All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 07/17/15

Guests: Kevin Roney, Melody Lardner, Jay Famiglietti, Edwin Krupp

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Steve. Good evening from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. I am Chris Hayes. We have been doing special reports from California, "ALL IN America: Water Wars", on the historic drought in this state that is entering its fourth year. And now, a fire has broken out on the Cajon Pass, northeast of Los Angeles, has closed Interstate 15 in both directions. Fire crossed the freeway setting cars and trucks aflame. The blaze started 2:30 Pacific Time on Friday, Interstate 15 north of Highway 138. It`s approximately now 2,000 acres in size. But northbound and southbound Interstate 15 are closed, according to "The L.A. Times", a drone flying near the San Bernardino blaze forced crews to abandon air drops. Those have now resumed. Joining me, Officer Kevin Roney of California Highway Patrol. Officer Rooney, can you assure me that folks got out of those cars? OFFICER KEVIN RONEY, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL (via telephone): I don`t have information that leads me to believe that they didn`t. Fire department indicated to us there`s no injured party at this point. So, you know, it`s hard to say 100 percent sure, but I don`t believe there was any casualties from this, from what I`m looking at. HAYES: You guys were able to cut off and evacuate a huge swath of highway there. Any sense of how many cars there are there jammed on that highway as the fire sort of moves car-to-car? RONEY: Well, I was briefly looking at the news and I could see there was hundreds of cars, probably close to thousands of cars that are stranded. There`s motorists sitting there waiting, they can`t go anywhere. So, I`m sure it`s a nightmare for these people. HAYES: There`s also some concern, I know the fire department was talking about it, folks in the area, the water drops of the kind that are coming from the airplane and the helicopter are quite heavy, so folks need to get out of that area, because that also could cause injury. RONEY: Absolutely. It`s a lot of water and a small area that drops. They are trying to direct it on top of a burning vehicle or structure and it is going to come down and it`s going to come down hard. You don`t definitely want to have that kind of shower of water on you. Definitely want to stay clear of that. HAYES: And, Officer, obviously, wildfires are a common occurrence. It`s been an intense fire season already in California. My sense, however, is that it is relatively rare to get one that gets to a freeway so fast before it can be blocked off like this one got there today. RONEY: Yes, it`s true. This is a rarity. I worked in this area for about seven years. I can only think, this is the worst I have seen. There`s been times where it`s approached upon a freeway, about the right shoulder, the fire department got there relatively quickly and were able to take care of it. I don`t -- I can`t think of any time since I`ve worked in this area that there`s been multiple vehicle that`s caught fire from a wildfire like this. HAYES: All right. Officer Roney of California Highway Patrol, thank you, sir. Joining me now, Melody Lardner, public information officer from the U.S. Forest Service. Ms. Lardner, I believe I saw a few vehicles in our live shot that appeared to be U.S. Forest Service. Is U.S. Forest Service on the scene of this fire? MELODY LARDNER, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Yes. The U.S. Forest Service are in command working the fire at the time. We have multiple agencies involved. HAYES: Now, we can see now that there are fire teams dispatched on the ground. They appear to be able to get some of the more intense vehicle fires under control, particularly that massive tractor trailer that exploded in plume of smoke. Do you feel you are confining the fire at this moment, particularly that part on the stretch on the 15? LARDNER: Well, we have the fire burning on the vehicles on Interstate 15, but we also have a vegetation fire moving toward homes in the Baldy Mesa area. So, there`s two different fronts on the fire. HAYES: Are you evacuated the homes in the Mesa area toward which that fire is burning? LARDNER: Yes, the area is Baldy Mesa. It`s an area of scattered ranch homes, scattered homes, large acreage homes. They are under mandatory evacuation. It`s -- the area north and west of Interstate 13. HAYES: Now, this fire started in the afternoon and my sense was, this was a particularly fast moving fire, that`s why we have the somewhat surreal and terrifying image of all these cars dropped on the highway because it moved so quickly up that slope. Is that right? LARDNER: Right. And it`s a busy freeway on Friday afternoons, because of the vacation travelers, commuters and the construction going on in Cajon Pass. HAYES: This has been a very active fire season in the fourth year of this