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New data shows extreme drought in 80% of California

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More than 80% of California is now in an extreme drought, according to new data by the National Weather Service.

The NWS' Drought Monitor Update for July 15 shows 81% of California in the category of extreme drought or worse, up from 78%. Three months ago, it was 68%.

The map shows that drought conditions worsened in parts of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The new data comes as officials are getting tough on water wasters.

Saying that it was time to increase conservation in the midst of one of the worst droughts in decades, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted drought regulations that give local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day.

Sun

20 Signs the epic drought in the western United States is starting to become apocalyptic, as food prices continue to rise at an alarming rate

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When scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age. The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that.

And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us. Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go. Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices. The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic...

Alarm Clock

Water being auctioned for millions of dollars in California as drought reaches extremes

drought california
© Natural News
As the water shortage crisis in California rises to a boil, desperate farmers are coming forward to bid on the remaining steam. The Central Valley in California is indeed drying up, but private landowners who still have leftover water reserves on their property are now looking to cash in.

A California water rush is on, as water is being auctioned for millions and aquifers are depleted
.

According to state records, two water districts in California are beginning to auction off their private supplies of water. The two landowners in charge have reportedly made millions off their water stashes. The Buena Vista Water Storage District has already raked in about $13.5
million from the auction of 12,000 acre-feet of water this year.

Upon hearing the news, at least 40 other land owners have begun to prepare for a massive sell-off of their surplus water storage. Drilling for water has become more important than drilling for oil, as water banks are drained at an alarming rate.

The demand for California water is at an all-time high. In the past five years, the price of water has spiked tenfold. An acre-foot of water can now go for $2,200 in drought-stricken regions. As the aquifers are depleted to the highest bidder, it's only a matter of time before the less fortunate are put at the mercy of those who have a hand on the water tap.

Some are calling on new state regulations to ensure that the water distribution remains transparent. "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.

Others believe that the free market is more capable of controlling the price of the important natural resource. "We think that buyers and sellers can negotiate their own deals better than the state," said Nancy Quan, a supervising engineer with the California Department of Water Resources.

Dollar Gold

Las Vegas is "screwed"; Water situation "as bad as you can imagine". Yet they're still building!

Lake Mead
© Getty
Lake Mead: boaters seen in front of a white "bathtub ring" on the rocks on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam
Amid a brutal drought the reservoir that supplies 90 per cent of Las Vegas's water is fast disappearing and desperate attempts to save Sin City are under way

Outside Las Vegas's Bellagio hotel tourists gasp in amazement as fountains shoot 500ft into the air, performing a spectacular dance in time to the music of Frank Sinatra.

Gondolas ferry honeymooners around canals modelled on those of Venice, Roman-themed swimming pools stretch for acres, and thousands of sprinklers keep golf courses lush in the middle of the desert.

But, as with many things in Sin City, the apparently endless supply of water is an illusion.America's most decadent destination has been engaged in a potentially catastrophic gamble with nature and now, 14 years into a devastating drought, it is on the verge of losing it all.

"The situation is as bad as you can imagine," said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "It's just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they're still building, which is stupid."

Comment: Typical of a capitalist mentality that is out of control: Blind focus on immediate profits at the expense of neglected essentials that ultimately will result in self-destruction.


Sun

Drought brings disaster declaration for all of Utah

Hoover dam drought

With a bathtub ring marking the high water line, a recreational boat approaches Hoover Dam.
Every county in Utah will be covered by a disaster declaration because of the ongoing drought after the Agriculture Department on Tuesday added two new counties and their adjacent areas. The designation will allow farmers in the state to seek low-interest emergency loans.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a letter to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that the department would add Duchesne and Uintah counties to the disaster declaration as well as nine counties that abut the area, including three in Colorado.

All but two of Utah counties were previously included in the disaster area and the latest move covers the rest of the state. Some counties are covered as primary disasters while others are included because they are contiguous to the initial areas.

Sun

Famine fears as worse drought in decade hits North Korea

North Korea DMZ
© Ed Jones/ Getty Images
South Korean soldiers face the Northern Korea border, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea on 14th May 2014.
North Korea's rivers, streams and reservoirs are running dry in a prolonged drought, state media has said, prompting the isolated country to mobilise some of its million-strong army to try to protect precious crops.

