<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Running Dry]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/feature/running-dry http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sun, 24 May 2015 10:38:34 -0700 Sun, 24 May 2015 10:38:34 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Drought Monitor: Rain Does Little for Long-Term Drought]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 16:15:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/472591062.jpg

A storm dumped an inch of rain on drought-parched Southern California last week -- an unusual amount for May -- but it did little to end the state's extreme drought.

Nearly half the state of California remains in an exceptional drought, the driest possible condition, marking no change from the week before, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The drought is into its fourth year.

"The late-season rain and snow showers have improved the appearance of the landscape but have left the underlying, long-term drought virtually untouched," said Brad Rippey, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the Thursday drought summary for the American West.

For the second week in a row, 47 percent of California is categorized as having an exceptional drought, and two-thirds of the state is having an extreme drought, the next-worse category.

There were some benefits from the rain showers, including reducing the need for crop irrigation and helping pastures. But the storm didn't deposit much snow in mountains above California lakes, essentially leaving reservoirs at 64 percent of their average, according to the Drought Monitor.

"The reservoir recharge season has ended early," the Drought Monitor's summary said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How to Recycle Water at Home]]> Tue, 12 May 2015 05:21:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150511-5pm-home-graywater_1_1200x675_443674691511.jpg Excess water that might be too dirty to drink or water your food crops could be good enough to water your trees and shrubs. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[ "We Just Don't Have Any Water": California Homeowners Ditch Pools]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 08:51:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/California-Pools-480p_1200x675_443198019512.jpg The California drought is pushing some homeowners to get rid of their backyard pools, filling them in to save yard space, money and water.]]> <![CDATA[California Water Cuts Ignore Past Changes by Some Cities]]> Sun, 10 May 2015 12:09:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/471011092_master.jpg

In California's second-largest city, memories are still fresh of a devastating drought 25 years ago that saw the area's water supplies slashed by about a third.

Billions of dollars were invested to prepare for the next drought, an effort that included building the Western hemisphere's largest desalination plant, which opens this fall.

Yet the moves count for nothing under sweeping statewide cuts to urban water use approved this week that require hundreds of cities, counties and local agencies to reduce consumption between 8 percent and 36 percent from 2013 levels, starting June 1. The largest per-capita users must make the biggest percentage cuts, no matter how and where they get their water.

San Diego isn't the only place complaining. The Orange County Water District, which serves 2.4 million people near Los Angeles, wanted credit for sending wastewater through ground basins for drinking. It started recycling water in 2008 and is boosting production to 100 million gallons a day from 70 million.

San Diego, which imports nearly all of its water, launched its quest for water independence in 1991, after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said it was cutting deliveries in half. Metropolitan, a giant wholesaler based in Los Angeles, supplied 95 percent of San Diego's water at the time.

Surprise rains reduced the cut to 31 percent, which lasted 13 months. Still, businesses led by the city's biotech industry demanded change.

"That really was a wakeup call," said Dana Friehauf, water resources manager for the San Diego County Water Authority, which supplies 3.1 million people in the city of San Diego and its suburbs. "We heard loud and clear from residents and businesses in San Diego County that we needed to take action to avoid that from happening again."

Metropolitan now supplies less than half of San Diego's water and will deliver less than a third in 2020. But the diversification has been costly.

In 2003, San Diego began buying water from California's Imperial Valley in the nation's largest farm-to-city water transfer, a move that San Diego leaders said would offer protection during drought because Imperial Valley's senior rights to Colorado River water put them at the front of the line.

In 2012, San Diego sought more protection by agreeing to buy water from a $1 billion desalination plant in suburban Carlsbad. The hemisphere's largest such plant will produce 50 million gallons a day by 2020, enough to satisfy 7 percent of regional demand. It will raise the region's average residential water bill by $5 to $7 a month.

San Diego's march to independence earned little sympathy from the State Water Resources Control Board, which approved the cuts to achieve Gov. Jerry Brown's target of reducing urban water use 25 percent. Board officials say those who prepared for drought will be better off in the long run.

"This is not about being fair, giving kudos for past performance," said board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus. "This is about dealing with what is an emergency out in front of us that may not be right here, but we can see coming at us."

In November, the city of San Diego moved ahead on a $2.5 billion plan to recycle 83 million gallons of wastewater a day for drinking by 2035, about one-third of the city's supply. It warns, however, that public support may wane if cities don't get credit for such investments.

"The frustrating thing is it feels we have done the right things, invested in the right things and tried to be very responsible," said Mark Cafferty, chief executive of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., a business coalition.

"I absolutely agree with the narrative" to diversify supplies, said Mayor Steve Vaus of Poway, a San Diego suburb that must cut use 32 percent. "The problem is that, to date, it has fallen on deaf ears."

Steve Erie, a political science professor at University of California, San Diego, said the cuts "absolutely blindsided" the region, which erred by locking in long-term contracts for desalinated water and with the Imperial Valley deal.

"They were overeager investors," he said. "It's a failure of planning."

Many San Diego government officials and business leaders insist it is a temporary setback. They say any unused water can be stored in a newly retrofitted dam and tapped if drought persists.
Gary Arant, general manager of Valley Center Municipal Water District, said state regulators had to act quickly. His agency, which serves homes with fruit trees on large lots north of San Diego, must cut use 36 percent.

"In the short term, the investment hasn't worked out as we hoped," he said. "We think, in the long term, the San Diego region will be better off."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Crazy (Brilliant) Ideas to End the CA Drought ]]> Sun, 10 May 2015 11:58:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/csKUBERonWeYnkIDeYBH-2-1245515199000.jpg These are the most out-of-left-field ideas and recommendations out of the nearly 200 that individuals sent to California's Drought Task Force. The collection was provided to NBC4 by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services on May 8, 2015.

