End Times and Current Events

General Category => North America => Topic started by: Psalm 51:17 on February 01, 2012, 08:24:43 am

Title: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 01, 2012, 08:24:43 am
California To Run Out Of Cash In One Month, Controller Warns
31 January 2012, by Tyler Durden (Zero Hedge)

Title: Re: California To Run Out Of Cash In One Month, Controller Warns
Post by: Kilika on February 01, 2012, 12:41:43 pm
Didn't the fiscal year just start on October? Out of cash already?  ::)

We ought to just board that place up and shut it down and call it a natural wilderness. Make the whole state a national campground, because clearly it ain't worth saving.

Title: Is California the next Greece?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 16, 2012, 07:11:27 pm
Is California the next Greece?
By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week – Thu, Mar 15, 2012

The Golden State used to be at the vanguard of the U.S. economy. Now, not so much
"California is no longer the economic miracle it once was," says Bradley Schiller at the Los Angeles Times. Americans used to flock to the Golden State for its peerless standard of living and great schools. But now many businesses are packing up and moving out. California's unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is the third-highest in the country. Many of its cities are declaring bankruptcy. And the state budget, for the ninth time in 10 years, is billions of dollars in the red. "Many Americans fear the federal fiscal train wreck will turn us into Greece," say Michael J. Boskin and John F. Cogan at The Wall Street Journal. But "they need look no further than California to see what this future portends." Why is California on the ropes?

1. Its taxes are too high
The climate for businesses in California has "turned hostile," says Investor's Business Daily in an editorial. Taxes are far too high, leading businesses to leave the state at a rate of five per week. California has the third-highest income tax rate in the country, the highest sales tax, and the second-highest gas tax. All told, businesses save "20 percent to 40 percent in costs" when they move out of the state, according to one study.

2. Its environmental policies are unreasonable
California's energy policies are just "bizarre," says Bill Frezza at RealClearMarkets. In its push to lead the fight against global warming, the state has "virtually shut down fossil fuel production." Once a major oil producer, California's production has declined "by more than 30 percent over the past 20 years," depriving the state of much-needed revenue. Meanwhile, it's pumping billions of dollars into green energy projects — such as a $100 billion high speed rail line — that are bound to bleed money.

3. It spends way too much
California has one of the strongest social safety nets in the country, says Schiller, and "many Californians take pride" in that. However, the state's generous minimum-wage thresholds and high rates of unionization can drive businesses away. "Californians tend to be complacent about these competitive risks," but they shouldn't be. They're part of the reason California is currently ranked 34th in GDP growth among the states.

4. It just needs to get its house in order
"No one should write off California," say Boskin and Cogan. The state faces daunting challenges, and has to reform deep structural flaws. But it still "ranks first in technology, agriculture, and entertainment among the 50 states." To survey the state's economic situation, is to appreciate the "the agony and ecstasy of contemporary California."


Title: Re: Is California the next Greece?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 18, 2012, 08:51:01 am
California Public Schools May Ax 20,000 Teachers


San Francisco Chronicle readers woke up to the news that approximately 20,000 public school teachers may not have a job when school starts again in fall. Budget uncertainties are some of the reasons why not all current teachers may come back to the classroom in the 2012 to 2013 school year.

* March 15 is the agreed upon deadline for school districts to warn current teachers of possible layoffs. As pointed out by the Mercury News, districts have used this negotiated deadline to send out pink slips to teachers "just to keep their options open," even if district administrators believe that they may have the funds needed to re-employ the educators in the fall.

* $2.4 billion is the threatened year-end education budget cut that Gov. Jerry Brown will make if his Nov. ballot tax increase measure does not pass. The sum total of cuts is twice as high over two years.

* $807 is the average amount of money that would be cut from each student's education allowance per year in California's public schools.

* 299,666 is the number of public school teachers in the 2009 to 2010 school year, the California Department of Education reported. This figure encompasses all grade levels.

* 1,032 school districts serve the Golden State's students.

* 10,216 schools are located within these school districts as of the 2010 to 2011 school year, the department explains. The majority of these schools are elementary schools.

* 6,189,908 students attended California's public schools in 2009 to 2010. The majority of learners require a Kindergarten through fifth grade learning environment as well as licensed instructors and aides.

* 6,217,002 is the number of enrolled students in the 2010 to 2011 school year.

* 512,826 children attend private schools in California.

* 50.37 percent of public school students are Hispanic or Latino.

* $67,932 is the average salary of a full-time teacher in California's public schools.

* 67 percent is the English language arts target proficiency for California's public school children. Out of 12 learner groups, only four tested at this percentile or higher, the 2010 to 2011 accountability progress report shows.

* 67.3 percent is the target proficiency percentile for mathematics. Of the 12 groups, only four scored at this level or higher.

* 80.53 percent is the 2011 graduation rate, which applies to the class of the 2009 to 2010 school year. This figure is up from 78.59 percent in 2010.

Title: Gas tops $7 per gallon on California's Catalina Island
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 09, 2012, 08:14:23 am


As the old song goes, "26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me..." but now so are $7 dollar gas prices. While much of the country is grousing about soaring fuel costs -- averaging just a few pennies under $4 a gallon nationwide -- the 3,700 residents of Catalina Island, off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., are experiencing acute pain at the pump. An attendant at one of the two stations that serves Catalina told CBS that a gallon of regular unleaded on Saturday hit $7.03. But don't cry for me, Catalina -- there's a limit on the number of cars that can be on the island, so many residents get by in their golf cart or on foot.

Title: Re: Gas tops $7 per gallon on California's Catalina Island
Post by: Kilika on April 09, 2012, 04:21:31 pm
Yeah, the place is too small to take any kind of trip. A tank of gas there would last months I'd say. It's all relative.

Title: California facing higher $16 billion shortfall
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 12, 2012, 07:11:54 pm


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday.

The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn't growing as fast as hoped for. The deficit has also risen because lawsuits and federal requirements have blocked billions of dollars in state cuts.

"This means we will have to go much farther and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year," Brown said in an online video. "But we can't fill this hole with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools. That's why I'm bypassing the gridlock and asking you, the people of California, to approve a plan that avoids cuts to schools and public safety."

Brown did not release details of the newly calculated deficit Saturday, but he is expected to lay out a revised spending plan Monday. The new plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 hinges in large part on voters approving higher taxes.


Title: Re: California To Run Out Of Cash In One Month, Controller Warns
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 14, 2012, 10:38:34 pm

Jerry Brown proposes billions in cuts. Are Californians getting his message?

 With California's budget shortfall soaring, Gov. Jerry Brown proposes broad, painful cuts for state workers and programs. Without new taxes, he warns voters, the cuts will be even worse.

California Gov. Jerry Brown is facing the music.

Hit with a soaring state budget shortfall of $15.7 billion – up from $9.2 billion as recently as January – Governor Brown announced proposals Monday to make $8.3 billion in painful, cross-the-board cuts that quickly elicited outcries from those affected.

Most telling of his predicament, and his strategy, Brown admonished California voters that if they don’t pass his tax-hike initiative in November, $6 billion more will have to come out of budgets for public schools and higher education.

Jerry Brown through the years

“We have so much money from the people, and we have so much spending,” the governor said at a press conference in Sacramento before jetting to Los Angeles to release further details. “We can be out of alignment for awhile, but now – given the decade of fiscal disconnect – I’ve committed to right the ship of state and getting it into balance.”

The proposals include cuts to state employees’ pay – and workweek – as well as trims in spending on a wide variety of public programs and institutions: state prisons; care for the disabled; $500 millon from the state court system; and a one-year state building freeze.

“These budget cuts have something in them that will hit every Californian. The pain will be severe,” says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento.

“They are evenly spread,” she says, “and education at all levels – as well as health and human services and public safety – will be the focal points in this round of cuts.

“There have already been several previous rounds of cuts,” she adds. “These cuts will also endanger federal programs that California could qualify for.”

Political analysts say Brown is playing the problem as directly as can be expected, given the shortfall in expected tax revenues, higher costs to fund schools, and decisions by the federal government and courts to block budget cuts that had already been approved.

“Governor Brown is doing all he can to press for the tax increase solution by touting wide-reaching and unpleasant budget cuts as necessities without those tax increases,” says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College, in an email.

Brown said he wants to cut Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, by $1.2 billion and keep another $1.2 billion in cuts to welfare and child-care that he proposed in January.

Welfare organizations are crying out.

“We think this is the year to use the $1 billion rainy day fund the state has,” says Ron Coleman, statewide policy analyst for the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Doing this now is antithetical to the recovery that the state needs to get out of this fiscal mess. Historically, California has come back by putting people back to work.”

People are not taking the news of Brown’s proposals sitting down.

Rallies by several health and human services advocate organizations organized under the Health and Human Services Network of California (HHSNC) are taking place in Riverside, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, and Sacramento.

“The cuts in the revised budget boil down to stark decisions: giving an easy ride to corporations rather than supporting California’s families,” said Vanessa Aramayo, Executive Director of California Partnership and a leader of HHSNC, in a statement.

“After three years and $15 billion in cuts to vital social programs, it is unconscionable to allow California’s social safety net to be further dismantled at a time when our families need it most.”

The technique of proposing drastic and impossible cuts in an effort to restore funding – in this case tax revenues – is an old one, says Villanova University political science professor John Johannes, in an email.

“The problem in California is the same as it is and has been throughout the world, and certainly in the US,” he says. “Individuals, businesses, governments – everyone – has been living beyond their means for so long, ignoring the consequences, and kicking the can down the road for future generations.  There is no simple or easy solution. It is time to pay the piper.”

However transparent Brown’s maneuver, polls show all the furor might actually drive acceptance of Brown’s tax proposal on the November ballot. Brown wants to combine a four-year, quarter-cent-per dollar increase in state sales tax with a seven-year surtax of 1-3 percent on Californians making more than $250,000. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll showed 54 percent of Californians support the measure.

The question is how the public responds to the current cuts.

“The governor is probably hoping that the unpleasant news about looming budget cuts will boost support for tax increases. Maybe, but there is another scenario,” says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

“California voters might decide that sending more tax money to Sacramento is like investing in JP Morgan.”

Jerry Brown through the years

Title: Insight: California city's pension vote: a precedent for U.S.?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 02, 2012, 12:34:39 pm


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A radical plan to slash public employee pension benefits gets voted on by the residents of Silicon Valley's San Jose on Tuesday - a decision that could set an important precedent for many other cities, not only in California but across the nation.
The nation's 10th-largest city is also one of the wealthiest, but over the past several years it has cut its municipal workforce by a quarter, laying off cops and firefighters, shuttering libraries and letting street repairs fall by the wayside.
The problem? Mayor Chuck Reed says it's simple: Retiree benefit costs eat up more than a quarter of the city budget - and are growing at a double-digit rate. The solution he is pushing at the ballot box, after city council approval, would slash benefits for workers, increase employee contributions - and almost certainly prompt a precedent-setting legal challenge from the public employee unions.
"The best metaphor is cancer," said Reed, a Democrat known as more of a technocrat than a firebrand, who is now cast as public enemy No. 1 by public employee unions. "It started a long time ago, it goes for a long time, and then it becomes life-threatening."
It's a challenge other cities in California will soon face. "Our problem is nearly universal in the state," he added. "It's just a question of timing."
Public finance woes are nothing new in California. The state budget deficit stands at an estimated $15.7 billion for next year, requiring further cuts in state services and, if Governor Jerry Brown has his way, higher income and sales taxes. Local governments and school districts have struggled for years to make ends meet.
The pension problem, though, may be the mother of all budget issues - for California, for its cities and counties, and for other states and municipalities across the nation. The main California state retirement systems have a total shortfall in pension-plan funding of close to half a trillion dollars, a Stanford University study estimated. The bill is not due at once, but payments on it grow steadily and can eventually squeeze out even basic services. Public officials like Reed, and academics who have studied the issue, say the day of reckoning is nigh.
San Jose is not the only city making tough choices. In San Diego, voters will also be asked to approve a pension-cutting ballot initiative on Tuesday. In Stockton, city officials, unions and creditors are engaged in a mediation process aimed at avoiding a municipal bankruptcy - and public employee pensions are an achingly large part of the problem.
San Jose, San Diego and the counties of Kern, San Mateo and Santa Barbara are among the worst-off of municipalities with their own retirement systems, based on calculations in the Stanford study; all pay double-digit percentages of their annual budgets to pensions and all face double-digit rates of increase, among other issues. The city of Los Angeles was only marginally healthier than the bottom of the pack.
Meanwhile, the giant California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension fund in the country, has been engaged in a tortured debate about whether its rate-of-return assumptions are too optimistic.
The CalPERS plan covers state workers and dozens of cities that voluntarily joined its system.
It recently cut its annual return assumption to 7.5 percent from 7.75 percent, which would raise the shortfall it previously had estimated at $85 billion to $90 billion. CalPERS says it has easily met its return target for 20 years, but Stanford's Joe Nation and other economists say a lower rate would better reflect the uncertain outlook for markets and a century-long record of market returns. On Friday the Dow Jones industrial average fell to its lowest level in 2012 - dropping into negative


Title: Re: California To Run Out Of Cash In One Month, Controller Warns
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 06, 2012, 09:00:16 pm


California pension cuts may have ripple effect

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Decisive victories for ballot proposals cutting retirement benefits for government workers in two of the largest cities in the U.S. emboldened advocates seeking to curb pensions in state capitols and city halls across the nation.

The voter responses in San Diego and San Jose were stinging setbacks for public employee unions, which also came up short on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall victory in Wisconsin.

"The message is that if elected officials and public employee unions do not responsibly deal with this issue, voters will take things into their own hands," said Thom Reilly, former chief executive of Clark County, Nev., now a professor of social work at San Diego State University. "We could see more draconian measures from citizens."

In San Diego, two-thirds of voters favored the pension reduction plan. And the landslide was even greater in San Jose, where 70 percent were in favor.


Title: Re: California To Run Out Of Cash In One Month, Controller Warns
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 09, 2012, 04:37:02 pm


Public-employee pensions face a rollback in Calif.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — For years, companies have been chipping away at workers' pensions. Now, two California cities may help pave the way for governments to follow suit.

Voters in San Diego and San Jose, the nation's eighth- and 10th-largest cities, overwhelmingly approved ballot measures last week to roll back municipal retirement benefits — and not just for future hires but for current employees.

From coast to coast, the pensions of current public employees have long been generally considered untouchable. But now, some politicians are saying those obligations are trumped by the need to provide for the public's health and safety.

The two California cases could put that argument to the test in a legal battle that could resonate in cash-strapped state capitols and city halls across the country. Lawsuits have already been filed in both cities.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 14, 2012, 02:28:42 pm

California Hedge Fund Is Latest Europe Crisis Casualty

 By Saijel Kishan - Jun 14, 2012 11:10 AM CT

Hedge-fund manager Paul Sinclair is the latest casualty of Europe’s sovereign-debt turmoil, almost six thousand miles away from the epicenter of the crisis.

Sinclair, who is based in Los Angeles, is liquidating his $458 million health-care equities fund, Expo Capital Management LLC, after more than five years, as political decisions made on the other side of the globe have undermined his stock picks and spurred losses for a second year.

“I don’t have an edge on Greek elections, the Spanish banking system, what the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Chinese government, Angela Merkel, or the U.S. Federal Reserve will do,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Sinclair, 41, said that over the past year he’s found it increasingly difficult to make money because of the macroeconomic environment, and that investing in health care since 2004 has left him “physically and mentally exhausted.” He said he chose to return money to investors, which he plans to do by the end of the month, rather than hold cash and charge them fees.

Billionaire energy trader John Arnold, former Morgan Stanley co-president Zoe Cruz, and Duke Buchan III are among managers who have shuttered hedge funds in the past year as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis has roiled global markets. The industry last month posted its biggest loss since September as stocks slumped on concern Greece may exit the euro and the global economy is weakening.

‘Tricky Markets’

“It’s a confluence of tricky markets, super-cautious investors and a tough fundraising environment that’s making it a difficult time for hedge-fund managers,” said Steven Nadel, a partner at New York-based law firm Seward & Kissel LLP, which advises hedge funds.

Sinclair said he has most of his liquid net worth invested in his fund and was no longer comfortable putting it at risk when markets are subject to the actions of policy makers globally.

He said he plans to spend the rest of the summer sleeping and relaxing and may take up a new hobby, according to a June 9 e-mail he sent to clients. Sinclair said he would continue to follow the health-care industry and is keen to see how it is shaped by a U.S. Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama’s health law overhauls and the November presidential elections.

Returning client money “is an unusual move but fair and would be welcomed by investors,” said Graziano Lusenti, founder of Nyon, Switzerland-based Lusenti Partners, which advises clients on investing. “Most hedge funds would try to hold onto the money for as long as they can.”

Liquidations Rise

Liquidations in the hedge-fund industry rose to 775 last year, the most since 2009, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc., a Chicago-based research firm.

Fortress Investment Group LLC, based in New York, last month said it will liquidate its $500 million commodities fund run by William Callanan after losing almost 13 percent in the first four months of the year.

Arnold also said the same month that he plans to close Centaurus Energy Master Fund in Houston. Cruz, the former Morgan Stanley executive, is liquidating her $200 million hedge fund after losing 8 percent last year.

Buchan, a New York-based hedge-fund manager, cited the European debt crisis as one of the reasons behind the closing of his equity hedge fund Hunter Global Investors LP.

“Markets seem to be driven more by the latest news out of Europe than by a company’s earnings prospects,” he said in a Dec. 8 investor letter. “We have not weathered the ensuing volatility well.”

Moore Traders

At least three hedge funds run by former Moore Capital Management LLC traders have shuttered in the past seven months after losing client money. They are Salute Capital Management, run by Lev Mikheev, Avesta Capital Advisors LLC, founded by William Tung and Tim Leslie’s JCAM Global fund.

Sinclair’s Expo Health Sciences Fund lost about 6 percent this year through May, after falling 8.7 percent in 2011, the hedge fund’s first year of negative returns, he said in an e- mail. The fund has returned about 50 percent since its 2007 inception, net of fees.

Hedge funds slumped 2.9 percent in May and 1.3 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They lost 5.8 percent last year and a record 19 percent in 2008, the data show.

Market Correlation

The turmoil in the global markets has spurred stocks across industries to rise and fall in tandem. The relationship between price fluctuations for health-care stocks and the rest of the market has tightened. The 30-day correlation coefficient between the MSCI World Index and its members in that industry is 0.92, compared with the average since 1995 of 0.73, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Readings of 1 mean prices are moving in lockstep.

Sinclair employed a seven-person team with offices in San Francisco. Before he started his hedge fund, Sinclair worked at Vantis Capital Management LLC, a hedge fund in Pasadena, California, where he managed a health sciences fund from about two years until the end of 2006, when the firm shut down. He was previously at Merrill Lynch & Co., within the bank’s health-care investment banking group, and before that at investment bank Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.

Sinclair received a masters of business administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1999 and graduated with a bachelors degree in business economics from the University of California in 1994.

To contact the reporter on this story: Saijel Kishan in New York at skishan@bloomberg.net

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 26, 2012, 06:03:29 pm

Stockton, Calif. to take up bankruptcy budget plan


(Reuters) - Stockton, California was poised on Tuesday to take a major step toward becoming the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy after talks with its creditors on Monday at midnight.

Negotiations aimed at averting bankruptcy may press on informally, the city's spokeswoman said, adding that city officials would next discuss any moves toward bankruptcy at the city council meeting on Tuesday evening.

The council's main order of business will be taking up and voting on a proposed budget to guide Stockton during bankruptcy, an option city officials have been considering since February.

City Manager Bob Deis, who the council has authorized to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, last week unveiled the budget proposal, also known as a pendency plan.

The plan assumed Stockton, a city of 292,000 people about 85 miles (about 135 km) east of San Francisco, would fail to win concessions from its 18 creditors to close its $26 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 27, 2012, 05:25:12 pm
Stockton, California, to File for Bankruptcy, City Says


Stockton, California, said it will file for bankruptcy after talks with bondholders and labor unions failed, making the agricultural center the biggest U.S. city to seek court protection from creditors.

"The city is fiscally insolvent and must seek chapter 9 bankruptcy protection," Stockton said in a statement released yesterday after council voted 6-1 to adopt a budget allowing it to operate under bankruptcy protection. "In addition to the bankruptcy petition, the city will file a motion with the courts to share information from the confidential mediation."

The filing will allow the city to suspend payments to creditors while it seeks court approval for a plan that balances its revenue with its debt. Before they decided to cut retiree health benefits and payments to lenders, city officials had projected a $26 million deficit for its new fiscal year, which starts July 1. Those cuts, and others, would give the city a one-time, $39,000 surplus.



Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 03, 2012, 10:25:39 pm

Mammoth Lakes, California to file for bankruptcy


Reuters) - Mammoth Lakes, California, will file later on Tuesday for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection from its creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California, according to its assistant town manager.

Mammoth Lake's town council voted on July 2 in favor of the bankruptcy, specifically to seek protection from a property developer that has a $43 million legal judgment against the resort town of about 8,000 residents in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition will contest the town's eligibility for Chapter 9 protection, said Dan Brockett, a lawyer for the company.

The company and town have been in a legal fight that began in 2006 over a property development dispute.

Stockton, a city of nearly 300,000 people in California's Central Valley, filed for bankruptcy protection last week, becoming the most populous U.S. city to seek protection from its creditors.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 10, 2012, 10:56:21 pm


UPDATE 1-San Bernardino, California, considers bankruptcy

(Reuters) - The city council of San Bernardino, California, will discuss and may act as early as Tuesday evening on a motion for the city to seek chapter 9 bankruptcy protection from its creditors at the same time as it takes up a plan to stabilize the city budget.

It is unclear if the leaders of the city of about 210,000 residents approximately 65 miles (104 km) east of Los Angeles will act on the motion. They are also scheduled to take it up during a special meeting on Wednesday if needed, according to city council agenda items posted on the city's website.

The council is taking up a plan by San Bernardino's interim city manager and director of finance proposing measures for the city to cut spending substantially and increase revenues.

"If these measures do not achieve immediate and substantial cost savings, then the City will have to explore other alternatives to deal with its fiscal crisis, including ... consideration of AB 506 proceedings to restructure debt obligations, including unfunded liabilities, and preparation for a potential Chapter 9 filing," the two officials said in a letter to the city council.

AB 506 is a state law approved after the Vallejo, California, bankruptcy in 2008 that requires financially distressed local governments to seek mediation with creditors to try to avert a bankruptcy filing.

Stockton, California, failed after three months of talks with its creditors to obtain concessions to close its $26 million budget gap and the city of nearly 300,000 in the state's Central Valley last month became the most populous U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on July 11, 2012, 03:01:07 am
The whole state is effectively bankrupt, right along with the country.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 11, 2012, 07:48:12 am
The whole state is effectively bankrupt, right along with the country.

For years everyone has been anticipating "the big one" in that state(meaning a big earthquake) - I think they're experiencing that slowly but surely now, but not the "natural disaster" they think it is.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 12, 2012, 12:13:04 am
Don't want to speak to soon, but does it seem like all of this is NOT a coincidence since the Appeals Court in CA overturned Prop 8? First, you have 3 cities in this state needing to file Chapter 9 Bankruptcy, and now it seems like the dominoes are starting to fall...

2Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2Pe 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up



Rising costs push California cities to fiscal brink

Throughout the state, local governments are slashing services to avoid bankruptcy. For some, it's too late.

Facing the same financial stressors that pushed San Bernardino toward bankruptcy, cities across California are slashing day-to-day services and taking other drastic actions to skirt a similar fiscal collapse.

