Farmers use bees to pollinate the state's valuable almond crop, now threatened by the drought.
- We're not out of the woods yet. We'd need rain — like we had last week — every other day through May to get us back to our typical water supply, says California's Drought Task Force. (San Jose Mercury News)
- This before-and-after shot of California's drought puts the crisis into human scale. (Business Insider)
- Folks in India and China are crazy for California-grown almonds. Now they're looking at higher prices because of the drought. (The Diplomat)
- Kate Galbraith in The Daily Beast compares California's drought to the last dry spell in Texas. Three years later the Lone Star State still hasn't fully recovered.
Water affects everything, as it turns out. Air pollution gets worse during drought; in California the problem is soot, and in Texas it was ozone. School athletic fields become dry and cracked, creating difficult choices between watering the grass and risking injury to kids. Homeowners associations come under fire for requiring residents to keep their lawns green. Scrutiny of water-intensive practices like fracking rise. Controversy over endangered species increases, and the federal government becomes a target of ire. The quality of water eventually becomes a concern, as reservoirs drop and salt and silt become more concentrated. Sewage water, strangely enough, emerges as a valuable and contested resource, and everyone starts dreaming about (costly) desalination.
This Saturday, March 1, 2014 photo provided by the Big Bear Visitors Bureau shows a 43-foot pirate ship tour boat partially submerged under water in Big Bear Lake, Calif. The 27-ton boat had been docked at Holloway Marina before sinking. The one-third scale 16th century Spanish galleon replica was a prop in the movie "Time Bandits."
Hey, did you know that it rained last weekend?
Sorry, we know we've been talking about it a lot, but it's been happening so rarely lately that we may have forgotten what life is like after a downpour:
- Oftentimes, rain means flourishing grasses, which dry out and become great fuel for fire. That's not the case with the most recent storms, which actually decreased fire hazard risk. (KPCC)
- Seasoned Southern Californians know to stay away from the beach after a heavy rainfall, but a new study says we should avoid the sand for at least five days. (LA Times)
- Toddlers' minds can be blown by the simple task of washing hands, but they can also be taught to be responsible water users. (KPCC)
- The U.S. and Mexico are teaming up this month to send 105,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River into Baja California. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- The rain and snow capsized and sank a pirate tour ship that represented the only floating liquor license on Big Bear Lake. (Modesto Bee)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A tractor moves an uprooted almond tree into a shredder at Baker Farming on February 25, 2014 in Firebaugh, California. Almond farmer Barry Baker of Baker Farming had 1,000 acres, 20 percent, of his almond trees removed because he doesn't have access to enough water to keep them watered as the California drought continues. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials announced this past Friday that they will not be providing Central Valley farmers with any water from the federally run system of reservoirs and canals fed by mountain runoff.
Monday’s news saw March roar in like a lion, precipitation-wise, over the weekend.
- California precipitation made for an early Oscar joke. "For those of you watching around the world, it has been a tough couple of days for us here: It has been raining,” Ellen DeGeneres said. “We're fine. Thank you for your prayers.” (CBS)
- Northern California will get some more storms this week, but these Bay Area storms will be smaller than the ones that drenched California all last week. (SFGate)
- There’s so much more brown in the more recent pictures of water storage facilities than there is in the historic views, in a new set of images released by the state Department of Water Resources. (PolicyMic)
- Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the drought legislation, and talked drought (and pot) on Meet the Press. (KPCC, KPCC)
- U.K. advice columnists Leo & Lucy tackle the question of whether it’s ethical to eat nuts from California in a drought, and offer alternatives to nut-loving non-squirrels:
A week after it was proposed, a nearly $700 million package of drought relief measures passed the state legislature Thursday and is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown. A huge chunk of the money in the bill is earmarked for new projects to capture and store water from storms like those hitting California now.
So it’s worth pointing out what Southern California has done and has yet to do when it comes to managing stormwater.
Regional stormwater systems must meet certain federal Clean Water Act standards to operate. “Both permits create extremely strong opportunities to encourage stormwater capture to increase water supplies,” says Noah Garrison, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Urban pollution flows to storm drains and then is dumped into local waterways, tainting rivers and beaches with metals, nutrients, ammonia, bacteria, toxins, and pesticides,” writes Garrison, in a report entitled Rooftops to Rivers.
Friday’s drought news warns you to stay safe out there in wet conditions…and don’t get cocky about how much water we're getting.
- Sure, there was fresh snow on the ground, but Thursday’s statewide average snowpack measurement was 24 percent of normal. (Press-Enterprise)
- Peep these maps of California for each week since the state of emergency began, and watch the brick-red swath of “exceptional drought” grow. (Mother Jones)
- San Francisco Public Utilities Commission asking for 10 percent voluntary cutbacks. "We're waiting for the snow to melt and come down and fill our reservoir, but it ain't happening." (SF Gate)
- So what if there’s no water? California Congressional leaders are using drought to push forward proposals for dams and other “surface storage” projects, including an idea for a Upper San Joaquin River dam at Temperance Flat which has been bouncing around for a decade or more. (Fresno Bee)
- California drought through Canadian eyes: Winter strawberries might cost more, but Canada might be able to sell the Golden State its veggies and tomatoes. (CBC)
- Virtual water is silly: If exporting crops is exporting water, UC Davis Professor Jay Lund says, don’t forget we import crops and (virtual) water too. (California WaterBlog/Center for Watershed Sciences)
- Stanford researchers try to figure out whether drought is connected to climate change. (Stanford Report)
- Know More’s Max Ehrenfreund explains water subsidies in California and concludes that "government is making it worse." (Washington Post)