Tightening the tap

May 5, 2015


California's water regulators are expected to approve sweeping new rules Tuesday to clamp down on water usage at homes and businesses. Naturally, the move comes as the summer hot season approaches. We're sweating already ... 


From the AP's Fenit Nirappil: "The State Water Resources Control Board will consider emergency drought regulations to protect water supplies in the parched state at a two-day meeting. The proposed rules come in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order to save more water, issued last month in the wake of relentless dry conditions."


"Lush lawns and verdant landscapes are first on the chopping block. Under the rules being considered, cities would not be able to use drinking-quality water on street median grass and homeowners would be encouraged to let lawns go brown to meet their community's mandatory water reduction target."

"Those conservation targets are among the most contentious provisions of the proposed rules. The board plans to order each city to cut water use by as much as 36 percent compared to 2013, the year before the governor declared a drought emergency."


And more on the drought: The victims include millions of thirsty California trees that have succumbed because of a lack of water.


Susan Murphy at KPBS in San Diego has the story.


"An estimated 12 million trees across California’s forestlands have died over the past year because of extreme drought conditions, according to an aerial survey conducted April 8-17 by the U.S. Forest Service."


"In San Diego County, 82,528 trees, mostly Jeffrey pines across Mt. Laguna, have succumbed to a lack of rainfall, with many more struggling to survive, said Jeffrey Moore, interim aerial survey program manager for the U.S. Forest Service."


I"n Southern California, the researchers tracked more than 4.2 million acres in Cleveland, San Bernardino, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests, where they found an estimated 2 million perished trees. They combed another 4.1 million acres in the Southern Sierra Nevada, where they documented approximately 10 million dead trees. Their findings were compared to similar surveys taken in July 2014, Moore said."

Carly Fiorina, a former Silicon Valley CEO and the first woman to head a Fortune 20 firm, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. But she's got more California baggage than a Pullman porter. 


From the Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman: Fiorina's "Silicon Valley experience could bust as much as boost her candidacy..."


"Fiorina, 60, was HP's top executive from 1999 to 2005, before being ousted by the board amid flagging stock prices and net earnings. After supporting President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004 and GOP nominee John McCain's campaign in 2008, she ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 but lost by 10 points to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer even as Republicans racked up big victories elsewhere across the nation."


"Less than a year later, she and her husband sold their Los Altos Hills home for $7.25 million and bought a $6.1 million home in the wealthy Washington suburb of Lorton, Va. Since then, she has worked with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2012, and has served as the American Conservative Union Foundation's chairwoman -- all of which helped her start laying groundwork for this presidential campaign."


The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, dubbed "Cal Fire," has had a tough year, what with sex scandals and personnel issues. But, the chief says, it's time to move on.


The Bee's Jon Ortiz tells the tale: "A year after his department was plunged into scandal, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Monday he’s put out a stern word to longtime employees and fresh-faced cadets alike that the embarrassing sins of the recent past are intolerable."


"When he learned of employees’ misdeeds, Pimlott said, “I was angry. I was disappointed.” It was the first interview he has given The Sacramento Bee since he fired two employees and disciplined 13 others in January for allegations that include cheating on tests, on-duty drinking, inappropriate touching of women and contacting prostitutes with state cellphones."


"Now, just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the killing that sparked it all, Pimlott believes the department has pivoted and is moving on."


Pain at the pump: California gasoline prices are spiraling skyward, yet again, a nearly four-fold boost over the national average. So with apologies to Tennyson, "Yours is not to reason  why, yours is to just fork over the dough."


From Kevin Smith the San Gabriel Valley Tribune: "Fueled by in-state refinery problems and rising crude oil prices, Los Angeles County’s average price for a gallon of regular hit $3.84 on Monday. That was up 35 cents from a week ago, while the national average rose just 9 cents, to $2.63 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com."


"L.A. County’s average price is now up 63 cents from a month ago, although that is still 47 cents below the year-ago average of $4.30 a gallon."


"The Inland Empire is seeing similar price hikes. San Bernardino County’s average on Monday was $3.75 a gallon, up 34 cents from a week ago and 58 cents from a month earlier."


Speaking of dough, we offer this reminder:


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