Photo Credit: File (Barbara Pfeffer)]]>
<![CDATA[Fishy, "Earthy" Water Taste to Last Through Drought]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 09:45:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/water-faucet-drip722.jpg

If you’re one of the 1.3 million customers in the San Francisco East Bay who thinks the water lately has been tasting, well, kinda awful, you’re not crazy.

And starting Sunday, it’s going to taste and smell that way indefinitely – for as long as California’s drought lasts.

“Our water this year may taste and smell different than what we are used to,” East Bay Municipal District General Manager Alexander R. Coate said. “It’s not ideal. But the alternatives are much worse.”

He said if customers keep drinking from the cool, delicious Mokelumne River in the Sierra Nevada, then the entire ecosystem and the spawning salmon will be at risk later in the year.

That’s why, in March, EMBUD managers decided to start drawing water from a higher valve in Pardee Resevoir, between Amador and Calaveras counties, which is warmer and tastes different because of its chemical makeup.

EBMUD thought the switch would be temporary. But the drought conditions keep worsening and the Mokelumne River supplies are critically low.

So, EMBUD decided to go back to pumping from higher up in the Pardee Reservoir, where water nearer the surface is warmer, more sunlit and often has more algae than water deeper in the reservoir. The water is safe, officials have repeated, but can taste off for those with sensitive palettes.

Spokeswoman Abby Figueroa said the algae is filtered, but leaves behind chemical compounds with a noticeable taste. When she drank it for the first time two months ago, she described it – diplomatically – as “earthy.” Her husband said, “What’s up with the water?” And one 12-year-old customer screeched when she first drank it, complaining that it tasted like blood.

Others, however, with less sensitive tastebuds, didn’t notice a change at all.

In addition, last month, EBMUD began filling two local reservoirs, San Pablo and Upper San Leandro, with a two-month supply of Sacramento River water bought through a federal contract. That water will be pumped into local reservoirs for several months

While these changes aren’t optimal, Coate acknowledged, they are better than the alternatives, like banning outdoor water use.

And those alternatives, he said, would be much “tougher to swallow.”

Photo Credit: Tim Graham]]>
<![CDATA[Some CA Crops Drink Billions of Gallons of Water]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 10:14:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/050715+Crop+Project+%282%29.jpg

California continues to wrestle with water savings as the state enters its fourth year in drought-mode, and one statistic that often pops up is how much water agriculture consumes.

While alert systems and fines for water wasters are set up to shrink residential water use, agriculture makes up 80 percent of human water use in the state. And some California crops use guzzle more water -- much more -- each year than others do, according to a 2015 California Agricultural Water Use summary from the Pacific Institute.

While almonds have been dragged through the mud in recent news reports, they're not the biggest culprit in California. That dubious honor falls on alfalfa, according to the Pacific Institute.

The livestock fodder and occasional salad topping -- it's a cousin of peas -- used the most water, the study's 2010 data say, drinking an estimated 1.7 trillion gallons that year.

Click through the slideshow at the top of this story to see how much water other major crops grown in the Golden State used. 

Complete drought coverage: Running Dry.

Photo Credit: File Photo (John Moore/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Water Regulators OK Drought Restrictions]]> Wed, 06 May 2015 08:55:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/470555096_master.jpg

California water regulators adopted sweeping, unprecedented restrictions Tuesday on how people, governments and businesses can use water amid the state's ongoing drought, hoping to push reluctant residents to deeper conservation.

The State Water Resources Control Board approved rules that force cities to limit watering on public property, encourage homeowners to let their lawns die, and impose mandatory water-savings targets for the hundreds of local agencies and cities that supply water to California customers.

Gov. Jerry Brown sought the more stringent regulations, arguing that voluntary conservation efforts have so far not yielded the water savings needed amid a four-year drought. He ordered water agencies to cut urban water use by 25 percent from levels in 2013, the year before he declared a drought emergency.

"It is better to prepare now than face much more painful cuts should it not rain in the fall," board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said Tuesday as the panel voted 5-0 to approve the new rules.

Although the rules are called mandatory, it's still unclear what punishment the state water board and local agencies can or will impose for those that don't meet the targets. Board officials said they expect dramatic water savings as soon as June and are willing to add restrictions and penalties for agencies that lag.

But the board lacks staff to oversee each of the hundreds of water agencies, which range dramatically in size and scope. Some local agencies that are tasked with achieving savings do not have the resources to issue tickets to those who waste water, and many others have chosen not to do so.

Despite the dire warnings, it's also still not clear that Californians have grasped the seriousness of the drought or the need for conservation. Data released by the board Tuesday showed that Californians conserved little water in March, and local officials were not aggressive in cracking down on waste.

A survey of local water departments showed water use fell less than 4 percent in March compared with the same month in 2013. Overall savings have been only about 9 percent since last summer.

Under the new rules, each city is ordered to cut water use by as much as 36 percent compared with 2013. Some local water departments have called the proposal unrealistic and unfair, arguing that achieving steep cuts could cause higher water bills and declining property values, and dissuade projects to develop drought-proof water technology such as desalination and sewage recycling.

Representatives of San Diego-area water agencies have been especially critical of the water targets, noting that the region has slashed consumption and agencies have spent $3.5 billion on drought-proof water supplies after facing severe cuts in earlier droughts.

"San Diego has lived the horror of what the state is going through right now," Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority, told the board Tuesday.

After a 10-hour hearing that included more than 5 hours of public testimony, regulators again on Tuesday rejected calls to create easier targets for communities in drier areas or for cities that have been conserving since before the drought.

An economic analysis of the water board's proposal commissioned by the board estimated that private water utilities and local water departments would lose a total of about $1 billion in revenue through lost water sales if they meet the board's targets, meaning they are likely to raise prices to make up the difference.

