[LA FEATURE]Running Dry

LA FEATURE

Drought-stricken California communities face a third-consecutive dry year with no relief in sight

California Drought Creates Extreme Fire Danger, Low 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.

By Tony Shin and Samia Khan
|  Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014  |  Updated 3:15 AM PDT
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Residents are taking up water wise programs and firefighters are on high alert in the Inland Empire where severe drought conditions have significantly lowered water reserve levels. Tony Shin reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Riverside Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

Tony Shin, Alex Vazquez

Residents are taking up water wise programs and firefighters are on high alert in the Inland Empire where severe drought conditions have significantly lowered water reserve levels. Tony Shin reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Riverside Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

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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.

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