<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Running Dry]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/feature/running-dry http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:43:05 -0700 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:43:05 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Above-Average Rain, But No Drought Relief for California]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:35:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/california+drought+monitor+aug21.jpg

Above-average rainfall in late summer did little to improve drought conditions in California during a third-consecutive dry year, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report.

The weekly report categorizes drought conditions throughout the state. It noted that rainfall amounts were "many times" above normal in parts of California's deserts and the southeastern portion of the state during the last few weeks, but did little to improve reservoir levels.

"Severe drought was improved to moderate drought in some of this area where precipitation totals are now above normal for at least the last six months," according to the report. "Unfortunately, rainfall in this arid region will have no impact on the water shortages and seriously low reservoir stores reported throughout the state."

The weekly report was completed before Wednesday's rainfall in Riverside County, where rainfall amounts ranged from .41 inches of rain feel at UC Riverside to .90 inches in southeast Temecula. The storms also are unlikely to have significant impact on drought conditions.

"Exceptional" drought conditions continue across a widespread part of the state. The weekly Drought Monitor report categorizes drought severity into abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

More than 58 percent of California is under "exceptional" drought, a figure that was at 25 percent just three months ago. Previously, the most severe conditions had been limited to the Central Valley and Central Coast, "exceptional" drought spread into Northern California earlier this summer.

More than 97 percent of the state remains in severe to exceptional drought, a slight improvement over last week. One year ago, 94 percent of the state was under severe to exceptional drought.

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[Drought Ordinance Targets Swimming Pools in OC]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 07:47:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/swimming+pool+-+orange+county.PNG

Some Orange County pool owners may not be able to fill their pools if a strict water-saving ordinance goes into effect in response to California's drought concerns.

Officials estimate it takes 20,000 gallons of water to reach the top of most swimming pools. The ban would prevent new pools from being filled, refilled or even topped off if they drop a foot of water.

"The major concern is that we don’t know if we’re in the third year of a drought, or we’re in the third year of a 10-year drought,” Santa Margarita Water District official Daniel Ferons said. “And so we do have to really plan ahead what is efficient use of water.”

The ban on water for new pools applies to the city of Rancho Santa Margarita and other cities served by that water district. The new ordinance is considered one of the strictest in the state.

Pool builder Cecil Fraser builds about 100 pools a year. In some ways, pools are no more of a water guzzler than a backyard sprinkler, he said, adding that if pools are covered most of the surface evaporation is eliminated.

"I'm saying that the water loss is half what it was with grass and that half, we can solve that problem…by covering," Fraser said.

The district has 56,000 water connections in Orange County, including community pools. District officials said that about four feet of water disappears annually from both pools and lawns.

Some pool builders are concerned that the cost on conservation could run into the millions if jobs are lost and supplies aren’t needed.

"I think it’s responsible for us to look at all these issues and figure out a smart solution," John Shippy of Geoscape Landscape said.

Pool builders and homeowners who hope to change the ordinance are expected to be in attendance at a district meeting Friday morning.

<![CDATA[Tumbleweed Tinder Danger in Sherman Oaks]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:33:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/tumbleweedshermanoakstinder01.JPG

The giant bushels of tumbleweed seen rolling in old westerns are a unrecognizable green sprout, but come winter, they turn into a serious fire hazard.

Homeowners in the San Fernando community of Sherman Oaks are worried that the plant, which has flourished in the record-breaking drought, will be a deadly tinder for wildfires this winter.

"The tumbleweed seeds love the heat," Sherman Oaks resident Arnie Newman said.

A conservation botanist by training, Newman often walks the hills near his home and he is alarmed by how much tumbleweed he has been seeing in Oak Forest and other canyons.

Newman said that each plant can transform into a four-foot ball of highly flamable brush when it matures.

"It is a huge threat," Newman said.

Newman is not the only one who has noticed this.

The Santa Monica Mountains conservancy is also seeing more tumbleweed for its crews to remove.

"In some areas, density per square meter is pretty much off the charts," said Paul Edelman, chief of natural resources and planning for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

Usually it is flatland desert communities where tumbleweeds burn for miles -- not Los Angeles communities.

The LA Fire Department requires brush clearance within 200 feet of homes every May, but most of this tumbleweed did not even begin to sprout until June.

Newman has brought the tumbleweed growth to the attention of LA city officials.

"It's going to be, now or never, getting rid of this while these are small," Newman said. 

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<![CDATA[$7.5B Water Bond Would Cleanse Ground Reserves]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:21:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/HealyWaterBond01.JPG

More than 100 San Fernando residents joined a California assemblyman Friday afternoon to hear about a proposed $7.5 billion bond aimed to improve the state's water supply.

The "water summit" at Los Angeles Valley College with Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D- Sherman Oaks, and other Southern California water officials was meant to encourage residents to vote for Proposition 1 when they see its spot on the November ballot.

Some of the water bond money could help LA deal with the plume of decades-old contamination in the enormous pool of groundwater beneath the San Fernando Valley. In the past, the reservoirs supplied a third of the city's drinking water.

"We think the final water bond as it stands was a real home run for the city of LA," said Evelyn Cortez-Davis, manager of Water Recycling Regulatory Affairs at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

Proposition 1 will draw from the state's general fund, which comes from voter's income taxes. Some of the residents at the summit expressed concerns for what this would cost them.

"The people that are going to be paying for part of that are sitting in this room," a woman in the audience said.

Voters will have less than three months to decide in the midterm elections.

"I think many people understand the great demands and needs that the state has to invest in a water bond," Nazarian said.

The water bond would fund the construction of two new reservoirs, water conservation, watershed improvements, flood management, recycling and cleanup efforts.

The bond, brokered by Gov. Jerry Brown between legislative leaders, reduces the funds from $11 billion to $7.5 billion.

"If I'm going to live here, I'll have to pay it," Valley Glen resident Asta Criss said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[LA City Agencies Should be "Showcases of Sustainability": Councilmen]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:45:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

Two Los Angeles city councilmen have called on the city's utility agencies to cut water usage during the state's historic drought.

Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin introduced a motion Tuesday asking the city’s Department of Water and Power and the General Services Department to immediately stop watering any non-recreational lawns on city property.

Though the DWP has water-saving programs for residents, the agency itself waters grass on its own property, "sending Angelenos mixed-messages about the crucial importance of conserving water," according to the motion.

The city's non-recreational lawns are already waiting to be converted to drought-tolerant native plants. 

"Even if we were not in the middle of a drought, it makes no sense to have a large, lush lawn at a DWP substation," Bonin said in a statement.

DWP rules restrict Los Angeles residents' lawn watering to 8-minute segments before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. every other day of the week. The department also has a program offering financial incentives for water customers to convert their grass lawns to drought-tolerant plants.

DWP spokeswoman Michelle Vargas said the DWP is considering using use drip irrigation on its lawns. 

Fuentes and Bonin are also asking the DWP to consider water conservation measures recommended in a UCLA report released in June.

The report found that both raising water prices and putting into play mandatory water restrictions would lead consumers to use less water.

While the DWP is already implementing some of the report's recommendations, the motion asks the department to examine its water pricing system, which has two tiers of water usage and charges customers who use more water a higher rate.

The motion asks the department to considering adding more tiers to encourage conservation.

The DWP is also asked to explore more landscaping options to allow residents to use less water outdoors, water budgets that allocate a set amount of water per household and dual-metering systems that allow outdoor water use to be billed separately from indoor water use.

The DWP is expected to report to the city's Energy and Environment Committee on the feasibility of these recommendations in September, said David Graham-Caso, a spokesman for Bonin.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Anaheim Approves Mandatory Water Restrictions]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:19:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Drought-water-plant_0801.jpg

In an effort to conserve water during the severe California drought, the city of Anaheim will impose mandatory water restrictions.

The Anaheim City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that implements four mandatory water conservation measures, with a focus on outdoor water conservation.

Anaheim residents will no longer be able to water outdoor landscapes or turf that causes excess runoff, use a hose to wash a car unless the hose has a shutoff nozzle, wash driveways and sidewalks with potable water unless there is an immediate health or safety need, and use potable water in a fountain or decorative water display unless the water is recirculated.

Additionally, landscape irrigation will be limited to the hours before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. in an effort to reduce evaporative water waste. Exceptions include spot watering with a hose and nozzle, and usage that is necessary for irrigation system maintenance and repairs.