Residents and businesses use less than a fifth of the water withdrawn from the state's surface and groundwater supplies. Farms in the state's agricultural heartland have had deliveries from government reservoir systems slashed and some have been ordered to stop diverting water that is normally available to them from streams and rivers.

Brown said last week he would push for legislation authorizing fines of up to $10,000 for extreme wasters of water, but he needs legislative approval to do so, and no bill has been introduced. Another tool -- tiered pricing, in which the price rises as water use goes up -- is in question after a court struck down water rates designed to encourage conservation in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Falls Short of Water-Saving Goal]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 11:07:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/470890230_master.jpg

Californians conserved little water in March and local officials were not aggressive in cracking down on waste, according to state water regulators.

The update was presented Tuesday to the State Water Resources Control Board as it considers sweeping restrictions to protect water supplies in the drought. A survey of local water departments shows water use fell less than 4 percent in March compared to the same month in 2013.

Overall savings have been only about 9 percent since last summer, even though Gov. Jerry Brown set a voluntary 20 percent target.

Brown is now ordering mandatory conservation. Regulators are considering rules to set water reduction targets of as much as 36 percent for some communities.

The board is also tracking enforcement of water rules. Most communities reported sending fewer than 20 warnings in March.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gov Proposes $10,000 Fine for Worst Water Wasters]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:13:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drought-generic-april-13_3.jpg

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday called for $10,000 fines for residents and businesses that waste the most water as California cities try to meet mandatory conservation targets during the drought.

The recommendation was part of a legislative proposal Brown said he would make to expand enforcement of water restrictions.

His announcement came as his administration faces skepticism about his sweeping plan to save water and just hours before regulators were scheduled to release an updated plan assigning each community a water use reduction target.

"We've done a lot. We have a long way to go," Brown said after meeting with the mayors of 14 cities, including San Diego and Oakland. "So maybe you want to think of this as just another installment on a long enterprise to live with a changing climate and with a drought of uncertain duration."

The governor also said he is directing state agencies to speed up environmental review of projects that increase local water supplies. Mayors have complained that such projects have been delayed by red tape.

A legislative panel on Monday rejected a bill supported by Republicans to speed construction of new water storage projects.

Last summer, state regulators authorized $500 fines for outdoor water waste, but few cities have levied such high amounts. Many agencies have said they would rather educate customers than penalize them.

The mayors who gathered Tuesday with Brown did not indicate they were seeking higher fines.

Brown said steep fines should still be a last resort and "only the worst offenders" that continually violated water rules would be subject to $10,000 penalties. It was unclear what kind of violations those would be.

His proposal would also provide enforcement power to water departments that currently can't fine customers.

California is in its fourth year of drought, and state officials fear it may last as long as a decade.

Brown previously ordered a mandatory 25 percent reduction in statewide water use in cities and towns after voluntary conservation wasn't enough to meet his goals.

The state's most recent proposal, released last week, calls for water use to plummet by as much as 36 percent in some communities. Some cities say the targets are unrealistic and possibly illegal. And some Northern California communities say their longstanding legal rights to water protect them from having to make cuts to help other parched towns.

The current conservation plan is based on per-capita residential water use last summer. Some agencies have offered alternatives that reflect greater demand for water in more arid parts of the state and give credit for conservation efforts before the drought began.

"There are entities like San Diego that are doing a remarkable job on conservation," city Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in an interview after the meeting with Brown. "We're investing significant dollars in desalination and wanting to invest significant dollars into water recycling."

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said she was pleased that the governor intended to streamline regulations involving such things as her city's planned surface water treatment plant and a water recycling facility.

Earlier this month, an appeals court struck down tiered water rates designed to encourage conservation in the Orange County city of San Juan Capistrano, saying rates must be linked to the cost of service.

Brown, however, said the ruling does not eliminate using tiered water rates but added "it's not as easy as it was before the decision."

Brown did not release any specific language related to his proposed legislation, and it was unclear whether the Democratic governor had asked any lawmakers to carry it.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was not aware of Brown's proposal and did not have an immediate comment, her spokesman John Casey said. Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, also declined immediate comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[QUIZ: Who Can Save Us From the Drought Now?]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 07:23:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drought-quiz-5-save-california-water-shatner.jpg

You've stopped taking long showers. You're only watering your lawn twice a week. Your car is covered in grime because you think car washes are for water-wasting chumps.

But do you really know it all about California's extreme drought? Test your knowledge here, and let's hope it's deeper than the state's water supply...

Previous Quizzes:
QUIZ: What Do You Know About Drought Cutbacks?

Do You Really Understand California's New Mandatory Water Restrictions?
Your Neighbors Probably Think You Should Be Saving More Water
How Water Smart Are You?
So You Think You Know About California's Drought?

CLICK HERE: Complete coverage of California's drought

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC, Illustration by Heather Navarro
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Project Scientist Explains SMAP Mission]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:22:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_smap_healy_interview_1200x675_434011715814.jpg Eni G. Njoku, PhD, has served as Project Scientist for the SMAP Mission and is supervisor of the Water and Carbon Cycles Group at NASA JPL. Wednesday, he briefed NBC4’s Patrick Healy on the progress of the mission and what its satellite data can tell us about soil moisture levels around the globe.]]> <![CDATA[Water Surplus ]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:52:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_watersurplus.jpg One drought-stricken California town will soon have a water surplus, which could cause problems of its own.]]> <![CDATA["Exceptional" Drought Expands in Sierras]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:48:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/04-23-2015-drought-monitor-map.jpg

The most severe category of drought expanded during the past week in California's northern Sierra Nevada Mountain range after a winter of little snowfall and record warm temperatures in the region.