historic drought in California. I had read a statistic published I believe in "The New York Times" that the five years previous average was 2,200 fires at this point. There`s already been 3,300. Are you stealing yourselves in the Forest Service for a very intense season? LARDNER: Well, we are always ready for an intense fire season. We are aware the drought would cause more fires because the vegetation is dry and will carry more fires, but we are always prepared for fires. HAYES: I`ve got to imagine, this is a difficult and dangerous situation for the firefighters on the ground there. These vehicles, obviously, very different than how you would go confronting a vegetation fire. This is huge amounts of explosive gasoline that they are now battling. LARDNER: It`s both. It`s dry brush that`s allowing the fire to move very quickly towards homes and quickly across the freeway, and, yes, it ignited these vehicles that have all kinds of fuel, either carried in the vehicles or in their gas tanks. And so, yes, that is a very scary situation as well. HAYES: All right. Thank you very much, Ms. Lardner from the U.S. Forestry Service. Joining me now from Los Angeles, NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson. Hallie, what`s the latest? Is this spreading at this moment or are they able to get it under control? HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, visually, it looks as though we are seeing firefighters on the ground putting water on these cars, which is progress from what we saw maybe a half an hour ago. Right around 4:30, we knew 500 acres were burned. As I speak to you now, it`s at least 2,000 acres, as Melody talked about. So, it is moving quickly. Firefighters are trying to get a handle on it from the ground and from the air. We have seen a couple of air drops. We`ve seen some retardant drops as well to try to contain this thing. At this point, I want to touch on this -- this is basically the highway to Vegas. So, think about it, on a Friday afternoon, people who might be leaving L.A. to go out to Vegas for the weekend, at rush hour. So, you are seeing a huge back up from this, what you can only call a mess on the Cajon Pass. Wind gusts right now about 35 to 40 miles an hour. That`s not helping. We also know that at least 15 cars burned. There`s no firm number, yet. But even just visually, you can see how bad it has gotten. At this point, we understand from various fire officials, that there are some number of victims, either burned or who inhaled smoke, but we cannot confirm the number right now. I want to note, you know, there was some talk maybe of a drone grounding some of the aerial attack. We understand from the Cal Fire that that was not the case. That there were drones were in the area, but those drones did clear out in time for this aircraft to get up. I have to tell you, though, over the last several weeks, Chris, we have seen drones ground some of these firefighting aircraft in different fires. It`s been a real concern for California officials here. Luckily, that appears not to have happened in this case as we look now at another water drop. HAYES: That water drop, if you were underneath it, can be very, very dangerous. That`s a huge amount of weight. They have to coordinate extremely tightly with the firefighters on the ground. You see them clear out and back away in preparation for the water drop. The water drop may look inefficient to the naked eye or like it`s not enough to get the fire under control, the fire has to be put out on the ground. There is -- it is hard to put a fire out from the air. That can aid the folks on the ground, but the firefighters you see out there in that live shot deployed are going to be the ones that actually do that. You are seeing some of those vehicles being withdrawn. They have cleared enough space and created enough break between the fire to move some of those vehicles back, which is going to be key to stop that fire leapfrogging car to car, vehicle, it`s a vehicle that looks like they`re starting to get that portion of the fire perhaps under control. And, Hallie, of course, this has been a very active season. There`s a lot of concern about how it`s going to be. You can now see the plume of smoke from the fire in San Bernardino, which is peeking up over the Santa Monica mountains right there in our shot there. You can see that there on the left of your screen. And, Hallie, there`s a lot of concern. I talked to someone from the San Diego fire department. I was down there a few days. You know, they had a really, really active season last year. They are worried about what this season is going to be. JACKSON: And that is something I think you`re hearing, not just in San Diego where you were, Chris, but throughout the state. We talked about it a lot, last summer, that it could be the worst fire season. We are hearing it again this year. And one of the things that Cal Fire officials often say is, there`s really no fire season, anymore. They are