By Jennifer Chaussee
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Water regulators in California approved stringent new conservation measures on Tuesday to limit outdoor water use, including fines of up to $500 a day for using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.
The new restrictions prohibit watering gardens enough to cause visible runoff onto roads or walkways, using water on driveways or asphalt, and in non-recirculating fountains.
“An emergency requires action, and today’s announcement is a much-needed response to California’s drought emergency,” said Ed Osann, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which supported the regulations.
The new restrictions will take effect on Aug. 1. Many cities and counties in the state have already imposed voluntary restrictions, but the new rules will allow municipalities to impose mandatory cutbacks and issue fines to those who do not comply.
California is in the third year of a catastrophic drought that has diminished the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which normally feeds the state’s rivers and streams with cool water.
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January, committing millions to help stricken communities and temporarily easing protections for endangered fish to allow pumping from the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta.
The drought is expected to cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion this year, along with a loss of more than 17,000 jobs, as farmers are forced to fallow some valuable crops, a report by scientists at the University of California in Davis showed on Tuesday.
“The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest absolute reduction in water availability for California agriculture ever seen,” the report said, adding the results “underscore California’s heavy reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts.”
UC Davis scientists Richard Howitt and Jay Lund, who co-authored the report, said pockets along the state’s Central Valley, where farmers are relying on emergency groundwater reserves as other water resources have run dry, would be hit especially hard by economic losses.
Overall, the drought is expected to cause $2.2 billion in total economic losses in California this year, the report said. The estimated crop revenue loss amounts to $810 million, mostly because of water shortages that have forced many farmers to let their fields lie fallow.
Some 60 percent of fallowed cropland, where farmers once irrigated grazing fields or grew annual crops such as corn and beans, are in the San Joaquin Valley, where 70 percent of the state’s agricultural revenue loss is concentrated.
Most of the 17,100 lost jobs, including seasonal and part-time agriculture work, are in the San Joaquin Valley.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)
[Image: “West California 190 Signboard, Death Valley,” via Shutterstock]
Pro-Trump reporter John Solomon attacks Fiona Hill for debunking his Ukraine conspiracy theories
On Tuesday, National Security Council official Fiona Hill testified that the right-wing narrative Ukraine colluded with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election — rather than Russia working to help Donald Trump — is a "fictional narrative" and a piece of propaganda promoted by Russia.
One person was enraged at this testimony — John Solomon, the notorious right-wing reporter who covered Ukraine's supposed interference in the 2016 election extensively. He fired off multiple angry tweets attacking Fiona Hill:
How dare Fiona Hill question my patriotism or suggest I was part of a Russian disinformation campaign without a single fact. My sources were all US officials or Ukrainian officials aligned against Russia. Her accusations must have made Joe McCarthy smile up from hell.
Democrats declare there’s enough evidence for a vote on impeaching Donald Trump: report
On Thursday, according to CNN House Democrats are announcing that they have enough evidence to move forward with the final vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
Breaking: Dems say enough evidence to move forward on impeachment. Vote likely by mid-December. They will not wait for courts to force additional witnesses - @Phil_Mattingly reporting.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) November 21, 2019
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani accuses Mike Pompeo’s State Department of obstruction of justice
Keeping track of the Republican defenses of President Donald Trump got a little more difficult on Thursday when his private attorney appeared to throw his Secretary of State under the bus.
Rudy Giuliani suggested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have committed obstruction by refusing visas to three Ukrainians the former New York City mayor wants to testify about conspiracy theories.
"The embassy in Ukraine refuses to give visas for three witnesses, two present prosecutors and the former Prosecutor General, who have direct evidence of major Dem corruption in Ukraine in 2016," Giuliani argued.