Drought Watch 2014
The list of cities and water districts announcing water restrictions — both voluntary and mandatory — is growing rapidly.
The state’s $45 billion agricultural sector faces severe cuts in water supply, too, which could mean acres — reportedly as many as a half-million — taken out of production, leading to high unemployment in farm communities and, potentially, higher food prices.
State and federal water managers have set planned allocations from the state's two largest water delivery projects at zero for the first time ever, though “health and safety” supplies, like drinking water, will be provided.
State and federal officials are preparing for a long and difficult wildfire season. In Southern California, wildfire season never ended; fires burned through the winter. So far this year, more than 1,500 wildfires have started.
The lack of rain also adds a new threat for endangered salmon.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared an official statewide drought on January 17, as he called for a voluntary statewide reduction in water consumption. The drought declaration outlines 20 steps, some mandatory, some merely advisory, to meet water shortages that have already started to affect many communities. State water officials have released monthly plans for operating the state's reservoirs and rivers in an attempt to balance the needs of people and wildlife. (Last updated 5/20/14)
2013 is in the books as California's driest calendar year on record. Now, as the spring runoff season taps an anemic Sierra snowpack — less than 18 percent of normal — the Golden State is in for a parched summer, with profound implications for life and livelihoods in California.
Officials are watching key reservoirs that supply the complicated plumbing that carries water to farms and cities throughout the state. Without the benefit of much recharge from winter rain and snowfall, major reservoirs have been running about two-thirds of normal.
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Those surveyed say they favor mandatory restrictions on water use.
Weather experts say the next couple of weeks could be some of the worst in state history for wildfires caused by lightning strikes.
More than 80% of California is now in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (Courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor) A day after the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that more than 80% of the state is now experiencing extreme drought, the federal government is giving the state $9.7 million. ...Read More
Brace yourselves. There is a serious problem taking shape in the Sierra Nevada (but on occasion, it's seriously cute, too.) Nevada Department of Wildlife Conservation Aid Cooper Munson holds two of three black bear cubs captured and safely released on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of NDOWDrought bear cubs. On Wednesday, Nevada Department of ...Read More
Half Dome, from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. (James Chang/Flickr)Yosemite National Park is banning back-country campfires in an attempt to prevent human-caused fires. The ban will be in effect for wilderness areas below 6,000 feet elevation. The National Park Service says that fires are still allowed in designated campgrounds and ...Read More
Investigative report prompted legal action. And some districts are responding.
California's water bureaucracy has approved penalties against the hydro-criminals among us who do things like wash down sidewalks and dump too much water on our lawns. Penalties could be as much as $500 per offense. It remains to be seen how the scores and score of water agencies that ...Read More
Watering your lawn or washing your car may become a lot more expensive. State regulators have approved new fines aimed at water wasters, hoping the penalties will lead to a reduction in water use.
Economists estimate that the drought will cost the state's farm economy about $2.2 billion this year, including the loss of more than 17,000 jobs.
Wasting water outdoors amid the state's drought will begin hitting Californians in the wallet under get-tough restrictions being proposed by state regulators.
$10.5 billion plan now includes more money for reservoirs, but not enough to win Republican votes. ...Read More
Fights are breaking out over controversial water sales. Some farmers say they need the water to keep trees alive, while others say groundwater pumping depletes supplies for neighboring farms, and could threaten California's already-stressed aquifers.
Mountain meadows that would normally be covered with wildflowers have nothing to offer the bees this year, as the flowers lie dormant in the drought. Beekeepers are looking at drastically reduced production, and in some cases are just trying to keep their bees alive.
Two prominent California water experts advise: don't bet on wet.
A new report echoes some of the worst fears of a fourth straight drought year.
Two competing camps have emerged about how to boost California's water supplies during dry times: conserve more water or build more water storage.
The unrestrained race to drill new wells could put California's biggest water source in jeopardy.
Some farm water districts are flouting requirements to measure and report water deliveries to customers.