Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: New worries for farmers, high water in Russian River, cold water on Bay Delta tunnel plan, more

Michelle Kloser for NPR

Healthy foods requirement for school lunches under scrutiny by Congress.

  • As if California farmers didn't have enough to worry about, the state that produces most of the nation's fruits and vegetables could see softening in one guaranteed source of demand if Congress waives rules requiring at least one serving of fresh fruits or vegetables with school lunches.  (SFGate)
  • There's good news for folks living along the Russian River in Northern California: there's apparently enough water in the river for traditional Memorial Day weekend activities like tubing, canoeing and swimming. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
  • Supporters say it's the best way to provide reliable water in the future, but a $25 billion plan to build two water diversion tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta falls short on "scientific rigor," according to a state-appointed panel of scientists. (Sacramento Bee)
  • California golf courses are having to contend with calls to reduce water use just like everybody else. Putting greens are likely to stay just that, but the rough — and even the fairways — at many courses may be left to wither. Fore! (San Jose Mercury News)


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)