The drought is the worst in North Korea for over a decade, state media reports have said, with some areas experiencing low rainfall levels since 1961.

Office workers, farmers and women have been mobilised to direct water into the dry floors of fields and rice paddies, the official KCNA news agency said.

In the 1990s, food shortages led to a devastating famine which killed an estimated million people but gave rise to a fledgling black market that in some areas now provides the food the government can no longer supply.

Water

Texas town seeks solution to drought with 'toilet water'

Toilet
© Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
The old adage of "desperate times call for desperate measures" has been taken up by a drought-stricken Texas town that's looking to a new source for its drinking water: its toilets. Wichita Falls, a city of about 100,000 located in the north of the state, is well into its third year of the severe water shortage that's affecting much of much of the west. Mandatory water conservation measures have already reduced residents' water usage by more than a third, but when city officials realized that remaining water supplies would still run out in about two years, they decided that Fido was on to something when he deigned to drink from the porcelain bowl.

OK, not exactly. The city's new direct potable reuse project, as it's called, is far more involved than slaking your thirst at the toilet rather than at the tap. Instead, in a $13 million effort designed by Wichita Falls' Public Works department, the city has installed a 13-mile pipeline connecting its water treatment plant (where ordinary tap water is filtered and purified before entering the city's pipes) with its wastewater treatment plant (i.e., all the stuff that goes down drains - not just toilet water, which makes up about 20 percent of the mix, but also water from sinks, tubs, washing machines, and dishwashers), creating a two-destination, multi-step cleansing system. Wastewater is first treated at its respective plant, then sent down the pipeline to be treated once more with all the rest of the drinking water. The project, now in its final stages of testing, should begin producing about five million gallon of water per day by early July.

Sun

More than half of Kansas in drought emergency

Kansas drought
Drought conditions are continuing to worsen in Kansas despite recent rain, prompting Gov. Sam Brownback to declare half the state in a drought emergency.

All 105 counties are now under some type of drought status.

Brownback issued an updated declaration Wednesday putting 56 counties in the most serious emergency category. Twenty-six have been placed under warning status, and 23 in a watch status.

Comment: See:Parched: A new dust bowl forms in the heartland


Cow Skull

Drought kills 20 thousand animals in Casanare, Colombia.

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© SEMANA
The drought has killed fish, cattle, deer, and other animals. The greatest toll has been capybaras.
To the government, deforestation is in Boyacá reduces the water available, but that would not be the whole truth.

The strong wave of drought in Casanare has caused for four months death by dehydration of about 20,000 animals, mainly capybaras, deer, foxes, fish, turtles, reptiles and cattle.

The impact has been so strong that the Government of that department is considering Friday whether to declare an environmental emergency, especially in the town of Peace Ariporo, the third largest in Casanare. But for this they need legal arguments being collected.

Doing so would mean that the medium-term works as drilling deep wells with pumps would provide water.

But the problem is not lack of enough wells but a forest reserve, as explained to Semana.com Adriana Soto, former deputy environment minister and expert on climate change adaptation.

Sun

Queensland's drought this summer is the worst on record

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Queensland drought map for March 2014
It is official - this drought is Queensland's most widespread on record, with almost 80 per cent of the state now drought-declared.

Queensland's Agriculture Minister has announced the largest drought-stricken area ever for the state, with 15 new shires added to the list.

This takes the number of drought-declared shires to 38, and it is the first time large sections of the Queensland coast have been included.

Shires of Banana, Bundaberg, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Western Downs have been added to the already long list, effective from March 1.

Minister John McVeigh says the failed wet season is the reason so many shires have been declared at once.

"It's really only that coastal strip of Queensland of roughly Rockhampton through to Cape that is not in drought, bar some other small locations around the state, so that does confirm that this is a more significant drought event than Queensland has ever seen before," he said.

"The wet season in these newly declared shires has been very poor with many areas missing out altogether. February, normally one of the wettest times of the year, has been particularly dry.