seeing fires almost year round. Typically, it`s only bad certain times of the year. But because of this drought, we are in the fourth year of this record-breaking drought. You are seeing oftentimes this basically more fuel for these fires that can light up. So, it`s a concern. In this area, you know, out here north of San Bernardino, people are used to wildfires, right? It`s not uncommon. HAYES: Yes. JACKSON: We have seen 3,300 in California. I wouldn`t say it`s a way of life, but almost. Still, when you see this number of cars burning on the highway, as intensely as they were, that is as you heard one of the folks say earlier on your show, that is a rarity, as he put it. He says he`s never seen anything like it in seven years. HAYES: All right. Hallie Jackson, thank you so much for your time tonight, really appreciate it. We are going to be right back. We will continue to monitor the fire and bring you an interview I had talking with the chief of aerial forces for the San Diego Fire Department, talking about their efforts this fire season. That will be up next. Stick around, as ALL IN continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: We are monitoring a massive, raging wildfire that is sweeping across San Bernardino right now, just a few miles from where we are located here at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. Fire began this afternoon, moved very quickly, was about 500 acres, it`s now 2,000 acres. And between then and now managed to move up a slope, on to the 15 freeway, which was packed with traffic. The traffic had to be evacuated. People got out there, scattered reports of some injuries. Firefighters now are fighting their way down the line of cars, vehicle-to-vehicle as the fire was hopping from car-to-truck-to-car, the fire also spreading now in the opposite direction, threatening some homes in a nearby area. This happening in the fourth year of the historic drought in California which has created record amount of fuel for these kinds of wildfires. And firefighters girding themselves for the worst. We`ll be back with more after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: We continue to monitor the dramatic scene unfolding in San Bernardino County, California. The fire that you`re looking at broke out on the Cajon Pass, northeast of Los Angeles, and has closed Interstate 15 in both directions. The fire crossed the freeway, setting multiple cars, trucks aflame. Blaze started about 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday near Interstate 15, north of Highway 138. It is approximately now 2,000 acres in size. Both northbound and southbound Interstate 15 are closed. It just so happens that this week, I went for a ride in San Diego`s fire rescue helicopter with their chief of air operations to discuss precisely how the historic drought the state is going through is changing the way they fight fires, just like this one. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Tell me a little bit about the basic conditions that you and the San Diego Fire Department are looking for in fire season. CHRIS HEISER, SAN DIEGO FIRE DEPARTMENT: I think the fire rescue is similar to all of Southern California right now. What we are looking at is impact of the drought on the fuel conditions, which means dry fuel, a lot of it. And then if you add a wind event, which we know is going to happen, we can`t predict exactly when. Add the wind to it. and then, any degree of slope and you are going to have a significant fire, if there`s an ignition. HAYES: Does dryness, does the fact the state has been in an historic drought for several years, does that increase the risk factor? HEISER: Well, what`s interesting, fire burns dead, dry fuel significantly faster than it does green, live fuel. We look at how much dead fuel is out there. What the drought has created is large pockets of dead fuel which then provide the base for the fire. HAYES: You guys had quite a season last year starting May, 2014. Tell me a little bit about that. HEISER: Well, I think what was unique about that event was, one, it was in May where we see aggressive active fire behavior. Number two, the majority of fires we saw were along the coast and historically for us, you don`t see a lot of fires on the coast because you have a coastal input, occasionally less winds. Historically in our area, fires start to the east and move to the west. This was the unique situation. HAYES: So you guys had a bunch of fires along the coast. And that`s not something you really dealt with before? HEISER: No. My experience has not been we have seen multiple fires along the coast. Normally, they pop up to the east, inland, an occasional fire along the coast. It was an extremely rare occurrence. HAYES: Talk to me about what the effect of the drought that`s happening here in California is on the work you guys do. HEISER: Well, vegetation fires need three things, really. They need terrain, slope, they need fuel and they need the