For some, it may not be enough.

San Bernardino on Tuesday became the third California city to seek bankruptcy protection in the last month and, while no one expects the state to be consumed by municipal insolvencies, other cities teeter on the abyss.

PHOTOS: California cities in bankruptcy

"There are likely to be more in the future, but it's hard to know, since a lot of struggling cities may manage to work things out,'' said Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy advisor for the California League of Cities. "Some cities may not go into a bankruptcy, but they may dissolve. They may cease to exist.''

Once rare, turning to bankruptcy has become a painful but enticing option for cities whose labor costs and municipal debt far outpace anemic tax revenues. The Bay Area city of Vallejo began the current trend in May 2008, filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection because, city leaders said, salaries and benefits for its public safety workers were eating up too much of the general fund.

Last month, Stockton became the largest city in the state to seek bankruptcy protection after it was unable to come to agreement with its employee unions and creditors on a plan to close a $26-million gap in its general fund. On July 2, the tiny resort town of Mammoth Lakes filed bankruptcy papers in part because it was saddled with a $43-million court judgment it couldn't pay.

San Bernardino couldn't close a $45.8-million budget shortfall and would be unable make its payroll this summer. Days before Tuesday's City Council vote, the city of 211,00 people had just $150,000 in the bank. The city barely scraped together enough money to cover its June payroll.

The city had largely patched over its growing fiscal ills, exacerbated by the struggling economy, by tapping out its reserves over the last several years, according to a fiscal report submitted to the council before Tuesday's vote.

That 4-2 decision to file for bankruptcy protection was the easy part, San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris said Wednesday. Now the city has to pull together a plan to emerge from its fiscal crisis. It has already cut its workforce by 20% over the last four years.

Morris, a former judge elected on an anti-gang platform, says the city may have to dissolve its Fire Department or portions of the Police Department, an unavoidable reality when public safety accounts for nearly 75% of the general fund budget. The city would then contract with county and state agencies for those services.

"I think all possibilities should be on the table," Morris said. "That includes privatizing services; that includes regionalizing services."

Steve Tracy, a fire engineer and spokesman for the city firefighters union, said San Bernardino's labor groups already gave up $10 million in concessions. He blamed the financial crisis on the mayor and former city manager spending money on such pet projects as a new downtown movie theater.

"Before you start putting blame on the labor groups, get your own fiscal house in order," Tracy said.

Vallejo was in a similar bind when it filed for bankruptcy four years ago. Now Mayor Osby Davis wonders if the painful road to recovery was worth the cost.

The Bay Area city of 112,000 was forced to shut down two of its fire stations and today fixes just 10% of its crumbling roads. Its workforce, including police and firefighters, is about half its pre-bankruptcy size and those people left are "insanely" overworked.

Meanwhile, Vallejo spent $10 million on legal fees. It ended up with employee contracts that Osby thinks the city could have struck more cheaply if it had stayed out of bankruptcy court and turned to the bargaining table.

His advice to other cities on the financial brink? Don't do it.

"It takes an enormous toll on everyone,'' Davis said. "And you have the stigma of being a bankrupt city. How do you come out of being labeled a bankrupt city to one that is a desirable place to live?"

The San Bernardino City Council meets Monday to hash out the painful road ahead, including how to scrape together enough money to sustain city services before officially filing for bankruptcy protection. That could take a month or longer.

The city is expected to declare a fiscal emergency, which would trigger an "emergency exit" clause in the new state law that governs municipal bankruptcies. Otherwise the city would be forced to mediate with labor unions and creditors, an expensive, months-long process that Stockton slogged through without arriving at any agreement.

Karol Denniston, an attorney who helped draft the state bankruptcy law, said the emergency exit was designed for cases such as that of Orange County, which in 1994 became the largest county in the United States to go bankrupt, largely because of an unanticipated downturn in its risky investments.

Meanwhile, San Bernardino is likely to be scrutinized over how it managed to come to the brink of disaster, seemingly so quickly. City Atty. James Penman said budget figures submitted to the council had been fabricated for 16 years. Interim City Manager Andrea Miller was less harsh, saying the city's budget was erroneously said to be balanced for the last two years.

"The real horrible question here is: How do you end up with 30 days of liquidity?' Denniston said. "You have city leaders saying fiscal information was not accurate or reliable. This could create multiple layers of litigation that hurts creditors, employees and taxpayers for a very long time to come."

Rising public pension costs are one of the catalysts pushing cities into fiscal peril. In San Bernardino, the city's obligation to its employee retirement system rose from $1 million in the 2006-07 fiscal year to nearly double that in the current budget year. In three years, those costs are expected to swallow up 15% of the budget.

Pension spending grew an average of 11.4% a year in the state's biggest cities and counties between 1999 and 2010, roughly twice as fast as spending on public safety, social services, recreation, health and sanitation, according to a February report by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

Joe Nation, a Stanford economics professor and co-author of the February report, thinks that for at least some cities, insolvency is inevitable unless they can wrest much bigger concessions on salaries and pensions from public employees.

"I think this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the problem,'' Nation said. "Stockton was spending $12 [million] or $13 million on pensions 10 years ago. By 2010, it was $30 million … and will double again over the next five years, unless something is changed."

Meanwhile, as news of the bankruptcy wafted though San Bernardino on Wednesday, residents feared for the city's uncertain future.

"People are losing their homes because they have no jobs. It's been really tough, so it doesn't surprise us," said Rose Garcia, 46.

But Garcia, a stay-at-home mother, said she and her husband, a dispatcher for Vulcan Materials, are anxious about potential cuts to public safety.

"It's an uncertain feeling we have right now," she said. "We're actually talking about moving."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on July 12, 2012, 09:01:58 am
This is the culmination of a debt-based mentality. Bad business decisions and the mispending of public funds has taken it's toll. The bankers want their money.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 02, 2012, 09:03:58 am


San Bernardino, California, files for bankruptcy with over $1 billion in debts

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday citing more than $1 billion of debts and making it the third California city to seek protection from creditors.
The city of about 210,000 residents 65 miles east of Los Angeles declared a fiscal crisis last month after a report said local government had tapped out its reserves and projected spending would top revenue by $45 million in the fiscal year that began on July 1.
The filing, made in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central California District, states that the city has "more than $1 billion" in liabilities, and estimated that it has between 10,001 and 25,000 creditors.
It also states that San Bernardino has estimated assets of more than $1 billion.
San Bernardino's city council voted on July 24 to adopt an emergency three-month fiscal plan that would suspend debt payments, freeze vacant jobs and quit paying into a retiree health fund while city staff produce a more detailed bankruptcy plan.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 28, 2012, 08:52:49 pm


Calif. creates state-run private retirement plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that will create the nation's first state-run retirement savings program for private-sector workers, over the objection of critics who said it creates a new liability for taxpayers.
The bill will establish the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program for more than 6 million lower-income, private-sector workers whose employers do not offer retirement plans.
The program directs employers to withhold 3 percent of their workers' pay unless the employee opts out of the savings program every two years. It would be administered by a seven-member board chaired by the state treasurer.
State Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill earlier this year in response to what he called the "looming retirement tsunami" as millions of lower-wage workers face financial hardship in their retirement years. He said the program will act as a supplement to Social Security by offering private-sector workers a portable savings plan with a guaranteed return.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on September 29, 2012, 01:42:29 am
I had a thought that the medical coverage thing would be a main way they are getting people jacked into the system. That I think is why they got the penalty thing for no insurance.

Title: Youth support drives passage of California tax-hike measure
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 10, 2012, 09:37:47 am


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's 74-year-old governor, Jerry Brown, engineered a surprise victory for his tax-hike ballot proposition by tapping support at the other end of the age spectrum.

Proposition 30, a temporary $6 billion tax hike, passed with a solid 54 percent approval on Tuesday, driven largely by a higher-than-expected turnout of young voters, pollsters and analysts say.

The measure, a rare attempt by a state to raise taxes at a time of small-government fervor, was the cornerstone of Brown's plan to balance the state's $91 billion budget. Without it, the state would have to cut spending on schools and universities.

But in recent days, the proposition had seemed destined for failure, according to several polls. Brown, who began campaigning heavily for it in the last weeks of the election, held rallies at colleges, and many younger voters responded.

"It's the reversal of a historic trend," said Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll, speaking about the normal difficulty of winning support for a tax measure in the waning days of a campaign. At the end of October, his poll showed only 46 percent of voters for the measure.

Young people made up about 28 percent of those who voted on Proposition 30, according to an exit poll from CNN, and 65 percent of them voted yes.

"We saw this amazing engagement that was fed by social media, on Facebook, on Twitter," said Scott Lay, president of the Community College League of California, an advocacy group.

The ability for the first time to complete the entire voter-registration process online contributed to the passage of the measure, he believes, because "young voters who registered online were more engaged."

As election day neared, polls from the Public Policy Institute of California, the California Business Roundtable with Pepperdine University, and the respected Field Poll, all showed less-than-majority support for Prop 30, and at best they labeled its chances a toss-up.

But Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, saw signs Brown could persuade undecided voters and told several reporters ahead of the election that Proposition 30 had a shot.

He cited data in his poll showing that undecided voters shared many characteristics with voters who favored Proposition 30, including a favorable view of Brown, a sense that they were paying about the right amount in taxes, and concern over budget cuts that could kick in if the measure failed.

"If you looked at the 14 percent that were undecided, they held views that were more in line with "Yes" voters," said DiCamillo. "All it needed was about three points from the undecided."

Brown's push in recent days for the initiative undoubtedly helped, including his visits to colleges and his attendance at a group of last-minute events, the pollsters said. On Monday, for example, Brown touted the measure at gatherings in San Diego, Burbank, Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Title: Re: Youth support drives passage of California tax-hike measure
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 10, 2012, 09:48:49 am
I've been reading recently that in recent elections, they've been driven by young voters, which is why the Left has been winning, pretty much.

The young people demographic seems to have been playing a bigger role in all aspects of our society recently, while the elderly has either been pushed out, passing away, or in some cases being forced to compromise. No, it's not just concerning elections and social justice issues in the political realm(which of course our secular education systems have been pushing), but even our MODERN-DAY CHURCHES are having young people take over leadership roles.

Take for example, your typical megachurch(which seems to be growing in numbers today) - the leadership in those churches are by and large, it seems, younger people. And to boot from what I see(at least in my area), they really don't know how to feed the flock, but they themselves are nothing but "the blind leading the blind"(ie-reading very corrupt bibles like the NKJV/Message, admiring people like Bill Hybels, etc).

No, I'm not saying young people are bad and have no hope for salvation - but scripture clearly says to count the elderly with double honour, especially those that are grounded in the word of God. But somehow these same elderly are the ones being forced out, while the inexperienced, young generation are pushed into these leadership roles without any guidance. I myself was a 20 year old, naive college student once upon a time ago - back then, I thought liberalism, feminism, environmentalism, etc were excellent "grassroots" movements and didn't know better. Wished I had an elderly behind me to keep me in line.

Anyhow, was just pointing out another case here where the younger demographics seem to have a bigger voice in more important agendas where the elderly are more equiped to handle.

Title: Re: Youth support drives passage of California tax-hike measure
Post by: Mark on November 10, 2012, 09:55:23 am
I've been reading recently that in recent elections, they've been driven by young voters, which is why the Left has been winning, pretty much.

The young people demographic seems to have been playing a bigger role in all aspects of our society recently, while the elderly has either been pushed out, passing away, or in some cases being forced to compromise. No, it's not just concerning elections and social justice issues in the political realm(which of course our secular education systems have been pushing), but even our MODERN-DAY CHURCHES are having young people take over leadership roles.

Take for example, your typical megachurch(which seems to be growing in numbers today) - the leadership in those churches are by and large, it seems, younger people. And to boot from what I see(at least in my area), they really don't know how to feed the flock, but they themselves are nothing but "the blind leading the blind"(ie-reading very corrupt bibles like the NKJV/Message, admiring people like Bill Hybels, etc).

No, I'm not saying young people are bad and have no hope for salvation - but scripture clearly says to count the elderly with double honour, especially those that are grounded in the word of God. But somehow these same elderly are the ones being forced out, while the inexperienced, young generation are pushed into these leadership roles without any guidance. I myself was a 20 year old, naive college student once upon a time ago - back then, I thought liberalism, feminism, environmentalism, etc were excellent "grassroots" movements and didn't know better. Wished I had an elderly behind me to keep me in line.

Anyhow, was just pointing out another case here where the younger demographics seem to have a bigger voice in more important agendas where the elderly are more equiped to handle.

actually it is a proof positive record of how the Humanist movement in the schools is working so well. The children are being taught this religion form kindergaten on up amd it is showing itself in our society. This was all planned out years ago...

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 14, 2013, 03:36:22 pm

Two-Tax Rise Tests Wealthy in California

PALO ALTO, Calif. — It is getting awfully expensive to be a millionaire in California.

With the new year, big earners are confronting a 51.9 percent federal-state income tax hit on earnings over $1 million, the result of a confluence of new tax-the-rich levies imposed by California and Congress in the closing days of 2012. That is officially the highest in the nation. And at 13.3 percent, the top-tier California income tax is, in addition to being higher than any other state, the steepest it has been since World War II.

Though no one expects traffic jams at 30,000 feet as panicked millionaires make for the state line, the wealthy are once again grumbling about abandoning California for less punishing tax climates. Phil Mickelson, the golfer who collects purses in excess of $1 million, suggested that he might become the latest in a line of athletes and entertainment figures, among them Tiger Woods, who left California for states like Florida, which has no personal income tax.

The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, firing a new shot in an old interstate war, began putting radio advertisements on the air in California this week summoning burdened businesses his way. “I have a message for California business: Come check out Texas,” Mr. Perry said.

Blood, it seems, is in the water.

“Are you looking to leave California because of the recent tax increase?” a CNN Money correspondent posted online in an inquiry this week. “You could be profiled in an upcoming story.”

[More from NYTimes.com: Higher Payroll Tax Pinches Those With the Least to Spare]

For all its many attributes, California has long been a state defined by high taxes and the people who hate them; conservatives here were successfully organizing against taxes before anyone heard of the Tea Party. Yet this milestone — or perhaps millstone — has sneaked up as an unpleasant surprise for the rich, a cloud in the sky at a time when the state budget has come back into balance (in no small part because of the aforementioned tax increase) and the state economy seems to be snapping back to life.

Mr. Mickelson later apologized for discussing the topic, though that did not prevent Mr. Perry from sending him a message on Twitter: “Hey Phil ... Texas is home to liberty and low taxes ... we would love to have you as well!!” Conservatives and antitax activists have cited Mr. Mickelson’s remarks as evidence of what they have long argued are the costs California pays for having such a high tax burden.

“It’s definitely the highest in the United States,” said David Kline, a vice president of the California Taxpayers Association, a taxpayers’ advocacy organization. “What we like to point out to people is that there are states with absolutely no personal income tax — so if you moved from California to Florida, and you are in a high-income bracket, you are automatically giving yourself a 13.3 percent raise.”


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 16, 2013, 09:23:28 pm

Bankrupt San Bernardino hires new manager for California city


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Crisis-hit San Bernardino, California, picked a new city manager on Friday at a critical time in its quest to get bankruptcy protection from a federal court.
San Bernardino was forced to look for a new city manager after its acting city manager, Andrea Travis-Miller, quit.
Her resignation coincides with the departure of the city's finance chief. Both had been the key officials overseeing the city's bankruptcy application and their departures threaten the city's ability to achieve it. They had more knowledge than anybody else of the city's finances and the experience to answer questions from the court and creditors.
The city council voted to hire Allen Parker to replace Travis Miller. According to his resume provided to the city, Parker has been an economic development consultant since 2006.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 25, 2013, 11:39:48 am


Key test looms for Stockton, California, bankruptcy bid

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The city of Stockton, California, has a strong case heading into court next week in a bid to establish eligibility for bankruptcy protection, a move contested by bond insurers of more than $350 million of its debt, lawyers watching the case predicted.
At the February 26 hearing in Sacramento, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein is likely to schedule a fight in court over eligibility - a battle that bankruptcy law experts predict the city of 300,000, the largest in the United States to have ever filed for municipal bankruptcy, will win.
Michael Sweet of the law firm Fox Rothschild, who helped Richmond, California, avoid filing for bankruptcy, said Stockton has an upper hand because of its orderly approach to California's and the federal Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy codes.
"The way this case appears to be going, Stockton should be able to convince Judge Klein it's eligible," Sweet said.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 26, 2013, 04:35:27 pm
California pension liabilities may swell to $328.6 bln -report

Feb 25 (Reuters) - New credit evaluation standards for public pension liabilities proposed by Moody's Investors Service would swell unfunded liabilities for California's state and local public pension plans to $328.6 billion from $128.3 billion, according to a report released on Monday.

At the higher level, the unfunded pension liabilities would come to $8,600 per resident of the most populous U.S. state, the report by the California Public Policy Center said.

Under Moody's new standards, California's state and local public pensions would be 64 percent fully funded, compared with a previous estimate of 82 percent, the center said in its report, which is based on data from the state controller's office.

The cost of currently honoring public pension commitments as well as their future costs have become prominent issues for state and local governments in recent years, during which public services have been slashed in response to weak revenue and in order to maintain balanced budgets.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Boldhunter on February 26, 2013, 04:43:26 pm
Wow- look at the very first comment posted after the article :

Feb 26, 2013 12:16am EST

Well 64 percent of a pension is better than nothing. And that is exactly how much taxpayer money California will get, nothing! You made your bed California, now lay in it.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 14, 2013, 09:31:42 pm
Cost of state employees' unused time off mounts for California

(Reuters) - California's liability for unused vacation and leave time for its state employees reached a 30-year high of $3.9 billion in June 2012 and is likely to grow for the foreseeable future, according to a state report released on Thursday.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 01, 2013, 03:45:46 pm
Stockton Becomes Biggest US City To Declare Bankruptcy (It's Official)

A mere nine months after we first discussed the inevitability of Stockton, CA.'s bankruptcy, a judge has ordered today that the city will now become the most populous in the US to be declared bankrupt.


Creditors are pushing to get the city out of bankruptcy but the judge states that "by any measure" the city was insolvent. So, in summary, yeah, it was broke years ago, it still is broke - despite the best efforts by the Central Planning Reserve to reflate the same housing bubble that was the primary reason for the city's insolvency in the first place. Only this time, it's official!

Via Reuters:

Stockton, California, was ruled eligible for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, a U.S. judged said on Monday, turning aside creditors' arguments that the city was not truly insolvent when it sought protection last year and had improperly failed to seek concessions.

In a case that has been widely watched by the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said Stockton had established during last week's three-day trial that it had met requirements to be found eligible to proceed with its municipal bankruptcy case.

Officials in the city of nearly 300,000, the largest city so far to have filed for municipal bankruptcy, will now be allowed to start drafting a so-called plan of adjustment for the city's debts.

The case is expected to pit municipal bondholders against the California Public Employee Retirement System, which manages pensions for Stockton and many other California governments.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 07, 2013, 09:10:00 am
Video: California seeks to move inmates to private prisons

California will seek to move thousands of inmates to private prisons in a last-ditch attempt to avoid releasing violent offenders to ease prison crowding, the state corrections chief said Monday.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2013, 11:59:46 am
Why are California cities in fiscal trouble?

My colleagues and I at the Center for Retirement Research are beginning a project to figure out why some localities are facing serious financial problems.  Instead of reviewing the finances of the 2,400 cities and towns in the U.S. Census of Governments, we decided to search newspapers, magazines, wire services and other sources for cities or towns that have been cited in the press as financially troubled.  Our search turned up 34 localities.  Nine of those were tiny towns that had lost a major lawsuit.  The other 25 localities had more pervasive problems, and included the expected larger suspects such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Providence, R.I.  Others were small, like Prichard, Ala., and Central Falls, R.I.  What I found astounding was that 10 of the 25 financially troubled cities were in California.  I guess the bright side is that, excluding California, American cities are not about to topple over like dominoes.  On the other hand, what is going on in California?

According to the Economist, California’s underlying problems rest with its brand of democracy.  Essentially, Californians have adopted a direct and participatory democracy rather than the representative democracy favored by James Madison and other founders.  The California approach opened the way for a major role for voter initiatives.  These initiatives were used sparingly for much of the 20th century, but then in 1978, Californians passed Proposition 13.  It was an anti-tax measure but had vast implications both for taxes and the power of the legislature to respond to economic shocks, such as the financial crisis and Great Recession.

Proposition 13 was a reaction to a doubling of property tax bills, as assessments soared in the early 1970s.  The initiative cut the property-tax rate from an average of 2.6% to 1% in every county.  It also capped the annual increase in assessed values at 2%.  To make sure that the tax cut was not offset by tax increases elsewhere, Proposition 13 required a two-thirds super-majority in the legislature for any tax hike.

With a huge revenue hole, local services faced enormous cuts.  Instead, the state government, which had a large surplus, bailed the localities out.  That one-time transfer became a permanent financing mechanism.  And even the remaining property tax revenues were allocated by the state legislature.  California now transfers 60% to 70% of its state revenues to localities.

In the wake of Proposition 13, two things have happened.  First, of the hundreds of new initiatives that have passed, many have promised a tax cut or an expanded service without compensating financing, so much of the budget was allocated before the legislature even had a chance to negotiate. Second, the requirement for a super-majority for any tax increase made it almost impossible for policymakers to raise revenues. The consensus appears to be that California has become unmanageable.

On the pension front, I know the story.  California is in trouble because a retroactive expansion of benefits in the late 1990s made the state one of the most generous in the nation.  Although unlike Illinois and New Jersey, it is not guilty of deliberately underfunding its plans, some degree of underfunding and the sheer magnitude of the pension commitments are putting enormous pressure on both state and local budgets in California.  It is also a state where it is particularly difficult to modify public pensions by changing future benefits for current employees.

Finally, California was particularly hard hit by the financial crisis and ensuing recession.  Even today, California has higher foreclosure and unemployment rates than most states.  And local government revenue in California grew between 2007 and 2010 by only 3% compared to 9% for the rest of the nation.  Part of the low growth can be explained by an actual decline in state transfers, which increased elsewhere by 10% over the 2007-10 period.

More recently, California has seen some short-term success in stabilizing its finances through spending restraint and a voter-approved tax increase, but the underlying problems remain.  Combine a dysfunctional state government, which cannot raise revenues on its own and cuts back just when localities need help, with very generous pension promises and the devastating impact of the 2008 financial collapse, and California is batting three for three.  No wonder 10 of the nation’s 25 financially troubled cities are located in California.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of the town of Prichard, Ala.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on August 29, 2013, 02:09:17 am
That's a tricky article. Like talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Restricting "raising revenue" is not why California is collapsing! THAT sounds like a politician whining they can't get their hands on even more cash to mishandle.

Notice they admit some success through what? Spending cuts and new tax revenue, which I thought the complaint was that they couldn't raise revenue!

Underlying all this is unions and pensions, added to outright mismanagement of city finds.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 03, 2014, 04:54:58 pm
California 2014 Laws Affect Transgenders, Smokers, Drunk Drivers

As 2014 is just a day away, new laws have been crafted for Californians to adhere to. Here are just a few blessed laws and regulations that will come into effect in 2014:

Transgender Rights: We will all sleep a little better at night knowing that students in grades K-12 who identify as transgender will be able to use the school bathrooms of their choosing as long as it is “consistent with their gender identity,” even if it is different than their gender at birth. Students will also be able to select whether they want to be on the boys team or the girls team based on their “gender identity.”

On Campus Smoking: Men wearing dresses to class with earrings in their noses is no problem, but don’t get caught inhaling a Camel walking to your next exam. All 10 University of California campuses will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1, 2014. The ban includes all tobacco products. Sorry, e-cigarettes count; they are also banned.

More Room for Bicyclists: This one doesn’t become law until Sept. 16, 2014. Driving a car and passing too close to a bicyclist could result in a fine for the driver, whether there was a crash or not. Drivers must be at least three feet from the cyclist while passing.

Minimum Wage: Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by state California is ranked 46th in the nation in unemployment rates, weighing in at 8.5%. This has not deterred the state from increasing the minimum wage by one dollar to $9.00/hr, which will kick in on July 1, 2014. Critics argue that raising the minimum wage often prompts employers to reduce staff to keep up with labor overhead.

Search Warrants: This might be renamed the vampire law: A driver suspected of DUI who refuses to submit to or fails to complete a blood test can be served a search warrant to draw blood in a “reasonable, medically approved manner.” This law went into effect Sept. 20.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on January 04, 2014, 02:54:42 am
Sorry, e-cigarettes count; they are also banned.

So it looks like the anti-smoking lobby made a last second push with politicians voting this junk as they leave office. New York City had something like 20 council members leaving office along with Bloomberg, and as a parting shot by the socialists leaving they passed a bunch of bs laws like banning e-cigarettes.

Why is the the anti-smoking lobby so rabid against tobacco products of any kind? I just can't understand why they are so aggressively against it. I mean these people are in a blind rage against it that goes beyond reason as evidenced by the banning of e-cigarettes that have shown to not be a problem, yet they are still trying to block anything that relates to smoking. Even officials admit in NYC that their ban was mostly based on the government not wanting people to even have the idea that smoking is okay. So they banned them based on the government not wanting people to get the wrong idea!

Ever since the tobacco lawsuits years ago, the anti-tobacco lobby has grown massively. Where were all these non-smokers back then? I personally think there is something going on. None of it make sense that these people are so opposed.

Scripture tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, so that tells me that the evil behind this must be money related. If nothing else, it may be as simple as the government is using the scare to increase taxes because they know the public has never opposed higher taxes on stuff they don't use. So non-smokers could care less how much smokers are gouged on taxes. It may be it's just an easy tax increase sales pitch. And a recent article spells out how the UN community is cranking up their anti-smoking regulations, wanting to ban e-cigarettes.

The only thing that makes sense is that this is nothing more than an old fashion tax grab.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 26, 2014, 04:28:32 pm
California Drought Has Ranchers Selling Cattle
AROMAS, Calif. January 26, 2014 (AP)

In January, business at the 101 Livestock Market's cattle auction on California's Central Coast is usually slow. The busy season is normally in June or July, when ranchers have had time to fatten their animals for weeks on spring grasses.

This year, however, business is bustling, with packed pens of moaning cattle and cowboys standing on tip-toe to get a glance at their potential prizes.

Because of historically dry conditions, California's soil moisture — a key ingredient for the forage that cattle graze on — is low throughout the state. With feed costs high and weeks of dry weather in the forecast, ranchers are already selling off parts of their herds as normally green grazing pastures have turned brown.

"We're in the drought now, so a lot of these are going back to Texas," said rancher and auction house co-owner Monty Avery, gesturing to a pen packed full of cows. "We usually sell about 100-150 animals per week. Now we're seeing 800-1,000 per week, so the volume's jumped up."

Gov. Jerry Brown has formally proclaimed a drought in California, a move that codified what farmers and ranchers in the state had known for weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor has said there are "extreme drought" conditions in central and northern California, where much of the state's ranching is located.

California is now in its third dry year, with little snowfall so far this winter and forecasts suggesting only more sunshine. Precipitation in most of the state is less than 20 percent of normal and reservoirs are dwindling — one town on California's far northern coast says it has fewer than 100 days of drinking water in storage.

The state is the nation's leader in dairy cows, and fourth overall in the U.S. for total number of cattle, trailing Texas, Nebraska and Kansas, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. With little free food available for cattle, some ranchers have already started controlling costs.

Romaldo Martin, a cattle rancher who runs M&M Farms in Hollister, has sold more than 160 cows and calves at 101 Livestock Market over the past two weeks and plans to sell at least 100 more. He said it's too expensive to buy hay to feed his herd, and the water on his land is drying up.

"If the weather doesn't change, I might need to get rid of all of them," said Martin, who is in his 70s and used to run about 600 heads of cattle. "I've never seen anything like this in my life ... It's a disaster."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 16 declared a drought disaster in some California counties, which allows farmers to apply for low-interest loans to help them cope. Ranchers are not included in the program.

To help them navigate the historic dry weather, the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is holding workshops.

"From previous droughts we've learned that feeding the whole herd through the drought may spell the end of business," said Glenn Nader, adviser for the program in Sutter and Yuba counties.

Some of California's herd will be headed to Texas, which is recovering from its own severe drought. That state's herd of five million head of cattle has shrunk over the past few years by a quarter, said Jason Cleere, a rancher and beef cattle specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension at Texas A&M University.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 26, 2014, 04:39:58 pm
California drought: Past dry periods have lasted hundreds of years, scientists say

Past dry periods lasted hundreds of years


California's current drought is being billed as the driest period in the state's recorded rainfall history. But scientists who study the West's long-term climate patterns say the state has been parched for much longer stretches before that 163-year historical period began.

And they worry that the "megadroughts" typical of California's earlier history could come again.

Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell.

The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.

"We continue to run California as if the longest drought we are ever going to encounter is about seven years," said Scott Stine, a professor of geography and environmental studies at CSU East Bay. "We're living in a dream world."

California in 2013 received less rain than in any year since it became a state in 1850. And at least one San Francisco Bay Area scientist says that based on tree ring data, the current rainfall season is on pace to be the driest since 1580 — more than 150 years before George Washington was born. The question is: How much longer will it last?

A megadrought today would have catastrophic effects.

California, the nation's most populous state with 38 million residents, has built a massive economy, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and millions of acres of farmland, all in a semiarid area. The state's dams, canals and reservoirs have never been tested by the kind of prolonged drought that experts say will almost certainly occur again.

Stine, who has spent decades studying tree stumps in Mono Lake, Tenaya Lake, the Walker River and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, said the past century has been among the wettest of the last 7,000 years.

Looking back, the long-term record also shows some staggeringly wet periods. The decades between the two medieval megadroughts, for example, delivered years of above-normal rainfall — the kind that would cause devastating floods today.

The longest droughts of the 20th century, what Californians think of as severe, occurred from 1987 to 1992 and from 1928 to 1934. Both, Stine said, are minor compared to the ancient droughts of 850 to 1090 and 1140 to 1320.

Modern megadrought

What would happen if the current drought continued for another 10 years or more?

Without question, longtime water experts say, farmers would bear the brunt. Cities would suffer but adapt.

The reason: Although many Californians think population growth is the main driver of water demand statewide, it actually is agriculture. In an average year, farmers use 80 percent of the water consumed by people and businesses — 34 million of 43 million acre-feet diverted from rivers, lakes and groundwater, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

"Cities would be inconvenienced greatly and suffer some. Smaller cities would get it worse, but farmers would take the biggest hit," said Maurice Roos, the department's chief hydrologist. "Cities can always afford to spend a lot of money to buy what water is left."

Roos, who has worked at the department since 1957, said the prospect of megadroughts is another reason to build more storage — both underground and in reservoirs — to catch rain in wet years.

In a megadrought, there would be much less water in the Delta to pump. Farmers' allotments would shrink to nothing. Large reservoirs like Shasta, Oroville and San Luis would eventually go dry after five or more years of little or no rain.

Farmers would fallow millions of acres, letting row crops die first. They would pump massive amounts of groundwater to keep orchards alive, but eventually those wells would go dry. And although deeper wells could be dug, the costs could exceed the value of their crops. Banks would refuse to loan the farmers money.

The federal government would almost certainly provide billions of dollars in emergency aid to farm communities.

"Some small towns in the Central Valley would really suffer. They would basically go away," said Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis.

"But agriculture is only 3 percent of California's economy today," Lund said. "In the main urban economy, most people would learn to live with less water. It would be expensive and inconvenient, but we'd do it."

Farmers with senior water rights would make a huge profit, he said, selling water at sky-high prices to cities. Food costs would rise, but there wouldn't be shortages, Lund said, because Californians already buy lots of food from other states and countries and would buy even more from them.

Fallback plans

In urban areas, most cities would eventually see water rationing at 50 percent of current levels. Golf courses would shut down. Cities would pass laws banning watering or installing lawns, which use half of most homes' water. Across the state, rivers and streams would dry up, wiping out salmon runs. Cities would race to build new water supply projects.

If a drought lasted decades, the state could always build dozens of desalination plants, which would cost billions of dollars, said law professor Barton "Buzz" Thompson, co-director of Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries depend on desalination, but water from desal plants costs roughly five times more than urban Californians pay for water now. Thompson said that makes desal projects unfeasible for most of the state now, especially when other options like recycled wastewater and conservation can provide more water at a much lower cost.

But in an emergency, price becomes no object.

"In theory, cities cannot run out of water," Thompson said. "All we can do is run out of cheap water, or not have as much water as we need when we really want it."

Over the past 10 years, he noted, Australia has been coping with a severe drought. Urban residents there cut their water demand massively, built new supply projects and survived.

"I don't think we'll ever get to a point here where you turn on the tap and air comes out," he said.

Megadrought now

Some scientists believe we are already in a megadrought, although that view is not universally accepted.

Bill Patzert, a research scientist and oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, says the West is in a 20-year drought that began in 2000. He cites the fact that a phenomenon known as a "negative Pacific decadal oscillation" is underway — and that historically has been linked to extreme high-pressure ridges that block storms.

Such events, which cause pools of warm water in the North Pacific Ocean and cool water along the California coast, are not the result of global warming, Patzert said. But climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels has been linked to longer heat waves. That wild card wasn't around years ago.

"Long before the Industrial Revolution, we were vulnerable to long extended periods of drought. And now we have another experiment with all this CO2 in the atmosphere where there are potentially even more wild swings in there," said Graham Kent, a University of Nevada geophysicist who has studied submerged ancient trees in Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe.

Already, the 2013-14 rainfall season is shaping up to be the driest in 434 years, based on tree ring data, according to Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at UC Berkeley.

"It's important to be aware of what the climate is capable of," she said, "so that we can prepare for it."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on January 27, 2014, 04:25:38 am
...Without question, longtime water experts say, farmers would bear the brunt. Cities would suffer but adapt.

The reason: Although many Californians think population growth is the main driver of water demand statewide, it actually is agriculture. In an average year, farmers use 80 percent of the water consumed by people and businesses — 34 million of 43 million acre-feet diverted from rivers, lakes and groundwater, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

"Cities would be inconvenienced greatly and suffer some. Smaller cities would get it worse, but farmers would take the biggest hit," said Maurice Roos, the department's chief hydrologist. "Cities can always afford to spend a lot of money to buy what water is left."...

We can see why they could "adapt" by the globalists efforts to make the marketplace international. Can't grow crops in California? No problem, just ship it in from Asia and South America. Florida and other states still has their crops, so they'd still have US-grown products to appease the masses, so I can see how some people would try to reason their socialist/globalist methods.

Just like with manufacturing in the US, it simply got too expensive to do business here, when really cheap labour was widely available in other countries that needs cash. So off shore is where those businesses went, and I think farm crops in a much bigger way are headed that direction too.

They claim 80% is agriculture usage? What would the situation be if California wasn't using water from the Colorado? Not good at all. They couldn't sustain the population the way it is. A massive amount of water is sent to areas that normally doesn't have it. You stop directing water to those areas, where it naturally wouldn't be, California collapses from it's current way of doing things. No way it could sustain a population of any size.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 01, 2014, 09:41:20 pm
Amid drought, California agency won't allot water

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Amid severe drought conditions, California officials announced Friday they won't send any water from the state's vast reservoir system to local agencies beginning this spring, an unprecedented move that affects drinking water supplies for 25 million people and irrigation for 1 million acres of farmland.

The announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that such an action has been taken, but it does not mean that every farm field will turn to dust and every city tap will run dry.

The 29 agencies that draw from the state's water-delivery system have other sources, although those also have been hard-hit by the drought.

Many farmers in California's Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, also draw water from a separate system of federally run reservoirs and canals, but that system also will deliver just a fraction of its normal water allotment this year.

The announcement affects water deliveries planned to begin this spring, and the allotment could increase if weather patterns change and send more storms into the state.

Nevertheless, Friday's announcement puts an exclamation point on California's water shortage, which has been building during three years of below-normal rain and snow.

"This is the most serious drought we've faced in modern times," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. "We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years."

State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said there simply is not enough water in the system to meet the needs of farmers, cities and the conservation efforts that are intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California.

For perspective, California would have to experience heavy rain and snowfall every other day from now until May to get the state back to its average annual precipitation totals, according to the Department of Water Resources.

"These actions will protect us all in the long run," Cowin said during a news conference that included numerous state and federal officials, including those from wildlife and agricultural agencies.

Friday's announcement came after Gov. Jerry Brown's official drought declaration in mid-January, a decision that cleared the way for state and federal agencies to coordinate efforts to preserve water and send it where it is needed most. The governor urged Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

It also reflects the severity of the dry conditions in the nation's most populous state. Officials say 2013 was the state's driest calendar year since records started being kept, and this year is heading in the same direction.

A snow survey on Thursday in the Sierra Nevada, one of the state's key water sources, found the water content in the meager snowpack is just 12 percent of normal. Reservoirs are lower than they were at the same time in 1977, which is one of the two previous driest water years on record.

State officials say 17 rural communities are in danger of a severe water shortage within four months. Wells are running dry or reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities. Others have long-running problems that predate the drought.

The timing for of Friday's historic announcement was important: State water officials typically announce they are raising the water allotment on Feb. 1, but this year's winter has been so dry they wanted to ensure they could keep the remaining water behind the dams. The announcement also will give farmers more time to determine what crops they will plant this year and in what quantities.

Farmers and ranchers throughout the state already have felt the drought's impact, tearing out orchards, fallowing fields and trucking in alfalfa to feed cattle on withered range land.

Without deliveries of surface water, farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers. The state has no role in regulating such pumping.

"A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses," Ted Page, president the Kern County Water Agency's board, said in a statement. "While many areas of the county will continue to rely on ground water to make up at least part of the difference, some areas have exhausted their supply."

Groundwater levels already have been stressed, after pumping accelerated during the dry winter in 2008 and 2009.

"The challenge is that in last drought we drew down groundwater resources and never allowed them to recover," said Heather Cooley, water program co-director for the Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank in Oakland. "We're seeing long term, ongoing declining groundwater levels, and that's a major problem."

Many towns and cities already have ordered severe cutbacks in water use.

With some rivers reduced to a trickle, fish populations also are being affected. Eggs in salmon-spawning beds of the American River near Sacramento were sacrificed after upstream releases from Folsom Dam were severely cut back.

The drought is highlighting the traditional tensions between groups that claim the state's limited water for their own priorities — farmers, city residents and conservationists.

Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, urged everyone to come together during the crisis.

"This is not about picking between delta smelt and long-fin smelt and chinook salmon, and it's not about picking between fish and farms or people and the environment," he said. "It is about really hard decisions on a real-time basis where we may have to accept some impact now to avoid much greater impact later."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 05, 2014, 12:03:59 pm
As California Drought Grows, Some States May Have Too Much Water

A drought that has started to plague some portions of central California seems likely to grow, and it may be close to permanent. The sources of the state's water have become scarce enough that they cannot be easily replaced. Adjacent to California, Nevada has similar problems. At the other end of the spectrum, some states may have more water than they need or can use effectively.

The U.S. Census Bureau issues a report that its management calls "Geography: State Area Measurements." The information contained in the report includes "total land area and water area of each state." Just because part of a state has access to large amounts of water does not mean that every other part does. However, some states have unusually large areas covered by water, which means at least some part of those states is less likely to face shortages than states that have virtually none.

Only 0.7% of Nevada is covered by water. The U.S. average is 7.0%. Likely, whatever water Nevada has needs to be "imported" or taken from deep wells. Only 0.2% of New Mexico is covered by water. The "U.S. Drought Monitor" shows that much of New Mexico suffers from severe drought, or worse. Colorado has a similar drought problem. The area of the mountain state covered by water is 0.4%. Kansas has a drought problem as well. Only 0.6% of it is covered by water. Nebraska has similar water problems, as does Oklahoma.

At the other end of the "water map" by state, several post numbers of more than 15%. This does not guarantee they will never suffer from drought conditions, but at least plentiful amounts of water are close at hand. These states include Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida. Some of these states have suffered from drought problems. The "U.S. Drought Monitor" maps show that some have small portions that are "abnormally high." However, virtually none have areas that suffer from drought conditions.

Water can be drilled for and imported. In California, importing has been part of the state's supply for years. But it may be better for a state to have its own water nearby. That is, of course, if those states do not suffer from flooding or toxic contamination.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 08, 2014, 08:24:48 pm
Forecasters: Big storm won't break Calif. drought

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Rain and snow, which began to fall in drought-stricken California on Friday, is expected to continue through the weekend in the biggest storm that the area has seen in more than a year.

Still, the big weekend storm is far from enough to break the drought.

The San Francisco Bay Area has received only about 25 percent of the rain it has normally had by this time of year, said National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson.

"It's not a drought buster, but it's definitely more than a drop in the bucket," said Steve Anderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey.

San Francisco normally would have received 14.5 inches of rain this season by now. That figure is currently at a little more than 3 inches, with up to 3 more inches expected over the weekend.

Before the storm rolls out Monday morning, the northern San Francisco Bay Area could see as much as 9 inches of rain, the weather service said. In the Sierra, up to 4 feet of snow is expected at elevations above 7,000 feet.

The weekend storm is expected to be the first to bring more than an inch of rain to Sacramento in a 24-hour period since December 2012, said Johnnie Powell, another National Weather Service forecaster.

Forecasters are hopeful the storm portends an end to the persistent dry weather that has plagued the state for months and contributed to its drought emergency. Light precipitation is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday and another storm is possible next weekend, although it's not yet clear how strong that would be, Anderson said.

The rain and snow expected over the weekend are part of warm, subtropical storm system known as a Pineapple Express that is strung across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, Anderson said.

Forecasters are warning of the possibility of road and stream flooding, as trash and debris that have not been washed away because of a lack of rainfall clog storm drains. Minor mud and rock slides also are possible.

Southern California was expected to be mostly dry. Forecasters said measureable rain over the weekend likely would not fall farther south than San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties as a ridge of high pressure pushes up from the south.

Meanwhile, snowpack levels in nearby Oregon on Friday were less than half of normal, and the drought index was still severe to moderate. Dozens of sites in Southern Oregon showed the lowest snowpack since the 1940s, when records were first kept.

The storm was expected to drop a foot or more of snow in mountainous parts of southern Oregon and 2 to 8 inches in western Oregon valleys that got slammed Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

The snow was expected to turn to freezing rain Friday night and Saturday in many areas. That will turn roadways icy and increase the possibility of downed power lines, forecasters warned.

The first storm dropped more than a foot of snow on parts of the Pacific Northwest and left one person dead in an Interstate 5 pileup in southwest Washington. It also closed schools and offices.

Mount Ashland Ski Area remained closed with just 6 inches of snow, but is high enough at 6,000 feet to expect to get snow even as the coming storms bring warmer temperatures.

The storm track wasn't carrying as much rain and snow into Washington, where the snowpack was better but not great. Snowpack levels ranged from 32 percent of normal on the Olympic Peninsula, to 50 percent on the Lower Columbia, 65 percent in southern Puget Sound, to 63 percent on the northern Puget Sound. The Yakima Basin ranged from 57 percent to 62 percent. Spokane was at 78 percent. And the Lower Snake was the highest at 86 percent.

The drought index was at moderate across most of Washington.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 14, 2014, 10:25:15 pm
Drought Threatens to Cripple California Agriculture Industry

A withering drought that has turned California rivers and reservoirs to dust now threatens to devastate the agriculture business in the country’s top farming state.

President Barack Obama on Friday pledged millions of dollars in federal assistance to the state during a visit to Fresno, the biggest city in the state's once-lush San Joaquin Valley.

"The truth of the matter is that this is going to be a very challenging situation this year, and frankly, the trend lines are such where it's going to be a challenging situation for some time to come," Obama said Friday during a meeting with local leaders in Firebaugh, Calif., a rural enclave not far from Fresno.

Obama promised to make $100 million in livestock-disaster aid available within 60 days to help the state rebound from what the White House's top science and technology adviser has called the worst dry spell in 500 years.

For the farmers in a state that produces a third of the country’s fruits and vegetables, the help couldn't come soon enough.

"It's really a crisis situation," Kenneth McDonald, city manager in drought-ravaged Firebaugh in Fresno County told NBC News. "And it's going to get worse in time if this drought doesn't alleviate."

The historic drought — which Gov. Jerry Brown has called an "unprecedented" emergency — has imperiled the region's $44.7 billion agriculture business. It could cost the state $2.8 billion in job income and $11 billion in annual state revenue, according to data from the California Farm Water Coalition, an industry advocacy group.

In the state's Central Valley — where nearly 40 percent of all jobs are tied to agriculture production and related processing — the pain has already trickled down. Businesses across a wide swath of the region have shuttered, casting countless workers adrift in a downturn that calls to mind the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

"A lot of people don't realize the amount of money that's been lost, the amount of jobs lost. And we can't recapture that," Joel Allen, the owner of the Joel Allen Ranch in Firebaugh, told NBC News.

"It's horrible," Allen added. "People are standing in food lines and people are coming by my office every day looking for work."

Allen — whose family has been in farming for three generations — and his 20-man crew are out of work.

He said: "We're to the point where we're scratching our head. What are we gonna do next?"

At the local grocery store, fruit prices are up — but sales are down. The market was forced to lay off three employees — and many more throughout the town are packing their bags and leaving town.

McDonald said farming communities like Firebaugh run the risk of becoming desolate ghost towns as local governments and businesses collapse.

"It's going to be a slow, painful process — but it could happen," McDonald said. "It's not going to be one big tsunami where you're gonna having something get wiped out in one big wave. It's gonna be a slow, painful, agonizing death."

Federal agencies are scrambling to intervene. The White House has said that the millions of federal aid — which was contained in a $956 billion farm bill that Congress passed and Obama signed last week — is a crucial step.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters in a preview of the announcement that Obama will offer "a message of hope and a message that the federal government will do all it can to try to alleviate some of the stress connected with this drought."

The problem is not just in California. Federal agriculture officials in January designated parts of 11 states as disaster areas, citing the economic strain that the lack of rain is putting on farmers. Those states are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

Obama on Friday announced $15 million in assistance to help farmers and ranchers institute water conservation practices — a sum that includes $5 million for California and $10 million for parched areas across the Southwest.

He also said that, among other measures, he has called on federal facilities in California to immediately curb water use — including a moratorium on new landscaping projects that are not deemed essential, according to Reuters.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on February 15, 2014, 02:30:43 am
including a moratorium on new landscaping projects that are not deemed essential

Aside from planting stuff to reduce erosion, there is no landscaping that is essential. It's all vanity.

Soft winter grass and wildflowers in your Hollywood mansion's yard isn't responsible, it's a waste of money and water.

Ban lawn grass and require gravel or rock instead. No more watering the lawn and no more engines from lawn mowers and weed eaters polluting the air.

And they should stop produce exports as well, seeing all those food items are taking the water from here, and it's going in the food to other countries.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 19, 2014, 05:13:21 pm
Health experts warn of water contamination from California drought

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California's drought has put 10 communities at acute risk of running out of drinking water in 60 days, and worsened numerous other health and safety problems, public health officials in the most populous U.S. state said on Tuesday.

Rural communities where residents rely on wells are at particular risk, as contaminants in the groundwater become more concentrated with less water available to dilute them, top state health officials said at a legislative hearing on the drought.

"The drought has exacerbated existing conditions," said Mark Starr, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health.

The state has helped about 22 of 183 communities identified last year as reliant on contaminated groundwater to bring their supplies into conformance with environmental guidelines, but the rest are still building or preparing to build systems, he said.

The contamination warning comes days after President Barack Obama announced nearly $200 million in aid for the parched state, including $60 million for food banks to help people thrown out of work in agriculture-related industries as farmers leave fields unplanted and ranchers sell cattle early because the animals have no grass for grazing.

The California Farm Bureau estimates the overall impact of idled farmland will run to roughly $5 billion, from in direct costs of lost production and indirect effects through the region's economy.

Last month, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, as reservoir levels dipped to all-time lows with little rain or snow in the forecast.

On Tuesday, the state's top public health officials said they were targeting 10 communities for immediate relief, trucking in water when necessary and helping to lay pipes connecting residents with nearby public water systems.

Worst hit is the small city of Willits in the northern part of the state, public health director Ron Chapman said. Also targeted for priority help included tiny water systems throughout the state, one so small it serves 55 people in a community listed simply as Whispering Pines Apartments.

"Small drinking water systems are especially vulnerable to drought conditions," the public health department said on its website. "They have fewer customers, which can mean fewer options in terms of resources like funding and infrastructure."


Linda Rudolph, co-director for the Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland and a former state health official, said millions of Californians rely on wells and other sources of groundwater where the concentration of contaminants is growing because of dry conditions.

"Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated, for example with nitrates from over application of nitrogen fertilizer or concentrated animal feeding operations, with industrial chemicals, with chemicals from oil extraction or due to natural contaminants with chemicals such as arsenic," Rudolph said.

In addition, as dry conditions turn ponds and creeks into stagnant pools, mosquitoes breed, and risk increases for the diseases they carry, she said at the hearing. Residents with asthma and other lung conditions are also at risk as dry conditions create dust.

The state's firefighters put out 400 blazes during the first three weeks of January, normally the state's wettest season and its slowest for wildfires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"We are experiencing conditions right now that we would usually see in August," its website quoted Chief Ken Pimlott as saying.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Kilika on February 20, 2014, 02:33:05 am
as dry conditions turn ponds and creeks into stagnant pools, mosquitoes breed, and risk increases for the diseases they carry

No worries. Once all that standing water drys up, so will the mosquitoes.

By the way, that statement is a bit dishonest, because mosquitoes only survive in standing water. If there is really ANY kind of movement to the body of water, they won't lay eggs there. Creeks definitely wouldn't produce mosquitoes.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 20, 2014, 10:06:18 pm
Plan to divide California into 6 states advances

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California has reached the breaking point, says Tim Draper. The Silicon Valley venture capitalist is pushing a proposal to crack the nation's most populous state into smaller pieces - six of them.

California has grown so big, so inefficient, it's essentially ungovernable, according to a ballot initiative that could reach voters as early as November.

It has to go, he says.

"Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government," according to Draper's plan, which cleared a key government hurdle this week, part of the process to qualify for the ballot. California residents "would be better served by six smaller state governments."

In an interview Thursday, Draper said he has seen a state once regarded as a model slide into decline — many public schools are troubled, transportation, water and other infrastructure systems are overmatched and outdated, spending on prisons has soared.

A group of states could change that, he said, competing and cooperating with each other.

Without change "it will get worse," he warned. "California is not working."

No one would dispute that California, home to 38 million people, is full of rivalries and squabbling. Dodgers or Giants. Tacos or sushi. Where water goes, and how much of it.

But the state has proven reliably resilient against attempts to split it apart, dating to the era of its founding in 1850. Over the years, proposals have suggested California should be two states, or three, or four.

"It's certainly fun to talk about," said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. But "its prospects are nil."

Even if it were to be approved by voters, Congress would have to endorse the idea of creating six new states — and adding 10 senators to the chamber's political mix (as with all states, California currently has two). Congress, under the U.S. Constitution, must approve the creation or division of any states.

"I don't think anyone is going to give California 12 Senate seats," Sonenshein said.

Draper, in documents he submitted to the Secretary of State's Office, recommends dividing California regionally, including establishing a state called Silicon Valley, which would include San Francisco and nearby counties that are home to technology giants like Facebook and Apple.

Los Angeles would become part of the new state of West California, which also would include the coastal cities of Santa Barbara and Ventura. The state's farming heartland would become Central California. San Diego would be the largest city in the new South California.

Earlier this week, he received approval from the state to begin collecting petition signatures to qualify the proposal for the ballot — he needs about 808,000 by mid-July to make the cut.

It's also possible the proposal could be delayed until 2016. Facing a tight deadline to gather signatures and build political momentum, "I want to make sure there is enough time," Draper said.

The complexities of dividing a state the size of California, by itself among the world's top 10 economies, would be daunting.

What would become of the California State Water Project, which uses aqueducts and pumping stations to disperse water across the state? If the federal government approves the idea, tax collections and spending by the state would end, and its assets and debts would have to be divided.

Draper said the smaller governments would be more responsive to the needs of residents and communities, compared to Sacramento. There would be vigorous competition for residents among them, he predicted, again driving change.

Campaign veteran Matt David doubted the proposal would get far.

"California is as diverse geographically as it demographically, but ultimately we all take pride in the fact that we are Californians," said David, a Republican consultant based in Los Angeles. "Diluting that identity between six states will never happen."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 25, 2014, 05:17:29 pm
Prison ‘Lifers’ Being Released At Record Pace

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly 1,400 lifers in California’s prisons have been released over the past three years in a sharp turnaround in a state where murderers and others sentenced to life with the possibility of parole almost never got out.

Since taking office three years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown has affirmed 82 percent of the parole board decisions, resulting in a record number of inmates with life sentences going free.

Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, authorized the release of 557 lifers during his six-year term, sustaining the board at a 27 percent clip. Before that, Gov. Gray Davis over three years approved the release of two.

This dramatic shift in releases under Brown comes as the state grapples with court orders to ease a decades-long prison crowding crisis that has seen triple bunking, prison gyms turned into dormitories and inmates shipped out of state.

Crime victims and their advocates have said the releases are an injustice to the victims and that the parolees could pose a danger to the public. More than 80 percent of lifers are in prison for murder, while the remaining are mostly rapists and kidnappers.

“This is playing Russian roulette with public safety,” said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. “This is a change of philosophy that can be dangerous.”

The governor’s office said the overcrowding crisis plays no role in the parole decisions.

Rather, the governor’s office said, each case is addressed individually and Brown is bound by court orders that require state officials to ease the stringent parole requirements that have dramatically increased the time murderers spend in prison.

Today, an inmate convicted of first-degree murders can expect to serve an average of 27 years— almost twice what it was two decades ago before California became the fourth state to give governors the politically fraught final decision on lifer paroles.

Since then, the number of lifers has grown from 9,000 to 35,000 inmates, representing a quarter of the state prison population. But two seminal California Supreme Court rulings in 2008 have significantly eased tough parole restrictions.

The court ordered prison officials to consider more than the severity of the applicant’s underlying crimes. It ruled that inmates’ records while incarcerated plus their volunteer work should count heavily in assessing early release.

State figures show that since the rulings, the board has granted parole to nearly 3,000 lifers, including 590 last year and a record 670 in 2012. In the three decades prior to the 2008 rulings, only about 1,800 such prisoners were granted parole.

California’s parole board decides which prisoners serving life sentences are suitable for release, but governors have veto power.

Davis reversed only two of 232 parole board decisions granting parole between 1999 and 2002 — a rate of 2 percent. Schwarzenegger sustained the board at a 27 percent clip during his seven years in office when he was presented with 2,050 paroles granted by the board.

Brown has allowed 82 percent of the 1,590 paroles granted by the board

Brown’s office says he is operating under a different legal landscape than previous governors, and that he is following court rulings and a 23-year-old state law that gave governors the power to block paroles of lifers who the state board found suitable for release.

A Stanford University study of lifer paroles between 1990 and 2010 found that a murderer had a 6 percent chance of leaving prison alive since governors were given the power to veto board decisions.

Gov. Pete Wilson, the first governor vested with veto power, used it sparingly, though the parole board was approving just a few dozen paroles a year compared with the hundreds the board has been approving in recent years.

Between 1991 and when he left office in January 1999, he approved 115 of the 171, or 67 percent, of the lifers the board found suitable for release.

“If an individual is eligible for parole and the board determines they are no longer a threat, the law says they must be paroled unless there is firm evidence indicating they are still a threat,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said.

The few studies of recidivism among released lifers including a Stanford University report show they re-offend at much lower rates than other inmates released on parole and none has been convicted of a new murder.

Of the 860 murderers paroled between 1990 and 2010 that Stanford tracked, only five inmates committed new crimes and none were convicted of murder. The average released lifer is in his mid-50s. Experts say older ex-cons are less prone to commit new crimes than younger ones.

Brown has reversed the parole board. On Friday, his office announced it blocked the parole of 100 inmates deemed fit by the board for release and sent two others back to the board for reconsideration.

One of those inmates found fit for release by the board but blocked by Brown was James Mackey, a former University of Pacific football player found guilty of shooting his victim with a crossbow and then strangling him. Brown said Mackey hasn’t sufficiently owned up to the crime.

“Until he can give a better explanation for his actions,” Brown wrote, “I do not think he is ready to be released.”

Ernest Morgan on the other hand, is a lifer Brown did let free.

Morgan, a San Francisco man convicted of the shotgun slaying of his 14-year-old stepsister burglarizing the family home, was turned down for parole five times before the board granted him parole, only to be overruled by Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger wrote that Morgan posed “a current, unreasonable risk to public safety.” And he noted that Morgan had at one point claimed that the shotgun had gone off accidentally, although he later acknowledged his guilt to the parole board.

“So I was devastated when Schwarzenegger denied my release,” said Morgan, who now is majoring in business management at San Francisco State. “I felt I was a political pawn who would never get out.”

In 2011, Brown approved his release after 24 years in prison. Brown made no comment in granting Morgan his release. Instead, the governor signaled his approval by taking no action within 30 days of the parole board’s decision becoming official.

“It’s been a remarkable and unexpected change,” said Johanna Hoffman, Morgan’s lawyer who has represented hundreds of lifers vying for parole since becoming a California lawyer in 2008. “The overcrowding issue has a huge amount to do with it.”

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 02, 2014, 06:11:35 pm
California farmers hire dowsers to find water

With California in the grips of drought, farmers throughout the state are using a mysterious and some say foolhardy tool for locating underground water: dowsers, or water witches.


ST. HELENA, Calif. — With California in the grips of drought, farmers throughout the state are using a mysterious and some say foolhardy tool for locating underground water: dowsers, or water witches.

Practitioners of dowsing use rudimentary tools — usually copper sticks or wooden "divining rods" that resemble large wishbones — and what they describe as a natural energy to find water or minerals hidden deep underground.

While both state and federal water scientists disapprove of dowsing, California "witchers" are busy as farmers seek to drill more groundwater wells due to the state's record drought that persists despite recent rain.

The nation's fourth-largest wine maker, Bronco Wine Co., says it uses dowsers on its 40,000 acres of California vineyards, and dozens of smaller farmers and homeowners looking for wells on their property also pay for dowsers. Nationwide, the American Society of Dowsers, Inc. boasts dozens of local chapters, which meet annually at a conference.

"It's kind of bizarre. Scientists don't believe in it, but I do and most of the farmers in the Valley do," said Marc Mondavi, a vineyard owner whose family has been growing grapes and making wine since the mid-20th century in the Napa Valley.

Mondavi doesn't just believe in dowsing, he practices it.

On a recent afternoon, standing in this family's Charles Krug vineyard holding two copper divining rods, Mondavi walked slowly forward through the dormant vines.

After about 40 feet, the rods quickly crossed and Mondavi — a popular dowser in the world famous wine region— stopped. "This is the edge of our underground stream," he said during the demonstration. Mondavi said he was introduced to "witching" by the father of an old girlfriend, and realized he had a proclivity for the practice.

After the valley's most popular dowser died in recent years, Mondavi has become the go-to water witch in Napa Valley. He charges about $500 per site visit, and more, if a well he discovers ends up pumping more than 50 gallons per minute.

With more farmers relying on groundwater to irrigate crops, Mondavi's phone has been ringing often as growers worry about extended years of dryness.

He had six witching jobs lined up over a recent weekend, three homes whose springs were running dry and three vineyards. It's so popular that he's even created a line of wines called "The Divining Rod" that will be sold nationwide this year.

While popular, scientists say dowsers are often just lucky, looking for water in places where it's already known to likely exist.

"There's no scientific basis to dowsing. If you want to go to a palm reader or a mentalist, then you're the same person who's going to go out and hire a dowser," said Tom Ballard, a hydrogeologist with Taber Consultants, a geological engineering firm based in West Sacramento

"The success is really an illusion. In most places you're going to be able to drill and find some water," he said.

Still, the consistent interest in water witches nationwide even spurred The U.S. Geological Survey to officially weigh in on the fairly harmless practice.

Dowsing has not held up well under scientific scrutiny, the USGS said, adding that dowsers are often successful in areas where groundwater is abundant.

"The natural explanation of 'successful' water dowsing is that in many areas water would be hard to miss. The dowser commonly implies that the spot indicated by the rod is the only one where water could be found, but this is not necessarily true," the survey said in its report.

Christopher Bonds, senior engineering geologist for the state Department of Water Resources, said his agency does not advocate using witchers.

"DWR is an advocate for having qualified and licensed water professionals locate groundwater resources using established scientific methods," Bonds said in an email.

Don't tell that to John Franzia, co-owner of Bronco Wine Co., the nation's fourth-largest wine producer based on sales. It makes wine under hundreds of labels, including the famous "Two Buck Chuck."

Bronco also owns more vineyard land in California than anyone else, and when it needs a new well there's a good chance a dowser will be employed.

Franzia said the company uses many technologies to find water on its 40,000-acres, but turns to dowsers often and with great success.

"I've used witchers for probably the last 15-to-20 years," Franzia said. "Seems like the witchers do the better job than the guys with all the electrical equipment. I believe in them."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 24, 2014, 09:21:05 pm

Congress focuses on dams amid California's drought

California's drought prompts Congress to look anew at expanding or building new reservoirs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- California's drought has sparked a new push by federal lawmakers to create or expand a handful of reservoirs around the state, ramping up a political battle that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once referred to as a "holy war in some ways."

Government agencies have been studying five major water storage projects for nearly two decades, with nothing to show for the effort so far.

Meanwhile, the state's water problems have only grown worse. California has had its third relatively dry winter in a row and court rulings have mandated that more water be released from reservoirs to sustain fish species in Northern California's delta. At the same time, the nation's most populous state, now at 38 million residents, continues to grow beyond the capacity of a water storage and delivery system that was mostly completed in the late 1960s.

This winter is among the driest on record, forcing some communities to ration water and leading farmers to fallow thousands of acres that otherwise would be producing vegetables, fruits and nuts for the nation.

The state Legislature is expected to debate water storage options later this year as it seeks compromise on a multibillion dollar water bond for the November ballot. But California's congressional delegation has provided a jumpstart.

Bills proposed in Congress would authorize a number of projects to expand or create reservoirs. Among the projects are raising the dam at Shasta Lake to store more water in California's largest reservoir, creating a new reservoir in the Sierra Nevada along the upper San Joaquin River east of Fresno and damming a valley north of Sacramento.

Other storage options include expanding the dams at the San Luis Reservoir in the central part of the state and at Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area.

Authorizing such projects through federal legislation would be a prerequisite for dedicating money to a project in the future.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said those who oppose new or expanded dams are hoping that doing so will deter growth and development, but it's a losing battle.

"Growth comes anyway," she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "Then you don't have enough water."

Feinstein acknowledges that conservation also is critical to meeting the state's water needs but said some new or expanded reservoirs must be allowed so more water can be captured during wet years and stored for use during the dry ones.

"They have a certain prior, I don't know how to put it, stigma to them," she said of dams. "But this is a different day now. And it's a day that's been coming for a long time. Somehow, we've got to measure up to it."

In California, water often is a shared commodity between the federal government, the state and local users.

Feinstein is urging the state Legislature to modify the bond measure on the November ballot to prioritize both water storage and conservation. She would like to see $3 billion dedicated in the bond to developing storage, with an additional $2 billion set aside for restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the heart of California's water-delivery system.

Doing so would be intended to appease both farmers and the environmentalists.

No doubt there will be opposition. The $1 billion proposal to raise the dam at Shasta, for example, would flood part of the McCloud River, one of the most picturesque rivers in the state. It also would inundate several sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu, a small tribe that is not federally recognized.

In general, creating and expanding reservoirs are among the most expensive and environmentally harmful ways to address California's water issues, said Doug Obegi, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He said investing in water recycling, storm water capture in urban areas and similar projects provides a greater return on investment.

He said he failed to see how the current storage projects would help California's overall water supply, with so many reservoirs already far below their capacity.

"It just doesn't add up to a lot of water," he said.

Peter Gleick, director of the Pacific Institute and one of California's leading water experts, said major dam projects "worked fine when there was new water to be had and when we didn't care about the environment. But those days are over."

Republicans already have pushed through legislation in the House that would authorize construction for four of the storage projects. But the main thrust of the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. David Valadao and co-sponsored by every GOP member of California's delegation, would cease the implementation of a lawsuit settlement designed to restore salmon populations on the San Joaquin River.

Water dedicated to maintaining fish and wildlife would instead go to farmers and communities who receive water through the federal Central Valley Project. That bill has no chance to pass the Senate in its current form.

As an alternative, Feinstein and fellow California Sen. Barbara Boxer, also a Democrat, are pushing legislation that would give state and federal agencies more flexibility to pump water out of the delta to aid farmers, as long as the pumping does not violate the Endangered Species Act.

But one aspect of the House bill Feinstein endorses is the call for more major storage projects.

"We should have some federal authorization of dam projects that have a positive cost-benefit ratio," she told the AP.

The sharpest difference between the House bill and what Democrats seek is that the House version relies strictly on the state to pay for new or larger dams. Democrats say the federal government should help cover some of the costs.

Rep. Jim Costa, a Democrat from the Central Valley farming region, said he doubts the projects will get off the ground without federal money.

He has sponsored three bills — to authorize expanding the dams at Shasta Lake and San Luis Reservoir, and to build the Temperance Flat dam on the San Joaquin River. Cost-sharing arrangements, which he called crucial to the projects eventually getting built, would be negotiated later.

Costa rejected the sentiment that conservation and recycling should be relied upon instead. He said the drought is so severe that every tool is needed.

"You cannot recycle in enough quantities to irrigate half the nation's fruits and vegetables," he said. "It's really that simple."

He said he believes prospects for more storage are better now because more parts of the state are feeling the pain from the drought.

Others are more pessimistic. During a congressional hearing last week in Fresno, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who represents a vast district in Northern California, said a "radical ideology" has made its way into California water policy.

"Translation: That means these dams will not get built," he said.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 20, 2014, 04:00:52 pm
California's Catastrophic Drought Just Got Worse—a Lot Worse

How bad is California’s devastating drought? Just in the past week, the percentage of the state identified as being in “exceptional drought”—the most severe category—jumped from a quarter to a third.

The government-funded United States Drought Monitor classifies the entire state as in drought, and as of Tuesday, nearly 77 percent of California was in “extreme drought,” which is just one notch below exceptional drought.

Here’s a map of California’s drought-afflicted areas as of June 10.

Here’s the map as of June 17.

This map from June 2013 looks deceptively reassuring—no red spots!—but even a year ago, nearly the entire state was experiencing moderate to extreme drought.

Before the turn for the worse this week, the situation in the Golden State was already dire. “California topped the U.S. with 70 percent of its rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition on June 1,” stated a June 5 report from the Drought Monitor.

In the last 24 hours, for instance, only two spots in California received any rain—Stockton and Vandenberg each got 0.01 inches, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

So, Californians must be emptying swimming pools, letting their lawns go brown, and forgoing flushing their toilets, right?

Not quite. While farmers have seen their irrigation allotments from state and federal water projects cut to near zero, coastal Californians seem oblivious to the browning of their proudly green state.

Gov. Jerry Brown in January asked Californians to cut their water consumption by 20 percent, a request roundly ignored. Water use fell just 5 percent between January and May, according to a state survey, while water consumption in the environmentally conscious San Francisco Bay Area declined only 2 percent.

It’s not as if Californians don’t know the drought drill: short showers, no car washing, and, yes, don’t flush that toilet every time. Landscaping is one of the biggest water hogs, so rip out the lawn and replace it with native and drought-tolerant plants.

I just did, and my local water district is even paying me to de-suburbanize my Berkeley backyard, though the subsidy appears to be little known.

But as the drought intensifies, a crackdown is looming. Santa Cruz County recently imposed mandatory water restrictions, and the state is considering doing the same.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 01, 2014, 11:37:33 pm

In dry California, water fetching record prices
In bone dry California, water fetching record prices as sellers cash in on drought


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Throughout California's desperately dry Central Valley, those with water to spare are cashing in.

As a third parched summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, two water districts and a pair of landowners in the heart of the state's farmland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private caches.

Nearly 40 others also are seeking to sell their surplus water this year, according to state and federal records.

Economists say it's been decades since the water market has been this hot. In the last five years alone, the price has grown tenfold to as much as $2,200 an acre-foot — enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.

Unlike the previous drought in 2009, the state has been hands-off, letting the market set the price even though severe shortages prompted a statewide drought emergency declaration this year.

The price spike comes after repeated calls from scientists that global warming will worsen droughts and increase the cost of maintaining California's strained water supply systems.

Some water economists have called for more regulations to keep aquifers from being depleted and ensure the market is not subject to manipulation such as that seen in the energy crisis of summer 2001, when the state was besieged by rolling blackouts.

"If you have a really scarce natural resource that the state's economy depends on, it would be nice to have it run efficiently and transparently," said Richard Howitt, professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis.

Private water sales are becoming more common in states that have been hit by drought, including Texas and Colorado.

In California, the sellers include those who hold claims on water that date back a century, private firms who are extracting groundwater and landowners who stored water when it was plentiful in underground caverns known as water banks.

"This year the market is unbelievable," said Thomas Grecie, the general manager of the Madera Irrigation District, which recently made nearly $7 million from selling about 3,200 acre-feet. "And this is a way to pay our bills."

All of the district's water went to farms; the city of Santa Barbara, which has its own water shortages, was outbid.

The prices are so high in some rural pockets that water auctions have become a spectacle.

One agricultural water district amid the almond orchards and derrick fields northwest of Bakersfield recently announced it would sell off extra water it acquired through a more than century-old right to use flows from the Kern River.

Local TV crews and journalists flocked to the district's office in February to watch as manager Maurice Etchechury unveiled bids enclosed in about 50 sealed envelopes before the cameras.

"Now everyone's mad at me saying I increased the price of water. I didn't do it, the weather did it," said Etchechury, who manages the Buena Vista Water Storage District, which netted about $13.5 million from the auction of 12,000 acre-feet of water.

Competition for water in California is heightened by the state's geography: The north has the water resources but the biggest water consumers are to the south, including most of the country's produce crops.

The amount shipped south through a network of pumps, pipes and aqueducts is limited by the drought and legal restrictions on pumping to save a threatened fish.

During the last drought, the state Department of Water Resources ran a drought water bank, which helped broker deals between those who were short of water and those who had plenty. But several environmental groups sued, alleging the state failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act in approving the sales, and won.