Nearly 47 percent of California is under the exceptional drought category, according to this week's U.S. Drought Monitor report. That's a nearly 3-percentage point increase over last week.

The Monitor depicts drought conditions in four categories -- moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. Nearly 94 percent of California falls under the severe category.

Conditions in the northern Sierras reflect California's significantly lower precipitation and the warmest winter in the state's recorded history. In normal precipitation years, the Sierra snowpack melts and runs off into the state's major reservoirs to provide about 30 percent of the state's water needs.

This week's report also shows water levels at Mono Lake near Yosemite National Park reached their lowest levels since 1996. California's lakes and reservoirs have reached historic lows during a fourth consecutive dry year.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for California in January 2014 and called on residents to reduce water use by 20 percent. On March 17, the state's water control board announced new restrictions that include limits on outdoor watering and prohibiting restaurants from offering water unless requested by customers.

Faced with worsening conditions, Brown has called for a mandatory 25 percent cut in urban water use compared with 2013 levels.

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor]]>
<![CDATA[Respect the Blob - It May be a Drought Killer]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:13:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150422-the-blob-drought-pacific.jpg

The Blob is back – and this one is no joke.

Notwithstanding its silly name, this meteorological phenomenon could herald the impending end of California's devestating drought, according to JPL's Bill Patzert and other respected climate scientists.

The Blob refers to an amorphous mass of water warmer than what surrounds it off the coast of North America. Unusually cold or warm water masses have been linked to climate patterns onshore, notably the wet phenomenon dubbed El Nino, and its dry counterpart, La Nina.

Patzert sees the Blob as a precursor.

The last time it appeared – in 1997 – it was followed within months by one of California's wettest El Nino winters ever. Indeed, satellite data reveal an unusually large mass of warm water in the equatorial Pacific, the trademark of El Nino, is now moving toward the Americas.

If the El Nino continues developing as expected, so-called "pineapple express" storms would be expected to begin arriving next winter.

Till then, California would still need to get through another dry summer. In recent weeks, after the past winter ended with a whimper, Gov. Jerry Brown set a statewide water conservation goal of 25 percent, and California's Water Resources Control Board has set specific reducation targets for individual water districts.

Patzert urged Californians not to abandon conservation measures in expectation of relief nearly a year away.

Even more significantly, other indicators dating back 16 months signal a shift in a longterm pattern that alternates between two phases, one conducive to El Ninos, the other to La Ninas. It's called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and its last shift to warmer and wetter weather in the Southwest coincided with the end of the major drought during the 1970s. There followed a series of wet El Nino winters during the next two decades.

In the late 90s – after the El Nino Winter of '98 – the PDO shifted back to a cool, dry phase for the Southwest, coinciding with an extended period of below average precipitation in this region, culminating in the current drought now in its fourth year.

The PDO shift will be a "drought buster," Patzert predicted.

"Whether it's this year or next, it's coming. This will not be a mega drought," Patzert said, quashing the notion that the type of decades-long drought that geological records indicate can occur every few centuries.

However, climate patterns cannot be expected to replicate exactly what occurred during previous PDO phases, and could be affected by the even longer term pattern of global climate change.

The looming El Nino has implications for the northeast as well, which just endured one of its coldest and snowiest winters on record. El Nino conditions typically result in milder winters in the U.S. northern tier.

Meantime, testing phase is nearly complete for another NASA-JPL project to gather climate-relevant data from space – specifically variations in soil moisture. Because the satellite uses two both active and passive data-gathering technologies, the project has been dubbed SMAP, for Soil Moisture Active Passive. Its instruments measure soil radiation, and from that moisture levels can be calculated.

With instruments calibrated, the project can move into the science phase next month, said Dr. Eni Njoku, a SMAP scientist who focuses on carbon and water cycles.

The data are expected to have far reaching applications, including assisting agricultural planning, flood prediction, and drought monitoring.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Soil Moisture Observatory Sends Back First Images]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:27:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/04-22-2015-smap-PIA18058-1280x1024.jpg

A NASA satellite designed to measure Earth's soil moisture sent back its first global map images this month as part of a mission that could help scientists better predict natural hazards like floods and drought.

The array of bright colors displayed in the images released this week show low soil moisture or lack of vegetation with blue colors. Red colors indicate dense vegetation and higher soil moisture levels, such as those seen in the Amazon and Congo rain forests.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory also acquires data over ocean and sea ice, but uses a different color scale to depict temperature variations and the effects of wind.

The images are part of a test of SMAP's instruments before full operations begin in May. The imagery  comes nearly three months after launch from Vandenberg Air Base northwest of Santa Barbara.

SMAP works by bouncing microwave pulses off Earth, then measuring the strength of those signals. Water in soil responds differently to the microwaves than dry soil, allowing scientists to provide the data visualizations with vibrant colors.

The mission, based at Southern California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will help scientists understand links between Earth's energy and carbon cycles and reduce uncertainties when it comes to weather and climate forecasting, according to a statement from JPL. The data also will help researchers monitor and predict floods and droughts.

Currently, drought maps and flash flood guidance issued by the federal government are based on computer modeling. SMAP will take real-time measurements that can be incorporated into forecasts.

California is in a fourth year of drought with water reservoirs at critically low levels. The governor has proposed state-mandated water-use cutbacks to combat the dry spell.

The mission is designed to take about three years. Scientists are looking forward to the data provided by SMAP and expressed relief that it's working properly. The complex system that deploys instruments includes an arm the unfurls like a lasso.

"It's fabulous, just the fact that everything has deployed and turned on and worked as we thought it would," said project scientist Dr. Eni  G. Njoku. "Now we're seeing the first data, and it looks very good. I think it's unprecedented that an instrument works this well and is so well calibrated."

