Donate

Drought Watch 2015

Pine Lake Flat on  April 1, 2015. Dan Brekke/KQED)

Pine Lake Flat on April 1, 2015. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

We’re collecting all of our California drought coverage here, starting with the current state of the drought, then providing the background and rounding up all the stories we’ve produced.

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.

Governor Orders Water Cuts Amid Record Low Snowpack

KQED Science | March 31, 2015 | 18 Comments

Governor Orders Water Cuts Amid Record Low Snowpack

Governor Jerry Brown orders the state Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory reductions to cut water use by 25 percent.

Continue Reading

Why Isn’t Desalination the Answer to All California’s Water Problems?

KQED Science | March 30, 2015 | 180 Comments

Why Isn’t Desalination the Answer to All California’s Water Problems?

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.

Continue Reading

A Candid Conversation With California’s ‘Water Czar’

KQED Science | March 23, 2015 | 21 Comments

A Candid Conversation With California’s ‘Water Czar’

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.

Continue Reading

Calif. Water Regulators Tighten the Screws — But Just a Little

KQED Science | March 17, 2015 | 2 Comments

Calif. Water Regulators Tighten the Screws — But Just a Little

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.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles Willing to Pay Its Highest Price Ever for Water

KQED Science | March 16, 2015 | 2 Comments

Los Angeles Willing to Pay Its Highest Price Ever for Water

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 […]

Continue Reading

March Drought Update: A North-South Divide, and Where’s the Snow?

KQED Science | March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

March Drought Update: A North-South Divide, and Where’s the Snow?

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.

Continue Reading

Something Californians Can Agree On: The Drought’s Serious

KQED Science | February 26, 2015

Something Californians Can Agree On: The Drought’s Serious

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.

Continue Reading

New Study: Global Warming Will Bring Megadroughts to the West

KQED Science | February 12, 2015 | 6 Comments

New Study: Global Warming Will Bring Megadroughts to the West

Our best climate models, combined with our best climate records, foresee at least a century of profound drought in the Midwest and Southwest.

Continue Reading

Rain? Rain? Did Someone Say … Rain?

KQED Science | February 2, 2015

Rain? Rain? Did Someone Say … Rain?

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

Continue Reading

Shrinking Sierra Snowpack Heightens Drought Worries

KQED Science | January 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Shrinking Sierra Snowpack Heightens Drought Worries

'Frozen reservoir,' source of a third of California's water, is far below historical average.

Continue Reading

NASA Satellite Could Help Weather Forecasts, Drought Management

KQED Science | January 28, 2015 | 1 Comment

NASA Satellite Could Help Weather Forecasts, Drought Management

Newest Earth science mission could extend the accuracy range of weather forecasts, fine-tune flood forecasts.

Continue Reading

‘Ridiculous Ridge’ May Be Back to Prolong California Drought

KQED Science | January 23, 2015 | 9 Comments

‘Ridiculous Ridge’ May Be Back to Prolong California Drought

Scientists hope a stubborn high-pressure bubble over the West Coast isn't a replay of the last two winters.

Continue Reading

2014: California’s Warmest Year on Record

KQED Science | January 8, 2015 | 2 Comments

2014: California’s Warmest Year on Record

Drought conditions were compounded by high temps despite a "near-average" precipitation year.

Continue Reading

Warm Temps Mean Less Snow for the Sierra

KQED Science | December 30, 2014 | 2 Comments

Warm Temps Mean Less Snow for the Sierra

Despite those December storms, this year's Sierra snowpack is far below average for this date.

Continue Reading

A Thirsty Town Debates Need for New Source of Water

KQED Science | December 22, 2014 | 3 Comments

A Thirsty Town Debates Need for New Source of Water

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.

Continue Reading

Storms a Boon for Rainwater Harvesters

KQED Science | December 17, 2014 | 11 Comments

Storms a Boon for Rainwater Harvesters

More Northern California residents are harnessing winter storms and cashing in on local rebate programs for rainwater harvesting.

Continue Reading

California’s Drought: Is it Global Warming?

KQED Science | December 8, 2014 | 8 Comments

California’s Drought: Is it Global Warming?

Not really, says a new report from federal climate scientists. But others say that report doesn't show the whole picture.

Continue Reading

Study: California Drought Most Severe Dry Spell in at least 1,200 Years

KQED Science | December 4, 2014 | 2 Comments

Study: California Drought Most Severe Dry Spell in at least 1,200 Years

Low precipitation and record high temperatures combine to set startling record.

Continue Reading

New Residential Water Use Numbers Indicate Conservation Backslide

KQED Science | December 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

New Residential Water Use Numbers Indicate Conservation Backslide

The year-over-year water-saving rate slid by more than a third in October, worrying officials calling on residents to reduce water usage during record drought.

Continue Reading

Bay Area Storm Update: Yes, We Just Got Soaked

KQED Science | December 1, 2014

Bay Area Storm Update: Yes, We Just Got Soaked

The rainy weekend is over and the sun has returned. Next up: a wetter and windier storm that should arrive the Bay Area Tuesday morning.

Continue Reading