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The Drought

Monday, September 14, 2015

Massive Valley Wildfire Razes Hundreds of Homes and Burns Infrastructure

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 1:01 PM

  • beauty4ll1 via Instagram
The 61,000-acre wildfire raging in Lake and Napa Counties that has killed one person and razed hundreds of homes has also damaged infrastructure, Kron 4 reports.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

What Does This Year's "Monster" El Niño Have in Store for Us?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 11:28 AM

  • Jim Killock/Flickr

The Kid is on its way. El Niño, the blockbuster storm system weather event that occasionally wreaks havoc in California, unleashing everything from torrential floods to landslides, is on track to be a “monster” this year.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center announced yesterday there’s a 95 percent chance El Niño will continue through the winter, meaning the state will see increased rainfall. But will it rival the 1997/98 El Niño (one of San Francisco’s wettest seasons ever)?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Can't Stop Thinking About Shade Balls

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 1:53 PM

  • Screenshot/YouTube
The city of Los Angeles completed the process of dumping 96 million 4-inch plastic "shade balls" into the LA Reservoir yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports, proving that when it comes to dumping millions of plastic balls into the public water supply, LA totally has SF beat. 

According to the LA Times, the shade balls help prevent evaporation and will save three billion gallons of water over ten years. That's apparently worth the $36.5 million price tag (about $0.36 a ball) for the drought-ridden city, especially considering that a tarp would (outrageously) cost $300 million. 

Still, science and cost-saving aside, whoever came up with shade balls was a hilarious, crafty, possibly evil, and presumably rich genius. Who looks at a reservoir, imagines turning it into a bouncy ball pit, and manages to convince the government of one of the nation's largest cities to give him the money to do just that?* A genius, that's who. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nudist Water Thieves Exposed in Court, Could Face Three Years in Jail

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 10:23 AM

  • Karyn Christner/Flickr
The owners of a Los Gatos nudist resort accused of stealing water from a creek owned by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) were arraigned yesterday. As Kron 4 reports, Glyn Stout, 77, and his wife, Lori Kay Stout, 53, face a felony count of conspiracy.

The couple own Lupin Lodge, a clothing-optional retreat that offers cabins, “exotic yurts,” and camping under the stars in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

(A digression: The Lodge’s Yelp page makes it sound like a squalid Camp Crystal Lake, only with backed-up toilets and pricey hamburgers. In addition to the frequent mentions of “tweakers and meth heads,” there’s also this gem: “Cats running around everywhere, even saw 3 raccoons which chased me back to my yurt. Then there was this old guy that was gawking at the girls as they walked by. That was creepier than the raccoons.” And also: “One guy was clearly just there to stare at people and try and get ladies to use his hoola hoop [sic] while naked.” And, finally, should you book a stay at the Lodge, come prepared for naked dance parties.)

Now, back to the conspiracy charges.

“This case is about a business who ran out of water last year in the middle of our drought and decided to divert water from their neighbors for their personal use,” said Denise Raabe, deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County.

The Stouts — along with two other defendants — are accused of trespassing on MROSD land to divert water via plastic pipes they’d installed despite the agency’s warning to cease and desist. According to Kron 4, a wildlife camera caught the defendants clearing an old fire trail and toting plastic tubing; at times, the defendants reportedly drove cars onto the district-managed land.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Drought is Making SF's Poop Problem Worse

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM

  • Michael Tapp/Flickr

California’s historic drought continues to take a toll on the state in new and alarming ways. Recently, reports surfaced that houses in the Central Valley are literally sinking into the earth, while, closer to home, CBS 5 reported yesterday that San Francisco’s aging sewer system is eroding due to the water shortage.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Whose Fault Is the California Drought This Time? Rich People Edition

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 9:52 AM

If there's one group that's really been victimized by the drought, it's the incredibly rich people who live in the desert and can no longer pretend that they don't. The Washington Post's Rob Kuznia got some of the residents of Rancho Santa Fe, California (area median income $189,000) to go on the record about the hardships of the four-year drought, and goddamn if it won't break your little heart:
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
It's true that we're not all equal when it comes to water. Some residents of California can't take a shower after a day working in the fields or even flush the toilet. And then there's Gay Butler, also of Rancho Santa Fe. Per the Washington Post
“I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world,” said Gay Butler, an interior designer out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear. She said her water bill averages about $800 a month.

“It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” Butler said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
Another real-life, freedom-loving hero who chose to live in an arid region is reaching across party lines to take a stand: 
“I’m a conservative, so this is strange, but I defend Barbra Streisand’s right to have a green lawn,” said Yuhas, who splits his time between Rancho Santa Fe and Los Angeles. “When we bought, we didn’t plan on getting a place that looks like we’re living in an African savanna.”
But what most of us aren't paying enough attention to is the favor rich people are doing us by living on giant estates: 
“You could put 20 houses on my property, and they’d have families of at least four. In my house, there is only two of us,” Butler said. So “they’d be using a hell of a lot more water than we’re using.”
Really makes you think. 

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Feds Probe East Bay Dam Vandalism

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 3:07 PM

The dastardly vandals who wasted 50,000,000 gallons of precious water in the East Bay may have violated federal law, KQED reports

An inflatable dam on Alameda Creek in Fremont was damaged May 21st, allowing water that would otherwise have served the Alameda County Water District to flow into the San Francisco Bay. 

The Fremont Police Department has been investigating the incident, but now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in as well. 

Per KQED: 
The episode has also prompted the EPA to look into whether the federal Safe Drinking Water Act was violated, EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Skadowski said. That law makes it a crime to tamper with a public water system.
According to the EPA's website, the penalty for the crime is 20 years in prison. 

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Whose Fault Is the California Drought This Time? Everybody Else Edition

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 3:54 PM

It's hard for Californians to really enjoy a nice, long, hot shower or a handful of almonds these days, thanks to the drought and its constant companion, drought-rage. You can't water your estate's lawn, blow up a kiddie pool, or start a water-bottling business without someone shaking his head in dismay.  

But the New York Times came through for Californians today with some beautiful, drought-shame-resistant ground cover: an interactive feature that proves the drought is really everybody else's fault. 

Per the Times:
The average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food that was produced there. California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up.
The feature, which inexplicably includes images of grapes in a water tank and glasses of milk in a kiddie pool, breaks out how much of our water the average American consumes each week by eating rice, broccoli, olives, eggs, and all the other bounteous food stuffs California produces. 

The guacamole New Yorkers pay extra to add to their sad Chipotle burritos? That comes at a cost of 4.1 gallons of water per avocado sliver, and it's not even good guacamole! 

The two-egg omelet East Coasters pick over at brunch? 36 gallons for the eggs alone! The rest of the country is sucking us dry. 

Rest easy, California. Take a bubble bath without shame. It's really all their fault

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