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC]]>
<![CDATA[New Tiered Water System Tentatively Approved]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:32:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lawn-watering-080311.jpg A new tiered water system has been tentatively approved as the drought worsens. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 20, 2015.

Photo Credit: NBCDFW.com]]>
<![CDATA[MAP: California Water Use Tiers]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:39:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drought-generic-april-13_3.jpg

This map shows how communities are listed in California's nine-tier system that penalizes the state's biggest water users.

Water suppliers are assigned to a tier -- displayed in the circles above -- of water reduction based on three months of summer residential gallons-per-capita-per-day data. The tier listings are part of the state water board's revised drought regulations that cut conservation targets for communities with a history of conservation and slightly increased cuts for communities that have used the most water..

Zoom in on the map to find a water district in Southern California.

Note: The tier designations and other figures displayed on this map are subject to change.

Mobile app users, scroll down to access map on mobile site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[William Shatner Wants $30B to Save California]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 07:28:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/William+Shatner.jpg

William Shatner plans to launch a $30 billion fundraising campaign to aid in California's drought relief efforts.

The actor, who played Captain James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," announced his intention via a video interview with Yahoo.

“So I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign," he said. "I want $30 billion … to build a pipeline like the Alaska pipeline. Say, from Seattle — a place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water. How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it above ground — because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!”

The campaign has not been posted, but a $30 billion goal would boldly go where no Kickstarter effort has gone before as far as fundraising goals.

Watch Shatner detail his idea in the video below:

Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Waning Water Supplies Spawn Tidal Wave of Challenges]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 09:18:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drought-generic-april-13_3.jpg


California’s virtual perma-drought crisis is being called "the new normal" for life going forward in the Golden State.

Scientists think it actually might be the “old normal," given climate and sparse rainfall patterns going back centuries -- to when coastal Southern California, especially, was a barren, semi-arid landscape.

But it seems water conservation alone is far from the only or optimum way to manage the challenges, and that myriad other approaches aren’t quite evolved enough to bring the necessary “bang” for all the bucks that must be spent to stabilize a society begging for hydration.

There have been calls for moratoriums on residential construction, among them.

Many frustrated homeowners who have cut their water dramatically are wondering why they should keep saving when builders keep adding to the population.

Temporary halts to homebuilding construction are already under discussion in a few California communities – and could wind up being taken to court.

Local homebuilders warn that shutting their operations would cause vast, unintended consequences because the area's population-driver is the local birthrate.

"Even if you put a fence around the county and said 'No more building, no more people,' the population is still going to increase,” says Matt Adams, a vice president of the San Diego Building Industry Association. “And we still have to provide homes for our future citizens here in San Diego County."

In a Friday recording session for Sunday’s edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” program, Adams pointed out that what the industry has been bringing to market cuts water use in half, compared to homes built before 1980.

And, that the less-efficient older housing stock actually needs replacing.

It may be that backyard pools become more of a liability than a selling point.

But whatever trends develop as water gets scarcer, Adams says homebuyers shopping in the current drought cycle might welcome incentives to be part of the solution, rather than the problem – especially when it comes to outdoor irrigation.”

"On the average, 70 percent (of home water use) is in landscaping outside,” Adams said. “There's where the water is going that is not for human consumption."

Water policy consultant Carl Nettleton buys into that logic: "The market comes from people wanting houses that are sustainable, that use water and energy wisely -- because it saves them money and makes them feel good about the future."

Another issue that’s prompted outcries is the fairness of across-the-board cutbacks that don't take into account people's baseline use in recent months in years.

Should those who have managed the largest decreases in their water consumption be given more of a break?

And those who have done the least be obliged to save a much greater percentage -- and pay higher conservation rates?

Could that be addressed through rebates and surcharges linked to different use trends, and customer tiers?

Experts offer cautionary words about potential devils in the details.

"There are lot of cuts being handed down from wholesale water agencies as well as the state,” noted Stephen Heverly, managing director of San Diego-based Equinox Center.

“And some water districts started responding by handing down emergency or drought conservation rates even as early as last July,” Heverly added. “But that impacts water bills."

The relative bargain prices for water being paid by agricultural interests are coming under fire.

“We’ve got to raise the price of water,” argued Milt Burgess, an engineer with four decades’ experience in hydro-delivery systems. “Let the market decide where we grow fruits and vegetables in California … if we can get the price of water up, then the market would make that decision.”

Focus also has intensified on replacing -- as well as reusing -- whatever water that remains available in a thirsty state.

Residents have gotten comfortable with the practice of reclaiming water from sewage for the purpose of irrigation.

But it's taken a longer time for people to accept the production of "potable" drinking water, and using it in showers, sinks, dishwashers.

That's just what modern scientists have managed pull off -- to the point where the finished product is just as safe and savory as the bottled water consumers readily buy.

Surveys now show that the so-called "ick factor" of what used to be dismissed as "toilet to tap" is evaporating, since the reality of a seemingly endless drought is really sinking in.

Potable H20 also is cheaper to produce than desalinated seawater, with fewer environmental downsides.

However, desalination is expected to become more widespread due to the diminishing number pristine lakes, streams and underground aquifers to meet our needs.

Next year, in Carlsbad, the $1.3 billion Poseidon desalination plant is expected to begin full operations, producing about 7 percent of our current consumption level countywide.

A splash in the bucket, so to speak -- but a sorely needed start.

After all, San Diegans daily flush 160 million gallons of bathroom and kitchen wastewater into deep ocean canyons off Point Loma, after so-called "advanced primary" treatment.

Efforts to recycle and re-purify it lag way behind.

Less than 30 million gallons a day are recycled locally for industrial and freeway landscaping irrigation purposes.

A potable water purification plant in Eastgate Mall has been yielding a million gallons of potable water a day, also for irrigation use during still-ongoing testing phases.