The city of Anaheim plans to continue its focus on education and outreach to save water. According to the city, conservation has helped to reduce per person water use over the past decade in Anaheim by 22 percent, even though the number of residential customers has increased by 5 percent.

The city also offers a rebate of $3 per square foot to homeowners who remove turf and replace it was California Friendly landscaping or artificial turf.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Petition Seeks to Stop Water Slide Event]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:50:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/slide-the-city-water-slide.jpg

Online petitioners are calling on organizers to halt plans for an upcoming event that would bring a 1,000-foot-long water slide to downtown Los Angeles during one of the worst droughts in state history.

The event, called Slide the City, would set up the vinyl slide on Olive Street from 3rd to 6th streets, using 12,000 to 16,000 gallons of water, according to the company.

An online petition seeking 5,000 signatures was started last week in opposition of the event, calling the water attraction "extremely irresponsible." As of 8 p.m. Monday, more than 2,700 signatures had been collected.

"I love California, and I refuse to see our precious resources be wasted on such a careless thing," said petition creator Karina Soto on her Facebook page.

Slide the City tours the nations setting up the slide in various cities. Company cofounder John Malfatto said that the first event in Salt Lake City was well-received, and he is surprised by the backlash in Los Angeles.

"I wasn't expecting it all," Malfatto said. "I'm a little surprised by it."

Malfatto said that his company intends to respect the local laws and has the option of trucking in the water needed to run the slide.

But some Southern Californians, well aware of the restrictions from the state to conserve water or face steep fines, find the event to be a waste of water and unnecessary.

"This sounds like fun, but not when we are in a drought," a petition signer said. "Perhaps when our state isn't in dire need of water, this would be a grand idea."

The event has yet to be approved by the city and the company is holding off on selling tickets until they are given the green light to go.

"We definitely don't want to cause any problems," Malfatto said. "We just want to put on a fun event."

On its Facebook page, Slide the City posted, "In our effort to preserve water, we recycle water used on the slide throughout the day, treat it with pool chemicals, and dispose of it properly #waterconservation."

<![CDATA[Water Conservation Campaign Enlists Conan O'Brien]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:47:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/456023519.jpg

It looks like you're watching Conan O'Brien's regular weeknight show.

He's sitting at his studio desk with sidekick Andy Richter nearby when they launch into a conversation about ways to combat California's drought--as only Team Coco can.

You may not have a talking toilet or want to bathe your children at the carwash, but environmental activists and state water officials are hoping the newly released series of six public service announcements will inspire viewers to action.
When Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed the drought emergency in January, he asked Californians to cut back water use 20 percent, a goal which in many communities has proven difficult to meet. Officials have warned that without further voluntary water saving, another dry winter could lead to mandatory conservation measures.
"Conan O'Brien's call for conservation will help us spread the message to even more Californians," said Mark Cowin, director of the California Dept. of Water Resources.
The Team Coco spots were produced in partnership with the state's drought awareness program, Save Our Water, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit environmental advocacy organization.
"Conan and Andy, true to form, offer their unique twist on how to cut water in our daily lives," said Steve Fleischli, director of NRDC's water program.  "Mixing humor and advocacy is an effective eay to reinforce the message that we can all do our part."
In the six spots, Team Coco offer a series of suggestions, including:
*Testing your toilet for leaks
*Replacing your lawn with drought-resistant landscaping
*Putting a cover on your pool to reduce evaporation
*Saving dirty dishes for a big load in the dishwasher instead of individual hand washing
*Using a carwash instead of your driveway
*Going easy on showers
"I haven't showered in weeks," O'Brien reveals tongue in cheek, before exulting in the punchline: "My odor has started to attract raccoons," eliciting a high-five from Richter.
In another spot, after Richter objects that he's "too lazy" to conserve, O'Brein convinces him there are "lazy" ways to do so, such as not handwashing your dishes and your car. 
The drought is proving a magnet for star power.  Last month, the Save Our Water Campaign released a PSA Lady Gaga was inspired to record while shooting a music video at California's Hearst Castle.  
"I'm a native Californian and I don't waste water," proclaims rocker Sammy Hagar in the spot he recorded.
A transplant to California, O'Brien is from Massachusetts, and for two decades, his late night program was based in New York City. His current program, which airs weeknights at 11pm on TBS, is recorded at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.
"Let's all do our part to save water," O'Brien urges his audience, before the more serious voice-over announcer asks in her tagline, "What's your 20 percent?"

Photo Credit: Getty Images for MerchantCantos]]>
<![CDATA[Drought Lessons: Water Wasters Attend Water School]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:47:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Drought-water-plant_0801.jpg

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) -- Some overindulged their zucchini patch. Others didn't bother with that dripping kitchen sink. But now every Monday night in this drought-stricken beach town, dozens of residents who violated their strict rations take a seat at Water School, hoping to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in distressing penalties waived.

Nik Martinelli, a Santa Cruz water-conservation specialist who is up before dawn patrolling for overwatered lawns, launched a recent lesson.

"We all know why you're here. You all went over your allotment and got a big penalty," he said.

Margaret Hughes nodded grimly. Her $210 water bill came with a $775 fine last month. She drove from her home four hours north of town to face the scolding, even though she had no idea the toilet in a vacant house she inherited had been leaking.

Two hours later, everyone was ready to ace their Water School quiz, identifying the community's sparse water sources, listing ways to conserve water, describing how to use their water meters to check for leaks.

"They're turning this into something positive," said Hughes, adding that she might take advantage of a $150 rip-out-your-lawn rebate she learned about.

California is in the third year of the state's worst drought in recent history. Farmland is going fallow. Lakes are turning to mud. Golf courses, cemeteries and parks are browning.

Earlier in the year when winter storms didn't blow in and the forecast was grim, most communities took the "ask nicely," approach, suggesting residents cut water use by 20 percent.
But Santa Cruz, a coastal town about 60 miles south of San Francisco, couldn't afford to wait.

Unlike most cities that have either groundwater, a connection to state water canals, or vast reservoirs, Santa Cruz is among those worst hit by the drought because what makes it special - the town is surrounded by ocean and mountains - also means it relies almost exclusively on storm runoff into a river, creeks and an aging reservoir.

"We're completely dependent on Mother Nature, so we're vulnerable" Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard said. "There really is no carrot in the situation that we're facing. We had to ration."

The city cracked down in May, deploying "drought busters," whom locals call "water cops," to warn - and then penalize - anyone openly watering between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., washing down pavement or refilling a spa. A logo, "Surf City Saves," was launched, and a hotline to tattle on water wasters and mandatory household limits, allowing just 249 gallons per day for a family of four, were set.

A typical dishwasher load is 20 gallons, a load of laundry can be 25 gallons, a toilet flush can be 3 gallons. It adds up. Nationally, a family of four averages 400 gallons a day.

Most Santa Cruz residents, 94 percent of them, cut back as required, some with zeal.

Energy consultant Joel Kauffman has his household of three adults and a toddler using just over 100 gallons a day.

"We don't use the shower as a place to hang out. That's for the living room or the beach," Kauffman said.

Kauffman has installed low-flow toilets and shower heads. They don't always flush urine, they water their fruit trees with laundry runoff and a shower bucket gets dumped in the toilet tank or in the garden.

Some were not so ardent.

In June, the first month of rationing rules, 1,635 Santa Cruz household accounts faced $341,000 in fines. In July, 2,121 accounts had penalties applied, totaling $175,725.

So far $202,340 in fines have been suspended for Water School graduates. And there's a waiting list for weeks to come.

While Santa Cruz has cut back 25 percent of its water use, Gov. Jerry Brown's request in January that everyone cut back 20 percent had the opposite effect statewide.

Some districts - Southern California coastal communities and the far northeastern slice of the state - actually used more, prompting a 1 percent increase in water use statewide.

So starting in August, authorities are imposing statewide rationing with fines of up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and washing cars. Water cops are being hired and fines imposed.

Water Education Foundation Deputy Director Sue McClurg said they haven't heard about schooling repeat offenders, "but if it can educate customers on water conservation, it could be helpful."
"Most people just turn on the tap and don't think about where their water comes from," she said. "The more people learn about their source of drinking water, the more they learn about its management."

