Newsom bets on a new plan to combat California drought

A boat in a body of water with cracked ground in the foreground.
A kayaker paddles near parched ground at Lake Oroville in August of last year.
(Ethan Swope / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 12. I’m Times staff writer Marissa Evans.

California is burning and drying up fast thanks to the “Day After Tomorrow”-esque cinematic combination of wildfires, hotter heat waves, a historic drought, decreased storm runoff and climate change. If only we had some of the water from the movie.

And just like the utopian sunshine our state is known for, drought will also continue to be a likely feature of California living. But as our staff writer Ian James reports, Gov. Gavin Newsom is adamant that his new blueprint to combat California’s water crisis will quench the state’s thirst for solutions.

It’s estimated that the state will lose 10% of its water supply — more than the volume of Shasta Lake — by 2040. If his plan works, Newsom and his water policy experts are betting that they can save enough water for an estimated 8.4 million households.

“The best science tells us that we need to act now to secure California’s water future. Climate change means drought won’t just stick around for two years at a time like it historically has,” Newsom said in a statement. “Drought is a permanent fixture here in the American West, and California will adapt to this new reality.”

In his 16-page plan, Newsom is advocating for expanding water storage capacity above and below ground by 4 million acre-feet; expanding average groundwater recharge by 500,000 acre-feet; accelerating wastewater recycling projects to reuse at least 800,000 acre-feet of water by 2030; building projects to capture more runoff during storms; and desalination of ocean water and salty groundwater.


“Regardless of drought or flood, in this changed climate there will be less water available for people to use,” the state plan says. “To match the pace of climate change, California must move smarter and faster to update our water systems. The modernization of our water systems will help replenish the water California will lose due to hotter, drier weather.”

[Read “With California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Newsom calls for urgent action,” Los Angeles Times.]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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SoCal stories

Three statues from “Orpheus and the Sirens”
“Sculptural Group of a Seated Poet and Sirens,” also known as “Orpheus and the Sirens.”
(J. Paul Getty Museum)

Ciao, Orpheus! The J. Paul Getty Museum is returning the life-size terracotta figures known as “Orpheus and the Sirens” to Italy in September after discovering they were illegally excavated and exported. Los Angeles Times

Two women walking to an apartment building.
Ana Lopez, at left with daughter Emily, says it was important for her to break with tradition and challenge the stereotype of Latinos as socially conservative.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Mexican Catholics grapple with abortion: Ana Lopez, a registered Democrat who works at a call center for a grocery store, is among those likely to choose a candidate who aligns with her views on reproductive rights. Her political outlook, she said, flows out of her childhood experiences — shadowed by Catholicism, conservatism and Bertha Valdez, her strict and skeptical immigrant mother. And Valdez, in turn, was shaped by her own childhood and challenges. Los Angeles Times


Black Restaurant Week returns: The national restaurant week that supports Black-owned food businesses returns to Los Angeles Aug. 19 to 28, tapping business collective DineBlackLA to help curate the roster. The celebration of pan-African and Caribbean cuisine spotlights dozens of bakeries, soul-food spots, bars, juiceries, sandwich shops and other culinary specialists across the region. Los Angeles Times

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Money for college: The state is launching CalKIDS, a taxpayer-funded scholarship program aimed at helping kids start saving for college from the day they’re born. The program grants up to $100 automatically to every child born in California on or after July 1 and up to $1,500 automatically to every eligible low-income student. Los Angeles Times

Politics and government

Mar-a-Lago search warrant may be unsealed: The Department of Justice is moving to unseal the search warrant and the itemized receipt of what was taken from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this week, Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland said Thursday, his first public comments since the FBI search took place. Los Angeles Times

Sinema’s $4-billion gamble: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who has at times voted against her party’s demands, staked her climate change vote on two changes. But Sinema’s last-minute efforts added $4 billion to address the water crisis along the Colorado River, and her leverage was key because she was the only one willing to put her “yes” vote on the Democrats’ long-delayed bill on the line. Los Angeles Times

John Hamasaki to run for San Francisco D.A.: The criminal defense attorney and former San Francisco police commissioner is planning to run for district attorney in this fall’s special election, positioning himself as an ideological foil to newly appointed Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins. San Francisco Chronicle

Crime and courts

A tower with a red dome at Stanford University.
Hoover Tower at Stanford University.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Stanford University investigating sexual assault: School officials are investigating a reported rape near an on-campus dormitory this week. A woman reported being assaulted Tuesday after a man grabbed her in an unspecified parking lot near Wilbur Hall, then took her to a restroom, where he sexually assaulted her. The Stanford Department of Public Safety asks anyone with information to call campus police at (650) 723-9633. Los Angeles Times

Final two victims in Windsor Hills crash identified: Although their names have not been released by the Los Angeles County medical examiner, those who know Nathesia Lewis and Lynette Noble say the women were among those killed in the Aug. 4 multi-vehicle crash. Prosecutors say Nicole Linton, 37, a traveling nurse working in Los Angeles, was speeding 90 mph when she blew through a light at the intersection that had been red for nine seconds. Los Angeles Times

Pomona casino raid scores big finds: City police detained at least 40 people after raiding a suspected unlicensed casino at a strip mall early Thursday morning, confiscating drugs, cash and firearms, authorities said. Officers found a quarter of a pound of methamphetamine and two firearms, as well as “a large amount” of cash. Los Angeles Times

Our daily news podcast

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Health and the environment

L.A. County COVID surge drops away: Los Angeles County officially moved out of the high COVID-19 community level Thursday as one top state health official expressed hope that California was at the end of the pandemic’s latest wave. Officials continue to urge caution, noting that coronavirus case rates remain high and still strongly recommend universal masking in indoor public spaces as schools resume classes. Los Angeles Times

Seeking monkeypox vaccines: It is possible to get a monkeypox vaccination in L.A. County if you’re eligible. It just might require a little patience. All of the available vaccine doses in Los Angeles County are being given to participating clinics through the Department of Public Health. Los Angeles Times

Three smokestacks from a power plant.
Three smokestacks from a power plant that closed in 2014 stand over Morro Bay. The smokestacks, icons in the coastal town along with Morro Rock, are scheduled to come down by 2028.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Between three smokestacks and a hard place: In many ways, the Morro Bay power plant site represents the evolution of energy in the Golden State. But the drama over what to do with the smokestacks stands as a harbinger of conflicts to come in California, where state law requires that all of the state’s electricity come from clean energy sources by 2045. Los Angeles Times

California culture

Red drink in a cup with a chip and pico de gallo on top.
A michelada.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

It’s michelada season: From Southern California’s unending number of Latino working-class bars to the priciest drink spots in L.A., micheladas — in styles that range from pared-back elegance to full-on baroque — are ubiquitous. We surveyed some of the most dynamic and reliable micheladas in Los Angeles and greater Southern California over several weeks. Here are the best we found. Los Angeles Times

Gen-Z is fighting Goop-ification: Although we may never fully retire our longstanding penchant for cure-all claims and bizarre health products, consumers might notice a retreat of late. Much like how overproduced, commercialized ’80s rock gave way to understated ’90s grunge, a course correction is finally here⁠ — and not just on supermarket shelves. Los Angeles Times

A pig shaped swimming pool.
Swimply has become a way for pool owners to rent out their pools by the hour.
(Jackson Gibbs / For The Times)

Swimply San Diego: There’s a new solution in San Diego for those sweltering hot days when you’re frustrated you don’t have access to a private swimming pool: an AirBnB-style app called Swimply that allows people to rent their backyard pools to strangers for about $50 an hour. San Diego Union-Tribune

California almanac

Los Angeles: mostly sunny, 91. San Diego: partly cloudy, 80. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 71. San Jose: partly cloudy, 79. Fresno: sunny, 100. Sacramento: sunny, 95.

And finally

Today’s California memory comes from Penny Cluff:

I moved from Houston to San Francisco in 1971. A friend at work boarded her horse at a stable in Half Moon Bay, so on the weekends a group of us would drive down and rent horses. My most memorable ride was on a very foggy day riding on the beach with only the sound of the surf, and all I could see was the white fog around me and wet sand below me.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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