Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Nosy about groundwater drilling, and nudging your neighbor to save

A 1962 Thousand Oaks survey picture of H.L. Hall Water Well and Test Hole Drilling, and Aitken and Kidder Water Development, by Pat Allen. Water well drilling goes back a century in California, but records are scarce for public viewing.

Monday's news is nosy about your neighbor — and your neighbors' groundwater drilling.

  • More great reporting from the Sacramento Bee on anachronistic problems of transparency in how we manage water in California. Even some well drillers now favor more transparency for groundwater "well logs":
In all other Western states, such records are accessible to whomever wants to see them – from university professors to civil engineers, real estate agents to the media. But in California, well logs are barred from public inspection by a 63-year-old law written to keep data gathered by well-drilling companies from falling into the hands of competitors. “The lack of information about well logs makes no sense, particularly as we are trying hard to manage a diminishing public trust resource,” said Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank in San Francisco. “This is another one of those anachronistic statutes that does not belong in a modern water management system,” Mount said. (Sacramento Bee)


California Drought News: Food needs higher than anticipated

Butts Fire


A screencap from NBCLA of the rapidly spreading, 4,300-acre vegetation fire in the Pope Valley area of Napa County, which by Thursday had destroyed two homes and prompted the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of others.

Today's dryku comes from H. Hanson of Pyro Spectaculars:

Because it's so dry
Professional fireworks shows
Are the way to go

Hanson actually wrote no less than five excellent drykus about the importance of professional fireworks shows during the drought. His company will be doing the fireworks at the Rose Bowl Friday night. You can get more information about that and other shows at our Fireworks FAQ. And remember to keep sending your #drykus to @kpccdryku.


  • Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire burning near Napa. Thousands of acres have burned, and more than 200 homes have been evacuated. Fire officials said the intensity is due to the bone-dry conditions. (KPCC)


  • Tulare County and other areas hit hard by the drought have been providing food assistance to people who've lost work because of the drought. Supplies are running short, because need is more than anticipated.


California Drought News: Oregon's big move on our Salad Bowl


Flickr Creative Commons/ babi_santander

California cherries.

Food for thought:

  • As food production in the California Salad Bowl withers, growers in Oregon are seeing more business come their way. Many are jumping at the chance:
That means there is a great opportunity to supply a need to grocery markets. “Growers can take advantage of the crops that can be grown here that they won’t grow there,” Penhallegon said. “This would be the year to increase production. (Farmers) just need to find out what is lacking. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers; there is an open door there.” (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
  • Are you enjoying cherry season? Have you noticed how expensive they are? That may be because the harvest is down 75 percent this year. It's because of warm days in the winter. (Capital Public Radio)

Water fight:

  • The Wall Street Journal looks at the fines and citations that more California cities are using to get people to save water. Sacramento is one of the most aggressive when it comes to policing, but it kind of has to be:


California Drought News: Lots of views about how to save water, as there's little new direction to do it. Also fireworks!

Dawn Danby/via Flickr

Less water in Hoover Dam means less power coming from the Dam's generating units.

Monday's fat stack of news also includes some views about what to do about drought and Western water supplies.

The New York Times has published six answers to the questions "What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future?" Pat Mulroy, former general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, weighs in, as do several other think tankers:

[N]ew energy and fuel production options have become more water intensive. Unconventional oil and gas production methods such as hydraulic fracturing have significant implications for local and regional water quality and quantity. Bioenergy consumes water at various stages of production (including irrigation for crops) and also has impacts on water quality and quantity...We should be pursuing cleaner energy and streamlined approaches to conserving water in order to truly safeguard our water supply. (Newsha Ajami/Stanford University)


California Drought News: Sex in shower conservation, and freedom in water markets...a summer of love?


This is a public service campaign suggesting you save water...and suggesting some other things too.

Friday's news is going to make you wait for it...when it comes to an explanation for the picture above.

The Wall Street Journal takes on pricing and other big-think policies that various authors claim are worsening the drought.

  • Those higher food prices Jed wrote about yesterday? Alyssia Finley, assistant editor of, says they're the fault of environmentalists, and higher food prices will be the way the rest of the country will pay for California's "green sanctimony." (WSJ)
  • Economist Edward Lazear argues that "government-dictated prices, coupled with restrictions on the transfer of water, have made a bad situation much worse." He takes aim at the state's limitations on water transfers (lifted, he doesn't note; but he argues that pricing distorts the need for transfers anyway). He argues that public agencies that protect environmental conditions with water should pay for the privilege: