LOS ANGELES - The wildfire and drought crisis in California continues to worsen, with little to no end in sight.
Wildfire season is almost year-round now, with fires burning faster and hotter than before.
The FOX 11 documentary Hell/ No Water looks at the vicious cycle of drought and wildfires... who’s fault is it and what we can do now.
The documentary features FOX 11 meteorologists, climate crusaders including Erin Brockovich, critics including KFI’s John Kobylt and many more.
What are the facts
January, February and March are typically California's rainy season... but over the years we're seeing less and less rain. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the longest duration of drought in California lasted 376 weeks beginning on December 27, 2011, and ending on March 5th, 2019. The most intense period of drought occurred the week of July 29, 2014, where over 58% of California land was affected.
The intense drought is also fueling wildfires. According to Cal Fire, so far in 2022 there have been 2022 6,594 fires and they have burned 365,748 acres. In 2021, over 7,000 fires throughout the state burned over 2.5 million acres.
One of the largest wildfires in California is the August Complex fire that burned 1,032,648 acres, destroyed 935 structures and resulted in the death of one person. The fire sparked due to lightening in August 2020 in Northern California. According to Cal Fire the deadliest and most destructive fire was the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County. The fire burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures and resulted in 85 deaths.
What is being done
One of the ways the state is trying to save water is by implementing strict water restrictions for homeowners. In June 2022, LADWP imposed water restrictions, telling customers they could only water outdoor twice a week. Over the years, several LA-area homeowners have also removed their grass to add drought-friendly landscape in order to avoid watering.
"Our main source of water is the Los Angeles Aqueduct that brings water from the Eastern Sierras. In addition to that, we can buy imported water from the Metropolitan Water District that could be via the State Water Project or the Colorado River Aqueduct. We're also working on stormwater capture projects where when it does rain in L.A., we'll have an opportunity then to capture that water and collected it and then be able to percolate it into the ground and recharge the aquifers so that we'll have more water available in the future," said Anselmo Collins, Sr. Asst. General Manager of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The biggest consumer of water in the state are the farmers. They need water to grow their crops… but with little to no water, many farmers are having to watch their crops die.
"We actually let a third of one of our orchards die because we didn't have enough water to water it. And then at the end of the season, we rip the whole thing out," said an almond farmer. Farmers are having to conserve water in ways they haven't before just to help produce their crops.