This year, the state is standing aside, saying buyers and sellers have not asked for the state's help. "We think that buyers and sellers can negotiate their own deals better than the state," said Nancy Quan, a supervising engineer with the department.

Quan's department, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the State Water Resources Control Board have tracked at least 38 separate sales this year, but the agencies are not aware of all sales, nor do they keep track of the price of water sold, officials said.

The maximum volume that could change hands through the 38 transactions is 730,323 acre-feet, which is about 25 percent of what the State Water Project has delivered to farms and cities in an average year in the last decade.

That figure still doesn't include the many private water sales that do not require any use of government-run pipes or canals, including the three chronicled by the AP. It's not clear however how much of this water will be sold via auctions.

Some of those in the best position to sell water this year have been able to store their excess supplies in underground banks, a tool widely embraced in the West for making water supplies reliable and marketable. The area surrounding Bakersfield is home to some of the country's largest water banks.

The drought is so severe that aggressive pumping of the banked supplies may cause some wells to run dry by year's end, said Eric Averett, general manager the Rosedale Rio Bravo District, located next to several of the state's largest underground caches.

Farther north in the long, flat Central Valley, others are drilling new wells to sell off groundwater.

A water district board in Stanislaus County approved a pilot project this month to buy up to 26,000 acre-feet of groundwater pumped over two years from 14 wells on two landowners' parcels in neighboring Merced County.

Since the district is getting no water from the federal government this year, the extra water will let farmers keep their trees alive, said Anthea Hansen, general manager of the arid Del Puerto Water District.

Hansen estimated growers would ultimately pay $775 to $980 an acre-foot — a total of roughly $20 million to $25.5 million.

"We have to try to keep them alive," Hansen said. "It's too much loss in the investment and the local economy to not try."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 16, 2014, 12:48:39 pm
California's Drought Is 'The Greatest Water Loss Ever Seen,' And The Effects Will Be Severe

California's current drought will cost the state $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs, researchers announced at a press conference July 15 in Washington, D.C. The findings are from a new report from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science.

California is one of the U.S.'s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country's produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world's almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

But this food-rich state is in its third year of drought. In May, 100% of the state was in drought and the food-producing Central Valley was in an "exceptional drought."

Because of this drought, the farmers are getting only one-third of the usual amount of surface water. To keep their crops alive, farmers are switching from using water from rivers and reservoirs to using underground water sources. The problem? This groundwater won't last forever, especially as these droughts continue.

How Bad Is It?

While the drought itself is the third-worst ever seen, it's responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in the area, likely because farmers are using more water than ever before. The above-ground water available for farms decreased by one-third because of decreased rain, missing snow, and snow caps melting in the mountains.

In total, California will lose including about 3% of the total agriculture value of the state. That includes 17,000 jobs from, according to Jay Lund of UC Davis, "the sector of the population with the least ability to roll with the punches," he said. "You will get your fruits, nuts, vegetables, and wine, but there are pockets of deprivation in the Central Valley who are out of water and out of jobs."

The latest report details the future effects of this lasting drought on our food security are intense. Here are the findings, from the UC Davis press release:

    Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion (revenue losses of $1 billion and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs). This net revenue loss is about 3% of the state's total agricultural value.
    The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion.
    The loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs related to agriculture represents 3.8% of farm unemployment.
    428,000 acres, or 5%, of irrigated cropland is going out of production in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Southern California because of the drought.
    The Central Valley is hardest hit, particularly the Tulare Basin, with projected losses of $810 million, or 2.3%, in crop revenue; $203 million in dairy and livestock value; and $453 million in additional well-pumping costs.
    Agriculture on the Central Coast and in Southern California will be less affected by this year's drought, with about 19,150 acres fallowed, $10 million in lost crop revenue and $6.3 million in additional pumping costs.
    Overdraft of groundwater is expected to cause additional wells in the Tulare Basin to run dry if the drought continues.
    The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Nińo conditions.

    Consumer food prices will be largely unaffected. Higher prices at the grocery store of high-value California crops like nuts, wine grapes, and dairy foods are driven more by market demand than by the drought.

What Can Be Done?

California's farmers have made their way through this drought without huge devastation because of the groundwater they're relying on. There's plenty now to make up for the drought, but there won't always be an excess. According to UC Davis:

If the drought continues for two more years, groundwater reserves will continue to be used to replace surface water losses, the study said. Pumping ability will slowly decrease, while costs and losses will slowly increase due to groundwater depletion.

This depletion is a "slow-moving train wreck," according to Richard Howitt of UC Davis. Local action needs to be taken to ensure these groundwater reserves are preserved for future droughts.

The researchers urged a greater investment in preserving groundwater stocks — making sure they allowed to replenish during wet seasons (and making sure they get used responsibly when they are needed) and increasing groundwater storage through reservoirs.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 27, 2014, 02:27:25 pm
California trying to cut water, but is it working?

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Gov. Jerry Brown called on everyone from residents to businesses in California to curb water usage by 20 percent, he told state government to lead by example.

Six months after his emergency declaration, many agencies and departments can't say whether their efforts to conserve water are sufficient because few have been comparing how much water they are using this year to last.

Here are five things to know about how state agencies are faring as they try to use less water:


Brown's emergency declaration in January didn't make conservation mandatory and there's no penalty if state agencies fail to comply. Still, it's clear that agencies are trying.

One easy way to conserve is to limit — or eliminate — landscape irrigation. Agencies with large campuses, such as the Department of State Hospitals, said such cuts were an important source of savings.

Another obvious source of waste is leaky pipes and faucets. The California State Prison in Sacramento, which loses about 50,000 gallons of water per day due to leaks, is replacing underground pipes. Several other prisons are doing the same.


Tracking water usage across dozens of agencies and departments in a California government that is larger than that of many countries can be a complex task. Each agency has dozens, hundreds or even thousands of separate accounts for the utilities that serve their buildings. Some are billed monthly, some every two months, some every quarter. Further complicating comparisons, water is measured in various units: gallons, cubic feet and acre feet.


Of the 11 high-use agencies that The Associated Press requested water data from, only four were able to provide gallons used for the first half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 for all the facilities they manage. Agencies are not required to track this year's usage until early 2015, so it falls on each agency's own initiative to gauge their conservation efforts in real time.


Exactly how much water state agencies are using may never be known for sure. That's because the state gets meter readings for buildings it owns — not always for leased or rented sites. The Employment Development Department, for example, provided the AP data for 26 sites it owns, but did not have water usage data on the dozens of other sites where it administers unemployment insurance, collects payroll taxes or compiles labor market statistics.


Even before the current drought, state government had instituted water conservation measures. Because some waste already had been eliminated, finding more savings may be tougher.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 03, 2014, 03:55:08 pm
By Andrea Thompson, Climate Central

Record-setting drought intensifies in parched California

The relentless heat that has plagued the western half of the country this summer has ratcheted up California’s terrible drought once again, bringing it to record levels. More than half of the state is in “exceptional” drought, the highest category recognized by the U.S. Drought Monitor, which released its latest update on Thursday.

“The heat has been and continues to be a factor in drought expansion,” Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and this week’s Drought Monitor author, told Climate Central.

New information coming in about reservoir levels, stream flows and groundwater pumping prompted Rippey to increase the amount of California covered by exceptional drought to 58 percent from 34 percent (all of the state is in some level of drought). That is a record amount of the state covered by this level of drought since the Monitor began in 1990, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While the drought can’t be directly linked to climate change, the warming of the planet is expected to make already dry places drier. And future droughts could be even worse.

The current drought — which rivals the terrible drought of the late 1970s — has been 3 years in the making, as three successive winter wet seasons went by with below-normal rainfall. The paltry snowpack this year really intensified matters, and the persistent pattern of heat in the West and cold in the East has kept much of California baking all year. In fact, the state had its warmest first six months of a year on record this year. July has followed suit with, for example, San Francisco registering an uncharacteristic 90°F on July 25, a full 12°F above normal.

“Excessive heat this time of year leads to heavy irrigation demands, deteriorating rangeland and pasture conditions, and higher evaporation rates,” Rippey wrote in an email.

These effects of the heat further reduce reservoir levels and stream flows and can send more towns and farmers in search of groundwater to pump. Reports of such changes can slowly trickle in as the impacts intensify and give the Drought Monitor authors reason to upgrade the level of drought in an area, or in this case, over a large swath of Northern California.

Reservoir storage in the state currently sits at about 60 percent of its normal level, above the record low of 41 percent set in 1977, but short about a year’s worth of reservoir storage. That shortfall is the result of the abysmal rains over the past 3 years: From July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2014, statewide precipitation averaged 45.05 inches, which was a record low.

“Effectively, only about 2 years of precipitation fell in that 3-year period from July 2011 to June 2014,” Rippey said.

With such dismal numbers, water conservation is key.

“Conservation is certainly critical from this point forward, especially if drought-easing precipitation does not materialize during the 2014-15 cold season,” he said.

The state recently enacted mandatory water restrictions after a call for voluntary conservation failed to move the needle. For example, new regulations call for local agencies to fine anyone found wasting water up to $500 per day.

The depth of the drought and the heat have both helped fuel wildfires in the state, including a fire raging in Yosemite National Park that is only 34 percent contained.

Officials have been hoping that a developing El Nińo, currently foundering, would bring some relief in the form of winter rains this coming winter. But only strong El Nińos are well correlated with rainier-than-normal conditions over Southern California, and this El Nińo is looking less and less like it will be a strong one. However, even a weak or moderate El Nińo could mean the wet season hits somewhat close to normal rainfall numbers.

For now, Californians can simply limp through the rest of the dry season and hope that the winter is finally wet once again.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 05, 2014, 06:32:51 pm

A modern-day Dust Bowl
As a drought unfolds slowly and devastatingly, California farmers feel desperate and abandoned


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Bob Taylor was barely 2 years old when his parents packed as many belongings as they could into their rickety old car and headed west from New Mexico toward California.

It was 1936, the height of the Dust Bowl, when the worst drought the country had ever seen forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their parched farmlands and head west in the hope of finding jobs and a more stable life.

Taylor’s parents were farm laborers, cotton pickers from Oklahoma and Texas who had slowly inched their way west chasing the crops that had somehow managed to survive the lack of rain. But then came the terrible dust storms, choking black blizzards of dirt fueled by the loose soil of eroded farmlands that swept across the plains, turning the days as dark as night. They were monsters that suffocated the life out of anything the drought hadn’t managed to kill — crops, animals and even people, who began to die from the dust that filled their lungs.

Taylor was too young to remember how bad it was. But he grew up hearing the stories from his parents, of how the land that had once been so rich and lush and healthy had slowly turned cracked and brittle and unwelcoming of life. How a drought that initially seemed like nothing more than a passing dry spell gradually unfolded into a disaster that destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people and deeply scarred the land in ways that never really healed.

“The time was hard,” Taylor said. “People were tough, my parents were tough… But the drought didn’t let up. It had no mercy at all on anything or anyone.”


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 02, 2014, 06:42:15 pm
California water infrastructure on verge of historic collapse

NaturalNews) Water is increasingly hard to come by in drought-stricken California, where many farmers are struggling to get enough water just to pay the bills. But the situation in the Golden State is far worse than many people realize, according to new reports, as underground aquifers that take decades to recharge are being sucked dry, and water infrastructure that has long sustained the agricultural growing regions of the state continue their collapse.

Writing for The Washington Post (WP), journalist Joby Warrick draws attention to what many scientists say is an unprecedented collapse of California's vast water infrastructure, which is marked by an elaborate system of canals, reservoirs and wells that transfer water from the mountains and other areas to the Central Valley. Altogether, the state contains some 27 million acres of cropland. This system is now failing, say experts, and the consequences will more than likely be unparalleled in California's history.

According to the report, many of California's underground aquifers, which are typically drawn upon as a last resort when all else fails, are now the go-to for watering food crops throughout the state. In some areas, these aquifers have dropped by as much as 100 feet, an unprecedented decline that, even if the drought suddenly ended, would likely take several decades or longer to fully recharge.

"A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account," stated Richard Howitt, a professor emeritus of resource economics from the University of California at Davis, to WP. Howitt co-authored a study published back in July that estimates a 5.1 million acre-feet loss of water this year from California's underground reserves, a volume the size of Lake Shasta, the state's largest water reservoir.

"We're acting like the super rich who have so much money they don't need to balance their checkbook."

Thousands of California farmers could lose their land if water runs out

But many farmers have no choice. They either have to pull the water now to save their crops or face potential bankruptcy and the loss of their farms. Because of the immense scarcity of water this year -- some 60 percent of California is now recorded as being at the highest level of drought, dubbed "exceptional" -- many farmers didn't even receive a share from the infrastructure.

One such farmer is Joe Carrancho, who grows rice in Willows, California. The 71-year-old lost 25 percent of his usual water allotment this year -- and he is considered lucky, since some farmers received no water at all -- and is now struggling to make payroll. He is also having to make payments on a $500,000 rice harvester that, despite the water losses, still costs the same every month.

"I have 25 percent less production, but no one is giving me a 25 percent break in my bills," he told WP.

Lawmakers propose drastic water restrictions to avoid collapse
Agriculture is by far the largest water consumer in the state, representing more than 40 percent of California's water usage. Even with about 35 million residents, California's urban areas only account for about 9 percent of overall water usage, which is minimal in the larger scheme of things.

But state lawmakers are moving to impose tighter water restrictions, including a $7.5 million bond measure that, if passed this fall, would expand the state's reservoir system and improve water recycling and other conservation efforts.

"We've reached a tipping point where the surface water is no longer enough, yet there are increasing demands from both agriculture and the environment," added groundwater management expert and hydrologist Graham Fogg to WP.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 02, 2014, 07:36:20 pm
Central California residents rely on bottled water as wells run dry

Extreme drought conditions have become so harsh for the Central Valley community of East Porterville, many of its residents dependent on their own wells have run out of water.

Roughly 300 homes have received a three-week supply of bottled water after Tulare County officials discovered their wells had gone dry.

In all, county officials distributed 15,552 1-gallon bottles of water, and have been filling a 2,500-gallon tank with nonpotable water so residents can flush toilets and bathe.

And the problem could be worse because many believe the number of people whose wells have gone dry is "grossly underreported," said Michael Lockman, manager of Tulare County's Office of Emergency Services.

If it wasn't for a local nonprofit group, county officials probably wouldn't have known that the residents were in dire need of water because they didn't ask for help, said Denise England, senior administrative analyst with the county's Water Resources Department.

"It was really surprising," she said.

County officials say East Porterville residents are typically very private, and for whatever reason, distrust the government.

Lockman said some residents fear their landlord will evict them because their well went dry or are afraid the county's Department of Child Support Services will take their children away because they no longer have water -- a rumor the county has been working to dispel, he added.

"We are really trying to get the message out that we are just here to help," Lockman said.

In one case, county officials found up to 14 people living inside one home with an empty well.

It wasn't until after February that, as the drought wore on, many residents started looking to expand their wells, but the demand created a huge backlog among drilling companies. Now, a typical wait can be 12 to 18 months, Lockman said.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 04, 2014, 01:44:53 pm
Drought apocalypse begins in California as wells run dry

NaturalNews) Water wells in central California have begun to run dry, reports the LA Times. (1) "Extreme drought conditions have become so harsh for the Central Valley community of East Porterville [that] many of its residents dependent on their own wells have run out of water."

Tulare County has confirmed their wells have run out of water, and so far hundreds of homes have no running water.

According to the LA Times, rumors are also spreading that Child Protective Services officials will begin taking children away from families who have no running water, although the county claims the rumor is false.

It begins: the collapse of California's water aquifers
With this news, it is now official that the collapse of California's water aquifers has begun. With each passing month and year, more and more wells will run dry across the state as California plummets into the desert conditions from which it once sprang.

Extreme drought now covers 82% of California, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. (2) Fifty-eight percent of the state is in "exceptional drought."

During the unfolding of this drought, California farmers and cities have siphoned unprecedented volumes of water out of the state's underground aquifers. This is called "fossil water" and it can take centuries to regenerate. Once this fossil water is used up, it's gone.

35-year "megadrought" may be on the way
"The southwestern United States has fifty percent change of suffering a 'megadrought' that lasts 35 years," reports the Daily Mail. (3)

"They say global warming has meant the chance of a decade long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a 'megadrought' – one that lasts up to 35 years – ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century."

One scientist is quoted in the story as saying, "This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years and would pose unprecedented challenges to water resources in the region."

Unless politicians become magical wizards and figure out a way to create water out of nothing, what all this really means is that cities of the American southwest will not be able to support present-day populations. A mass migration (evacuation) out of the cities will be necessary sooner or later.

California's water deficit will lead to ecological and economic collapse
In an almost perfect reflection of California's state budget deficits, the state is also running an unsustainable water deficit. It is a mathematical certainty that when you remove far more water from the aquifers than is being replenished, the amount of water remaining in those aquifers will eventually reach zero.

This "zero day" water reality is still psychologically denied by most Californians. If the reality of this situation were widely recognized, California would be experiencing a glut of real estate inventory as millions of homeowners tried to sell their properties and evacuate the state. The fact that the real estate market has not yet collapsed in California tells us that Californians are still living in a state of denial about the future of their water supply.

Even as California's water supply collapses by the day, local farmers and towns have few options other than drilling for more water. "Drill! Drill! Drill!" is the mantra of the day, creating an 18-month backlog for well drilling companies. Each new well that's drilled must seek to go deeper than the previous wells which are running dry. It's a literal race to the bottom which can only end in catastrophe.

Then again, a willful acceleration toward catastrophe is merely a sign of the times when it comes to human civilization. There is almost no area in which humans have ever achieved balance: not in fossil fuels, metals mining, fossil water exploitation, debt creation, industrial chemical contamination, ecological exploitation or even global population. It's almost as if the human race is determined to destroy itself while racing to see who can achieve self destruction first.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 12, 2014, 11:27:17 pm
Los Angeles issues 'heat alert' as temperatures soar

Los Angeles health officials on Friday issued a special "heat alert" for this weekend, urging residents to take special precautions with temperatures expected to soar into triple digits across the region.


LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles health officials on Friday issued a special "heat alert" for this weekend, urging residents to take special precautions with temperatures expected to soar into triple digits across the region.

With California already baking under a record drought that has brought acute water shortages, forecasts called for temperatures to reach more than 100 degrees in downtown Los Angeles and even higher in some surrounding communities.

"Extreme heat such as this is not just an inconvenience, it can be dangerous and even deadly, but we can protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors if we take steps to remain cool and hydrated," Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the city's interim health director, said in issuing the heat alert.

Gunzenhauser said some 60 "cooling centers" would be open at libraries, recreation centers and other community buildings throughout the weekend, offering shelter to residents suffering from what is predicted to be sweltering heat.

He cautioned residents that small children, the elderly and pets should not be left alone in homes or vehicles with no air conditioning and said schools should take precautions during sporting events.

"When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke," Gunzenhauser said.

"Others who are frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days," he said.

California is in its third year of a devastating drought that has forced farmers to leave fields unplanted and left communities reliant on well water with little to drink.

Mandatory conservation measures forbid actions such as letting sprinklers drench driveways and concrete walkways while watering the lawn, using a hose without a shut-off valve to wash a car and using drinkable water in fountains that do not recirculate it.

Some communities have banned residents from filling their swimming pools, and in Southern California, residents have removed 2.5 million square feet of turf from their front and back yards, replacing water-thirsty grass with drought tolerant plants and other landscaping.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 16, 2014, 04:22:47 pm

Governor signs first California groundwater rules
Governor signs bills to regulate groundwater use for first time in drought-parched California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California will no longer be the last Western state with a pump-as-you-please approach to groundwater.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Tuesday overhauling the state's management of its groundwater supply, bringing it in line with other states that have long regulated their wells.

Groundwater makes up nearly 60 percent of California's water use during dry years. But it is not monitored and managed the same way as water from reservoirs and rivers.

Supporters of the legislation say the worst drought in a generation inspired them to rethink the state's hands-off approach to tapping wells, which has led to sinking land and billions of dollars in damage to aquifers, roads and canals.

"This is a big deal," Brown said at the signing ceremony in his office. "It has been known about for decades that underground water has to be managed and regulated in some way."

The package signed into law requires some local governments and water districts to begin managing their wells, and it authorizes state water agencies to intervene if necessary. It also allows for water metering and fines to monitor and enforce restrictions.

SB1168, SB1319 and AB1739 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, passed in the final days of the legislative session over objections from Republican lawmakers and Central Valley Democrats.

The opposition was driven by agricultural interests that are increasingly dependent on pumping from wells as reservoirs dry up and government water allocations plunge in the drought. They say the legislation was rushed and punishes well-managed agencies while infringing on property rights.

"While there is legitimate concern about the over-drafting of some groundwater basins, this massive expansion of state authority will not solve the problem," said Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare.

Brown said in a signing message he would push for legislation next year to streamline resolutions in disputes over groundwater rights.

Unlike other states that treat groundwater as a shared resource, California property owners have been entitled to tap water beneath their land since the Gold Rush days.

Lawmakers supporting the groundwater overhaul say the existing system pits farmers against each other in a costly race to dig the deepest wells, resulting in depleted aquifers.

Brown cautioned that years of disagreements and arguments are ahead in regulating groundwater.

The new laws, which take effect in January, target areas where groundwater basins are being depleted faster than they are being replenished to be sustainable by 2040. It gives local land planners two years to create a groundwater sustainability agency, which in turn has up to five years to develop a plan for managing wells and pumping.

The state Water Resources Control Board would step in and develop plans for communities that fail to abide by these rules.

"It isn't all about laws and bills," Brown said. "It's about actually implementing the laws we have on the books."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 21, 2014, 06:40:14 pm
Some California wells run dry amid drought

EAST PORTERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of domestic wells in California's drought-parched Central Valley farming region have run dry, leaving many residents to rely on donated bottles of drinking water to get by.

Girl Scouts have set up collection points while local charities are searching for money to install tanks next to homes. Officials truck in water for families in greatest need and put a large tank in front of the local firehouse for residents to fill up with water for bathing and flushing toilets.

About 290 families in East Porterville — a poor, largely Hispanic town of about 7,000 residents nestled against the Sierra Nevada foothills — have said their shallow wells are depleted. Officials say the rest of Tulare County has many more empty wells, but nobody has a precise count.

Other Central Valley counties also report pockets of homes with wells gone dry and no alternative water service.

"When you have water running in your house, everything is OK," said East Porterville resident Yolanda Serrato. "Once you don't have water, oh my goodness."

With California locked in its third year of drought and groundwater levels dropping, residents and farmers have been forced to drill deeper and deeper to find water. Lawmakers in Sacramento passed legislation to regulate groundwater pumping, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this past week.

Three days later, Brown signed an executive order that provides money to buy drinking water for residents statewide whose wells have dried up, while also directing key state officials to work with counties and local agencies to find solutions for the shortages.

The State Water Resources Control Board had already allotted $500,000 to buy bottled water for East Porterville residents, said Bruce Burton of the board's Drinking Water Program.

But many East Porterville residents, like Serrato, say all they want is to get a glass of water from the kitchen sink. Her well dried up nearly two months ago, she said, making life challenging for her husband and three children.

To bathe, they each have to fill a bucket from a 300-gallon tank in the front yard, carry it inside and pour water over their heads with a cup. They've lived in their home for 21 years, she said. "It's not that easy to say, 'Let's go someplace else.' "

East Porterville sits along the Tule River, which starts high in the mountains and runs through the unincorporated town. Typically, river water permeates the sandy soil under the community, filling up wells as shallow as 30 feet deep. Not this year. Drought has caused the river to run dry, along with the wells.

