Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Brown lawns, the bane of home sellers; bees, the bane of bathers

Raging Waters Flowrider

Jed Kim

Kids love water parks. This summer, so do bees.

Today's #dryku comes courtesy of those geniuses at Stanford (@WaterintheWest):
So why should we care
About groundwater at all
Water flows from tap

Fantastic! Don't forget to submit your drykus to our Twitter account @kpccdryku.

On the news front, we look at drought costs, both expected and unexpected. First, the expected:

  • Things are bad this year. Things will be oh so much worse next year if 2015 proves to be dry as well. That's according to the new drought action report out by the Association of California Water Agencies. How bad? Could be no cotton production in the San Joaquin Valley. (KQED)


  • At least unexpected to me. Realtors are saying that brown lawns are driving down the prices of homes that are on the market. Not only are people turned off by brown lawns, they're shying from the cost of keeping green ones. Will this be the impetus for a drought-tolerant lawn revolution?


California Drought News: Silicon Valley largely ignores drought research, GHG reduction plan gets mixed reception, more


AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Despite Silicon Valley's position as a global tech capital, little if any research is being done there on technological advances in water conservation and supply management. CNN's Heather Kelly explains why:

Surprisingly, given its California location, Silicon Valley isn't a hotbed of drought and water research. Most local investors and venture capitalists aren't looking to invest in something that will take at least 10 years to pay off. They want software, cheap-to-make mobile apps that gather and monetize data about people, and consumer goods like phones, smart watches and futuristic thermostats. (CNN)

  • EPA head gets mixed reception while pitching greenhouse gas reduction plans to Western governors. (AP)
  • Summer arrives early to Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Central Valley supervisors pass groundwater management plan with no limits on new wells or groundwater pumping. (Modesto Bee)


California Drought News: Drought + haiku = dryku, submit your best

Randy Heinitz/Flickr

Water shortages are blamed for driving cattle out of state to places like Texas and Nebraska.

Today's dryku:

Water bonds and bills
It's kind of like a film where
Drought is the villain

Speaking of drykus — for those of you who are new to the blog — we've been posting haikus related to the drought (drought + haiku = dryku = clever!). If you've been enjoying them, we've got good news. If not, now might be a good time to take that summer vacation.

That's because we want you to submit your drykus as well. Tweet them out to @kpccdryku, with hashtag #dryku. We'll select our favorites. You'll probably win some sort of poetry award and become rich beyond your wildest dreams. Or not. At the very least, you'll be helping build drought awareness 17 syllables at a time.

Now for today's drought news…

Views to a bill:

  • Environmentalists, politicians and water managers all gathered in the capitol yesterday to try to break a deadlock on a water bond. Matt Weiser reports that they presented five demands for such a bond before they'll support it:


California Drought News: Condolences, Congressional warnings, and conservation reminders

John Boehner

Sasha Khokha/KQED

House Speaker John Boehner joined a trio of California GOP members in the Central Valley to push for certain environmental regulations to be set aside during the drought.

Monday's news sends condolences to California Chrome for the Triple Crown, reminders to the Bay Area to save water, and warnings to Congress about its legislation. (Dear Chrome: Your owner is not your fault. We know you tried.)

  • The LA Times editorial board opines on the Congressional efforts to pass drought legislation. The board concludes that reconciling a House Republican sponsored bill that aims to undermine the Endangered Species Act with a Senate bill sponsored by Democrat Dianne Feinstein is a bad idea for California. It also makes arguments against the kind of bills it seems federal lawmakers like to work on during a drought time anyway. Dear Congress: 
Any progress California hopes to make in attaining sustainable solutions to its long-term water crisis requires a great deal of trust on the part of all factions that science and expertise, and not politics, will govern day-to-day decisions about how much water is needed to protect a salmon run, for example, and how much can be diverted to farms. Changing rules that by all appearances are working sends a signal that Congress rather than water experts may at any moment take charge of the state's competing water needs. (LA Times)


Sole lead battery recycler still open in Southern California seeks to expand production 25 pct

KPCC/Molly Peterson

Quemetco, in the City of Industry, recycles 600 tons a day of lead from batteries.

One of Southern California’s two lead battery recyclers has moved to expand its operations as a second company files paperwork with regulators aimed at helping it reopen. 

Only two lead battery recyclers have been operating west of the Mississippi in recent years.

Exide Technologies’ facility, in the city of Vernon, has been shuttered since mid March while it makes upgrades air regulators say are necessary to keeping the surrounding air free of lead and arsenic. The company has filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy code.

TIMELINE: Exide's troubled history with state regulators

Nearby in the City of Industry, Quemetco smelts 600 tons of lead a day at its plant. The company and regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District have confirmed that Quemetco has filed an application to expand its operations by 25%.