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In an aerial view taken on June 1, low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville in California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Golden State needs water now, right now.

Why it matters: California reservoir water levels are so low that some hydroelectric power plants may be forced offline during the peak of summer wildfire season, AP reports.

  • The state's massive water storage system is vanishing faster than usual.
  • The state’s reservoirs are 50% lower than normal, according to Jay Lund of the University of California at Davis.
  • More water isn't coming: The mountain snowpack vanished two months ahead of schedule, and California doesn't enjoy rainy summers.

All of this is ahead of the summer heat waves.

The big picture: These drought cycles are tied to climate change and are expected to worsen as population growth drives more water demand in the region, notes Axios' Bryan Walsh.

In the case of Lake Oroville in California, the reduced water levels threaten catastrophic downstream effects, AP notes.

Data: National Integrated Drought Information System; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
  • Salmon need cold water from the bottom of the reservoirs to spawn, and San Francisco Bay needs fresh water from the reservoirs to keep out the salt water that harms freshwater fish.
  • Farmers need to irrigate fields that are far less productive without water. Some of those fields won't yield a crop without irrigation.
  • And those lakes supply electricity: If Lake Oroville falls below 640 feet, which it could do by late August, state officials would shut down a major power plant for just the second time ever because of low water levels.

The bottom line: The Southwest is drying out, and California's large wildfires could start as soon as this month.

  • Vegetation is at near-record dry levels for this time of year, wildfire expert Craig Clements told Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Go deeper

Ida may keep more than 45K Louisiana students out of school until October

Upper Little Caillou Elementary School damaged after Hurricane Ida in Little Caillou, Louisiana. Photographer: Mark Felix/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

More than 45,000 Louisiana students could be out of school until October due to the damage from Hurricane Ida, NPR reports.

Why it matters: The news comes as a blow after the push to return to in-person learning.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.