Tulare County spokeswoman Denise England said East Porterville needs to get connected to the nearest water main in neighboring Porterville. That could cost more than $20 million and take up to five years, if the project didn't hit political snags, she said.

England said counting the number of dry wells is difficult because people don't come forward fearing their children will be taken away if their home lacks a safe water source, or they believe that their home would be condemned, making them homeless.

Officials have had to combat these rumors, she said, adding, "We're blindly feeling our way through this."

In the meantime, charities have stepped up. Local schools, businesses and a religious group in Cincinnati, Ohio, donated water to the community.

Elva Beltran's Porterville Area Coordinating Council has provided 46 homes with 300-gallon tanks, which are filled each week. The group has pallets of donated bottled water and stacks of blue buckets waiting to be distributed.

Beltran said every day a new family comes in seeking help. "They're hurting," she said. "We need water like we need air."

A local bank donated $50,000 to Self-Help Enterprise, so the housing nonprofit can provide more homes with water tanks.

Community development program director Paul Boyer said people have been creative, using solar bags to heat water for bathing and putting tanks in trees to increase water pressure. Boyer said it will be more difficult when it turns cold this winter.

"Families every night dream about water," Boyer said. "Every day they're thinking about how they're going to deal with water."

The well belonging to Vickie Yorba, 94, dried up in February. She now relies on a donated water tank in front of her small home that she and her late husband bought 66 years ago. A neighbor with a deeper well ran a garden hose to Yorba's home.

She is proud of how sparingly she uses water, likening it to the little used during trips she and her husband took years ago to the mountains.

"It isn't hard," she said. "Not if you know how to camp."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 26, 2014, 12:56:52 am
California burns -- and there's worse to come

Los Angeles (AFP) - Wildfires are nothing new in California. But in the third year of a historic drought, the tinder-dry western US state is battling near-record numbers of blazes.

And the normal fire season has only just begun.

Nearly 7,500 firefighters are currently struggling to douse the so-called King Fire east of Sacramento which has forced almost 3,000 people to evacuate as it rages across an area bigger than the city of Las Vegas.

But while this is fairly typical for an ordinary year, it is far from the first of the season.

"Already this year California responded to nearly 5,000 wildires, where in an average year that number would be closer to 3,900," said Daniel Berlant of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire.

"There has been a significant increase in fire activity due to the fact that conditions are so dry from the drought," he told AFP, noting that "historically, California experiences its largest and most damaging wildfires in the fall months.

"So we're just now getting to the peak of fire season."

Blazes have been erupting for months. In May, thousands of residents had to leave their homes due to a surge of fires which triggered the partial evacuation of a military base and a tourist amusement park.

In July and again in August wildfires forced more than 13,000 evacuation orders near California's landmark Yosemite National Park, disrupting vacations for some of the millions of tourists who visit every year from the United States and abroad.

In all there have been 1,000 more wildfires than average, and 700 more than last year, which was already the worst for a decade, according to CalFire.

"In our west, wildfire season now stretches most of the year," President Barack Obama said in a speech on climate change to the UN General Assembly earlier this week.

- Reservoirs at historic lows -

Talk of climate change certainly rings true in California, which is baking in the third straight year of an intense drought -- the worst for up to a century, according to Governor Jerry Brown.

The drought has devastated farming in the Central Valley, known as the nation's food basket, but which is struggling to grow crops and raise cattle on parched soil.

Water reservoirs are at historic lows. They are typically filled in the spring by melting snow from the Sierra Nevada mountain range. But last winter was one of the driest on record.

Most of the fires so far this year have been in the north of the state. But as the summer ends firefighters in southern California are bracing for worse to come as the real season gets under way.

After a whole summer virtually without rain, forests and canyons are as dry as they can get -- just in time for the so-called Santa Ana winds which blow down from the desert in the fall and winter.

"As we look into the next couple of months, unfortunately we do not see any significant rain... that means that conditions are only going to get drier," said CalFire's Berlant.

"As we get into October that's typically when we see Santa Ana wind events and so those strong winds, coupled with the already tinder-dry conditions, lead to an elevated fire danger," he added.

Other experts say much will depend on how soon the Santa Ana winds blow up, and how much rain falls in the critical next few months.

NASA climatologist William Patzert told the LA Times: "It's a race we run every fall: what comes first, the rains or the Santa Anas... The dice are loaded this year for Santa Anas.

"And who knows how intense or benign it will be."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 26, 2014, 11:21:32 pm

California Drought May Be Cause for Mt. Shasta Mudslide
Mark Leberfinger
By Mark Leberfinger, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
September 24, 2014; 3:15 AM ET

U.S. Forest Service officials continue to monitor a mudslide that occurred Saturday at Mt. Shasta in northern California.

The mudslide began around 3 p.m. PDT Saturday and continued through the night in Mud Creek Canyon, a Forest Service spokeswoman said in a news release.

The cause of the mudslide is believed to be due to the drought conditions which have left Mt. Shasta's glaciers exposed to the sun's heat.

"Pockets of liquid water can be held in place by glaciers; when a portion of that glacier shifts or melts, it can release water down the mountainside. These flows gather debris as they travel, creating potentially dangerous conditions for anyone traveling through the area
," Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokeswoman Andrea Capps said in the news release.

Visitors are still being asked to stay away from the Mud Creek area due to unpredictable conditions, according to an update released on Monday by the Forest Service.

The region is currently under extreme drought conditions, according to the Palmer Drought Intensity Index.

No relief is expected this fall to help alleviate the drought conditions, AccuWeather.com meteorologists have said.

The mudslide closed two roads in the area; Highway 89 remained open.

As debris continues to flow, impacts will also be seen in the lower McCloud River. Sediments from Mud Creek will likely impact water quality and fishing by creating turbidity issues in the river below Lake McCloud, Capps said.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 29, 2014, 11:46:20 pm
Water rationing hits California: limit of 50 gallons per person per day or face fines of $500
Monday, September 29, 2014

NaturalNews) Millions of Californians are about to be hit with strict water rationing -- daily "allocation" numbers that represent the maximum amount of water you're allowed to use for any purpose. Households that exceed the allocation limit will face stiff fines of hundreds of dollars per violation.

"In July, the State Water Resources Control Board passed stage one emergency regulations, giving powers to all local water agencies to fine $500 per violation," reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. [1]

Keep in mind that these are only "stage one" emergency regulations. Stages two and three have yet to be invoked and will only become more severe.

The amount of water each household is allowed by water districts will be determined by government employees viewing satellite imagery of private properties, then calculating how much water that property should be allowed to use.

"Using census records, aerial photography and satellite imagery, an agency can determine a property's efficient water usage," says the SGVT.

50 gallons per person, per day
In some districts, water rationing allocation is also based on the number of persons who are known to be living at each address based on U.S. Census data. The Irvine Ranch Water District allows 50 gallons of "indoor" water consumption per person in the home. As explained on the IRWD website: [3]

The indoor water allocation is 50 gallons per person per day and depends upon the number of residents in a home. Water allocated for landscape irrigation depends upon the type of home.

As the IRWD website explains, those water consumers who the government deems to be "wasteful" will be charged 160% or higher rates for water consumption. This is on top of the $500 fines for each violation, as has now been approved by the state.

The 50 gallons per person per day is the maximum allocated amount for all indoor water use, including laundry, showering, toilet flushing, drinking, washing dishes and hand washing for hygienic purposes.

According to the EPA, the average U.S. citizen currently uses 100 gallons per day, with 70 of those gallons consumed indoors. [4] The largest users of indoor water are toilets, showers and clothes washers.

Not yet called "rationing" because the word isn't socially acceptable
Interestingly, the water rationing that's about to be enforced in California isn't being called rationing. Instead, California's doublespeak wordsmiths have decided to call it an "allocation-based rate structure" (which simply means that after you hit your ration limit, you are harshly penalized for any additional consumption).

In explaining why California citizens will be heavily penalized with fines if they exceed their water rationing allocation, all sorts of elaborate doublespeak terms are now being used such as "strong price signals" and "conservation response."

Here's how the IRWD explains water rationing to its customers without using the term "rationing":

Allocation-based rate structures are the foundation of IRWD's Water Shortage Contingency Plan. This rate structure allows IRWD to quickly respond to limited supplies through strong price signals, which result in the greatest conservation response from our customers.

Translation: If we aggressively penalize people for exceeding their water allocation, they will seek to stay within the limits for the same reason that people try to avoid speeding tickets -- nobody wants to pay the fines!

Landscape watering limited to two days a week
Some California water districts are also enforcing unprecedented restrictions on water use for "outdoor watering" applications.

The Irvine Ranch Water District, for example, has publicly announced its intention to "...implement mandatory outdoor water use restrictions that restrict outdoor watering to two days a week." [2]

California homeowners being paid big bucks to remove grass in "Remove Green. Receive Green" program
The California drought is so bad that some California homeowners are even being paid cash to remove their lawns.

The IRWD Turf Removal Program advertises the slogan "Remove Green. Receive Green" and explains there is no limit to the amount of money a person can be paid under the program. [5]

What's interesting about this Turf Removal Program is that it essentially pays people to restore their yards to the way they should have been constructed in the first place. Green lawns in desert regions are one of the most idiotic things modern humans have ever come up with, with green golf courses in desert regions taking the top prize for sheer environmental stupidity.

Where it's all headed
Water conservation efforts are greatly needed in California and should be applauded. On the other hand, they only postpone the inevitable -- a mass migration out of the American southwest as the water runs out across entire regions.

Tearing up your front lawn and replacing it with agave and desert spoon plants doesn't nullify the fact that much of California is wildly overpopulated to the point of long-term non-sustainability. Even if each person in the state were restricted to just 25 gallons a day, the water would keep dropping in Lake Mead (which is already perilously close to outflow restrictions that will impact California and Arizona).

The only way the current population of Californians can live in harmony with the regional water resources is if most of the people stop taking showers, stop flushing toilets and stop doing laundry. Unfortunately, this practice is currently limited only to a few UCLA campus frat houses and hasn't yet caught on with the rest of the citizenry.

Crop yields already in a state of collapse
Honestly stated, the modern-day lifestyle that many people equate with California living simply isn't sustainable. As a result, a collapse of the water infrastructure has already begun. That's why the crop yields have also collapsed this year [6], with the Sacramento Bee reporting:

While many crops have yet to be harvested, it's clear that the drought has carved a significant hole in the economy of rural California. Farm income is down, so is employment... Economists at UC Davis say agriculture, which has been a $44 billion-a-year business in California, will suffer revenue losses and higher water costs -- a financial hit totaling $2.2 billion this year.

That financial hit is only going to get worse, and the implosion of crop production will only accelerate. "Roughly one-fourth of California's rice fields went fallow this year, about 140,000 acres worth, according to the California Rice Commission," reports the Sacramento Bee.

And the worst part is that farmers have been tapping into underground aquifers in order to grow their crops this year. But that water is irreplaceable in any human timeframe, and when it's all used up, it's gone for good. California's agriculture industry has yet to come up with a way to grow food crops without using water. Until they do, the food producing potential of the entire region is headed for accelerated collapse.

When the citizens of California truly wake up and realize where this is all headed, real estate prices will utterly collapse, leading to a collapse of local property tax revenues and the economic devastation of towns and cities. Many of those once-thriving towns will inevitably return to the desert from which they sprang.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 13, 2014, 03:13:37 am
Less Than 60 Days Remaining Before Dozens of California Communities Run Out of Water

Chronic drought conditions throughout the West continue to wreak havoc on the general public, as well as farming operations, but in California, things are about to get much worse.

Some regions of the state are now within two months of completely running out of water, according to CBS San Francisco, which reported that communities in central and northern California could see their water supplies completely vanquished in less than 60 days.

“The areas in jeopardy include Colusa and El Dorado County. These are relatively small communities and they rely on one source of water,” the news site reported, adding, “Butte County north of Sacramento is getting hit hard.”

The water supply at the Big Bend Mobile Home Park near Oroville, which is home to some 30 families, has gotten so low that it is now turned off between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

“Hard when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” resident Michelle Payne told the local news site. “I guess we’re not flushing.”

A single well supplies her entire community, and while there are other wells on the property, they have all gone dry.

At-Risk Towns Increasing by the Month

“There’s really nothing can you about it,” resident John Dougherty told CBS San Francisco. “I don’t water any plants… try to cut back on toilet usage… whatever we can do is what you gotta do… all we can do.”

“Pretty much anything that was alive weeks ago is dry, ‘cuz we haven’t been able to water,” added Payne.

Some area residents have taken to driving five or more miles to get drinking water from a spring box, both for their consumption and for their animals.

Statewide, the water shortages are increasing. In one month’s time, for instance, the Water Resource Board’s list of cities and towns at most risk of running out of water within two months has grown from eight to 12; the Big Bend Mobile Home Park is now on that list.

“There is some help on the way for the people here. The state just approved plans to drill a new well. It’s not clear when the work will begin,” CBS San Franscisco reported.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the western drought remains widespread, with California suffering the worst of it. Nearly all of the state is either suffering “Extreme” or “Exceptional” drought; most of the state is in the “Exceptional” category, which is the worst.

The center says dry conditions in the West are affecting more than 51 million Americans, or roughly 16 percent of the population.

‘It Will Take Substantial Snowfall’

As reported by Bloomberg News, California will continue to suffer chronic drought without substantial mountain snowfall this winter; snowfall that melts in spring replenishes the state’s water systems, but there has been a dearth of snowfall in recent years.

“All eyes will be turned to the winter because it is a really critical winter, not just for California but the rest of the West and the lower Great Plains as well,” Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, told Bloomberg.

“For the majority of the West, the lifeline is the snow that falls in the Rockies, the snow that falls in the Cascades and the snow that falls in the Sierra,” he added.

Kevin Werner, the western regional climate services director with the National Climatic Data Center, told Bloomberg that the Western states of Arizona and New Mexico were able to experience some relief from their drought during the recent annual monsoon season. Also, they were relieved by a great deal of rain that fell from hurricanes Norbert and Odile. But that rain did not make it far enough north to have much impact, so snowfall remains vital for California.

“Most of our water, from 80 to 90 percent of it, falls in the form of snow in the winter time,” Warner told Bloomberg.

Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, reported recently that, in California, some residents are now experiencing water rationing of just 50 gallons a day.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 15, 2014, 11:29:39 pm
California’s Drought Is So Bad, They’re Shutting Off Showers for Surfers

Getting out of the water at my local surf break in Pacifica, a beach town just south of San Francisco, I went to rinse off my wet suit and surfboard at the oceanfront showers, only to find this sign: “Due to the drought the available shower heads are reduced. Please limit shower time.”

Yes, you can laugh that California’s epic drought is even hitting people who spend their time in the water. Or that, finally, urban dwellers are feeling the pinch of an environmental catastrophe that has devastated the state’s farms and ranches.

Yet the move by Pacifica to shut off showers at popular surf spots is a sign that coastal cities, where the bulk of California’s population resides, are belatedly getting serious about saving water. And a new report from the California Water Resources Control Board shows that such efforts are making a difference.

For instance, the North Coast County Water District, which serves Pacifica’s 39,000 residents, has cut its water consumption 26 percent in August compared with the previous year. That means on average, each Pacifica resident used about 2,434 gallons of water in August, compared with 3,283 gallons in August 2013.

That helped California cut statewide water consumption by 11.5 percent in August, up from 7.5 percent in July, and 4 percent in June compared to the previous year, according to the report.

That still falls short of Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent cut in consumption. And big cities like Los Angeles aren’t exactly drying up. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported that water use dropped by just less than 1 percent in August, while in San Diego water consumption inched up by nearly 1 percent. (San Franciscans are water misers in comparison, reducing consumption by 8.4 percent in August over the previous year.)

Still, water use in Southern California as a whole fell 7.8 percent in August, compared with 1.6 percent in July. Southland residents have filed applications to rip out 3.8 million square feet of their water-sucking lawns in exchange for rebates. Businesses, meanwhile, have applied for rebates to retire 7.5 million square feet of turf, the water board said.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order requiring L.A. to cut water use 20 percent by 2017 and slash imported water 50 percent by 2024. He ordered city departments to reduce lawn watering and take other measures to cut consumption and said if Angelenos don’t voluntarily cut water use, then additional mandatory restrictions would be imposed on watering lawns, washing cars, and—gasp—filling swimming pools.

“Many more California communities are taking the drought seriously and making water conservation a priority—and residents are responding,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the state water board, said in a statement. “Increasing urban water conservation is definitely a good thing. The trend is terrific. However, while we can hope for rain, we can’t count on it, so we must keep going. Every gallon saved today postpones the need for more drastic, difficult, and expensive action should the drought continue into next year.”

In other words, California could go the way of Santa Cruz. The famed surf town 75 miles south of San Francisco does not import water and thus has enforced severe restrictions as supplies have dried up, giving each household a monthly ration of water and levying stiff penalties for exceeding that allotment.

For instance, a family of four gets 249 gallons a day—the average American uses about 100 gallons daily—and must pay $25 for every excess 748 gallons they use a month. If excess use exceeds 10 percent of the monthly allotment, the penalty jumps to $50 for every 748 gallons.

The result: Santa Cruz cut its water use nearly 30 percent in September, compared with the previous year, and consumption has fallen almost 20 percent just since May.

Needless to say, surfers can forget about showering at the beach.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 20, 2014, 02:50:58 pm
14 California Communities Now on Verge of Waterless-Ness; Mass Migration out of California Seems Imminent

Unless California gets some heavy rain, and soon, the state’s roughly 38 million residents will eventually be up a creek without a paddle — or without a creek, for that matter. The latest media reports indicate that some 14 communities throughout the state are now on the verge of running completely dry, and many more could join them in the coming year if conditions remain as they are.

A few months ago, the official count was 28 communities bordering on complete waterless-ness, according to the Water Resources Control Board. Those that have since dropped off the list were able to come up with a fix, at least for now. The other 14, though, face an unprecedented resource collapse that could leave thousands of Californians with no other choice but to pack their bags and head to greener pastures.

“It’s a sign of how severe this drought is,” verbalized Bruce Burton, an assistant deputy director for the board, to the Los Angeles Times about some of the drastic measures being taken. For the first time ever, the water board has begun tracking communities throughout the state that are bordering on complete water loss, a situation that has never before occurred.

Most of the communities on the brink are located in California’s Central Valley, the “food basket” of America that The New York Times (NYT) once declared to be the nation’s greatest food resource. Most of America’s carrots are grown there, as are the bulk of salad greens, almonds and citrus fruits that we all take for granted — but that could soon disappear due to the continued drought.

‘Larger, More Sophisticated Communities’ Face Total Water Depletion
In some stricken areas, water facilities have been able to secure temporary supplies from neighboring communities as they figure out longer-term solutions. In Siskiyou County near the Oregon border, the city of Montague was actually able to construct a brand-new irrigation ditch to transport water from a lake 25 miles away, replacing an old ditch that had run dry back in April.

While most of the communities facing total water depletion are relatively small in size, with only a few thousand residents each, the prospect of larger communities also becoming affected is increasingly likely. Tom Quinn, the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, says that, if the drought continues, many of the more iconic regions of California will suffer.

“If this drought keeps on going, some larger, more sophisticated communities are going to be in trouble next year,” he told the LA Times.

Mountains Shifting Due to Water Losses
It isn’t just that no new water is coming into California — underground aquifers and other former backup sources are also running dry. According to research published in the journal Science, the entire Western United states has lost an astounding 240 gigatons of water since 2013, an amount equivalent to 1 billion tons.

In spatial terms, this amount of water could be spread out across the entire Western U.S. in a solid 10-centimeter sheet, constituting about 63 trillion gallons, or enough to fill 75,000 football stadiums. This loss has not only altered the gravitational field of California, according to the study, but also caused mountains throughout the state to rise up out of the ground in some areas.

“100 percent of the state is in drought, with 82 percent of the land designated as in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought, the highest levels on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale,” explains the National Journal. “Thirty-seven million people are affected by the drought.”

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 17, 2014, 11:44:16 pm
California's drought has reached Biblical-plague proportions. It's time for a drastic measure.

Last January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency following projections of severe drought. State bureaucrats and local officials jumped into action and mandated any number of water conservation tactics. While some have been relatively successful, most will do nothing. In fact, it appears that despite the drought, water use may have actually increased in the past year.

So, exactly how much do Californians value their decreasing supply of drinkable water? According to the California Water Service Company, it is valued at less than a penny per gallon. If water were plentiful, an almost-zero price would not be a problem, but under the current situation it is truly a catastrophe. The average American uses 100 gallons per day, Californians average 124, and in some regions of California up to 379 gallons per person per day. That sounds a bit outrageous for a state experiencing a drought of Biblical-plague proportions, doesn't it?

The solution to rectifying California's abysmal water conservation record might be found in California's agricultural sector. In just the past year, prices for irrigation water have risen from ten to almost 40 times last year's price. Those who have the water to spare can make a sizable profit by selling it to those who need it. Thus, because the value of water has significantly increased, every gallon is a precious commodity that is not wasted.

Allowing price to ration water may be a bitter political pill to swallow, but it makes economic and environmental sense. There are examples of this economic solution working in the past. Cities like Santa Fe, Tucson, and Fort Worth allowed price signals to govern water use — the more a household used, the more expensive water was to purchase. Consumers responded by conserving water. These measures worked so well utilities were forced to stabilize the sharp drop in revenue by reconfiguring rates. That is not a bad thing — especially during a drought as austere as California's.

But won't raising prices only hurt the poor and have little effect on those who have the money to afford it anyways?

Charging more for water need not create undue hardship for poor or lower middle class families. Establish a minimal per capita water use level and then charge progressive water rates so that any extra water used is billed at a higher rate. This allows consumers to choose if they are willing to pay for an extra long shower, to water their lawn, or to wash their car.

(The Hamilton Project/The Conversation US)

This solution would not even require much change in the way water is already billed. Typically, water usage is billed at three tiers of usage. For example, in Bakersfield, the price of water is as follows: $1.66 per 100 cubic feet of water for the first 1,300 cubic feet used, $1.80 per 100 cubic feet of water for the next 2,100 cubic feet used, and $2.09 for every 100 cubic feet of water used after that (a cubic foot of water is roughly 7.48 gallons).

That's only a difference of 43 cents from the basic rate to the charge for unlimited use. Why not increase the price of the second and third tiers by a dollar — or two or three for that matter? Doing so would have little effect on a family that expends the effort to conserve.

(The Hamilton Project/The Conversation US)

Take an average family of four, each using 100 gallons of water per person per day. Over the course of a month this family would use about 1,600 cubic feet of water. The first tier could be raised to 1,600 cubic feet and the second and third tiers adjusted accordingly. A simple adjustment of the water bill would ensure that any family, regardless of economic status, would be able to afford a comfortable level of water while being charged for any water usage above and beyond that base amount. This approach is fair to those struggling financially, but it also puts pressure on everyone to conserve a scarce resource.

Raise the price of water. Signal to consumers that it is a valuable and precious resource. Let consumers make their own decisions on how they allocate their resources in using, or conserving, water.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 02, 2014, 08:19:31 pm
California falls short of water conservation goals

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The three-year drought gripping California has shrunk reservoirs, rivers, creeks and snowpack while leaving residents drawing heavily on underground aquifers to water everything from lawns to crops.

Farmers account for about 80 percent of water used in the state, but Gov. Jerry Brown has asked California households to save water as well. Here's a look at how it's going and what the problems are.

Q: How are California residents doing when it comes to meeting the state's goal for reducing water use?