University of California, Davis, professor Jay Lund, who directs the Center for Watershed Sciences, laughed when he heard about Santa Cruz's approach, but he said it might catch on.

"It makes sense, like traffic school," he said. "It has an educational purpose, but also a punishment aspect to it."

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[El Niño Chances Decrease for Drought-Stricken California]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 11:58:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/el+nino+tracker+nolan+88.JPG

Just a few months ago, the forecast for a wet winter looked promising. But the summer has revealed a drier future.

Now, the climate foresight is part of the extensive oceans exhibit at the California Science Center in Exposition Park with a global view of what covers 70 percent of the earth.

Chuck Kopczak, the center's curator of ecology, has been keeping a close watch on a developing El Niño in the western Pacific Ocean, which has led to wet winters in Southern California in the past.

"We're hoping for rain, we need rain," Kopczak told NBC4 Thursday. "That warm water that is evaporating into the atmosphere bringing more humidity, more moisture in the air, and of course if we've got more moisture in the air, there's more water to fall as rain."

NASA satellites indicated a strong El Niño was taking shape this year, but the National Weather Service reduced the odds that it will develop by next winter from 80 percent to 65 percent.

The NWS found the warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean had actually reversed in July, and an expected atmospheric signal of El Niño has yet to emerge.

"And so it's the difference in air pressure between those two points in the Pacific Ocean that sort of details or determines how strong an El Niño might be," Kopczak said.

With climate so difficult to predict, experts still aren't sure the amount of warming that will take place, and how much rain -- if any -- will be the result.

"We just hope," Kopczak said. "All the cards have to fall in the right order in order for it to produce a lot of rain necessarily."

<![CDATA[Recent Rains Bring Little Relief to California]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:33:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/drought+monitor+aug7+2014.jpg

Rainfall in parts of the Southern California last weekend provided a brief respite from California's dry spell, but provided little in terms of long-term benefits for areas affected by drought.

Showers were not widespread enough to provide substantial drought relief, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report. Rain also mainly fell outside of California’s key watersheds in the Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, officials said.

Instead, the rain was centered in places like Mt. Baldy where it created mudslides and fatal flash floods. Both Los Angeles and San Bernardino County officials declared states of emergencies in the aftermath of the storms.

The rainfall also did not soak into the drought-parched soils at a high enough rate.

While the rain had little overall effect on the state's worst drought on record, officials said it had short-term benefits that included lower temperatures during this year's scorching summer and decreased irrigation needs for farmers. 

But "exceptional" drought conditions contined across a widespread part of the state. The weekly Drought Monitor report categorizes drought severity into abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

Levels of "exceptional" drought remained steady, with more than 58 percent of California suffering under the conditions. The number represents a significant increase from January when none of the state was under the "exceptional" drought category.

Previously, the most severe conditions had been limited to the Central Valley and Central Coast, but last week's report for the first time showed spread of "exceptional" drought in Northern California.

Statewide regulations approved in July by the state water resources board include a $500-per-day fine for residents who waste water. Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a statewide drought emergency earlier this year, has asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent.

View Full Story

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: SoCal Drought Shaming]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:12:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/water+1.jpeg NBC4 viewers sent in these photos of water going to waste in Southern California. On Tuesday, California officials banned public water waste in response to the statewide drought, and Governor Jerry Brown has called for a 20 percent cutback in water use. If you see water waste in your neighborhood, send pictures to NBC4 at isee@nbclosangeles.com.]]> <![CDATA[Arcadia Passes Strict Drought Measures]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:00:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_tla_arcadia_drought_1200x675_315187267997.jpg

The Arcadia City Council unanimously backed a mandatory water conservation plan Tuesday night, calling on residents to conserve during the severe drought.

The new prohibitions for the San Gabriel Valley City include:

  • No hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, or parking areas
  • No water can be used to clean, fill, or maintain levels in decorative fountains, unless such water is part of a recycling system
  • No watering lawn, landscape, or turf areas between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • No watering of lawn, landscape, or turf areas in a wasteful manner
  • No Arcadia water customer shall permit water to leak from any facilities on his premises
  • No restaurant, hotel, cafe, cafeteria, or other public place where food is served or offered for sale shall serve drinking water to any customer unless expressly requested by the customer

If residents break the rules they will be subject to a surcharge penalty for water in excess of the base amount supplied to them.

Residents caught breaking the rules three times could see a $100 fine.

The Phase 1 Mandatory Restrictions follows voluntary restrictions that Arcadia residents were asked to follow earlier this year, when they were asked to cut 20 percent of their water supply.

A city report found that residents increased their water usage by one percent.

Arcadia has received 60 percent less rain this year than in 2013 and city leaders have proposed the measures to preserve current water supply if current climate conditions drag on.

<![CDATA[Arcadia to Vote on Water Conservation Plan]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:54:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Drought-generic-water-irrig.jpg

Leaders in the San Gabriel Valley community of Arcadia are scheduled to vote Tuesday night on a water conservation plan in response to California's severe drought.

The plan is required after the State Water Resources Board adopted statewide emergency conservation regulations as California struggles through a third-consecutive dry year.

Arcadia has received 60 percent less rain this year than in 2013 and city leaders have proposed the measures to preserve current water supply if current climate conditions drag on.

Arcadia residents were asked to cut 20 percent of their water supply, but a city report found that residents increased their water usage by one percent.

Phase 1 follows voluntary restrictions that Arcadia residents were asked to follow earlier this year.

The city's Phase I Mandatory Prohibitions include the following, according to the city's web site:

  • No hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, or parking areas
  • No water can be used to clean, fill, or maintain levels in decorative fountains, unless such water is part of a recycling system
  • No watering lawn, landscape, or turf areas between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • No watering of lawn, landscape, or turf areas in a wasteful manner
  • No Arcadia water customer shall permit water to leak from any facilities on his premises
  • No restaurant, hotel, cafe, cafeteria, or other public place where food is served or offered for sale shall serve drinking water to any customer unless expressly requested by the customer

Some Arcadia residents, like Bill Foulk, have come up with more creative means to save water.

"We can save 188 thousand gallons a year by simply flushing half the time that we do now for urinating," resident Bill Foulk said.

If the restrictions go into effect and residents break the rules they will be subject to a surcharge penalty for water in excess of the base amount supplied to them.

Depending on how the vote goes, residents who get caught breaking the rules three times could see a $100 fine.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[California's Historic Drought May Run Breweries Dry]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:33:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0731-2014-beer.jpg

Hops, barley, and malt are all important ingredients for beer.

But water is essential.

As California enters yet another month of an unprecedented dry spell, some brewers are expressing concerns about how the ongoing drought could affect the price and taste of their product.

"The future is the thing we have to worry about now,” Dan Gordon, co-founder of Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose, said.

Gordon said the brewery uses 2.5 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer. Most craft breweries use four to seven gallons of water for the same amount. If water companies impose mandatory restrictions, production could drop in the booming industry.

"If we were put in a position where we had to go to 20 percent restriction on the water usage, I have no idea how we would be able to cope with that,” Gordon said.

Even without mandatory restrictions in place, Gordon is feeling the effects of the drought. Changes in water can tweak the taste of beer, though the brewery can add or filter out some of the minerals to minimize the effect.

"What we notice is when the water supply gets a lot lower, the hardness of the water increases and that's absolutely been an indicator that we're running low,” Gordon said.

The concern is statewide. The California Craft Brewer’s Association Executive Director Tom McCormick fears if the drought continues for another two to three years, prices would jump.

"The industry has been good about water conservation in the past, but I think we need to get better. This year, we're learning to do that,” McCormick said.

California has more than 460 craft breweries. All are hoping those essential ingredients will be abundant for years to come.

"We have to prioritize. Swimming pools may have to go empty, lawns may have to go empty, but we got to keep brewing beer," Gordon said with a laugh. "We're going to have a lot of angry people out there.”

Photo Credit: Ian Cull]]>
<![CDATA[Repair Work at Westwood Sinkhole]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 11:55:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sunset+ucla+sinkhole+repair+water+main+20140731_074101_resized+%283%29.jpg Workers make repairs in a more than 20-foot wide sinkhole that opened after a water main break in Westwood.]]> <![CDATA[Wary Bay Area Winemakers Eye Next Year]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:50:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0730-2014-DanNaumann+.jpg

Winemaker Dan Naumann paced along his vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, ignoring the vast startling views of Silicon Valley below - eyes fixed on his grape leaves. He gingerly extended a branch of one vine, pointing out the crimson leaves.

