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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.

Opinion: California’s Water Usage was Built on a Historic Lie. The Cost is Now Apparent

It’s human nature to mark big-number anniversaries, but there’s a centennial looming just ahead that Californians — and other Westerners — might not want to celebrate.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact, a seven-state agreement that was signed Nov. 24, 1922.

Temporary Watering Ban Lifted in Los Angeles County as Pipeline Repair Completed Early

Southern California water officials on Monday lifted a temporary ban on outdoor watering in portions of Los Angeles County after completing emergency repairs on a critical pipeline two days early.

The 36-mile Upper Feeder pipeline, operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is a major conduit for supplying water to the region from the Colorado River. Officials shut it down Sept. 6 so they could address a leak, and called on nearly 4 million residents to halt all outdoor irrigation — including sprinkling and hand watering — for 15 days while they did the work.

California’s Drought Touches Everyone, But Water Restrictions Play Out Unevenly Across Communities

Raúl Monterroso of San Fernando knows that he can do little to help the struggling garden patio in front of his house. After all, he takes the new water restrictions seriously.

“Here, everything is dry, we have the entire irrigation system closed, my poor wife is crying over her plants,” said the Guatemala native, who stopped watering the grass on June 1 when instructions to cut outdoor watering to once a week were issued.