Eel River

A Deep Dive Into California’s Recurring Drought Problem

Feel it yet? That dire sense of déjà vu? It probably depends on your livelihood or interests. If you’re a Bay Area boulevardier or the type once described in singles ads as a lover of long walks on the beach, you’re no doubt delighted by the unceasing blue skies and unseasonably pleasant temperatures. But it’s another matter if you’re a farmer, salmon fisherman, water agency manager, skier or whitewater kayaker. Your income—or at least, your sense of well-being— is directly determined by what falls from the sky.

Murder in the Muck: Scientists Search for Clues to a Killer in the Eel River

In a long, rectangular laboratory with windows facing a dim October sky, Keith Bouma-Gregson casually shows me his collection of murder suspects.

“This was sent to me by a woman,” he says, extending a mason jar of toxic pond scum. The jar is filled with a dark-green thicket of algae, which is emitting tiny streams of bubbles into the sloshing liquid. The contents are nearly identical to the mats filling a foot-long fish tank in the refrigerator behind Bouma-Gregson, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley.

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