"This is what drought will do to you," Naumann said brushing the leaves. "Eventually they’ll crinkle up on you."

Like everyone in agriculture, Naumann is nervous. Another winter with little rain has taken its toll on those who depend on nature’s irrigation. As a "dry farmer" in unincorporated Cupertino, Naumann’s irrigation is supplied 100 percent by Mother Nature.

"The most important thing we need is the soothing sound of raindrops during the winter," he said.

Like many Bay Area winemakers, Naumann expects to make it through this year with a decent harvest and quality wines. Next year, he’s not so sure. While this year has been a tough one for agriculture, another year without rain could be devastating.

"We would drop one third of the fruit," Naumann said. "That’s what we’re anticipating next year if we get minimal amount of rain."

Naumann expected the rest of the Bay Area wine industry to make similar cuts to its fruit crops if it doesn’t get the rain it needs. He said that could drive prices up 20 to 30 percent.

Just past downtown Livermore, where browning lawns are now more common than green ones, winemaker Jim McGrail surveyed his sprawling vines with the look of a man before a firing squad.

"If you don’t get water," McGrail said, "these grapes die, the fruit dies, we as a community die."

McGrail only lays only some of the blame with nature, the rest he’s reserved for state leaders who he said need to come up with a better system for storing rain during wet years.

"We put people on the moon,” he said. “We do heart transplants and there’s absolutely no reason we don’t have water.”

Naumann produces about 700 cases of merlot and cabernet sauvignon a year - and considers himself a boutique winemaker. But from his hilltop perch overlooking the valley, Naumann strangely seemed to be looking up.

"We’ll make it through," he said. "Eventually Mother Nature will get us our rain back."

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA["Exceptional" Drought Covers More Than Half of California]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:06:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/DROUGHT+MONITOR+JULY29+CA.jpg

Exceptional drought conditions expanded this week to include more than half of California, marking a significant increase over just one week for a state in the middle of a third-consecutive dry year.

The most severe drought rating expanded to more than 58 percent of California, a 22 percent increase over last week's U.S. Drought Monitor report. At the start of the year, no part of the state was under the "exceptional" category. But that figure increased steadily after the state completed its warmest and third-driest winter on record.

The dire appraisal of current conditions comes as new, tougher restrictions on water use take effect across the parched state. Wasting water by overwatering laws, for example, could result in fines of up to $500 a day under the new rules.

"We are in a drought of historic proportions," State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told The Associated Press earlier this month. "Many urban water users don't realize how bad this drought is. They're not seeing the communities that are actually running out of water. ... They don't see the streams and creeks running dry."

Exceptional drought spread significantly in the northern part of the state over the past week. Previously, the most severe conditions were confined to the a large swath of the Central Coast and Central Valley. The weekly report categorizes drought severity into abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

"Drought indicators point to the fact that conditions are not appreciably better in northern California than in central and southern sections of the state," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. "In addition, mounting evidence from reservoir levels, river gauges, ground water observations, and socio-economic impacts warrant a further expansion of exceptional drought (D4) into northern California."

Storage in California's 154 intrastate reservoirs -- those that are entirely within the state -- was at 60 percent of the historical average at the end of June. The record low is 41 percent of average, which occurred in June 1977.

The new statewide regulations approved earlier this month by the state water resources board include a $500-per-day fine for residents who waste water. The rules make it illegal for people to hose down driveways and sidewalks, waste water on their lawns or wash vehicles using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a statewide drought emergency earlier this year, has asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that the new water use rules would go into effect Aug. 1. The regulations took effect July 29.

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[Pasadena Water Supply Shortage Plan in Effect]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:27:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/water-faucet-generic.jpg

The Pasadena City Council on Monday night declared a local  water emergency, establishing a 20-percent conservation goal and implementing  the city’s Level 1 Water Supply Shortage Plan, with mandatory water waste  restrictions effective immediately.

The Level 1 plan limits watering to three days per week in summer, one  day per week in winter and requires that leaks be repaired within 72 hours, in  addition to permanent water waste prohibitions.

Fines for repeat offenders can be up to $500 per violation for  residential customers, and up to $1,000 per violation for commercial accounts. In addition to fine, authorities also can install a water flow restrictor after the fifth violation or disconnect water service.

Pasadena Water and Power customers can report water waste by calling  (626) 744-8888 at any time or report online via the Pasadena Citizen Service  Center. Eight complaints had already been reported Tuesday morning, according to city officials.

"Pasadena already has restrictions in place and our customers have made  exemplary efforts to conserve," Pasadena Water and Power Chief Deputy General  Manager Eric Klinkner told City News Service. "However, Pasadena's water use has increased over the last few years  due to a lack of rain and the improving economy. Tonight's City Council vote  reiterates the significance of the drought and is a call to action for all of  our customers to step up their efforts to conserve our precious water  supplies."

The City Council approved Pasadena's Water Waste Prohibitions and Water  Supply Shortage Plans Ordinance in 2009. The key conservation measures in  effect for all Pasadena Water and Power water customers include:

  • Limiting outdoor watering to three days per week -- Tuesdays,  Thursdays and Saturdays -- during the summer months
  • Banning watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a  hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle
  • Banning watering during periods of rain
  • Requiring all water leaks to be fixed within 72 hours
  • Banning excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or  ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind
  • Banning washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation,  in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that  recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used
  • Prohibiting washing vehicles except by using a hand-held bucket or  similar container or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Water Officials Reward Drivers in Dirty Car Challenge]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:47:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Dirty+Car.jpg

Ventura County water officials may have a prize for drivers who skip the car wash this month.

Over the month of July, Ventura County water is hosting a dirty car contest to send a messy message about water usage across the state.

California is currently in the midst of a withering drought, resulting in state officials urging citizens to cut back on their water usage. But in May, water usage actually went up by one percent, prompting state water officials to approve fines of up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

Drivers are encouraged to post a picture of their car on Ventura Water's Facebook page, and the three vehicles with the most dirt, and the most likes, at the end of the month will be rewarded by a complete car detail.

A free car wash is also being offered to the top two dirty car pictures every week.

Water conservation officials in the county have branded July "Don’'t Wash Your Car" month to educate car owners on the way to save water while keeping your car clean.

Officials say taking a car to a professional car washing operation can save up to 100 gallons of water over home washing.

Additionally, officials say commercial car washers often recycle the water they use.

While spring rains helped increase water levels, those gains have been limited by some of the warmest summer months on record, officials said.

Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann has gotten into her ride grimy, she said she hasn't washed her car since June.

"Here in Ventura this is exactly the right kind of community to do this, people get engaged in what we're doing and really want to help," she said.

The dirty car contest ends on July 30, the same night as a planned community forum to teach residents how they can better conserve.

John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg]]>
<![CDATA[Colorado River Basin Rapidly Drying: Study]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:28:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/colorado+river+basin+copy.jpg

A “shocking” 75 percent of the water relied on by California and other western states over the last decade has come from underground reserves of the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin, according to a new study.

Researchers at UC Irvine and JPL found that seven western states are relying too heavily on groundwater to supply about 40 million people.

"This is a lot of water to lose,” said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at UC Irvine. “We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."

The basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater between December 2004 and November 2013, almost twice the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. About 41 million acre feet lost was from groundwater.

"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," Castle said.

Rapid depletion of the basin comes as California struggles to find ways to conserve water during one of the worst droughts in the state’s history.

"Combined with declining snowpack and population growth, this will likely threaten the long-term ability of the basin to meet its water allocation commitments to the seven basin states and to Mexico," said Jay Famiglietti, senior water cycle scientist at JPL.

The study noted that individual states regulate the pumping of groundwater, which is “often not well documented.”

Photo Credit: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation]]>
<![CDATA[Californians Most Worried About the Drought: Survey]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:58:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/450822246.jpg

The people have spoken: they're worried about water.

Most of them are, anyway.

The biggest environmental concern for Californians is now the drought, according to a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Fifty-four percent of people who responded to the poll said the drought has them on edge, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. That's compared to 25 percent of people who said that air pollution is still the worst thing in the environment.

