This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.

But downtown Los Angeles doesn’t look like a city devastated by the state’s worst drought in decades. The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running.

People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools. Earlier this week, Gov. Brown announced that, compared to last year, water use this May actually went up in some parts of the state — including in coastal Southern California, the region including LA, where water use rose 8 percent.

The state has responded by voting to fine water-wasters up to $500.

Read the full story: Despite California’s Drought, Taps Still Flowing In LA County

Weather experts say the next couple of weeks could be some of the worst in state history for wildfires caused by lightning strikes. Read more …

Photo: In 2008, lightning ignited more than 2,000 fires in California, including this one near Big Sur. (rskoon/Flickr)

Say goodbye to back-country s’more-making this year…

Great op-ed by The Los Angeles Times outlines how water management efforts have been so successful that it’s hard to get people to conserve.

The National Weather Service’s Drought Monitor Update for July 15 shows 81% of California is in the category of extreme drought or worse, up from 78% just last week. Conditions are expected to worsen as California’s dry season continues. 

Who wants a bear hug?

Three five-month-old black bear cubs were captured and released Wednesday on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.

Driven from the woods by lack of food because of the drought, bears are increasingly becoming a nuisance in human-populated areas this year.

They’re being called ‘drought bears.’

Learn more about the cubs: Three ‘Drought Bear’ Cubs Captured and Released at Lake Tahoe

The San Francisco Public Utilties Commission is trying to make water conservation sexy with this smooth advertising campaign. Oooohhhhh yeahhh, baby …

Full story: Water Conservation Gets a Boost of Sex Appeal

Statewide water consumption was higher in May 2014 than in May of 2011, 2012 or 2013. Why? The South Coast and North Lahontan hydrologic regions increased usage of water, while most other regions conserved.Read the full San Jose Mercury News story: See which Californians are increasing water use despite the drought

Statewide water consumption was higher in May 2014 than in May of 2011, 2012 or 2013. Why? The South Coast and North Lahontan hydrologic regions increased usage of water, while most other regions conserved.

Read the full San Jose Mercury News story: See which Californians are increasing water use despite the drought

Despite a crippling drought, water use in California has actually gone up this year. The State Water Resources Control Board is now authorizing fines of up to $500 for excessive water use, like washing down sidewalks or too much lawn watering.

It’s the first time these types of restrictions have been imposed on a statewide level. But a lot of questions remain about how they’ll play out.

Read more: California Regulators Approve Fines for Wasting Water

Chart by UC Davis/ERA Economics.
Economists estimate that the drought will cost the state’s farm economy about $2.2 billion this year, including the loss of more than 17,000 jobs.
It’s hitting farmers harder than it’s hitting food consumers, but that could change if the drought drags on another year. Read more —>

Chart by UC Davis/ERA Economics.

Economists estimate that the drought will cost the state’s farm economy about $2.2 billion this year, including the loss of more than 17,000 jobs.

It’s hitting farmers harder than it’s hitting food consumers, but that could change if the drought drags on another year. Read more —>