Imagine flushing the toilet and watching sand come up. That's what happened to Pam Vieira, who lives south of Modesto, Calif. Her water well has slowed to a trickle, and you can see the sand in the tank of her toilet.

"Sometimes we have brown water," Vieira says. "Sometimes we have no water."

Vieira is one of as many as 2 million rural California residents who rely on private domestic wells for drinking water.

Some of those people are among the hardest hit by the state's severe drought, as wells across the state's Central Valley farm belt start to go dry.

The National Drought Mitigation Center

On Fronteras: We look at how an El Niño weather pattern might help out the Texas drought this fall. Mexico is opening its energy sector to foreign participation for the first time since 1938. That has two towns, in two countries, wanting to harness geography and oil industry experience for each other’s benefit. One of the first things newly nationalized citizens do is register to vote. In San Diego, there’s one third party growing faster than the rest. We explore why. And something strange is happening at the busiest port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. Border wait times  are plummeting at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing.

Erich Schlegel

Fronteras: Tino Duran, publisher of San Antonio bilingual newspaper La Prensa, just went public with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Duran’s daughter Nina joins us on Fronteras to talk about her father and the family’s journey with Alzheimer’s. Imagine traveling the entire Rio Grande, just you, a canoe and some paddles. A couple of journalists are doing just that. We check in on the progress of the Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition.

Expedition Tracking the Disappearing Rio Grande

Texas has never had enough water to go around, and with this ongoing drought and population growth water has never been more precious.

As cities are looking to shore up their long-range water plans they are reaching farther into the rural parts of the state looking to buy up water. But the rural areas are reacting with suspicion and dread as they witness their aquifers being tapped.

Paul Flahive / ©


The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) is looking hard at the J-17 well that determines San Antonio's drought level. As it stood today the aquifer level was at 625.24 ft. The 625 ft has special importance. When the well has been there for a 10-day average the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer goes into stage 5 pumping restrictions, which is a 44 percent reduction in pumping.