Once it’s state-certified to go on line for general use, the output could be cranked up to about 15 million gallons a day by a decade later.

By contrast, potable water production in Orange County, with the benefit of deep underground storage capacity, is trending toward 100 mgd.

Whatever approaches are cobbled together and brought to bear on the crisis, there are no guarantees that legislation and logistics won't lead to litigation involving government agencies, water districts and various private interests.

If so, courtroom battles seem infinitely preferable to the kind of water wars fought here in the "Wild West" days of yesteryear -- with bullets and bloodshed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Schools Drain Leaky Swimming Pools]]> Sat, 18 Apr 2015 11:12:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/04.17.15-Fullerton-High-Pools-Leak.JPG

A Southern California school district faces tough choices as officials grapple with fixes for two swimming pools that are leaking thousands of gallons of water per day.

Pools built more than 50 years ago at Troy High School in Fullerton and nearby Sunny Hills High School were leaking about 10,000 gallons of water daily. That's enough for about 540 loads of laundry every day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The district recently found out about the Troy High School leak, but learned about the leak at Sunny Hills High School in 2012 and won passage of a bond measure to pay for repairs. The estimated $4 million needed for the work won't be available until next summer.

"We have known about this for some time and we are currently in the process of getting bids to make the repairs on that pool," said Ken Stichter, interim superintendent for the Fullerton Joint Union School District.

With California in a fourth consecutive year of drought that prompted the state to order water-use cutbacks, school officials drained the pools. Both schools' swimming and water polo teams will need to practice elsewhere until repairs are complete.

"Maybe, right now, the swimming coach and the water polo coach and the teammates might be angry, but in the long run, we've got to think about the long run," said Troy High School senior Julie Lim.

More than 98 percent of California is under severe drought, according to this week's U.S. Drought Monitor report. Four dry years, including dismal snowpack levels in the Sierras where springtime runoff provides water for millions of Californians, prompted Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers to call for a 25-percent reduction in water use across the state.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[QUIZ: What Do You Know About Drought Cutbacks?]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 07:14:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drought-quiz-3-conserve-water-snowpack-snow-poll-neighbors.jpg

The drought that's plaguing the Golden State is into its fourth year. That's long enough for you to have soaked up plenty of knowledge about the river-shriveling dry spell.

You probably think you know it all about the drought. Well, let's hope your knowledge is deeper than the state's water supply...

Previous Quizzes:
Do You Really Understand California's New Mandatory Water Restrictions?

Your Neighbors Probably Think You Should Be Saving More Water
How Water Smart Are You?
So You Think You Know About California's Drought?

CLICK HERE: Complete coverage of California's drought

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Illustration by Heather Navarro
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA["Serious Situation": Water Board Approves Cutbacks]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 19:37:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP281311805550.jpg

The Metropolitan Water District, which supplies drinking water to nearly 19 million people in Southern California, voted Tuesday and gave the green light for cutbacks that would slash supplies to its member cities and agencies by 15 percent.

The cuts in water allocation to local districts were approved by an MWD committee on Monday and the full board Tuesday. The move marks only the fourth time the MWD has cut back on supplying water.

"(It's a) very serious situation," MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger told NBC4 on Tuesday. "I've been in the water business 20 years, never seen anything like it."

The last time supplies were limited was from July 2009 to April 2011 when the board approved a 10-percent cutback.

The cutbacks will start July 1 and would charge agencies that don't reduce deliveries enough to reach a 15 percent decrease. The board also agreed to revisit the issue in December and evaluate the situation.

"Southern California has led the way in water conservation for more  than 20 years, and now we're asking people to do significantly more," said Randy Record, chairman of the MWD board. "We know it will be difficult, but we're in an unprecedented drought."

As Gov. Jerry Brown mandates a 25 percent cut in water use across the state, the MWD vote cuts deliveries to its 26 member cities and water districts in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

The amount of the cut will be based on each agency's reliance on the MWD, and the district will consider conservation actions already in place.

"We're moving on close to a decade of dry weather," Kightlinger said. "The last four years have set all sorts of records for driest year ever, hottest year ever. It's very tough."

Cities and agencies that use more than their MWD allocation would have to pay punitive costs ranging from $1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot of water.

An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water needed to serve two households for a year.

"There isn't that much flexibility left inside the house," Kightlinger said. "People are going to have to do things like remove lawns to make the cut."

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Almond Farmers are Stigmatized as CA Drought Continues]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 07:36:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AlmondShaming.jpg California almond growers are coming under scrutiny for their water use as the state's drought worsens.]]> <![CDATA[Drought Means Big Business for Landscapers]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 22:13:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/4-9-15-Drought.JPG

California's severe drought is a booming business for local landscapers skilled in drought-tolerant landscapes.

Various companies have shown increased sales and profits because of it and some have waiting lists that stretch months.

Van Nuys-based Go Green Gardeners says business is up 300 percent since Governor Jerry Brown announced new water restrictions last week. Owner Anne Phillips says she's trying to keep up with the demand.

"That's when I started to really get a lot of phone calls that wanted to take advantage of the turf rebate," Phillips says, adding that part of her service helps homeowners navigate LA's turf removal rebate program. "We look at styles and we look at plants that they like."

Phillips says part of her service is designing how homeowners ultimately want their yards to look, sometimes within the parameters of whatever rebate might be coming from the project. The city of LA offers $3.75 per square foot of turf removed, something Phillips says she takes into consideration when designing a landscape. A common misconception, Phillips says, is whether you have to replace some of your favorite flowers for more drought-tolerant ones. While it would help, she says it's not a necessary evil.

"Even if they keep the plants that they have, take out some of the lawn, change to a drip system, that's going to save water and that's where we all want to go," she says.