There are 21 percent of people who remain unfazed, saying that the drought -- the three driest years on record in California -- are not an issue, the newspaper reported.

In Los Angeles -- where water users increased their consumption by eight percent this year -- only half of respondents said water was an issue, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[App Allows Users to Report Local Water Waste]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 15:55:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/drought+shaming+web.PNG

Want to know how to report on your water-wasting neighbor?

There's an app for that.

The community safety app Vizsafe on Wednesday introduced a section that allows people to share reports of water waste with their neighborhood. Users can anonymously take photos of the waste and map the location, for all to see, including law enforcement.

Vizsafe, a Rhode Island-based company, initially created the app in April for users to report anything from traffic accidents and lost pets to crimes in their neighborhoods.

Developers added the "drought" category to the app after seeing social media users in California complaining about their neighbors' public water waste -- all under the hashtag #droughtshaming, Vizsafe founder and CEO Peter Mottur said.

"There's a lot of focus on turning to social media to identify neighbors that may not be following rules with respect to water conservation," Mottur said. "It recently occurred to us our platform is well suited for that."

Some residents aren't comfortable with directly approaching their neighbors about their water use, Mottur said, calling the app a "public service" that allows neighbors to hold each other accountable to water conservation regulations.

Earlier this month, California officials banned public water waste and introduced fines of up to $500 a day for violators. Some Southern California communities are considering even stricter regulations.

For some, drought-shaming may be a more effective punishment than the fines, said West LA resident Karl Stelter.

"I think public shaming is terribly worse than the $500 fine," Stelter said. "Five hundred dollars, depending on who you are, maybe it's like, 'Ah, whatever, I'll chance it.'"

In addition to mapping users' "drought-shaming" directly on the map, the app also creates reports from Twitter. Any Tweet using the hashtag #droughtshaming that also includes a photo and a location tag is automatically fed into the Vizsafe drought feed, Mottur said.

Brentwood resident Michael Budd on Friday posted a video of water running into the drain outside the Brentdood Country Club. Budd told NBC4 that abundant water waste in his neighborhood "infuriates" him.

"People are taking water for granted," he said. "We don't want to wait for the day that California actually is in such a severe drought that we don't have clean water."

The country club said the run-off may be from new landscaping intended to conserve water, and that it is aware of drought restrictions.

For other Southern California Vizsafe users, residents and homeowners are the ones at fault for wasting water.

"Way to hose down your entire sidewalk… TWICE," read one anonymous user's report of a neighbor’s outdoor water use in South Gate on Thursday morning.

Another report, fed into the Vizsafe app from Twitter, complained that a neighbor near Culver City "has the greenest lawn and dirt free gutter since she waters EVERY SINGLE DAY."

Mottur said Vizsafe hopes to make local water enforcement agencies and other organizations aware of the app so they can track water waste in the area.

Photo Credit: Vizsafe]]>
<![CDATA[South Bay Water District to Hire Water Cops]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:42:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/tap1.jpg

It's official, the so-called "water cops" are coming to the South Bay. The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board unanimously voted to spend up to $500,000 to hire five to 10 new water cops Tuesday night.

The water cops will respond to complaints of water waste and work to increase the district's overall water conservation goal of 20 percent.

"It's a reminder that it's not a business as usual year. This is an exceptional drought, we have to take exceptional action," said Deputy Administrative Officer Teresa Alvarado.

Their official term will be decided in the future. For now, the district is calling them "water educators" because they won't actually write tickets or enforce anything.

Instead, they'll investigate claims, teach conservation, and report chronic water wasters to that person's water company.

"(The companies) are the ones that enforce any ordinances the city or private retailer has in that area," Alvarado said.

Water Use Efficiency Manager Jerry De La Piedra says they did research to determine if the water educators were a good idea.

"I would say there's studies that have shown education does lead to water savings and so we will continue to do that," he said.

Arborist Mark Barton disagrees, and thinks the $500,000 should be spent on broader education. He suggested PSAs and signs on buses.

"I think we've got two million people in the South Bay that need to be educated, and from what I can see most people don't know how to water a tree," Barton said.

He believes showing people proper watering methods can save them hundreds of gallons of water.

"If you take the combination of mulch and drip irrigation, you can cut your water use 30-70 percent."

The new "water educators" are expected to start in late-August. The district will start hiring people soon. Alvarado says the money for the positions comes from reserve funds, and won't immediately affect rates.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Cities Consider Tough New Water Waste Rules]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 06:17:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

The cities of Pasadena and Arcadia are considering emergency water restrictions in response to the historic state drought.

The plans come as the state last week imposed tight restrictions on residents with the threat of $500 a day fines for water wasters.

Pasadena's considering limiting outdoor watering to three days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during summer months. Officials would also require water leaks to be fixed within 72 hours.

The city of Arcadia has a similar plan being considered.

"The city believes it’s important for everyone conserve water," said Eric Klinkner, the Pasadena Water and Power chief deputy general manager. "These new regulations will ensure that everyone in the state will join Pasadena residents in this important effort."

Pasadena is considering:

  • No watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle.
  • No watering during periods of rain.
  • No excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind.
  • No washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation, in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used.
  • No washing vehicles except by using a hand-held bucket or similar container or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle.

Some Pasadena residents are already doing there part to conserve water.

"We try to cut back on long showers in the house, baths as well," Pasadena homeowner Dana Crisp said. "Not fill the tub all the way up, which we used to prior to this water situation."

A complete list of Pasadena’s water waste restrictions is available at PWPweb.com/WaterWaste

Fines for repeat offenders can be up to $500 per violation for residential customers, and up to $1,000 per violation for all non-residential accounts.

Pasadena city officials will consider their proposal on July 28. If approved, it will go into effect August 1. 

Arcadia's water proposal includes:

  • No hose watering of lawns and sidewalks.
  • Recycled water only used to clean or fill decorative fountains.
  • Drinking water served only by request in restaurants and cafes. 

Arcadia's plan can be seen here.

Arcadia city officials will consider the proposal August 5.

Beverly White and Samia Khan contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Urged to Maintain Lawns, Save Water]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:41:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/glendora+drought+web.PNG

As California officials urge residents to cut down on their water usage, one Southern California couple found itself stuck between being fined for saving water and being fined for using it.

Laura Whitney Korte and Michael Korte received a letter from Glendora Police's code enforcement on Tuesday to take care of their browning front lawn.

"This I assume is the goal and if we don't reach this within 60 days we'll be fined or subject to criminal action by the city," Laura Whitney Korte said.

The letter reminds homeowners that "limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green."

"Keep all vegetation watered, mowed, trimmed and maintained," the letter reads, calling dead or dry lawns a potential public nuisance.

The Kortes had been saving water by watering their lawn just twice a week. In response to the ongoing statewide drought, California Governor Jerry Brown has called for a 20 percent cutback in water use. On Tuesday, state water regulators voted to approve fines of up to $500 a day for residents who publicly waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing.

"I felt so confused," Laura Whitney Korte said, adding the couple has tried to call the city twice after receiving the letter, but has received no response.

Glendora Mayor Judy Nelson called the incident a "misunderstanding."

"Our water conservation officers are there to help them figure out how to still have a beautiful yard without using up too much water," Nelson said.

A new letter being circulated to Glendora residents emphasizes the city's commitment to combating the drought but again reminds homeowners to maintain their lawns for public health and safety reasons. The new letter does not mention fines for residents who do not comply.

Southern California residents may qualify for rebates for installing water-efficient sprinklers and appliances.  

<![CDATA[Water Agencies Find Further Conservation Gains to Be Elusive]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:57:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/KNSD_Water_Wise_San_Diego_052009_06_mezzn_448x336.jpg

The threat of punishing water wasters with $500 penalties has caught Californians' attention, but officials of Los Angeles County's two largest municipal water departments see other ways to encourage conservation without resorting to fines.

