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Meet the California Couple Who Uses More Water Than Every Home In Los Angeles Combined

Rafaela Tijerina first met la señora at a school in the town of Lost Hills, deep in the farm country of California’s Central Valley. They were both there for a school board meeting, and the superintendent had failed to show up. Tijerina, a 74-year-old former cotton picker and veteran school board member, apologized for the superintendent—he must have had another important meeting—and for the fact that her own voice was faint; she had cancer.

Fallowing Lawsuit Against OID Remains on Track

A judge on Tuesday refused the Oakdale Irrigation District’s request to throw out a lawsuit challenging the district’s stalled fallowing program.

Another judge had ruled in May that the district must study how shipping river water elsewhere might affect the groundwater table here, before allowing farmers to idle some land and sell freed-up water to outside buyers. When that judge, William Mayhew, was removed from the case, OID tried to persuade Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne to toss out the lawsuit, but had no better luck Tuesday.

BLOG: Eleven Experts to Watch on California Water Rights

The Widely Used quote, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over,” often attributed to Mark Twain, has been used by politicians from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Dianne Feinstein to describe California’s battles over water rights. The quote itself may in fact bebogus, but it does illustrate why water rights are a difficult, but critical, topic in California.

Sudden Declines of Birds, Fish Could Signal ‘Tipping Point’ at Salton Sea

At first the biologists noticed something unusual about the dead fish washing up on the shore of the Salton Sea: All of them were fully grown, at least 7 inches long. There were no smaller fish among the carcasses pushed ashore by the lapping waves.

Then the biologists started seeing other clues in the birds. Western grebes, which normally arrive by the thousands to forage, were nowhere to be found. Thousands of Caspian terns would normally stop off to nest, but they were also missing.

Drought Conditions Slow Growth of Douglas Firs in the West

Whether growing along the rim of the Grand Canyon or living in the mist with California’s coastal redwoods, Douglas fir trees are consistently sensitive to drought conditions that occur throughout the species’ range in the United States, according to a study led by a researcher at UC Davis. The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides direct evidence of the negative impact of water stress on forest ecosystems. It also pinpointed which conditions are causing low growth among Douglas fir trees.

The Blob That Cooked the Pacific

The first fin whale appeared in Marmot Bay, where the sea curls a crooked finger around Alaska’s Kodiak Island. A biologist spied the calf drifting on its side, as if at play. Seawater flushed in and out of its open jaws. Spray washed over its slack pink tongue. Death, even the gruesome kind, is usually too familiar to spark alarm in the wild north. But late the next morning, the start of Memorial Day weekend, passengers aboard the ferry Kennicott spotted another whale bobbing nearby. Her blubber was thick. She looked healthy. But she was dead too.

OPINION: Water Education More Important Than Ever

With students heading back to classes this month, we want to ask a little favor of teachers, principals and other educators at public and private elementary, middle and high schools alike:

Please spend some time this school year teaching our children about water conservation, if you are not already. Because despite some mixed signals from water regulators lately, a severe drought continues in Southern California, and water education is more important than ever.


Relaxed Conservation Measures Don’t Mean the Drought is Over

The California drought is now in it’s fifth year, and a recent study says it won’t be over for years to come. The study analyzed California’s mountain snowpack and found that we’d need almost four and a half more years of winter storms to escape drought conditions.  But just few months ago, after a not-so-impressive El Niño winter season, California’s State Water Resources Control Board ended a year of mandatory water restrictions, that had required urban residents to cut their consumption by 25% statewide.

Out-of-Control California Wildfire Grows, Forces Schools to Close

A wildfire burning out of control in mountains and foothills east of Los Angeles mushroomed more than 50 percent overnight, forcing authorities to order three school districts to cancel classes due to heavy smoke and dangerous conditions. More than 900 firefighters were battling the so-called Pilot Fire, which has charred some 7,500 acres of bone-dry tinder and brush in the San Bernardino Mountains since it broke out around noon on Sunday.



Study: Public Water Supply is Unsafe for Millions of Americans

Millions of Americans may be drinking water with unsafe levels of industrial chemicals, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. These chemicals, known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances or PFASs, have been linked to high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression — and even cancer. Introduced more than 60 years ago, PFASs are a category of man-made chemicals that degrade very slowly, if at all, in the environment.