — on anything. The Poll finds that 94 percent of Californians view the drought, now in its fourth year, as either extremely or somewhat serious.
Our best climate models, combined with our best climate records, foresee at least a century of profound drought in the Midwest and Southwest.
Can you remember, without thinking about it too hard, the last time you saw rain here in the Bay Area? For me, it was Christmas Eve, when it rained just hard enough and long enough to get water running in the Berkeley gutters. Then the sun came out, and it's ...Read More
'Frozen reservoir,' source of a third of California's water, is far below historical average.
Newest Earth science mission could extend the accuracy range of weather forecasts, fine-tune flood forecasts.
Scientists hope a stubborn high-pressure bubble over the West Coast isn't a replay of the last two winters.
The central coast town of Cambria faced running out of water this year. This week, the town launches its new emergency water source, but some in the community believe a fight to shut it down is only just beginning.