Prohibitions against water waste, to be imposed statewide next month by the California Water Resources Control Board, have already been in place in Long Beach since March, and in the city of Los Angeles since adopted in 2008 during the last drought.
Los Angeles issued $300 fines to repeat offenders from 2009-12, according to the Department of Water and Power, but none since then.  The city of Long Beach has not issued any fines for water waste.
"It's never been our approach to want to be water cops," said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department, which has focused on educaton and persuasion, including a
rebate of up to $3,500 for replacing a lawn with drought tolerant landscaping.  
"Peer pressure and having the community help each other out is the way to go," he said.
During the last drought, both Los Angeles and Long Beach were able to achieve water use cuts of close to 20 percent, the goal Gov. Jerry Brown requested anew last January when he proclaimed the current drought emergency.
Both cities report water consumption per person near 100 gallons a day, much less than in much of the rest of California.
But further reductions in water use have proven more elusive this year, in part due to weather that has been significantly warmer, averaging 4.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
In May, which was hit with two heat waves, Long Beach was unable to reduce water consumption from levels during the previous May, and water use in Los Angeles actually increased 2.4 percent, according to figures provided by the cities.
Nevertheless, officials in both cities express confidence that outreach programs will encourage their consumers to find further water savings.
Los Angeles has increased its lawn replacement incentive to a maximum of $6,000, according to Penny Falcon, DWP's water  conservation policy manager.  She noted the department is also mailing notifciations to all its water customers to spell out the permitted watering days - three a week, but which three depends on whether the address is even (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) or odd (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
DWP staffers known as water conservation response units investigate reports of sprinkler runoff, hardscape hosing,  and other water waste. Since 2013, DWP has received 622 reports of
violations, conducted 235 field inspections, mailed 378 notifications and found 21 repeat offenders, but no three-time offenders, according to the DWP's Michelle Vargas.
How the new statewide regulations will be enforced was not spelled out Tuesday during the vote of approval by members of the Water Resources Control Board.
"I don't think they're planning to go out and ask us and local police to turn into water cops," said Wattier of Long Beach. "I think the main reason they did this up to $500 a day fine was to get people's attention."
Given the level of media attention, Wattier thinks it has, and believes increased awareness is a necessary first step to getting Californians to think about conservation every time they use water.
"The State Board's action sends a strong messsage to Californians and local water agencies that it's time to get serious about saving water," said Marcie Edwards, LADWP general manager, in a statement released Wednesday.
The day after the vote, in another bid for increased awareness, California's Water Resources Department unveiled a new public service video starring popstar Lady Gaga, encouraging Californians to conserve.
Wattier approves.
"She makes a good spokesperson," he said.
Stored water reserves have largely buffered Southern California from drought impacts already being felt north of the Tehachapi Mountains, particularly in San Joaquin Valley farming communities.
But Wattier warned that, at this rate, as much as half the reserves will be drawn down by the end of this year.  Absent increased conservation, a fourth straight  drier than normal  winter is expected to result in water surcharges as an economic incentive to cutback. 

<![CDATA[Lady Gaga Joins Water Conservation Effort]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:55:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/483499663.jpg

Lady Gaga wants her little monsters in California to save a little H2O.

The "Artpop" singer has partnered with the State of California's drought awareness program Save Our Water to release a public service announcement asking Californians to do their part when it comes to conserving water at home. 

"I had the honor of shooting my video at California landmark Hearst Castle and while I was there I learned about the necessity of water conservation during this drought," Gaga explains in the 17-second video posted to the Save Our Water website

The Hearst Castle in San Simeon is used as a location in the video for Gaga's song "G.U.Y. (Girl Under You)," and features the singer (real name Stefani Germanotta) cavorting across the famous manision's extensive grounds and ornate swimming pools. 

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"We’re thrilled Lady Gaga has joined the effort to Save Our Water," said Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources. "Conservation has always been a Californian value, but in this drought regular conservation isn’t enough -- we must take extraordinary measures to save water."

California Governor Jerry Brown has called for a 20 percent cutback statewide on water usage and the State Water Resources Control Board this week introduced fines of up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses. 

More than 36 percent of California is categorized as in "exceptional" drought, the most severe of the U.S. Drought Monitor's five categories.

Watch Lady Gaga's Save Our Water P.S.A. above, and check out the "G.U.Y" music video featuring Hearst Castle (and a few of the cast members of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills") below. Mobile users can view the "G.U.Y" video here.   

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Outdoor Water Waste Is Banned Statewide]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:41:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/230*120/leaking-faucet.jpg

In an unprecedented action, statewide restrictions on outdoor water uses have been approved by California's Water Resources Control Board in response to the drought approaching its fourth year.

The decision came after hours of public comment and late afternoon revisions worked out with staff. The language must still be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a review that could take up to 10 days.

The regulations would forbid:

  • Hosing off hardscape
  • Hose washing a vehicle without a shut-off nozzle
  • Irrigation runoff
  • Fountains that do not recycle.

Violations would be punishable by a fine up to $500. Enforcement would be left to local agencies. The regulations are expected to take effect by the beginning of next month.
"We're in an emergency situation," said Felicia Marcus, board chair.

The new regulations would also require every water district to implement its water shortage contingency plan. Several dozen districts that do not already have such a plan would be given 30 days to limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week.

Restrictions on outdoor water waste have already been imposed by some water districts, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Water conservation measures adoped in Los Angeles six years ago during the last drought have never been lifted.

The Los Angeles ordinance authorizes residential fines up to $300 for water waste, but no fines have been imposed the past year. The DWP prefers to use education and persuasion to prevent repeat violations, according to Michelle Vargas, a DWP spokeswoman.

The board action comes six months after Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a drought emergency and requested a voluntary cutback in water use of 20 percent.

Few areas have been able to cut back that much.  In fact, a report presented at the Water Board meeting found that overall water use in California increased 1 percent in May. The report also found water use varied widely in different areas of the state. Usage increased most notably in Southern California coastal communities and the northeastern part of the state.

In the past six years, DWP customers have reduced per capita water use by 17 percent.  But this past year, it creeped back up 5 percent, Vargas said.   

Storage in reservoirs has largely spared Southern California from direct effects of the drought.  There has been more impact north of the Tehachapi Mountains, particularly on agriculture in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.

The drought has cost the agriculture industry $1.5 billion, representing a net revenue loss of 3 percent, according to a newly released study by UC Davis.  The study found that a greater
impact was avoided by drawing on groundwater reserves, but warned that this is not an unlimited resource and at some point must be replenished.  

"I think for this year the state is being about aggressive enough," said Jay Lund, Director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Studies.  "Next year, if the drought continues - and it's a fair chance it will continue - then we'll have to become much more aggressive. I think it's important to sort of stage conservation as things get worse."

Among future steps anticipated by the Water Board is requiring districts to repair leaks in pipes, estimated to drain 10 percent of the water that passes through them, and even more in some older, less well maintained systems.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Los Feliz Golf Course Reopens with Water Saving System]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:59:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/golf+los+feliz+drought.jpg

California’s drought has dried up several opportunities for outdoor fun, but some locations have made adjustments to keep recreation rolling this summer season.

Golfers at the Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course have had to putt around construction for months as improvements were made both on the green, and under it, in an effort to save water.

The grand re-opening of the course Monday introduced a fully automated recycled water system throughout the 15-acre facility. Six acres of thirsty grass have also been replaced by drought resistant landscaping, officials said.

Officials at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said, all told, 5.5 million gallons of water will be saved annually due to the changes. The water saved would be enough to fill eight Olympic-sized swimming pools or "enough drinking water for about 170 Los Angeles residents to use for an  entire year," Jim McDaniel, senior assistant general manager of Water Systems  for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said.

L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge was among those who attended the relaunch of the course, and he reiterated the importance of saving water in the midst of California’s water shortage.

“We have to conserve water,” LaBonge said. “We have before we gotta do it again in a more meaningful way the drought has really affected us.”

Officials said the Los Feliz course is now the sixth golf course in Los Angeles running on recycled water.

The recycled water comes from the Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant and is funneled through the colorful Purple Pipe Network, which also serves local parks and hospitals.

More has to be done, however, to achieve the DWP’s goal of recycled water making up 10 percent of water use. Current numbers put the total at around 1 to 2 percent.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Chance of Rain, Thunderstorms in Southland]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:28:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/sunrise+july15+clouds+la+skyline.jpg

Southern California was seeing something of a rarity Monday as temperatures dipped and muggy conditions began to rise: a bit of rain.

Light showers were reported early Monday for parts of a drought-stricken region that just completed one of its driest rain seasons on record.

