Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Snake bites, fireworks and what to do about water jerks

Water jerks button

Beatrice the Biologist / Scientific American

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Beatrice the Biologist / Scientific American

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Beatrice the Biologist / Scientific American

Water Jerks Button 4

Beatrice the Biologist / Scientific American

Today's dryku:
Food budgets are tight
Droughts do raise vegetables' price
But don't make snakes bite


  • The USDA released its monthly food price outlook. Looks like prices are going to be up at least 3.5%. Fresh fruit could go up by 6%. Bloomberg has a chart showing how produce is projected to hit its highest price in 18 years. (LA Times)


  • Southern California seems to be seeing a higher rate of rattlesnake bites this year. Despite the article's headline, experts in the story say it's not because of the drought. A shorter winter has brought snakes out of hibernation earlier, meaning a longer active season, meaning more need for anti-venin.
As of June 12, 128 people were admitted to a hospital for a snakebite and of those, 93 received doses of anti-venin, Heard said. In 2013, 269 Californians went to a hospital for a snakebite and of those, 166 received anti-venin, he said. Simply doubling the number of patients needing anti-venin treatment would equal 186, more than 2013. (Some patients get “dry bites” meaning no venom is injected and therefore do not need anti-venin, he said). (Contra Costa Times)


California Drought News: Dust in the 'Salad Bowl,' the (property) price of water, SFers get a pat on the head, more

Farmers Hire Drilling Crew To Search For Water To Irrigate Crops

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Dried and cracked earth is visible on an unplanted field at a farm on April 29, 2014 near Mendota, California.

  • Summer is upon us, and KPIX in San Francisco reports three years of drought in the Central Valley has turned America's salad bowl into a "dust bowl." (KPIX)
  • Speaking of summer and San Francisco, it appears denizens of the City by the Bay have done such a good job of conserving water, their water agency has already decided there will be no mandatory restrictions this summer. (San Jose Mercury News)
  • Meanwhile, SFGate columnist Mark Morford wonders how water availability will factor into property values for summer get-aways north of San Francisco:

Wait, what? Right, the water. The Looming Issue. The Unexpected Fear. Water – or rather, the potential lack thereof – is something I didn’t realize I’d be quite so worried about when I started my search. But now? It’s damn near unavoidable. (SFGate)


California Drought News: Drought makes it rain for water holders

bee flower

Photo by Stuart Richards via Flickr Creative Commons

Today's dryku:
Water holders thrive 
In land of milk and honey 
But beekeepers don't

Keep sending in those #dryku to @KPCCdryku. In the meantime, Tuesday's drought news roundup asks what you'd do if you had a time-traveling DeLorean. Securing dibs on water rights might not be a bad bet.

Groundwater gold:

  • If you've got water, you stand to make a lot of money selling it to those that don't. Lauren Sommer looks into statewide plans for groundwater and explains how it's changing hands.
More than 60 billion gallons of groundwater are being proposed in water sales this year – either sold for profit or substituted for water sold for profit, according to a KQED analysis of documents filed with state and federal agencies. (KQED)


  • The drought's already driven up prices for part of our grocery lists. Short-grained rice, beef and eggs have gotten more expensive. Fruits and vegetables haven't so much, but that may change.


California Drought News: Navy showers, sudden oak death, and what a water bond should look like

stefan klocek/via Flickr

From the silver linings department: drought has cut back on sudden oak death this year in California.

Monday's news takes note of the fact that the US and Portugal took the first water break of the FIFA World Cup — it was more than 90 degrees after dark in the Arena Amazonia — and reminds you to never stop playing defense even in the 94th minute.

  • The Times editorial board comes out in favor of a water bond that's "well crafted" — which to them means:
Los Angeles needs a bond to help clean up the groundwater basin in the San Fernando Valley to make water caught and stored there safe and useful. It needs a bond to boost recycling projects. It needs a bond for, yes, the Los Angeles River, to ensure that the restoration effort provides more than just the nice amenity of a mid-city waterfront, but is also an ecologically sound project centered on storm-water recapture and actually puts to use water that would otherwise rush to the ocean. It needs a bond to bring 21st century technology to efficiency projects, to get more and better use out of less water.  Other areas of California need a bond for the same reasons. And all of those investments will reduce, not increase, demands on the delta. (LA Times Editorial Board)


California Drought News: Chinatown's 40th anniversary is the Golden State's hottest year on record

They love the Jack Nicholson film Chinatown in Owens Valley.

Friday's news isn't going to sugarcoat it: we've got good news for people who like bad news.

  • "Exceptional" drought conditions are spreading in California — up to a third of the state from a quarter of it a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (LA Times)
  • And California is enduring its hottest year on record, contributing to the state's worst level of drought in the past 40 years. (USA Today)
  • Yeah, words sort of stop working to describe it: check out these satellite images of California drying out. (Discover Magazine)

Summer starts tomorrow. June is when drought news stops being about the hope of rainfall, and becomes about the fear of wildfire.

  • The director of CalFire has suspended open burns on 31 million acres of state land. That means residential burn permits, forest management, hazard abatement, and other industrial-type permitted burning. (Lake County News)
  • And it's the 40th anniversary of "Chinatown!" An op-ed written by Gary Polakovic argues that our view of water in the west is fantasy — and gives you a great reason to remember these opening lines: