Chronicling California's drought

Now in its fourth year, the drought in California has reached record-breaking levels of dryness, with more than half of the state under the most severe level of drought. In some of the hardest hit communities, taps have run completely dry, leaving hundreds of households with no access to running water. On April 1, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the first mandatory water restrictions in California history.


This gated community insists California's drought is over, wants green lawns again

The warning was stern and unequivocal: The days of unkempt, browning lawns in the gated community of Blackhawk were officially over.

California water agencies to urge regulators to ease drought restrictions

California water districts large and small are expected to urge regulators on Wednesday to toss out or significantly relax emergency drought orders requiring

Drought is the new normal for California -- but we need to build more housing?

To the editor: The Times has published an interesting juxtaposition of articles in the last few days. One speaks of the need for more housing to keep rents and

Is the California drought America's water wake-up call?

The California drought is not over.

Drought is the new normal. We need less shaming and more incentivizing

It was a rainy weekend in Southern California, but there have been too few such storms in what had been expected to be a rain-soaked El Niño season. This fifth

State snowpack has changed a lot in the last year — as have Californians' attitudes toward water

One year ago Friday, Frank Gehrke hiked out to Phillips Station and stuck a tube onto a tuft of brownish-green grass. There was no snow, but Gehrke had quite an audience.

Even in sunny L.A., warming climate may be the next big public health problem

For years scientists have warned that climate change will cause melting ice caps, rising sea levels and severe droughts and floods. But global warming's effects can also be far more personal, seriously harming human health.

Clean water versus the sucker fish: Drought creates a bizarre dilemma

The California drought has created many oddities over the last few years but none as bizarre as a scene that unfolds regularly on a tributary of the Santa Ana

California cuts water use 17.1% in January, falling short of target

People in cities and towns across California reduced their water consumption by just 17.1% during the first month of the year, as compared to the same month in 2013, state regulators said Thursday.

Without a 'March miracle,' drought-like conditions will continue in Southern California

Southern Californians can expect dry conditions and above-average heat this week as a stubborn high-pressure system continues to block the heavily anticipated

Gray water and stormwater can help in the drought, but risk needs to be studied, researchers say

As water utilities and their customers increasingly look to gray water and runoff from storms to supplement their supply amid drought, more guidelines and

After drought and warmer weather, local farmers are taking time off

Four years of drought and unusually warm weather have exhausted the patience and the resources of many local farmers, and the result is empty farm stands at

Environmental group gives California mixed marks for drought management

California's efforts to manage its drought have produced mixed results, according to a report card issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Proposed ballot measure could re-establish tiered water pricing

A coalition of cities, counties and water agencies filed a proposed ballot measure Monday that would allow water providers to re-establish so-called tiered pricing as a means of encouraging conservation.

GOP members blame Sen. Feinstein for blocking drought language

Volleys over a plan to address California¿s drought continued Friday as the Republicans in state's delegation held a news conference blaming Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for not supporting their bid to insert the plan into a must-pass spending bill.

How the state GOP's drought relief bill undermined serious work aimed at a solution

It might have been a sneaky, underhanded maneuver, or it might have been a simple miscommunication. Either way, California's GOP House delegation took a foolish

Californians clash over money for drought in spending bill

California Republicans will continue trying to include language addressing the state's drought in a must-pass bill to fund the federal government, over

Democrats criticize GOP attempt to insert drought plan in federal spending bill

California Democrats are fuming over an attempt by the state's Republican House members to insert language addressing the state's drought into a must-pass bill

4 arrested in vandalism of Bay Area dam that caused loss of 50 million gallons of water

Under the cover of darkness, a group of vandals this spring slashed an inflatable dam in the Bay Area, sending millions of gallons of water into San Francisco

L.A.'s turf rebates aren't just a gimmick

City Controller Ron Galperin took aim last week at Los Angeles' popular "Cash in Your Lawn" rebate program, calling the program a "gimmick" that helped get

El Niño bringing California a big snow season

The last two years of drought have been tough for Lincoln Kauffman and others in the Northern California skiing business.

Not much bang for the buck in DWP turf rebates, city controller audit says

Los Angeles' turf rebate program saved less water per dollar spent than other Department of Water and Power conservation programs, an audit released by the city

Massive El Niño gains strength, likely to drench key California drought zone

One of the most powerful El Niños on record continues gathering strength and is looking increasingly likely to bring heavy rains to key Northern California

What's behind a bid to shift dollars from the bullet train to water projects

Grab billions from Gov. Jerry Brown's bullet train project and spend it on generating more water. Build some dams. Many Californians have been shouting for

California must capture water, not waste it

We don't know for sure whether the El Niño we face this winter will be a drought buster or a bust. But we had better prepare for a lot of rain and the potential

As huge El Niño brews, California fights to keep drought mentality

As experts continue to predict a wet winter because of El Niño, California officials continue to take a cautious approach when it comes to easing water

How did some of California's biggest water savers cut even more? By getting creative.

Ventura and Santa Barbara officials say a mix of community and business outreach helped cities far exceed water-saving goals.

'Everything is blinding white': Sierra storms pay off for resorts and add hope for drought

Alex Hoon was driving north from Mammoth Lakes on Tuesday, looking in awe at the decidedly winter landscape.

To save water, an underground movement to bank El Niño's rainfall

Groundwater banks are being established to slowly soak up rain and floodwater for future use. It's a cheaper option than dams and reservoirs.

Early-season storm makes small dent in California's drought outlook

An early-season storm that blanketed mountains from Northern California to the Central Valley with snow showed tangible results on the state's historic drought,

Soak the rich to help solve California's water crisis

During a time of drought, when most urban dwellers are making do with less, nothing sticks in the craw quite like the cad in Bel-Air who reportedly is using 90

Heavy snows in Sierra Nevada raise hopes of relief from drought

A day of heavy snow may have turned swaths of the Sierra Nevada into a winter landscape, but it's too early to tell if it will have a lasting effect on the

Beverly Hills water wasters 'should be ashamed,' state regulator says

The city of Beverly Hills and three other water suppliers face financial penalties for falling short of state water conservation mandates, officials said

These water districts are way short of their conservation targets

Over the last four months, the residents and businesses of the Indian Wells Valley Water District have cut their water consumption by about 25%, and General

To save water, which L.A. fountains should be turned off?

Even if unconsciously, the homeless people who loll on the south lawn of Los Angeles City Hall are making a sacrifice to conserve water during the drought.

Big water users, take note: DWP is considering outing you

Decades before someone coined the Twitter hashtag #droughtshaming and people began posting YouTube videos of their neighbors' drowning lawns, California water

Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?

In a very dry state, turning to the sea as a source of water for drinking, bathing and irrigation has its attractions. Desalination is drought-proof -- the

In the drought-parched Central Valley, a waiting game begins

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Drought takes toll on 'agritourism' farms that once thrived on Halloween crowds

Bob Lombardi, 70, went ahead and planted two acres of baby bear pumpkins in a corner of his shut-down ranch this year, just to say he had farmed for 50 years.

El Niño rains forecast to reach far into Northern California, where they're most needed

A new forecast says El Nino rains will likely reach far into Northern California, important because rain and snow need to fall there to provide the state with water.

Right-to-dry movement gets its day in the sun in California

Last week, amid all the excitement (if that's the right word) over Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a right-to-die bill for California, a smaller, quieter -- and

Cities and private equity firms fight over ownership of water systems

Apple Valley residents were among the millions of Californians who cut back on water use during the state-mandated water restrictions this spring.

Amid protests, drought rule requiring paper plates at restaurants lifted

Amid criticism from local business owners and residents, the Fort Bragg, Calif., City Council on Tuesday lifted a requirement that had forced restaurants to

Paper plates and plastic forks? Drought restriction rankles restaurants and diners

Four years of drought have forced most Californians to shoulder some inconvenience. Homeowners have had to watch their lawns go brown, city halls have turned

Drought posse searching for Bel Air's biggest water waster

The water-hogging champ of California, a Bel-Air resident who has managed to suck 1,300 gallons of H2O an hour from the state's scant drought-limited supply,

San Fernando Valley leads the way in lawn-replacement rebates amid drought

San Fernando Valley residents have been among the most aggressive in L.A. County in claiming rebate money for lawn replacement.

