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Morning Brief: The Drought Is Real, LA Celebration Crackdown, And Evoke LA

People walk along a dirt trail on a brown and green hillside, shown from a wide view. The Griffith Park Observatory can be seen in the background.
People hike along a ridge overlooking the Griffith Observatory on March 29, 2015.
(David McNew
Getty Images North America)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 15.

By now, most of us know some standard water-saving behavior: don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth, don’t use a lawn sprinkler (or better yet, install native plants), try to limit the length of your showers, and so forth.

But the need for these habits is becoming even more pressing. According to a new study, the current drought in the Western U.S. is the worst the region has experienced in at least 1,200 years. The last time water was comparably scarce in the region — although still not as bad as it is now — was in the 1500’s (for context, that’s the same century that sailors navigated around the world to prove — once and for all! — that the earth is round).

Our colleagues at NPR report that the country's two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both of which are located in the Southwestern United States, are down to about one-third of their total capacity. In an effort to reverse that trend, three states, including California, agreed to take less water from the Colorado River, which could help refill Lake Mead.

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In California, things are equally dire. If the state doesn’t get a whole lot more rain this year, 2022 could have our worst drought conditions on record. And even if we get a meteorological surprise, such as a very wet March, it would need to continue throughout the year in order to move the needle.

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"In 1991, we were in drought and we had a March Miracle, meaning it was a really rainy March,” said Alvar Escriva-Bou with the Public Policy Institute of California. But “only a generous year of rainfall” would allow that to happen again.

"This is a wake-up call for everyone," Adel Hagekhalil, general water manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, told KUNC. "We are facing a new normal."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • There were clashes between police officers and football fans after the Rams Super Bowl victory Sunday night. 
  • Fuel now costs, on average, $4.77 for a gallon of regular unleaded in L.A. and Long Beach. 
  • California’s school mask mandates will stay in place for now, but an end date will be announced on Feb. 28.
  • Super Bowl commercials review: The ads during this year's game weren't serious or poignant enough to speak to the modern moment.
  • Compton was front and center during the Super Bowl halftime show, and some landmarks featured in the elaborate set are now seeing an uptick in visitors.

Before You Go ... This Week's Event Pick: Evoke LA

A young woman sings into a microphone with her eyes closed. Her hair is dark and parted down the middle into a long braid. Above her, the words Evoke LA are written.
Empress Of
(Louis Felix)

A new KPCC/LAist event series, in collaboration with ALOUD and the Los Angeles Public Library, makes sense of L.A.’s history by sourcing archival material to inspire new artistic interpretations and reflections. Evoke LA  puts contemporary L.A. artists in conversation with leading historians and journalists, merging live performance with lively discussions.

In our inaugural event this Thursday, musician Empress Of and Pitzer College Professor Suyapa Portillo Villeda join KPCC/LAist Immigrant Communities Reporter Leslie Berestein Rojas and series curator Josh Kun to talk about Honduran and Central American life, politics, and influence in L.A. inspired by a a photo taken in 1986 of a mother and daughter walking down 7th Street in downtown.

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Join us on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 12 p.m. for the video premiere.

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