In LA, water conservation is a voluntary program — so far. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new campaign to remind homeowners to use less water. It's called "Save the Drop."

Garcetti says too often people take drops of water for granted, even though there's a chance it won't be there in the future.

While some wonder if water-rationing will become the norm in California, the head of LA's Department of Water and Power says she's doing what she can to keep rates low as long homeowners ration themselves.

"If we can conserve and harden our own local water supplies, it'll allow me to reduce the amount of imported water we use and be able to drop that upward pressure on rates," DWP Director Marcie Edwards said.

Edwards says LA imports 75 percent of its water every year.

LA's rebate program allows for homeowners to get preapproved so they can work with local landscapers on a plan that can fall within their rebate budget.

The mayor applauds those who have taken the step to change their habits, saying that if LA keeps it up, Sacramento won't have to mandate it later.

"We need to come together and solve this drought," Garcetti said. "The government has to play its part but the biggest part is the four million residents of this great city. If we each do a little bit, we'll accomplish a lot."

<![CDATA[Drought Prompts Ugliest Yard Competition in SF]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 06:09:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0408-2015-UglyYard2.jpg

Ugly is beautiful, especially during California's historic drought.

The search is on for the ugliest yard in San Francisco, a contest put on by the city to encourage residents to conserve water by making their grounds less thirsty.

The grand prize for who claims the ugliest yard will get a landscape makeover.

Interested in participating in the competition? Upload a photo and get more information at SFEnvironment.org.

<![CDATA[February Savings Were Worst Yet: Water Board]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:56:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/PRAYFORRAIN.jpg

California's water board said Tuesday that residents saved less water in February than in any other month since it began tracking conservation efforts last summer.

Newly released figures showed a water use reduction of just 3 percent in February compared with 2013 figures, dismal savings that came after the driest January on record in the state.

These are "obviously very sobering times and ones where everyone needs to step up,'' said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board.

Cities are facing increased pressure to slash water use after Gov. Jerry Brown last week ordered a mandatory statewide 25 percent drop in urban water use compared with 2013 levels.

The State Water Resources Control Board began discussing Tuesday how to enforce the mandatory reduction, which will likely include cutback targets for cities based on how much water their residents already use.

Brown called on residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent when he declared a drought emergency in January 2014. Californians only hit that target once — in December — prompting stronger action by the governor.

Statewide conservation has been about 10 percent, with some communities exceeding 30 percent. Places such as Newport Beach, which cut average monthly water use by 5.5 percent between July and January, face fines if they do not take steps to conserve.

Newport Beach already limits lawn watering to four times a week, which is double the state recommendation, and prohibits residents from refilling their pools more than 1 foot a week. Still, since July, Newport Beach residents used 124 gallons a day, compared with 100 gallons a day for other residents who live along the southern coastline.

After months spent "educating'' residents about what days they can water lawns and how much water they use, Newport Beach officials are seeking new authority to issue fines and have been sending out hundreds of warnings.

"We liked the friendly approach, and it seems to be working well, but we aren't afraid to issue citations,'' said George Murdoch, the city's utilities general manager.

The water board has given local water departments discretion to come up with their own conservation rules but has set some statewide regulations, such as banning lawn watering 48 hours after rain and prohibiting restaurants from serving water unless customers ask.

The agency is also going to direct municipalities to charge customers in a way that penalizes overconsumption.

Newport Beach is already limiting residential water consumption to a residence's three-year average before the drought emergency. Customers have received written warnings for years if they went over their average water use but will start getting fined later if they exceed levels this year, Murdoch said.

Water use is expected to increase this summer as tourists and seasonal residents flood into beach homes. Those guests and visitors haven't been exposed to the same conservation outreach as Californians, presenting an extra challenge.

"I get it, we aren't as low as the state average, but we're still heading in the right direction,'' said Murdoch, noting a 22 percent drop in water use in Newport Beach in January.

Meanwhile, Southern California's giant Metropolitan Water District will vote next week on a plan to ration water deliveries to the 26 agencies and cities it supplies, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The cuts, which would take effect July 1, were proposed before the governor imposed the mandatory restrictions and are expected to drive agencies to curb demand and help meet the conservation goals.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Avocado Farms Run Dry]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 08:19:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_avocadofarms0408001_1500x845.jpg California's record-setting drought is putting many avocado farmers out of business. Lili Tan reports.]]> <![CDATA[OC Uses Alert System to Remind Residents of Drought]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 21:48:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/PRAYFORRAIN.jpg

An emergency system normally used for floods, fires and other disasters was put to the test Tuesday,  but for the first time it was used as a reminder to Orange County residents to conserve water.

Phone calls from the program called, AlertOC, went out to 1.2 million people who have signed up to get emergency updates. What they learned is that a drought can be an emergency, too.

In San Clemente, what looks like a Midwestern prairie is actually a park in transition.

The lawn is being removed while pipes are being installed for recycled water. It will cost millions for this city to reduce its water usage.

"It's expensive, but it's short-term pain for long-term gains," said Bob Baker, a San Clemente Councilman.

Residents must now shift to specific days for watering.

Katie Wildfong is one of seven children in her home.

"We have to like turn the sink off when we brush our teeth," said the San Clemente resident. "When we do the dishes we can't leave the water running."

On Tuesday, the conservation message is being heard countywide.

This is a test of the AlertOC emergency system.

For the first time two dozen water agencies joined with local cities to remind folks to turn off the tap.

The Moulton Niguel Water District just cut indoor water limits from 65 to 60 gallons per person per day, anything above that will cost you extra. Experts say incentives seem to work.

Kelly Winsor, of the Moulton Niguel Water District, said the agency has seen reduction of 26 percent since 2011.

"They are listening to the message," she said.

In Newport Beach there are citations for those who go over the limit.

