California is Moving to Outlaw Watering Some Grass That’s Purely Decorative

Outdoor watering accounts for roughly half of total water use in Southern California’s cities and suburbs, and a large portion of that water is sprayed from sprinklers to keep grass green.

Under a bill passed by state legislators this week, California will soon outlaw using drinking water for some of those vast expanses of grass — the purely decorative patches of green that are mowed but never walked on or used for recreation.

Diana Marcum, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Former Reporter for Los Angeles Times, Dies

Diana Marcum forged a career, and a life, by giving a voice to Californians whom many people didn’t take time to notice. Her favorite subjects were strivers and oddballs, the dispossessed and the people who dared to be delighted in the face of life’s struggles.

The veteran journalist chronicled drought and hunger and deep anxiety from the Central Valley, which she made her home for more than two decades. In even the darkest tales, she usually managed to deliver a ray of light.

Marcum, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, died Wednesday night, according to her friend Janet Sluis. Marcum had a glioblastoma removed from her brain in early July, but fell into a coma shortly after surgery at Fresno Community Regional Medical Center and never fully recovered. She was 60.

Colorado River Losing Vast Amounts of Water Due to Warming Climate, Study Finds

For much of the last 23 years, the Colorado River has been ravaged by unrelenting dryness, its reservoirs falling to their lowest levels since they were filled. New research shows that global warming is a major culprit, shrinking the river’s flow and robbing the region of a vast amount of water.

A team of scientists at UCLA estimated that from 2000 to 2021, rising temperatures led to the loss of about 32.5 million acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin, more than the entire storage capacity of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir.

As Drought Drives Prices Higher, Millions of Californians Struggle to Pay for Water

Several months ago, Rosario Rodriguez faced a financial dilemma that has become all too common for millions of drought-weary Californians — either pay the electric bill, which had skyrocketed to about $300 during a scorching summer in western Fresno County, or pay the $220 combined water, sewer and trash bill.

“Our water is expensive, even though we can’t drink it because it’s contaminated,” Rodriguez said in Spanish.

Opinion: Editorial: 50 Years Later, the Clean Water Act is Under Assault

President Richard Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act in 1972. But Congress overrode him on a bipartisan vote, and the landmark law to reverse the toxic degradation of U.S. rivers, lakes and streams took effect half a century ago today.

The law was inspired in part by the notorious 1969 Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio, in which the river itself, laden with oil and other industrial pollutants, went up in flames.

Opinion: The Feds Can Curb a Foolish California Water Giveaway

About 15 miles north of Fresno sits Millerton Lake, a reservoir created in the 1930s when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River. The dam provides irrigation water for fields and groves in much of the San Joaquin Valley, but it wiped out the Chinook salmon migration that had existed on the river for tens of thousands of years.

It also threatened the rights of landowners to divert naturally flowing San Joaquin River water for their fields. Instead of losing their rights, though, farmers who had land near the river agreed to trade their water to the federal dam project in exchange for “substitute water,” delivered to them from the Sacramento River.

Los Angeles is Running Out of Water, and Time. Are Leaders Willing to Act?

On a clear afternoon recently, Mayor Eric Garcetti looked down at the Hollywood Reservoir from 1,200 feet in the air.

“It’s as low as I can ever remember it being,” Garcetti said of the reservoir from the back seat of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power helicopter. “You can see the bathtub ring.”

As the Salton Sea Faces Ecological Collapse, Radical Plan to Save it With Ocean Water Dies

For as long as the Salton Sea has faced the threat of ecological collapse, some local residents and environmentalists have advocated a radical cure for the deteriorating lake: a large infusion of ocean water.

By moving desalinated seawater across the desert, they say, California could stop its largest lake from shrinking and growing saltier and could restore its once-thriving ecosystem. Without more water, they argue, the lake will continue to decline, and its retreating shorelines will expose growing stretches of dry lake bed that spew hazardous dust and greenhouse gases.

Supreme Court Hears Lively Debate on Protecting Wetlands, Led in Part by Justice Jackson

The Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday by hearing a property rights appeal that calls for limiting the government’s power to protect millions of acres of wetlands from development.

At issue is whether the Clean Water Act forbids polluting wetlands and marshes that are near — but not strictly part of — waterways.

California Drought Pits Farmers vs. Cities. But Neither is the Biggest Water Victim

As California fast approaches what is likely to be a fourth year of punishing drought, residents are being asked to cut their water use to historic lows. But while city dwellers are rising to the occasion — including record reductions in Los Angeles in August — urban consumption still represents only a small fraction of total water use in the state.

Where the rest of it goes depends on whom you ask. The California Department of Water Resources says 50% of the state’s water goes toward environmental purposes, 40% toward agriculture and 10% toward urban areas.