A: Not as well as hoped. Gov. Jerry Brown in January declared a drought emergency, and asked Californians to cut residential water use by 20 percent. The latest figures released Tuesday by the state show that Californians managed to reduce their daily water use by only 6.7 percent in October compared to the same period last year. The closest the state's 38 million people have come to meeting the 20 percent goal was in August, when water use was down 11.6 percent year-on-year. Still, the state Water Resources Control Board said Tuesday that Californians have saved 90 billion gallons since June — enough water for 1.2 million people for a year.

Q: Why are Californians falling so short?

A: Water board officials said they're trying to figure out if the usage was caused by a lack of awareness about the drought; not enough enforcement of conservation guidelines; this year's hotter weather; or something else. Board members threw out ideas Tuesday ranging from asking the state Transportation Department to post stronger messages about the drought on flashing highway advisory signs, to looking at whether more penalties should be imposed on big water users.

Water board officials say some of the key problem areas are affluent communities in Southern California, where rainfall is always short but residents love their green lawns, golf courses and swimming pools. Californians in the south coast region managed to cut water consumption by only 1.4 percent in October, the weakest showing in the state.

Q: It's raining in California now, so why still worry about saving water?

A: California officials say the state would need 150 percent of its normal annual rainfall to recover from drought. As of this autumn, the state had marked its driest three years on record, the federal government's National Climactic Data Center said. Storms so far this rainy season have brought parts of the state closer to normal rainfall for this point in the year. But the most important reservoirs contain just 39 percent to 60 percent of normal water levels. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, one of the most critical sources for state water year-round, is also lagging. Before the Tuesday storms, the southern Sierra had gotten just 47 percent of its normal rain and snow so far, and the northern Sierra 79 percent.

Q: How hard is the drought hitting California?

A: Poorer, rural communities in the agricultural Central Valley are feeling some of the sharpest impacts. Hundreds of wells have gone dry as water tables recede, leaving families to rely on trucked-in water or even water collected for them by Girl Scouts. Some farmers say they've had to spend thousands of dollars more to dig deeper well or buy water, and some have seen almond and pistachio trees or other orchards shrivel. The drought has been hard on wildlife as well. State and federal officials last month, for example, said low water in creeks meant one kind of coho salmon in Northern California was apparently unable to breed at all this year. The officials had to move all year-old cohos in that creek to a hatchery to try to save the species.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 16, 2014, 06:36:56 pm
California needs 11 trillion gallons of water: NASA

Miami (AFP) - California needs 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from its three-year drought, the US space agency said Tuesday after studying water resources by using satellite data.

The first of its kind calculation of how much groundwater would end the drought was led by Jay Famiglietti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and based on observations from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites.

California has experienced rainstorms in recent days but, while welcome, scientists warn that they are not enough to end the drought.

"It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it," said Famiglietti.

"Spaceborne and airborne measurements of Earth's changing shape, surface height and gravity field now allow us to measure and analyze key features of droughts better than ever before, including determining precisely when they begin and end and what their magnitude is at any moment in time.

"That's an incredible advance and something that would be impossible using only ground-based observations."

The more than 40-trillion-liter volume is a huge quantity of water, larger, for example, than the total amount held behind China's historic Three Gorges Dam.

The entire southwestern United States is far drier than normal, with groundwater levels across the region in the lowest two to 10 percent since 1949, scientists said.

Meanwhile, other NASA satellite data showed that so far this year, the snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada range is only half previous estimates.

"The 2014 snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977, when California's population was half what it is now," said Airborne Snow Observatory principal investigator Tom Painter.

"Besides resulting in less snow water, the dramatic reduction in snow extent contributes to warming our climate by allowing the ground to absorb more sunlight.

"This reduces soil moisture, which makes it harder to get water from the snow into reservoirs once it does start snowing again."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 01, 2015, 05:49:11 pm
California Droughts Could Have Dangerous Ripple Effects

Epic droughts like the one gripping California for three years now may become more frequent in the future due to climate change, according to new research.

This will not only strain the drinking-water supplies for California's 38 million people, but will also induce a cascade of other hazards — including fires, floods and poor water quality — as populations continue to grow statewide, scientists say.

Despite heavy rains this month, 78 percent of California is still experiencing either exceptional or extreme drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Unusually low snowfall across the state is largely to blame, scientists say. About one-third of California's water comes from snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which stretch through the eastern part of the state for nearly 400 miles (644 kilometers).

"All this rain is great," Nina Oakley, a scientist with the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, told Live Science at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting earlier this month. "But really, the snow in the Sierra is what we are after for a good year to help bring us out of drought." [Video: California Drought Map Time-Lapse Shows Distressing Trend]

In April 2014, when the year's snowpack should have been at its peak, the California Department of Water Resources reported that levels were at only 18 percent of the average for that time of the year. One of the reasons snowpack was so low this year, Oakley said, was that California's winter temperatures have been increasing in recent years, resulting in less snow and earlier melting times in the spring.

This trend toward less snowpack is projected to continue this century as some climate models suggest that minimum winter temperatures will continue to increase across the state, Oakley said.

"And as we continue to have warmer temperatures and get less snowpack, it's going to have a big impact on California's water supply," Oakley said.

Fires blazing

Drier conditions are also priming California's forests for larger and more frequent fires, especially along the fringes of urban areas, where more people are coming to the forests for recreation, according to Alicia Kinoshita, a professor at San Diego State University. Visitors to the forest may smoke, or make bonfires.

Aside from the direct dangers fires pose to the people and property in their paths, they also set the stage for compounding hazards in the future, including landslides, floods and poor water quality, scientists say.

For example, burnt plant material leaves a waxy residue on forest floors that is relatively waterproof, causing storm runoff to then flow over a forest floor without seeping into the ground, Kinoshita said.

"If you pour water on it, it will run right off like a parking-lot effect," Kinoshita told Live Science. This can lead to floods, or landslides, because the burnt tree roots just below the waxy  layer offer poor support for topsoil, she said.

The waxy coating lasts for only about a year, but even rapid regrowth of vegetation after stormy periods can worsen the threat of fires if drought conditions return soon after, Kinoshita said.

"It's a good thing that we are getting all this rain, but there is this whole dynamic of, you get a lot of rain, then you get all this vegetation and then you get more fuel for the fires," Kinoshita said.

Dirty water

As forest fires singe the root systems of California's trees and weaken their ability to hold on to soil, California's water quality will also suffer as more soil gets into the drinking-water supply, said Tim Kuhn, a hydrologist for Yosemite National Park. Without ground cover to shield soil, rain droplets directly contact soil particles and mobilize heavy metals that can contaminate water, Kuhn told Live Science. Loose soil can also increases the turbidity, or cloudiness, of water, forcing water-treatment facilities to work harder to supply clean water and potentially shut down for a period during particularly large fires. [Yosemite Rim Fire Photos]

"Turbidity is a really big challenge because that's really fine sediment, and so it takes forever for that to settle out," Kuhn told Live Science. "It becomes a real treatment issue."

What to do

As both water stress and populations increase in the future, Californians will have no choice but to adapt and decrease their reliance on water, Oakley told Live Science. For the state's agriculture industry, this could mean cutting production of water-intensive crops, such as almonds and other tree nuts. For the public, this could mean installing water-saving appliances in homes, Oakley said.

Oakley pointed to the example of Brisbane, Australia — a drought-prone city where every private home now has low-flow toilets, and many water taps are automated to prevent unnecessary flow — as a good model of what Californians could strive for in adapting to drought.

"We have always had these drought cycles, and they are going to continue to happen," Oakley said. "And so what we really need to do with the increase in population is adapt." 

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 02, 2015, 01:22:29 pm
California's chicken-cage size law expected to increase egg prices

FRESNO, Calif. –  The new year is expected to bring rising chicken egg prices across the U.S. as California starts requiring farmers to house hens in cages with enough space to move around and stretch their wings.

The new standard backed by animal rights advocates has drawn ire nationwide because farmers in Iowa, Ohio and other states who sell eggs in California have to abide by the same requirements.

To comply, farmers have to put fewer hens into each cage or invest in revamped henhouses, passing along the expense to consumers shopping at grocery stores. California is the nation's largest consumer of eggs and imports about one-third of its supply.

Jim Dean, president and CEO of Centrum Valley Farms in Iowa and Ohio, said one of his buildings that holds 1.5 million hens is now about half full to meet California's standards, and another building may have to be completely overhauled.

Farmers like him in cold climates will have to install heaters to replace warmth formerly generated by the chickens living close together. Dean said that's something people in sunny California didn't consider.

"You're talking about millions upon millions of dollars," he said. "It's not anything that's cheap or that can be modified easily, not in the Midwest."

California voters in 2008 approved the law backed by animal rights advocates to get egg-laying hens out of cramped cages and put them by Jan. 1, 2015, in larger enclosures that give them room to stretch, turn around and flap their wings.

State legislators followed with the companion piece in 2010 requiring the out-of-state compliance.

In anticipation, egg prices have already risen, said Dave Heylen of the California Grocers Association, adding that the holiday season, cold weather across the country and increased exports to Mexico and Canada also contributed to a year-end price spike. He said he expected that supplies would remain adequate to meet demand.

Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis, said prices initially could rise dramatically this year but he expects them to eventually settle anywhere from 10 and 40 percent higher in California and return to their normal price elsewhere in the country.

If farmers cut back the number of chickens so they can comply with California's cage law, Sumner said that could reduce the number of eggs available.

"When there's that much uncertainty, I'm thinking there may be some disruption in the market," he said.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said he believes the costs to consumers will be minimal and worth it for the welfare of chickens, which provide enough eggs for each person to consume on average 250 a year. For decades, he said, farmers have crammed six to eight chickens in small cages without room to move.

"This is the last bastion of cage confinement in industrial ag," said Pacelle, whose organization led the reforms. Starbucks in December said it will eliminate the sale of eggs from caged hens, he said, following the lead of Burger King and Whole Foods.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, independent of the voter initiative, implemented rules that give chickens 70 percent more room, which Pacelle said is better but not enough.

Low-income people who rely on eggs as an economical source of protein may be hurt the worst by California's cage law, says a report this week by the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University. Anticipating a 15 percent increase, the cost of a dozen eggs could rise by 27 cents, and a family of four could pay $15.93 more a year, the report says.

California has prevailed in lawsuits, including six from major egg-producing states that argued the state is dictating market prices in other states in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Appeals are pending.

Ken Klippen of the National Association of Egg Farmers said California's egg law, in addition to driving up the cost at the grocery store and putting pressure on egg supplies, will result in more injuries to chickens because housing them in larger pens means they are more likely to run, breaking a leg or wing.

"You're not going to help the chicken," he said. "You're not helping consumers."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 16, 2015, 08:06:16 pm

Farmers in dry California decry decision involving appeals

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider appeals by Central Valley farmers and California water districts that want to pump more water from a delta that serves as the only home of a tiny, threatened fish.

The decision lets stand a 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to safeguard the 3-inch-long Delta smelt, a species listed as threatened in 1993 under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The plan restricts the amount of water that can be pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and sent south to Central Valley farmers and water districts.

The smelt only lives in the delta - the largest estuary on the West Coast that supplies much of California with drinking water and irrigates millions of acres of farmland.

Farmers contend that under the smelt regulations, vast amounts of water from the Sierra Nevada snow pack are sent through the delta and into the ocean, exacerbating hardships endured by the growers in the three-year drought.

Farmers say their economic interests have been ignored while officials protect the fish. Roadside signs throughout the Central Valley decry the lack of leadership while warning of a second Dust Bowl.

"I'd like to see a little more common sense put into it," said Jim Jasper, an almond farmer who appealed to the high court. "Agriculture has been overlooked."

Because of the drought and restrictions to protect smelt, Jasper said he had to cut down one-fifth of his almond trees last year. The 70-year-old farmer who runs Stewart & Jasper Orchards in Newman anticipates taking out some of his citrus crops if the drought persists.

Many farmers such as Jasper did not get any irrigation water last year from a federal system of canals and reservoirs, forcing them to rely on diminishing groundwater or rip out trees.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last year largely upheld the previous Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion that restrictions were needed on the use of massive pumps that move water through the state's system of canals to deliver it to farms and cities in Central and Southern California.

Katherine Poole, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, welcomed the Supreme Court decision on Monday. The smelt's decline signals the poor health of the massive estuary, she said, adding that a thriving delta benefits farmers and the millions of people who rely on it for drinking water.

"We need to keep this estuary healthy and functional for everybody," Poole said. "The smelt is telling us that we're not doing a good enough job of that right now."

Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr said the court's decision is a victory for the Endangered Species Act.

"Contrary to their claims, there have been no reductions in water allotment for protection of this species," Orr said. "The drought is what's causing a water shortage, not the smelt."

The ruling was no surprise to Marcia Scully, general counsel of the huge Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies 19 million people with drinking water. The district is one of several that joined the appeal.

"The water agencies understood the long odds," she said, noting that the Supreme Court takes up less than 1 percent of appeals. "We will continue to work with the regulatory agencies to improve the underlying science in the delta."

The Supreme Court's decision on this aspect of the Delta smelt plan can't be appealed further, but attorney James Burling, who represents Central Valley farmers at the Pacific Legal Foundation, said he will continue to challenge the unfair application of the federal environmental law at every opportunity.

"It may take a while," he said. "But eventually we'll have other opportunities to get issues dealing with the Delta smelt back to the Supreme Court."

Burling said the smelt ruling resembles a 1978 Supreme Court decision blocking completion of a Tennessee dam that threatened the endangered snail darter fish.

Congress later amended the endangered species law to give federal authorities more flexibility to include economic and technical feasability.

However, Burling said the law is being used now to favor the smelt, without consideration of the economic hardships.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 22, 2015, 07:09:59 pm
California's Drought Exposes Long-Hidden Detritus

The message from park rangers, amateur metal detectors and regular fisherman at California's Lake Perris is unanimous: the water is lower than they've ever seen it.

The state's severe ongoing drought has affected everything from agriculture to urban life. Here, the impact is made visible: As the water level has dropped, sunken treasures, trash and forgotten boats have risen above the surface.

Last fall, rangers at the Lake Perris State Recreation Area and reservoir began spotting clumps of massive tractor tires peeking above the water on one section of the lake.

One park employee refers to the dozens of tires as "the serpent," because of the curving profile the tires create against the water, kind of like a Loch Ness monster made of rubber.

According to state park superintendent John Rowe, the appearance of "the serpent" — or the "tire reef," as it's more officially known — was not a surprise.

"It's been on all of our maps to begin with," Rowe says.

When Lake Perris Dam was built in the early 1970s, according to Rowe, old and worn-out tires from the heavy construction equipment were left over. So the state Department of Fish and Wildlife placed the tires in the water as a habitat for bass.

For 40 years, the tire reef fulfilled that mandate. The Riverside Press-Enterprise first reported the appearance of the tires, and local fishermen told the paper that the man-made reef had been a great fishing spot.

Under normal circumstances, the tires would sit deep under water.

"Typically, at high pool, that tire reef is under 30 feet of water, [or] 35 feet of water," says Rowe.

But the water level is now more than 40 vertical feet below normal.

The drought is not solely responsible for that dramatic drop: Problems with the dam forced the water level down about 25 feet in 2005. The drought is responsible for the remainder.

That receding water level has also revealed at least eight sunken, and forgotten, boats.

"All of the boats we're finding," Rowe says, are "well over 12 years old," and they likely went unreported at the time of sinking.

"We get a lot of boats, and a lot of trash, lawn chairs, stuff like that," says Officer Javier Garza, a ranger at Lake Perris.

Despite the drought, the recreation area remains open to boaters, fishermen and the occasional amateur metal detectorist.

Marty Gabriel, a retired truck driver, often comes down to Lake Perris with a metal detector and scoop, and has been visiting the lake since the early 1990s.

He says the drought has "cut down on the volume of people down here." But despite the expanding shoreline — which you might think is fertile territory for metal detecting — Gabriel says the treasures beneath the sand aren't that much more interesting.

He prefers the old, fuller Lake Perris.

"It is what it is," he says. "We definitely need rain, and they need to fix the dam to make this place usable again."

Dam repairs are currently underway, but park superintendent John Rowe says Lake Perris also needs the cooperation of Californians and mother nature.

"The message is conservation," he says, "and pray for rain."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 13, 2015, 02:03:14 pm
California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California's winter was as well.

As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too.

Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir.

Statewide, we've been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis.

Several steps need be taken right now. First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state's water sectors, from domestic and municipal through agricultural and industrial. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. There is no need for the rest of the state to hesitate. The public is ready. A recent Field Poll showed that 94% of Californians surveyed believe that the drought is serious, and that one-third support mandatory rationing.

Second, the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated. The law requires the formation of numerous, regional groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017. Then each agency must adopt a plan by 2022 and “achieve sustainability” 20 years after that. At that pace, it will be nearly 30 years before we even know what is working. By then, there may be no groundwater left to sustain.

Third, the state needs a task force of thought leaders that starts, right now, brainstorming to lay the groundwork for long-term water management strategies. Although several state task forces have been formed in response to the drought, none is focused on solving the long-term needs of a drought-prone, perennially water-stressed California.

Our state's water management is complex, but the technology and expertise exist to handle this harrowing future. It will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon. Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.

Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue. This crisis belongs to all of us — not just to a handful of decision-makers. Water is our most important, commonly owned resource, but the public remains detached from discussions and decisions.

This process works just fine when water is in abundance. In times of crisis, however, we must demand that planning for California's water security be an honest, transparent and forward-looking process. Most important, we must make sure that there is in fact a plan.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd like to live in a state that has a paddle so that it might also still have a creek.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 01, 2015, 02:09:15 pm
California governor orders mandatory water restrictions

ECHO LAKE, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered state officials Wednesday to impose mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as the state grapples with a serious drought.

In an executive order, Brown ordered the state water board to implement measures in cities and towns that cut usage by 25 percent.

"We're in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action," Brown said at a news conference in the Sierra Nevada, where dry, brown grass surrounded a site that normally would be snow-covered at this time of year. "We have to pull together and save water in every way we can."

The move will affect residents, businesses, farmers and other users.

Brown's order also will require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to significantly cut water use; order local governments to replace 50 million square feet of lawns on throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping; and create a temporary rebate program for consumers who replace old water-sucking appliances with more efficient ones.

The snowpack has been in decline all year, with electronic measurements in March showing the statewide snow water equivalent at 19 percent of the historical average for that date.

There was no snow at the site of the Wednesday snow survey.

Snow supplies about a third of the state's water, and a higher snowpack translates to more water in California reservoirs to meet demand in summer and fall.

Officials say the snowpack is already far below the historic lows of 1977 and 2014, when it was 25 percent of normal on April 1 — the time when the snowpack is generally at its peak.

Brown declared a drought emergency and stressed the need for sustained water conservation.

The Department of Water Resources will conduct its final manual snow survey at a spot near Echo Summit, about 90 miles east of Sacramento. Electronic measurements are taken in a number of other places.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 11, 2015, 04:06:05 pm
California delta's water mysteriously missing amid drought

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — As California struggles with a devastating drought, huge amounts of water are mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — and the prime suspects are farmers whose families have tilled fertile soil there for generations.

A state investigation was launched following complaints from two large agencies that supply water to arid farmland in the Central Valley and to millions of residents as far south as San Diego.

Delta farmers don't deny using as much water as they need. But they say they're not stealing it because their history of living at the water's edge gives them that right. Still, they have been asked to report how much water they're pumping and to prove their legal rights to it.

At issue is California's century-old water rights system that has been based on self-reporting and little oversight, historically giving senior water rights holders the ability to use as much water as they need, even in drought. Gov. Jerry Brown has said that if drought continues this system built into California's legal framework will probably need to be examined.

Delta farmer Rudy Mussi says he has senior water rights, putting him in line ahead of those with lower ranking, or junior, water rights.

"If there's surplus water, hey, I don't mind sharing it," Mussi said. "I don't want anybody with junior water rights leapfrogging my senior water rights just because they have more money and more political clout."

The fight pitting farmer against farmer is playing out in the Delta, the hub of the state's water system. With no indication of the drought easing, heightened attention is being placed on dwindling water throughout the state, which produces nearly half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the U.S.

A large inland estuary east of San Francisco, the Delta is fed by rivers of freshwater flowing down from the Sierra Nevada and northern mountain ranges. Located at sea level, it consists of large tracts of farmland separated by rivers that are subject to tidal ebbs and flows.

Most of the freshwater washes out to the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay. Some is pumped — or diverted — by Delta farmers to irrigate their crops, and some is sent south though canals to Central Valley farmers and to 25 million people statewide.

The drought now in its fourth year has put Delta water under close scrutiny. Twice last year state officials feared salty bay water was backing up into the Delta, threatening water quality. There was not enough fresh water to keep out saltwater.

In June, the state released water stored for farmers and communities from Lake Oroville to combat the saltwater intrusion.

Nancy Vogel, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources, said "thousands of acre-feet of water a day for a couple of weeks" were released into the Delta. An acre-foot is roughly enough water to supply a household of four for a year.

The fact that the state had to resort to using so much from storage raised questions about where the water was going. That in turn prompted a joint letter by the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation calling for an investigation into how much water Delta farmers are taking — and whether the amount exceeds their rights to it.

"We don't know if there were illegal diversions going on at this time," said Vogel, leaving it up to officials at the State Water Resources Control Board to determine. "Right now, a large information gap exists."

Some 450 farmers who hold 1,061 water rights in the Delta and the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds were told to report their water diversions, and Katherine Mrowka, state water board enforcement manager, said a vast majority responded.

State officials are sorting through the information that will help them determine whether any are exceeding their water rights and who should be subject to restrictions.

"In this drought period, water accounting is more important to ensure that the water is being used for its intended purpose," said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Louis Moore.

Mussi, a second-generation Delta farmer whose family grows tomatoes, wheat, corn, grapes and almonds on 4,500 acres west of Stockton, said Central Valley farmers have long known that in dry years they would get little or no water from state and federal water projects and would need to rely heavily on groundwater.

"All of a sudden they're trying to turn their water into a permanent system and ours temporary," Mussi said. "It's just not going to work."

Shawn Coburn farms 1,500 acres along the San Joaquin River in Firebaugh about 100 miles south of the Delta. As a senior rights holder, he figures he will receive 45 percent or less of the water he expected from the federal water project. On another 1,500 acres where he is a junior water rights holder, he will receive no surface water for a second consecutive year.

"I don't like to pick on other farmers, even if it wasn't a drought year," said Coburn. "The only difference is I don't have a pipe in the Delta I can suck willy-nilly whenever I want."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 21, 2015, 05:08:51 pm
Five pieces of evidence suggesting that California drought may be a HAARP-manufactured event   May 21, 2015 10:05 am EDT

By Ethan A. Huff | Natural News

But emerging evidence suggests that the Golden State’s water woes aren’t a natural occurrence at all, and that a covert military operation involving “chemtrails” and other weather modification weaponry may be to blame.

A recent episode of The HAARP Report, which tracks the activities of the U.S. military’s so-called “High Frequency Auroral Research Program” (which the federal government falsely claims has been shut down), provides five pieces of compelling evidence from recently captured satellite imagery that points to deliberate weather modification as the cause of California’s drought.

You may have heard of “chemtrails” before — those unnatural-looking cloud trails occasionally produced by airplanes that don’t dissipate normally, and that end up blanketing the skies with a hazy muck. They differ entirely from water vapor contrails produced when water vapor condenses and freezes around small aerosol particles released from aircraft exhaust.

