Skip to main content

Roundtable Talks Drought (In The Rain)


The Drought


Mark Sauer


Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Tony Perry, LA Times


The dry state of California

Governor Jerry Brown is trying mightily to convey his own sense of urgency about the prolonged drought, as reservoirs, wells and entire towns dry up and jobs and revenue are lost.

The governor's April 1 executive order required for the first time in the state's history mandatory conservation for all residents. The State Water Resources Control Board on May 1 adopted emergency regulations mandating an immediate 25 percent reduction in potable water use statewide.

The new rules were adopted just after the release of water-use figures for March, which registered just a slight increase in water savings from the prior month.

The governor also revived the Delta Tunnel Project — although a scaled-back version — to keep large amounts of water flowing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to needy Southern California. And he scrapped plans to spend $8 billion in federal and state funds to restore fish and wildlife habitat over the next 50 years.

Needless to say, there is intense opposition to these ideas.

San Diego tries to cope

San Diego County is trying to adapt to a hotter, drier reality. But it's not easy.

Folks in the city proper who want to replace their increasingly expensive, suddenly inappropriate green lawns are finding that the city's turf rebate program is tapped out for this fiscal year.

Temperatures in February were an average of 7 degrees higher than in 2013, causing more watering to keep those lawns lush. February saw an increase in water use of 13 percent, in spite of official pleas for voluntary cutbacks. April was a corker as well.

In addition, San Diego County forests, like woodlands all across the state, are nearly unrecognizable because of the millions of dead and dying trees. The lack of rain has rendered them unable to fight off infestations of beetles and other bugs.

Agriculture suffers

San Diego County farmers convinced the state's water regulators to ease off on new water restrictions for this area because of the water savings San Diegans have already managed.

Other farmers are not so fortunate. The State Water Resources Control Board said this week it expects to issue "curtailment orders" to the most senior water rights holders in the state. Water rights in California have been — to put it mildly — the subject of heated conflict for more than 100 years.

That won't stop anytime soon.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.