Monsoon conditions were moving into the Southland, and with it comes the possibility of thunderstorms. Areas mostly affected by the conditions would be the mountains and deserts, which could see rain into Tuesday.

“But some of these storms will drift into the inland valleys over the afternoon and evening hours,” said NBC4 meteorologist Crystal Egger.

The stormy weather was expected to force its way into the area this afternoon and evening.

Temperatures were expected in the 80s and 90s inland, 70s on the coast, and up to the 100s in desert areas. A slight decrease in temperatures would likely be nullified by a significant increase in humidity.

“Humidity is going up, so it’s going to be just as uncomfortable out there,” Egger said.

Clouds blanketed most of Southern California during the morning ahead of a hot and humid day. Light rain was reported early Monday in Rancho Cucmonga and nearby mountain communities. The showers might move into the San Gabriel Valley, but significant rainfall is not likely.

The monsoon conditions are expected to last through Wednesday.

“Anyone planning outdoor activities in the mountains and deserts during the next few days should carefully monitor the latest national weather service forecast and statements due to the potential hazards associated with thunderstorms,” according to a weather statement.

The chance of rain comes after one of Los Angeles’ worst rain seasons on record ended on June 30. Between July 1, 2013 and the end of June, just 6.08 inches of rain was recorded in downtown Los Angeles. An average rain season is just under 15 inches.

About three-fourths of California is categorized in Extreme to Exceptional drought, which brings the threat of rapid wildfire spread, water supply issues and stressed crops.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Drought, Minimum Wage Prompt Restaurant Food Price Hikes]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:02:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/In-n-Out-Burger.jpg

Your next trip to a fast food restaurant may cost you more.

A number of fast food chains are saying the double-whammy of drought and minimum wage increases are forcing them to raise prices on many of their most popular menu items.

Whenever Southern Californians enter the debate over the best hamburger, In-N-Out is almost always in the conversation.

But you’ll have to pony up an additional 15-cents for the famous Double-Double.

In-N-Out confirmed prices for hamburgers and cheeseburgers have also been raised by a dime. The popular chain blames the ongoing California drought in part for the hikes.

Beef prices have crept upward as the U.S. supply has thinned. Other burger chains are dealing with the same issues. McDonalds says prices at some franchises could rise by as much as 3-percent, and that is making it harder to find items to fill their "dollar menus."

McDonald’s dollar menu is now known as the "Dollar Menu & More" while Wendy’s now calls its budget list the new "Right Price, Right Size" menu. Most items on those range from a buck to two-dollars.

Fatburger says it too is feeling the rising cost of beef.

Fatburger confirmed burger prices there will likely inch up in the near future. And price hikes don’t stop at burger joints.

The Chipotle Restaurant chain says prices of chicken and beef dishes are headed up for the first time in three years.

Price hikes will likely vary with location. The price pressure isn’t coming from just drought.

Both Denny’s and Jack-in-the-Box tell Bloomberg News the minimum wage hikes mean modestly higher menu prices at some of its California restaurants.

All of this makes it harder to pay for that midnight snack with spare change you find in the couch cushions or the car floor. And there is no relief for that morning cup of coffee either. Starbucks announced price hikes of anywhere from 5-cents to 20-cents.

  • McDonalds
    Prices at some franchises could go up as much as 3 percent. According to Bloomberg News McDonald's is rebranding its "Dollar Menu" into the "Dollar Menu and More."
  • Chipotle
    Chipotle is increasing prices for the first time in three years. Price hikes will vary by location.
  • In-N-Out
    In-N-Out raised the cost of its hamburgers and cheeseburgers by a dime. The Double-Double jumped 15 cents to $3.45. French fries were unchanged but soft drinks went up a nickel.
  • Starbucks
    The coffee giant is increasing the prices of its drinks by 5 to 20 cents.
  • Dunkin' Donuts
    J.M. Smucker recently announced a 9 percent increase in coffee prices that will affect Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffee sold in grocery stores. This increase is specific to package coffee sold in grocery stores, not at Dunkin' Donuts restaurants. The company said it is currently holding conversations with domestic franchisees about a modest increase in coffee prices.
  • Jack in the Box
    Due to minimum wage, Jack in the Box is considering price hikes. Bloomberg News reported a price hike between 1 percent and 1.4 percent at some restaurants.
  • Denny's
    Denny’s said it began price increases in California as of July 1, 2014.
  • Fatburger
    Fatburger North America Inc., tells NBC4 prices are likely to rise soon. They did not disclose the exact amount.
  • Subway
    Subway tells NBC4 it raised the price of turkey and tuna sandwiches by 25 cents in February 2014. It says no other price hikes were instituted this year.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said all footlong Subway sandwiches were $5 in September 2013 and now range from $5 to $8.50. The September prices were part of a month-long promotion.

Sarah Zheng and Julia Bakerink contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Drought Creates Extreme Fire Danger, Low Water Reserves]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 03:15:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lake+mathews+drought.PNG

The California drought has created extreme fire danger and decreased water reserve levels in parts of Southern California.

San Bernardino County firefighters and inmate work crews spent Monday clearing dry branches and brush in Lytle Creek.

"I don't want the darn place to go up (in flames.) That's for sure," Lytle Creek resident John Bartfay said.
Moisture content levels for vegetation are at all-time lows.

"The energy release when fire gets into those areas has been significantly higher," Kyle Hauducoeur of San Bernardino County Fire.

The drought has also led to significantly lower water reserves. Lake Mathews in Riverside County can hold 182,000 acre feet of water at full capacity. It currently has about 78,000 acre feet.

"We've actually been here for the last 11 years, this is probably one of the worst times we've seen it," Lake Mathews resident Natalie Brewer said.

Some residents in Hemet and Temecula Valley are taking advantage of water wise programs in which they get two dollars a square foot to tear up water-guzzling grass and replace it with water-conserving landscaping such as plants and tree material that “can actually be weaned off water” after a few years.

<![CDATA["Exceptional" Drought Expands in California]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 18:25:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/drought+monitor+july3+updates.jpg

The most severe category of drought expanded in California during the past week at the start of what looks to be a hot, dry summer for a state facing a significant dry spell.

"Exceptional" drought conditions expanded to more than 36 percent of California, a four-percentage point increase since last week, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report. The Monitor's drought levels are Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

Exceptional drought conditions (pictured below) expanded during the past week in Ventura, LA and much of Orange counties, according to the Monitor. No part of California was listed in the Exceptional drought category at the start of 2014, but months without significant rainfall and a decreased Sierra snowpack -- a vital source of water for the state -- led to the drought expansion.

About 79 percent of the state is under Extreme to Exceptional drought, an increase of about 3 percentage points since last week. A large swath of the Central Coast and Central Valley has been hardest hit by the drought as the state just completed its warmest and third-driest winter on record. 

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency because of critically low levels at the state's reservoirs, due to disappointing rainfall totals and snowpack that measured 16 percent of average.

This week's Drought Monitor report was issued a day after the National Weather Service announced that downtown Los Angeles recorded its seventh-driest rain season since record-keeping began in 1877. Just 6.08 inches of rain fell during between July 1, 2013 and June 30.

Photo Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[Winemaker Stands by "Water Witching" to Help During Drought]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:25:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/0702-2014-WaterWitch.jpg

Several California residents are turning to an ancient practice called dowsing to help find water during the severe drought.

The practice, also known as "water witching," resorts to using items like copper rods and prisms. It's a method Napa Valley winemaker Marc Mondavi uses.

"Well, they've helped me find a lot of water in California," Mondavi said. "I'm not just doing Napa Valley, I've done wells throughout northern California. I've gone as far as Mexico."

Mondavi said his services as a "water witch" are in demand as California's historic drought continues. He charges $500.

"There's no guarantees," he said. "Although I'm more than 95-percent successful."

Skeptics point out that the Earth is more than 70 percent water, so finding it is not difficult.

One of those skeptics is James Underdown, who heads the Center for Inquiry and the Independent Investigations Group in Los Angeles.

"Through the years we've tested many dowsers," Underdown said. "None of them have been successful in a scientifically controlled test."

Underdown said that when it comes to the movement of dowsing rods, there is a "down-to-Earth" explanation.

"There's something called the ideomotor effect, which says, that the unconscious mind can effect the muscles and move muscles without one being conscious of it."

