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Drought-parched California tightens restrictions on wasting water

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

[Image: “West California 190 Signboard, Death Valley,” via Shutterstock]


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‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law

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Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump's claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

The host played a notorious clip of Trump.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible," Trump argued.

"And now he has gone beyond that," O'Donnell noted. "Now the president is sayin, 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'"

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Internet blown away by Giuliani’s ‘pants-sh*tting panic’ freak out on CNN’s Cuomo

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received harsh reviews of his Thursday evening appearance on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo.

Many people worried about Giuliani's mental health after watching the interview.

Here is some of what people were saying about Trump's defense attorney.

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Maddow is visibly shocked Trump is claiming in court the president can’t even be investigated

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC was flabbergasted by the latest court moves by President Donald Trump as he continues to hide his tax returns from investigators.

The host noted the ongoing legal battle Trump is waging to keep his accounting firm, Mazars, from handing over eight years of his tax returns to New York state investigators.

The host was shocked by the headline on the front-page of The Washington Post website.

[caption id="attachment_1544917" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Headline in The New York Times: "Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated" screengrab.[/caption]

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