How bad is the drought? Here are some sobering answers.

Conservation numbers for California come out Thursday. Residents have been seriously saving water in the last few months, spurred by severe drought conditions.

The 5 biggest misconceptions about watering your lawn and garden during a drought

Amid new water rules to combat drought, landscape experts correct a wave of misconceptions

Tiny mountain community finally gives up its old-school water district

In the mountains north of Santa Cruz, water is managed, as they say, "the old-school" way.

Salinas Valley's thriving crops mask fears over the area's lone water source

In this farming valley, often known as "America's salad bowl," the climate is cool and consistent, the soil is fertile, and an abundance of water has allowed a

Sonoma County residents' battle with wineries is about more than water

These days, the redwood-shaded creek by Laura and Ray Waldbaum's house is a bone-dry path of rocks and gravel, its occasional stagnant pools a somber reminder

Less water might be plenty for California, experts say, and conservation is only the start

Across California this summer, residents have been racking up water conservation numbers that defy expectations -- a 27% reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in

Gov. Brown acts to protect homeowners installing artificial turf

California homeowners who replace their water-gulping grass lawns with artificial turf in response to the drought would be protected from sanctions by homeowner

To battle drought, Burbank is giving free access to recycled water

In a new move to battle the drought, Burbank residents will get access to free recycled water starting this month and running through the end of October. 

California fines oil companies for failing to report water use data

The state fined 30 oil companies on Thursday for failing to meet a deadline to report information about the source, volume and disposal of water used in oil and

Unintended consequences of conserving water: leaky pipes, less revenue, bad odors

Under orders to slash water use amid a historic drought, cities and towns across the state saved about 75 billion gallons in July, eclipsing Gov. Jerry Brown's

Drought and heat waves are much more likely to mix, researchers say

A drought can make a hot day hotter, while a heat wave can make dry conditions even drier. Now scientists are making the case that heat waves and droughts have

How the drought has affected San Francisco's devastating lack of public restrooms

There are a lot of people whose lives have been adversely affected by the unrestricted flow of urine on the streets of San Francisco. On a hot summer day, the

Big month for conservation: Californians cut water use by 31% in July

After Gov. ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use statewide, regulators spent much of the spring chastising water districts for not conserving enough

There's no drought of cash for California farmers

California's growers enjoyed near-record revenue for their crops last year, despite dropping their harvest by 640,000 acres in 2014, a new study suggests.

L.A. schools teach kids to deal with the drought

If you're a teacher, a garden is a gift that can generate endless assignments and lesson plans.

The drought's hidden victim: California's native fish

Last summer, a narrow, rock-rimmed stretch of the Sacramento River near here turned into a mass graveyard for baby salmon.

California drought: Climate change plays a role, study says. But how big?

Climate change's role in California drought is between 8% and 27%, scientists estimate.

Another toll of the drought: Land is sinking fast in San Joaquin Valley, study shows

Farmland near Corcoran in the southern San Joaquin Valley sank 13 inches in just eight months last year. To the north, near El Nido, the land surface dropped

Another 2 or 3 years of drought? Report looks at what it might mean

Should the current drought extend for another two or three years, most California cities and much of the state's agriculture would be able to manage, but the

The next drought: Water officials endorse a 'less is more' strategy for the future

Glimpses of California's water future:

Palo Verde Valley farmers and MWD find fallowing deal a win-win, so far

In the desert of California, where the Colorado River for decades has turned barren ground into an agricultural bounty, farmers are being paid not to grow crops

'Be prepared to get dirty': Check out the L.A. Arboretum's drought gardening classes

It seems as though the resources for drought gardening are endless. Look for tips online and you'll see what we mean. But sometimes firsthand experience can be

Yosemite deaths put focus on killer toll of drought on trees

The deaths of two children at Yosemite National Park after a tree limb fell on their tent while they were sleeping is again focusing attention on the toll the

Treasures revealed as California drought drains lakes

The Lakeview Motel's name is false advertising these dry days.

