During the winter, when the Central Valley’s fields are quiet, the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota fills with farm workers, like Jose Gonzalez Cardenas.
“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Cardenas said through a translator.
According to a report from University of the Pacific, thousands of Valley farm workers could be out of work this summer if the drought persists. Maria Rivera is one of them. She already knows she won’t have work in the melon fields this year.
“The company I work for has already told its employees that they’re only going to plant one field,” Rivera said, also through a translator. That's down from about 60 in a typical year.
Mendota is a poor city on the west side of Fresno County that revolves around agriculture. City Council member Joseph Riofrio owns this pool hall. He says the community is already bracing for the drought’s impact.
“We’re the facilitators that need to coordinate how people will get food, and how they’re going to get help paying the light bill. There are so many problems that come with being in this part of California, and being dependent on agriculture,” Riofio said.
Down the street, at La Fiesta Meat Market, farmworker Aurelio Duran said if it doesn’t rain, he might leave the region.
“Right now, I’m on unemployment. Perhaps I will need to look for work somewhere else,” Duran said through a translator.
During the 2009 drought, unemployment in Mendota topped 40 percent and the Valley as a whole lost 6,000 farm jobs. With water even scarcer this year, the economic impact could be even worse.
A new study shows fire-fighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals is contaminating drinking water supplies around many of the nation's military bases, airports and industrial sites.
It has been a busy fire season across California. But there are fewer fires in the state’s 18 U.S. national forests so far this year, compared to 2015.
Update 8:00 p.m. Sunday: Crews are making "good progress" on the Cold Fire in Yolo County, now at 60% containment. In Monterey County, the Soberanes Fire remains at 45% containment with wind creating an additional challenge for firefighters.
The Soberanes Fire near Big Sur is burning in a rugged area that hasn't "seen fire in decades." The wildfire is 45 percent contained at 57,500 acres.
The number of acres burned by wildfires in the U.S. is about average for this time of year. But, in California, the 'new normal' includes larger and more frequent wildfires.