The following image shows a sky filled with chemtrails:


For years, many of those who’ve been paying attention have wondered what the purpose is of these clearly artificial chemtrails. Well, based on the extensive research findings by The HAARP Report, it seems as though these fake sprayings are helping to redirect and alter weather patterns — in this case, to steer rain away from California.

“Chemtrails create a hot air layer at 30,000 feet, capping inversion,” explains the report. “They [the powers that be] want that to overrun this low pressure area and prevent this low pressure from forming,” as low pressure is what produces precipitation, explains the report.

A HAARP Report video posted to YouTube on April 19, 2015, lists the following five pieces of evidence suggesting that California’s drought is a man-made attack on Californians:

1) Low pressure areas out in the Pacific Ocean that would normally move in a counterclockwise direction have been detected moving in an anomalous clockwise direction. The HAARP Report, highlighting exclusive imagery captured on April 10, 2015, shows a “burst” of clockwise, high pressure cloud movement that would never occur naturally, and that clearly suggests weather manipulation activity meant to break up cloud formation and prevent precipitation.

More on how this is accomplished through ionospheric heating is explained in the video report:

2) After breaking up the areas of low pressure that would have produced rain for California, HAARP’s weather weaponry and associated chemtrails generate areas of very dry air that, under normal circumstances, would be humid. Satellite imagery captured in the days following April 10 show this dry air sitting stagnant rather than rotating, breaking up the potential formation of thunderstorms.

3) As it turns out, HAARP’s weather manipulation machines can only operate when the D layer in the ionosphere has formed, which occurs after the sun has been up for three or four hours and ends in the evening. In the video, The HAARP Report shows how a storm that starts to pop up during this window of time is literally pushed to the right and destroyed. Dry air is pressed down, and once again the center is not moving in a counterclockwise direction as it should.

4) Looking again at a massive area of dry air brought about by HAARP and chemtrails, the report points out how satellite imagery of a ring of rising air and a central column of falling air captured at 10 a.m. in California on April 9 proves that a HAARP downburst sent high pressure descending air into the jet stream, once again preventing rain.

5) As this air descends, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger in the satellite imagery. And as it begins to reform, another HAARP downburst is observed on the north side of the front, with a signature clockwise flow around a high pressure area as it’s sent downward. Put simply, the developing storm was basically broken up by HAARP, where it later reformed around Mexico and sent rain over New Mexico and Texas rather thanCalifornia.

“Don’t think for a minute that this drought in California is natural. They’re using a variety of techniques to maintain this drought,” warns The HAARP Report.

“The oceans are dying because of increasing ultraviolet-B. The modern HAARP transmitters punch holes in the ozone layer, since they must drive a plasmoid from 30 miles high down to the jet stream… mixing the chemtrails vertically, which breaks down the protective ozone layer.”

“The Pacific is dying because the base of the food chain, phyto-plankton, are being killed by the high UV-B, created by ionospheric heaters. Radiation from Fukushima is killing the Pacific, but not as fast as the lack of plankton, which can’t survive the high UV-B. Fukushima is being used as a ‘cover’ for the excess UV-B caused by HAARP and chemtrails. That would explain the complete lack of action to stop the radiation from leaking into the Pacific.”

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 03, 2015, 10:12:27 pm
California's largest lake threatened by urban water transfer
Calamity looms at California's largest lake as water transfers to coast accelerate


SALTON CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Once-bustling marinas on shallow water in California's largest lake a few years ago are bone-dry. Carcasses of oxygen-starved tilapia lie on desolate shores. Flocks of eared grebes and shoreline birds bob up and down to feast on marine life.

An air of decline and strange beauty permeates the Salton Sea: The lake is shrinking — and on the verge of getting much smaller as more water goes to coastal cities.

San Diego and other Southern California water agencies will stop replenishing the lake after 2017, raising concerns that dust from exposed lakebed will exacerbate asthma and other respiratory illness in a region whose air quality already fails federal standards. A smaller lake also threatens fish and habitat for more than 400 bird species on the Pacific flyway.

Many of the more than 10,000 people who live in shoreline communities cherish the solitude but now feel forgotten. The dying lake must compete for water as California reels from a four-year drought that has brought sweeping, state-ordered consumption cuts.

Julie London, who moved to Salton City after visiting in 1986 from Washington state, hopes for help for the periodic, rotten odor from the lake that keep residents inside on hot, fly-filled summer nights. The stench in 2012 carried more than 150 miles to Los Angeles.

"Unfortunately, that's the only time anyone will listen because we don't have a voice," London, 60, said on her porch, one of the few that still lies a stone's throw from water. "You can scream all you want. Nobody cares."

San Diego now purchases more than one-quarter of its water from California's Imperial Valley, where fields produce runoff that delivers 70 percent of the lake's inflows. More water for San Diego means less for the Salton Sea.

In 2003, the state Legislature agreed to spearhead efforts to restore the lake to help seal the San Diego sale. California, which used more Colorado River water than it was entitled to, was under enormous pressure to go on a water diet after Sunbelt cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas clamored for their share.

The San Diego County Water Authority and other local agencies agreed to deliver water to the Salton Sea for 15 years while the state developed a long-term fix. This year, that water accounts for 10 percent of the lake's inflows.

With no fix in sight, the Imperial Irrigation District asked state regulators in November to condition San Diego sales on the state fulfilling its promise, citing the state legislation and the state's open-ended contractual commitment to pay for offsetting environmental damage.

The 2003 contract to sell water to San Diego for up to 75 years still deeply divides Imperial Valley farmers, who grow much of the nation's winter vegetables.

Imperial Valley gets nearly 20 percent of Colorado River water distributed in the western United States and northern Mexico — enough for more than 6 million households — but some growers fear cities will eventually suck their fields dry.

Bruce Kuhn, who cast the deciding vote for the San Diego sale as a board member of the Imperial Irrigation District in 2003, said he would have opposed the deal without the state's pledge to the Salton Sea.

Kuhn lost his re-election bid; revenues at his farm services business slid about one-third. "It cost me business and it cost me friends," he said.

The lake is often called "The Accidental Sea" because it was created in 1905 when the Colorado River breached a dike and two years of flooding filled a sizzling basin that today is about 35 miles long, 15 miles wide and only 50 feet deep. The lake, which has no outlet, would have quickly evaporated if farmers hadn't settled California's southeastern corner.

Viewed from the air, the Imperial Valley's half-million acres of verdant fields end abruptly in pale dirt. Colorado River water is diverted near Yuma, Arizona, to an 82-mile canal that runs west along the Mexican border and then north into 1,700 miles of gated dirt and concrete channels that crisscross farms. When gates open, water floods fields and gravity carries increasingly salty runoff downhill through the New and Alamo rivers to the Salton Sea.

The lake has suffered a string of catastrophes since tropical storms in the late 1970s destroyed houses, marinas and yacht clubs, ending an era of international speedboat races and glamor that once drew more visitors than Yosemite National Park. Botulism killed large numbers of pelicans in 1996.

Fish kills have happened regularly since nearly 8 million croaker and tilapia died in 1999. The water is nearly twice as salty as the Pacific Ocean, endangering remaining tilapia. Winds that stir hydrogen sulfide gas from the lake's bottom strips oxygen from surface waters where fish swim and creates stenches similar to rotten eggs.

The lake's fragile state was on display one spring afternoon as thousands of tilapia washed ashore. A white mist rising from the placid waters was evaporation. Great blue herons took flight, while American coots skimmed the surface.

"There are no other places for them to go," Chris Schoneman, project leader of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, said aboard a flat-bottomed vessel, one of a few boats fit to navigate waist-high waters. Residents say speedboats were last seen about four years ago.

A cluster of small, gurgling "mud pots" is tucked away on salt-crusted lakebed that was covered with water less than 10 years ago — evidence of magma from the earth's center rising through shifting tectonic plates. Another cluster in the lake's center produces bubbles that look as if a boiling cauldron lies beneath the surface.

Steam billows from about a dozen shoreline geothermal plants. They provide few jobs but land royalties — some paid to Imperial Irrigation District — have been touted as a potential solution for the lake.

The nonprofit Pacific Institute estimates that surface area of the 350-square-mile lake will shrink 100 square miles by 2030, salinity will triple over 15 years, and fish will disappear in seven years without intervention. San Diego's water purchases from Imperial Valley — which ramp up to 2021 — are to blame but low rainfall and water conservation also hurt.

Al Kalin, who farms 1,800 acres near the shore, installed sprinklers to replace flood irrigation and soil measurement devices that tell him when to water. His farm sits near one of several reservoirs that capture runoff for urban Southern California before it goes to the Salton Sea.

"We're kind of between a rock and a hard spot," said Kalin. "We've got to conserve water for the thirsty people, 17 million in Southern California. At the same time, there's concern about the Salton Sea because it's rapidly declining because of our conservation efforts."

Students at Desert Mirage High School in Mecca who have been strategizing after class how to bring attention to the Salton Sea shared stories with state regulators at a March hearing in Sacramento. Respiratory complaints are common in the small town of Latino farmworkers who fill a new Catholic church for Sunday Mass.

Jose Alcantara got involved for his mother, Blanca Sanchez, whose bronchitis worsened after she moved in 2010. She rushes to her car for her inhaler while picking crops and skips work when the air is bad.

"That's why I worry," said Alcantara, 17, whose family lives in a stucco apartment complex near fields of peppers, corn and citrus. "I don't want to see my mother in a casket."

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 21, 2015, 09:04:43 pm
California’s Latest Nightmare: San Joaquin Valley is Sinking

It’s bad enough that California is being battered by one of its worst droughts on record and that thousands of wildfires are consuming over 100,000 acres of woods amid fears that global warming may be making matters even worse.

Now comes a report that huge chunks of the state are literally sinking into the ground – posing serious threats to homes, businesses and roads in the affected areas.

Related: California Steaming: High Cost of the State's Drought Fixes

As the result of a bizarre and tragic confluence of drought, earthquakes, ground water mismanagement and overpopulation, a vast segment of the San Joaquin Valley in northern California is literally sinking into the ground.

The geological crisis – a fit subject for a wild science fiction thriller and one more crisis for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to contend with -- was confirmed by aerial imagery by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). Areas of the state are literally turning into giant sinkholes.

The state appears to be descending into Dante’s third ring of hell as it braves the fourth year of what some experts are calling the worst drought in its history. A new study by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory issued Thursday warns that global warming caused by industrial greenhouse gases may have intensified California’s drought by 15 to 20 percent, The New York Times reported.

Because of a diminished snowpack, scant rain and brutal high temperatures, ground water for agriculture irrigation is evaporating or being pumped dry, and surface areas in parts of northern California are beginning to give way.

Related: Crews Begin to Gain Ground Against Northern California Wildfire

Indeed, although the phenomenon of sinking land – or “subsidence” as it is called by scientists -- is nothing new to California, NASA analysts determined that parts of the populous state are collapsing at a rate of as much as two inches per month – faster than in the past.

Mark Cowin, the director of the California Department of Water Resources, said in a press release earlier this week that as intensive pumping of groundwater persists, the land is sinking more rapidly “and puts nearby infrastructure at greater risk of costly damage.”

According to one study by the University of California, Davis, the drought may cost the California economy roughly $2.7 billion this year – with most damage to agriculture.

The San Joaquin Valley is located south of Sacramento, with a sprawling land mass of 22,500 square miles and a total population of about 3.9 million people.

Related: Drought Costing California Farms $1.8 Billion in Revenue

While there is little chance that buildings and homes in Sacramento and other populous areas will be swallowed up, one notable area of concern is centered near Corcoran – population 24,000 and best known as the location of the California State Prison where Charles Manson is imprisoned.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 25, 2015, 01:31:42 pm
California Lake Mysterious Runs Dry Overnight, Killing Thousands Of Fish

FOLSOM LAKE (CBS13) — A Northern California reservoir ran dry overnight, killing thousands of fish and leaving residents looking for answers.

While a $3.5 million drought safety net at Folsom Lake finishes, a lake in another part of the state is left high and dry.

Thousands of fish lay dead in what used to be Mountain Meadows reservoir also known as Walker Lake, a popular fishing hole just west of Susanville.

“Everywhere that you see that’s wet, there was water,” said resident Eddie Bauer.

RELATED: California Drought Has More Insects Swarming Toward Homes

Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight. Bauer has lived near this lake his entire life. This is the first time he’s ever seen it run dry. He and other residents want answers.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company owns the rights to the water and uses it for hydroelectric power.

It’s the situation we worked hard to avoid but the reality is we’re in a very serious drought, there’s also concerns for the fish downstream,” said spokesman Paul Moreno.

Bauer says there should’ve been at least two weeks of water left and that would’ve given PG&E enough time to relocate the fish.

“This makes me feel like they didn’t want to do a fish rescue and that it was easier to open that sucker up Saturday night,” Bauer said.

PG&E officials say nobody opened the dam up and the water simply ran out.

No matter who’s to blame, residents here worry, this could happen in other areas of the state.

“The reservoirs are all continuing to be far below normal,” said Doug Carlson with the Department of Water Resources.

He says there’s no question water concerns are still a serious issue across the state.

“We are reliant upon rainfall to fill those lakes of course and until we get more rain we’re not likely to see any appreciable increase in the reservoir levels,” he said.

At Folsom Lake, workers are finishing work on floating barges that would pump water to the city of Folsom and the prison if the lake gets too low for the water to flow through an intake valve. An insurance policy that may be put into use soon.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 28, 2016, 04:31:59 pm
California raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

A deal to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 was reached Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators, making the nation's largest state the first to lift base earnings to that level and propelling a campaign to lift the pay floor nationally.

The increase will boost the wages of about 6.5 million California residents, or 43% of the state’s workforce, who earn less than $15, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP). The proposal had been headed to a statewide referendum.

“This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change,” Brown said. The governor can temporarily suspend the hikes in the event of poor economic conditions or a large budget deficit.

About a dozen cities have approved bumps in their minimum wages to $15, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and several other municipalities in California.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $15 pay floor for New York City starting in 2019 and across the state by 2021. A plan is already in place to hike wages for fast-food and state government workers in both New York City and the state.

Increases to $15 in New York and California “clearly would create national momentum for other states to follow their lead,” particularly Democratic- leaning coastal states, said Paul Sonn, NELP’s general counsel.

Under California’s plan, its minimum wage, currently one of the highest in the nation at $10 an hour, would rise to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018 and a dollar each year through 2022.

The pact was also hailed by labor advocates. “This is a very, very significant increase and for the first time would begin to reverse years of falling pay at the bottom” of the income ladder, Sonn said

The California legislation follows a series of one-day strikes by low-wage and other fast food workers demanding a $15 wage over the past 3˝ years, protests funded by the Service Employees International Union. The crusade was written off as quixotic when it began but NELP officials credited it with prodding lawmakers as well as companies such as Facebook, Google and Nationwide Insurance to set $15 as base pay.

A $15 wage has even become a centerpiece of the presidential campaign. The Democratic Party adopted a $15 minimum in its platform and Sen. Bernie Sanders supports it. Hillary Clinton has said she backs a $12 pay floor.

Proposals to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to about $10 have been blocked by Republicans in Congress. Republicans and other critics say the state-level increases will force some businesses to replace workers with technology and even shut down in the face of rising costs.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 21, 2016, 04:17:06 pm
California secession organizers say they've opened an embassy in Moscow

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California gained an embassy in Russia last weekend, at least in the eyes of those who have promised to seek a statewide vote on secession, nicknamed "Calexit," in 2018.

Louis Marinelli, a San Diego resident who is the leader of the group promoting an effort to turn the state into an independent country, organized the Moscow event that was publicized on social media.

"We want to start laying the groundwork for a dialogue about an independent California joining the United Nations now," he said in an email Monday.

Marinelli is currently working as an English teacher in Russia, and said he is there working on immigration issues related to his wife, a Russian national.

The effort faces the longest of odds, requiring not only initial approval by California voters in 2018 but a subsequent special election in 2019. Even if successful then, the proposal would have to pass difficult if not insurmountable legal obstacles.

Marinelli said he's not discouraged by the high hurdles.

"All major social and political movements in this country take time and inevitably have to overcome failures and setbacks before they are ultimately successful," he said.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 02, 2017, 03:08:53 pm
CA Senators Passes $400 Billion Bill!

California Senators just passed a $400 Billion healthcare plan, but do not have a plan to pay for it.

From LA Times: A proposal to adopt a single-payer healthcare system for California took an initial step forward Thursday when the state Senate approved a bare-bones bill that lacks a method for paying the $400-billion cost of the plan.

The proposal was made by legislators led by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) at the same time President Trump and Republican members of Congress are working to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Despite the incredible progress California has made, millions still do not have access to health insurance and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays, and they often forgo care,” Lara said during a floor debate on the bill.

The bill, which now goes to the state Assembly for consideration, will have to be further developed, Lara conceded, adding he hopes to reach a consensus on a way to pay for it.

Republican senators opposed the bill as a threat to the state’s finances.

“We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.”

Berryhill also said the private sector is better suited to provide healthcare.

“I absolutely don’t trust the government to run our health system,” he said. “What has the government ever done right?”

Lara’s bill would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system that he believed would guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out-of-pocket costs. Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 27, 2017, 09:26:46 am

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 07, 2017, 01:26:09 pm
BREAKING! Jerry Brown Hits California With A MOAB!

Jerry Brown just hit Californians with a $58 billion tax bomb!

From Sacbee.com: Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law billions of dollars in higher fuel taxes and vehicle fees, the state will have an estimated $52 billion more money to help cover the state’s transportation needs for the next decade.

The money comes largely from a 12-cent increase in the base gasoline excise tax and a new transportation improvement fee based on vehicle value. Other money will come from paying off past transportation loans, Caltrans savings, and new charges on diesel fuel and zero-emission vehicles.

The bulk of the revenue raised will go to various state and local road programs, as well as public transit, goods movement and traffic congestion.

The measure, Senate Bill 1, sets ambitious goals. By the end of 2027, it says least 98 percent of state highway pavement should be in good or fair condition, at least 90 percent of culverts should be in good or fair condition and at least 500 bridges must be fixed.

In June 2018, meanwhile, California voters will get to weigh in on another part of the package: a constitutional amendment supporters say will keep lawmakers from diverting the money to other purposes.


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 13, 2017, 03:41:00 pm
San Francisco On The Path To Becoming First Sanctuary City For Criminals

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is refusing to release surveillance videos of three recent incidences involving a mob of teenagers robbing passengers on their trains. BART's reason for not releasing the videos? Fear of spreading racial bias. A member of the BART Board of Directors, Debora Allen, hits the nail on the head when she asks, "What is the priority of BART? Is the safety of the passenger—of all passengers—is that a lesser priority than the race bias issue?"

What do you think? Please like and share.

From Freebeacon:

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which serves San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., is refusing to release surveillance videos of criminal incidents in its system for fear of spreading racial bias.

After three recent incidents of robbery on the trains, the system will not release videos of the incidents to the media, CBS SF BayArea reports.

Member of the BART Board of Directors Debora Allen said that she was told by management that the videos would not be released because they would spread racial bias among riders. But Allen stressed that riders are fearing for their safety.

"I think people are genuinely concerned—they are fearful about the stories that have come out about the recent attacks, the assaults, the thefts," Allen said. "What is the priority of BART? Is the safety of the passenger—of all passengers—is that a lesser priority than the race bias issue?"

BART management told Allen that "racial bias" caused by the videos would create insensitive rhetoric.

"To release these videos would create a high level of racially insensitive commentary toward the district," management said. "And in addition it would create a racial bias in the riders against minorities on the trains."

BART Assistant General Manager Kerry Hamill replied to Allen with a condemnation of local media.

"If we were to regularly feed the news media video of crimes on our system that involve minority suspects, particularly when they are minors, we would certainly face questions as to why we were sensationalizing relatively minor crimes and perpetuating false stereotypes in the process," Hamill replied.

"My view is that the media's real interest in the videos of youth phone snatching incidents isn't the desire for transparency but rather the pursuit of ratings," Hamill continued. "They know that video of these events will drive clicks to their websites and viewers to their programs because people are motivated by fear."


Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 24, 2017, 06:57:57 pm
Los Angeles is in Serious Trouble

Since the passage of prop 47, violent crimes is up 40%.


From Foxla:

LOS ANGELES, CA (FOX 11) - Crime is up, and arrests are down. It is not surprising that arrests are down 30% since 2014 when Prop 47 went into effect. The problem with Prop 47 is simply many felonies were downgraded to misdemeanors. Under Prop 47 for example, property theft in many cases went from a felony to a misdemeanor. Stealing a gun became no more than a misdemeanor ticket.

Without any real consequences, criminals were given a green light to steal more weapons and therefore commit more crimes. With so many crimes downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors, police officers in many instances felt it was not worth it to make arrests for these offenses. This has become especially true at a time when police conduct has come under increased scrutiny at every turn. Officers don’t want to be the next media case over a misdemeanor. Therefore it also comes as no surprise that violent crime in Los Angeles is up an astounding 40% since the passage of Prop 47 in November of 2014. Fewer arrests and incarcerations have translated into more crime.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 05, 2017, 06:14:12 pm
BREAKING: They Just Made It Official! California Secedes From The Trump Administration!!!

California's governor has signed a legislation making California a sanctuary state.

From The Hill:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Thursday signed legislation to bar state law enforcement officials from enforcing federal immigration law, making the state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

The measure, passed last month by the overwhelmingly Democratic California legislature, will bar California police and sheriffs from asking about a detainee’s immigration status. It will also block those agencies from complying with detainer requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

An estimated 65 percent of all deportations result from cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers. The new law, dubbed the California Values Act, requires schools, health facilities and court houses to establish policies limiting immigration enforcement that may be executed on their premises.

Title: Re: Watch California
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 07, 2017, 05:36:41 pm

Cali Gov Jerry Brown FORBIDS Landlords to Assist ICE in Deporting Illegals
Breaking News By Amy Moreno October 7, 2017

Imagine how GREAT California would be if officials cared as much about Americans as they do about illegals.

Instead of being a flourishing state, California is a cesspool of crime and bankruptcy, but the liberal moonbat governor continues doubling down on his love and support of illegals.

Now that California is a officially a “sanctuary state,” Governor Brown is FORBIDDING landlords from cooperating with ICE to deport illegals.

From Breitbart

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of new laws Thursday designed to protect illegal alien tenants from being threatened with deportation by making it illegal for landlords to report a tenant’s immigration status to Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The bills were part of a package of laws pushed by the Democrat majority and signed by Brown ostensibly to protect illegal aliens from any increased enforcement measures under theTrump administration.

According to the Los Angeles Times,

One proposal by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would bar landlords from disclosing information about immigration status in order to intimidate, harass or evict tenants without following proper procedures. It also would allow immigrant tenants to file civil claims against their landlords if they do.

Another bill by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) would ensure that no state office or entity in California could compel a landlord to obtain and disclose information on a tenant’s immigration status.

The rationale behind the latest package of bills protecting illegal aliens, according to the Sacramento Bee, is fear of enforcement by ICE under President Trump, and fear that unscrupulous landlords might use a tenant’s illegal status to harass, intimidate or abuse them.

Chiu argues that tenants should not have to “live in fear” because they’re immigrants or refugees. He cited the legal uncertainty over young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally but have been educated here and hold down jobs as one of several reasons for the legislation.

“Trump’s escalating war on immigrants is ripping apart families and mass deportations could be our new reality,” Chiu said recently.

“This bill will deter the small minority of landlords who unscrupulously take advantage of the real or perceived immigration status of their tenants to engage in abusive acts.”

With the package of bills signed into law Thursday—including SB54 making California a “Sanctuary State” for criminal aliens—California Democrats have kept their word to put the interests of illegal aliens first, ahead of legal, law-abiding California citizens.