Hospitals look for ways to cut water use during California drought

Hospitals are among the highest water users in communities, but have a lot of potential to help California fight its ongoing drought, according to the U.S.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduces $1.3-billion California drought-relief bill

Sen. Dianne Feinstein filed her long-awaited legislative response to California's water crisis on Wednesday, hoping to broker a compromise that has eluded

Two remain in hospital after towering tree falls on 8 kids at children's museum

Two children who were critically injured when a 75-foot tree toppled onto a group of campers at a children's museum in Pasadena remained hospitalized Wednesday.

El Niño contributing to 'monsoon on steroids' behind Southland's humid weather

Yes, it's hot, but the real story is the humidity.

Keeping up with the Joneses' drought-friendly yard boosted MWD's tab for rebates

When it came down to it, the number crunchers at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California knew they saved a lot more water for every dollar spent

Drought now Californians' top concern, poll finds

Concern over California's  is "extremely high and intensifying," as a majority of state residents now believe global warming has contributed to the crisis,

July's record-breaking rainfall may not be over yet

July -- already one of the wettest in California's history -- is expected to go out with one more drenching.

El Niño could bring disaster and drought relief to California

How does El Niño work, and why might it bring rain and snow to California this winter? We answer your questions. 

There's little incentive for L.A. renters to take shorter showers

When Emi Nakagawa rented a studio apartment in San Gabriel, she didn't think twice before jumping into the shower.

It's critical El Niño hits Northern California. Why experts are growing optimistic.

It's the middle of the summer, but it felt a bit like winter in the Sierra this week as a storm dumped four inches of hail on Interstate 80 around Donner

Santa Barbara to spend $55 million on desalination plant as drought 'last resort'

Santa Barbara City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved spending $55 million to reactivate a mothballed desalination plant that could provide the

Twice-a-week watering limit could be next for L.A.

During four years of drought, Los Angeles residents have conserved water so diligently that even the most skeptical experts have been taken by surprise.

Fires followed by floods: California faces dramatic climate year with El Nino, drought

A swath of eastern California offered a dramatic view in recent days of the powerful climate forces buffeting the state.

Unusually strong July rains offer a preview of a robust El Niño

A washed-out bridge on Interstate 10 that cut off a vital shipping route with Arizona, mudslides in Moreno Valley and snarled Southern California freeway

Survival of Chatsworth Reservoir's 'ecology pond' is debated

With the Chatsworth Reservoir on life support from the drought, a vigorous debate is underway over whether the so-called ecology pond at Los Angeles' only

State proposes $1.5-million fine of water district for improper diversions

Regulators proposed a record $1.5-million fine Monday against a Northern California irrigation district after it allegedly diverted more than 670 million

Passage of California climate change bill could set global example

When Gov. Jerry Brown visits the Vatican this week for an international conference, he'll be carrying a resolution from state lawmakers supporting Pope Francis'

Shrinking Colorado River is a growing concern for Yuma farmers — and millions of water users

The Colorado River begins as snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains and ends 1,450 miles south in Mexico after making a final sacrifice to the United States: water for

House passes California drought bill, but Senate action is unlikely

It was touted as the bill "where everybody wins" -- a common-sense approach to providing badly needed drought relief to California growers, and a measure that

State issues first action to enforce a water rights curtailment

State regulators Thursday took another step in the escalating battle over drought-related curtailments of thousands of California water rights.

Why brown lawns are no drought panacea

I applaud Gov. for signing this bill to prevent fines on homeowners who refuse to water their lawns during times of drought. ("," July 13)

How to keep your car sparkling clean, or not, during a drought

Jake Sands drives around town in a dirty light-blue 15-year-old Honda Civic. He calls it a symbol for water conservation.

Santa Cruz Water School: A reeducation camp for water wasters

Santa Cruz forgives excessive-use fines if its water wasters agree to attend a two-hour Water School.

Celebrities are now targets of California #DroughtShaming

As California enters its fourth year of drought, #DroughtShaming has become a big thing.

To save water, new California homes will have less lawn

The sprawling suburban lawn -- a symbol of the good life in postwar California -- moved a step closer Wednesday to being consigned to the history books.