Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Fuel for fire and other songs of the drought

tiny tomatoes

Photo by horrigans via Flickr Creative Commons

Taking a break from making up drought synonyms. Instead, I offer you a little soundtrack to listen to while reading today's drought news:

M. Ward's "Fuel for Fire"


  • A UC Davis report says that Central Valley agriculture could lose as much as $1.7 billion and 14,500 jobs:
Altogether, 410,000 acres may be left unplanted in the San Joaquin Valley alone, the analysis showed, as farmers enter the growing season with about two-thirds of the water that they need. By comparison, a drought in 2009 led to the fallowing of 270,000 acres of cropland and the loss of 7,500 jobs, the study showed. (Reuters)
  • Bloomberg looks at the somewhat brighter side and points out that the projected $3.4 billion loss statewide is half of what was forecast back in March. What's changed? Unexpected water deliveries. (Bloomberg)


California Drought News: Are you surprised San Francisco's not saving water?

Schnaars/via Flickr

Lawns are still pretty popular in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they're using the same amount of water as before the governor asked for voluntary conservation 5 months ago.

Monday's drought news wishes it could sneak up on you and surprise you, not like a scary surprise but more like a fun birthday surprise.

  • This story's not gonna do it. The monthly national drought report showed that 100 percent of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought. “Things are not trending in the right direction,” Mark Svoboda, a scientist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, told Climate Central. (Scientific American)
  • Governor Jerry Brown made the rounds yesterday, telling ABC, CNN, and an audience at UC Davis in Sacramento that California is on the front lines of climate change — what with its heat, fire and drought. "We're getting ready for the worst," he said on ABC. Climate scientists and fire managers agree. (Al Jazeera America, ThinkProgress)
"The fires in California and here in Arizona are a clear example of what happens as the Earth warms, particularly as the West warms, and the warming caused by humans is making fire season longer and longer with each decade," said University of Arizona geoscientist Jonathan Overpeck. "It's certainly an example of what we'll see more of in the future." (Haaretz)


California Drought News: Fires burn San Diego; Feinstein burns enviros

Rattlesnake vaccine

Jed Kim

Friday's drought news looks at an already devastating fire season and other effects that sound almost like Biblical plagues.


  • Several wildfires are raging around San Diego. At least one person has been killed. Police have detained two teenagers suspected of setting some small brush fires. CNN has terrifying video of "firenadoes." (CNN)

In case it's not clear:

  • L.A. Times has a story that links the increase in wildfires to the drought and high temperatures. If this is a surprise to you, welcome to California, and perhaps Earth? (LA Times)
  • Bloomberg points out that this 'a here drought is going to last through the summer and that we're all hoping for a wet El Niño next year. (Bloomberg)


  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein is working hard to get an anti-drought bill into place. She's been having a tough time getting everyone on board with it, especially environmental groups, whom she kind of disses in the article:


California Drought News: Other states caught in drought too

Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta Water System Bay

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Trucks filled with agricultural products cross a bridge over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan has two "co-equal" goals that are at odds -- restoring the ecosystem while protecting water deliveries to Central Valley farms and Southern California’s growing population.

Wednesday's drought news roundup has us looking outside our state and realizing that we're not the only ones hurting. It's time to get "Lost" in drought news.

The Others:

  • We may have been the loudest about it, but we're certainly not alone. Half of the country is experiencing drought conditions. California's been at it longer than most, though. So, you know, go us.
The U.S. drought is concentrated in the Plains states and in the West, though Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Appalachians stretching from West Virginia into eastern Tennessee are all experiencing abnormal dryness. (LiveScience)


  • With that dryness comes a rough fire season. The U.S. could spend $1.8 billion fighting fires this season. That's almost $500,000 more than what's available. (Bloomberg)
  • California's ability to fight fires may get a boost from Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, which would give Cal Fire an additional $67 million. The state would get $142 million more to help with the drought. (Capitol Public Radio)


California Drought News: Smokey Bear gets a makeover, MWD gets a say in water tunnel construction

Rim Fire Burns Near Yosemite National Park

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

GROVELAND, CA - AUGUST 21: A Smokey the Bear sigb is posted along US highway 120 as the Rim Fire burns out of control on August 21, 2013 in Groveland, California. The Rim Fire continues to burn out of control and threatens 2,500 homes outside of Yosemite National Park. Over 400 firefighters are battling the blaze that is only 5 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Today we look at how the drought's affecting water management, Smokey Bear and more.

  • Just in time for what could be a busy summer of firefighting, the U.S. Forest Service is giving Smokey Bear an image makeover to appeal to millennials. No word yet whether his baggy dungarees will be replaced by skinny jeans. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Some of the state's largest water concerns — including Southern California's Metropolitan Water District and the Kern County Water Agency — are being asked to help plan construction for the twin water diversion tunnels that are central to Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Concerns the drought would cause a drop in school attendance as jobless farm workers relocate have come true in Fresno County. The Kings Canyon Unified School District reports a loss of about 150 students during a year it expected to see an increase. The decline means a drop of $1.5 million in state funding. (KVPR)
  • In Fresno, the city council is considering a plan to divert millions of gallons of water reserved for Fresno to a neighboring water district struggling to provide water to farmers. (Fresno Bee)