Underdown said it is the same effect that moves a planchette across a Quija board.

Mondavi, however, questions his skeptics.

"It's not a science," he said. "Scientists don't understand this. Therefore, they don't believe in it."

Meanwhile, Underdown's group is offering a $100,000 challenge to anyone who can prove this version of paranormal ability.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[LA Ends Rain Season With Dismal Total]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:52:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/downtown-la-skyline-sunrise-aug161.jpg

Los Angeles' rain season ended with the seventh-driest rainfall total for the period in more than 130 years as the state enters a hot, dry summer under a drought emergency.

Just 6.08 inches of rain was recorded in downtown Los Angeles for the rain season, between July 1, 2013 and June 30. That goes down as the seventh-driest rain season since record-keeping began in downtown LA in 1877, but slightly better than the previous rain season total of just 5.85 inches.

The two seasons are the driest back-to-back seasons on record, according to the National Weather Service. Over the past three rain seasons, downtown LA is running about 2 feet below normal.

The average for the rain season is 14.93 inches -- a distant aspiration in a drought-stricken state that just completed its warmest and third-driest winter on record. Significant rainfall deficits for the past season were also recorded in San Francisco to the Central Valley and south to San Diego,

About 33 percent of the state faces "Exceptional Drought" conditions, including a large swath of the Central Valley region, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. "Exceptional" is the most severe of the Monitor's drought levels, which include Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

Nearly 77 percent of the state is categorized in Extreme/Exceptional drought, which brings the threat of rapid wildfire spread this summer, stressed crops and water supply issues.

<![CDATA[Wildfires Threaten Rolling Blackouts Across State ]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 21:12:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/powerlines5.JPG

Tinderbox conditions exacerbated by a historic California drought could put power lines across the state at risk of failing this summer, officials said.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, warned Friday that extreme heat could cause "rolling blackouts" this summer, meaning some places could see no power for periods of time.

"Fires in particular are going to be a problem this year," said Steve Berberich, the chief executive officer of Cal-ISO.

Wildfires burn underneath the transmission lines and cause power outages, Berberich said.

If there are no devestating fires, then there is enough power available for the summer, but officials are urging the public to conserve power usage.

"It's a great time right now to go and put LED lights in," said Robert Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission, referring to the low-energy bulbs.

Officials suggested setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher.

Federal officials in May said that all of California remains in "severe" drought or worse. The conditions are the most extreme in the U.S. Drought Monitor's 15-year history.

Three months ago, 90 percent of the state was considered in severe to exceptional drought. A year earlier, that figure was less than half of the state.

<![CDATA[Hetch Hetchy Below 65 Percent Capacity]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 05:58:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/041014-HetchHetchy.jpg

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission gave its mid-year water supply update Monday and announced that the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System storage is at less than 65 percent capacity.

The water system storage is at 64.5 percent of maximum storage capacity and all available snowpack has melted as of this week, SFPUC officials said.

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park can store up to 117 billion gallons of drinking water that is used for the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System that provides water for 2.6 million San Francisco area customers.

In what is one of the worst droughts in recent years, the SFPUC asked customers to reduce water consumption by 10 percent at the start of the year. Since then, about 1.4 billion gallons of water have been saved, which is 17 percent of the SFPUC's year-end goal of saving 8 billion gallons.

According to the SFPUC, if conservation trends continue there will be less of a chance of mandatory water rationing.

SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly Jr. said in a statement Monday that water rationing is still a possibility, "Every customer needs to redouble their conservation efforts so we can stretch water supplies into 2015 and beyond."

A summer water conservation campaign has kicked off and in an effort to entice more saving, the SFPUC is increasing rebate amounts for replacing old toilets, urinals and washing machines starting in July.

Customers are asked to evaluate water consumption at home and work and try to take shorter showers, turn off running taps, run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine, limit outside watering and other water-saving measures.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Upcoming Fire Season to Be "Incendiary," Experts Say]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:40:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/BrushFiresJune20.JPG

Los Angeles officials are concerned about the upcoming fire season, citing an increase in wildfires this year and the ongoing drought in California as warning signs of a dangerous few months ahead.

So far this year, Southern California has seen two big fires, in the Glendora and Azusa areas, and in the foothills above Rancho Cucamonga.

Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at a press conference Friday that the area may not get any significant rainfall for another three to six months.

"We’re exceptionally dry, we haven’t been this dry in decades," Patzert said. "The situation is definitely incendiary."

Since January, firefighters have fought more than 2,300 fires throughout the state. That’s about 300 more fires than the same time period last year, and the state fire protection department said about 200 new wildfires have broken out in the past week.

Officials said clearing the brush around homes is crucial to protecting them from fires. Houses need what firefighters call "defensible space," a buffer between the house and brush surrounding it, which should be kept "lean, clean and green."

LA County Deputy Fire Chief John Todd encouraged people to remove flammable items from their homes. Wood piles, patio furniture and even brooms can easily ignite if an ember takes hold, Todd said.

Wildfires are likely to occur in areas with old vegetation that have not burned in a while, said Richard Minnich, an earth sciences professor at the University of California at Riverside.

The older the vegetation, the more fuel it provides for a fire. Older vegetation also takes up more water, Minnich said, and easily dries itself out.

"It’s the combination of extra energy and dry vegetation," Minnich said. "What you need to do is look at a map, find out which areas haven’t burned in a while."

Areas with old brush are highly flammable and likely to burn soon. Minnich said an area north of Monrovia and the eastern half of the San Bernandino Mountains have not had major fires in decades and are at high risk.

<![CDATA[Food Prices Rise During Severe Drought]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:41:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/farmers1.JPG

Food prices are rising as California is seeing its driest year on record and farmers are having to rely more on costly irrigation to grow their crops.

Food prices rose half a percent in May, the largest hike since August 2011, according to the US Labor Department.

In April, Timothy Richards, a professor of agribusiness at Arizona State University who conducted research on probable crop price increases stemming from the drought, told CNBC that lettuce and avocados would see considerable cost increases.

In Southern Cailfornia, some farmers talked about how they're coping with the drought.


Ray Graesser, the owner of the Temecula Berry Co. has managed to stave off price increases. His farm has managed to keep the cost of a pint of blueberries, for example, at $5 for the past 10 years.

But there's a downside.

"We've had to irrigate more often," he said. "So it kind of eats into the profit."

Produce buyer and Corona resident Delaney Forsythe complains about the prices.

"They're a lot higher than normal and produce hasn't been as good of quality either," she said.

The drought is to blame. California's Central Valley is hard hit by the drought as much of the state's produce is grown there and it is among the nation's most productive farming regions. If the area sees no rain in the foreseeable future, food prices could skyrocket.

"A drought situation is just terrible for everyone," Graesser said.

Experts say that El Nino will likely return this summer after a five-year absence, bringing rain and hope to many in California.

<![CDATA[Two Hatcheries' Entire Fish Stock to be Evacuated]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:20:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rainbow-Trout.jpg

The California Fish and Wildlife Department is evacuating all fish from two of its hatcheries outside of Sacramento to avoid "catastrophic fish losses" that could arise due to increasing water temperatures this summer.

Rainbow trout from the American River Hatchery, as well as salmon and steelhead from the Nimbus Hatchery, are expected to be moved out to lakes around the state by the end of this week. This is the first time the entire stocks of both hatcheries have had to be evacuated, according to a statement from the department.

The department estimates that water temperatures in the hatcheries will exceed 78 degrees this summer, making it too hot for the young fish to survive to maturity. While there are measures in place that could help lower water temperatures under normal circumstances, California’s massive drought has dried up their chances of working.

Normally in the face of high water temperatures, the hatcheries could pull cold water from the depths of the nearby Folsom Lake. This year though, the drought has rendered the lake too warm to draft water from.

While the fish are planned to be released in their normal locations, the timeframe for release has had to be pushed six months ahead of the normal schedule of February. This means the released fish could have more trouble surviving out in the wild.

"We will track all changes involved in the evacuation and evaluate how fish react to being released early," said Dr. William Cox, CDFW State Hatchery Program Manager, in the statement. "Ultimately we could develop new release strategies based on what we learn."

According to the statement, the remaining 20 state-managed hatcheries are expected to make it through the summer months and into the winter season without having to evacuate fish.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>