George Murdoch, a utilities manager for the city of Newport Beach, said the worst case scenario is that residents would have to save water for drinking, dire predictions from a city that is averaging 10 gallons more per person a day than the state average.

"It's really important to remind people that even though the water is still coming out the tap we have a problem," said Darcy Burke, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Newport Beach Blasted For Water Wasting ]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:45:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tap+water+faucet.jpg

Businesses and homeowners in Newport Beach are taking steps towards conserving water that will hopefully add up in the fight against California's drought and limit the fines the city faces for not meeting the statewide quota of reducing water consumption by 25 percent.

"Making people ask for a glass of water, instead of just handing them a glass of water, and then going to more disposables to cut down on a lot of the dishwashing," Andrew Gabriel said, a restaurant owner in the coastal community.

The city of Newport Beach already limits lawn watering to four times a week and prohibits residents from refilling their pools more than one foot a week.

After months spent "educating" residents about what days they can water lawns and how much water they use, Newport Beach officials are seeking new authority to issue fines and have been sending out hundreds of warnings.

"We liked the friendly approach, and it seems to be working well, but we aren't afraid to issue citations," said George Murdoch, the city's utilities general manager.

Since last July, Newport Beach residents used 124 gallons a day, compared with 100 gallons a day used by others who live in nearby beach communities. Much still has to be done, but officials say they they're at least heading in the right direction.

"Especially on the outdoor irrigation. Restricting the days of the week was challenging for some. A lot of homeowners don't even know how to change the timer on their sprinkler system so they call in and say, 'how do I do this?', so we know that they're getting the message and reducing," Murdoch said.

The water board has given local water departments discretion to come up with their own conservation rules but has set some statewide regulations, such as banning lawn watering 48 hours after rain and prohibiting restaurants from serving water unless customers ask.

The agency is also going to direct municipalities to charge customers in a way that penalizes overconsumption.

Photo Credit: Tim Graham]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Desalination Plant to Be Largest in Western Hemisphere]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:34:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/carlsbad+desalination+plant.jpg

A Southern California desalination plant set to open this fall will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere and the only water supply in San Diego not dependent on rainfall or a snowpack.

When the facility opens, it should generate 50 million gallons of potable water each day. That’s enough water for 300,000 residents, or 7 percent of the county of San Diego.

In light of Gov. Jerry Brown’s new mandatory water reductions, Jessica Jones, Community Outreach Manager for Poseidon Water, said many are looking forward to the opening of the plant.

“There are a lot of eyes on the Carlsbad Desalination Project because of the drought situation we’re in,” said Jones.

Four hundred workers are on site, making sure the construction is set to finish on time. So far, Jones said, the plant has passed the systems tests.

Ocean water will be pumped in through a 72-inch feed line and end up in a filter bay, where it will be treated several times before it reaches the pressure vessels. There, the salt is extracted through reverse osmosis.

While a new water source will be welcome, it certainly will not be cheap for residents.

“Desalinated water will be more expensive than imported water when it comes online,” Jones said. “But soon, imported water rates will continue to rise and imported water will be more expensive than desalinated water. And what we need to look at as consumers is what is the cost of not having water at all.”

Because of the high cost of desalination, San Diego County customers will likely see increase in their water bills. 

Studies by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have shown no negative impact on the environment, Jones said, though environmentalists are still concerned about the plant's effect on the local fish and marine life populations. 

Livia Borak with the Coast Law Group in Encinitas said that the plant, as the most energy intensive water supply option, "exaverbates climate change" and should be used only as a "last resort."

"This is especially true for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which not only negatively impacts marine life but also fails to mitigate the majority of its greenhouse gas emissions," said Borak in a statement. "When 60 percent of residential water use is spent on outdoor landscaping, we should be looking to conservation first."

Despite criticism, operators insist the project is environmentally safe, and much needed. 

“It is a new water supply so it does give us some protection from drought in the future,” said Jones. “But it’s still important for residents and businesses to conserve as much as they can. It’s just part of the puzzle to being water dependent in California.”

Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Gov. Defends Drought Order]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 04:28:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/drought21.jpg

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday defended his order requiring Californians statewide to cut back on their water use in a historic mandate that spares those who consume the most — farmers.

As California endures a fourth year of drought, Brown's order this week requires towns and cities statewide to draw down water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels. While past reductions were voluntary, Brown said he is using his emergency powers to make the cuts mandatory.

Martha Raddatz, host of ABC's "This Week'' public affairs program, asked Brown why the order doesn't extend to California farmers, who consume 80 percent of the state's water supply but make up less than 2 percent of the state's economy. Brown said farmers aren't using water frivolously on their lawns or taking long showers.

"They're providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America to a significant part of the world,'' he said.

Brown said that before the cutbacks, some California farmers had already been denied irrigation water from federal surface supplies, forcing them to leave hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted. Many vulnerable farm laborers are without work, he said. Farmers who don't have access to surface water have increased the amount of water pumped from limited groundwater supplies.

Brown announced the mandate on April 1 standing in the Sierra Nevada, where the snowpack measures at 5 percent of historical average, the lowest in 65 years of record-keeping.

Addressing agriculture, Brown said on the broadcast that farmers asserting century-old water rights deeply rooted in state law that allows them access to more water than others "are probably going to be examined.''

After declaring a drought emergency in January 2014, Brown urged Californians to voluntarily cut their water use by 20 percent from the previous year. That resulted in great variations among communities and an overall reduction of about 10 percent statewide. Brown did the same as governor in 1977, during another severe drought, asking for a voluntary reduction of 25 percent.

The mandatory order will also require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to curb their water use.

"It is a wakeup call,'' Brown said. "It's requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border. It affects lawns. It affects people's — how long they stay in the shower, how businesses use water.''

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>