Water and Power: Would anyone care if salmon disappeared?

Your guide to the California drought from the Los Angeles Times.

There’s just no winning. The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources says letting your lawn die completely may be just as bad as watering it every day.


Drought road trip: Los Angeles Times journalists Diana Marcum and Robert Gauthier went on a road trip across California to see firsthand the effect the drought has had on the Golden State. The project #drylandsCA includes video, photos and archival stories on droughts through California’s history.

Delta politics: A wealthy Stockton farmer is gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would require voter approval for large-scale public works projects. If it’s successful, the measure could complicate Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two tunnels that would divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.

No more rebates: The Metropolitan Water District’s rebate program for lawn removal was so popular that it ran out of money. A total of $450 million was allocated for rebates on turf replacement and water-efficient appliances. The loss of the rebates prompted one company, Turf Terminators, to lay off a significant portion of its workforce. Company officials say they’ll still rip out the lawns of property owners who can pay for the service without receiving a rebate.

Storm on its way: The strongest El Niño on record could be brewing over the Pacific Ocean. The storm system would likely end the drought but it could also make for one of the warmest years since records began in the 19th century. “Many individual El Niño experts, armchair meteorologists on Twitter, and individual computer model runs are predicting a potentially record strong event, exceeding the previous record-holder of 1997-98. El Niño data extends back to 1870.”

Competing projects: Columnist George Skelton believes there’s tension between Brown’s delta tunnels and local water projects. “Who's going to pay for it? And we need to know how the water would be allocated. So far, it's looking like we'd get less water and be paying more,” said Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego water authority.



Dry conditions: With 1,300 dry wells, Tulare County could be considered the epicenter of the California drought. Water tanks, like the ones common in developing nations, are being brought in to provide families with about two weeks' worth of water. “Without this, it's difficult for people to stay in their homes, because you need that water for flushing your toilet, taking a bath, washing your dishes,” said one man who was helping deliver the tanks.

Bad habits: What is the most piggish water habit Angelenos participate in? “The thing that makes me the most insane is repeatedly seeing sprinklers running in the rain. I just do not understand how anyone can be so disengaged from their own property,” said Marty Adams with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Stop showering: State officials are trying to conserve water by shutting off the showers in prison yards. That means inmates will have access to only three five-minute showers during the week. Outdoor showers are also being shut off at state beaches. The move could save 18 million gallons a year.

Whodunit: Did actor Tom Selleck steal water for his 60-acre estate in Ventura County? That’s what the Calleguas Municipal Water District accused him of doing after officials paid a private investigator $22,000 to determine whether Selleck had taken water from a fire hydrant in Thousand Oaks. A tentative agreement was reached between the water district and the actor. 

Saving fish: The executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Assn. warns that Californians could kill off the Chinook salmon if they don’t reprioritize water use. “History will judge how we did when it was our turn to run things, and history is likely to be harsh on those who put short-term financial gain for the few before preservation of salmon,” writes John McManus.



“This spring when it was clear that the winter rains hadn’t come and people really started to freak out, I was at a party and everyone was comparing their gray water savings techniques. And it seemed just strange to me and I said, 'You know, it’s not your fault! This drought is not because you guys aren’t saving the water that you wash your dishes with.' ”

– Food writer Mark Bittman on meat, produce and ways California can use less water to grow what we eat.


"Mexico may be at the bottom of the watershed, but we are part of the watershed. There is now greater understanding of this. People here are feeling they are part of the watershed, and the same thing is happening in the United States."

– Water commissioner Roberto Salmón, on Mexico's efforts to secure its share of Colorado River water.



Air Stream. Water flows along the #kingsriver for the first time in six months, carrying along confused fish and tons of debris over the parched riverbed as it makes its way from #pineflatdam through #kingsburg #drylandsca



From BeWaterWise.com:

– Washing only full loads of laundry and dishes can save up to 50 gallons of water a week.

– Fixing household leaks right away has the potential to save 20 gallons of water in a day.



– The Metropolitan Water District will meet today in Los Angeles. Board members are expected to hear a report on the turf removal program.

– The California Water Commission will meet Wednesday and is expected to take up the issue of lawns in new developments.



Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.