Drought Watch 2014
Recent polling indicates that Californians now consider the drought the most pressing environmental issue facing the state.
In July, regulators issued the first statewide water restrictions, which carry potential fines of up to $500 per day for repeat violators. More significantly, local water agencies themselves are now subject to steep daily fines if they fail to enforce the new rules. Accordingly, local agencies were moving toward more mandatory water restrictions. In a July statewide survey, three-quarters of the respondents said that they favored mandatory restrictions on water use.
The state’s $45 billion agricultural sector faces severe cuts in water supply. A study by U.C. Davis projects that 430,000 acres of farmland will remain unplanted this year, leading to high unemployment in some farm communities, particularly in pockets of the San Joaquin Valley.
State and federal water managers 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. By early August, the number of California wildfires was running 35 percent above average.
2013 is in the books as California’s driest calendar year on record. 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 begun to affect many communities.
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Some parts of California’s mountains have been uplifted by as much as half an inch in the past 18 months because the massive amount of water lost in the drought is no longer weighing down the land, causing it to rise a bit like an uncoiled spring.
From heavy machinery to hand-held flour sifters, this town is pulling out all the stops to save its water.
Plants have evolved all sorts of ways to survive the dry times in California.
Enforcement strategies are all over the map, literally and figuratively.
Gov. Jerry Brown (Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images) Gov. Jerry Brown is wading into the debate over a multibillion-dollar water bond. In a letter to campaign supporters, Brown called the $11 billion bond measure currently slated for the November ballot “a pork-laden water bond … with a price tag ...Read More
As reservoir levels dwindle, many regions are pumping water from underground. On the Central Coast, that's causing ocean water to pollute underground aquifers. The seawater is making groundwater unusable for crops like strawberries. ...Read More
Stanford launches a major investigation of the state's dwindling groundwater resources and finds "alarming" gaps.
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.