weather -- the dryness and the wind to move the fire. All it takes is a source of ignition and you have a significant fire. What you see with the drought is, with the critical component, which is the fuel, you see a larger fuel which means fire is going to burn more intense and more rapidly. And that`s the biggest effect of the drought. It also in some areas is affecting our ability to get water. The tank in the bottom of this (INAUDIBLE) the quickest way to fill in is hover over a body of water and snorkel it up. As the drought continues, those bodies of water dry up and becomes less available. That means we have to travel farther to get water, which means for us, less amount of time we are spending on the fire. HAYES: That`s interesting. What are the bodies of water, you are not going to drop salt water. HEISER: We can. It`s the last thing we will do, if nothing else is available. But there`s a good example. That pool of water right there, anything you see on golf courses, golf course water. Any place that the pilot can safely get into. One of the challenges is, snorkeling the water up. They need maneuver room as they come forward and get enough lift to get out. So, they are looking for an opening that allows them to move in smoothly and safely with that load, and enough depth to the water. So, the droughts affecting the location of some of those. HAYES: That`s really interesting. So, I had thought it out. So, the drought increases the amount of fuel because the drier things are, the more drier field you have, the more fuel you have, the more you have increased your chances of something igniting. HEISER: Yes. HAYES: You`ve also got the situation where you are using bodies of water with this helicopter to snorkel up water and actually work in the fire suppression. As those bodies of water dry up, it gets harder to find those? HEISER: Exactly. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: All right. That was my interview with Chris Heiser of the San Diego Fire Department. You are looking at a fire burning in San Bernardino, California. We have been here all week doing reports on the "Water Wars", the historic drought in California with the three driest years in the history of state since the 19th century, mid 19th century when they started keeping track. The reason we did it is it is a national story. It is a story about the present and future into which we are walking. Our present and future that will see more weather and climate extremes, that will see more droughts particularly in the western United States and a place where scarce resources in the west and across the country, things like water are going to be used much more effectively and efficiently. And disasters will have to be prepared more assiduously. You are seeing the smoke building from San Bernardino right now. That may be a way of life in southern California. But all the models we have suggest that`s going to be more intense as time goes. Much more reporting on the "Water Wars" when we come back. Don`t go anywhere. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Joining me now from Los Angeles is NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson. Hallie, we saw on the live shot, this fire that`s burning in San Bernardino, which is right now just over the mountains from where we are. I`m at the Griffith Observatory here in Los Angeles. We saw, they were sort of hopscotching from car-to-car. Firefighters came and put most of it out, but it`s moved to structures as well. JACKSON: Right. So, this is part of the 2,000-acre north fire, Chris. And as you see in this video, it looks like obviously, something is burning. We`ve seen a couple structures are on fire at this point. So, this started according to the San Bernardino fire officials right around 2:30 this afternoon, and it`s already burned more than 2,000 acres. It`s not just the highway. When it jumped the highway, it caught the cars on fire, apparently. Now, threatening homes. There are mandatory evacuations in the place. This is in the Baldy Mesa area. It`s north of San Bernardino. And this is really the route. When you look at I-15, which is the highway we have been watching, this is the route for people to get out of L.A., to get out of where you are right now and get up to Vegas. As you might imagine, on a Friday afternoon, at 5:30 local time, that is a popular highway to be driving. So, this is snarled traffic, of course. Firefighters are trying to get a handle on it. We have seen them from the ground. We`ve seen them from the air dropping water, dropping retardant to try to contain this thing. HAYES: Yes. We should also note something, as you are watching the images. Obviously, this is a dry region. Even if there were no humans here, this would be a dry region and without humans, there would be fires. That`s part of the natural ecological cycle of the area. What happens during development and people have gotten smarter about how they develop to avoid fires, but there is a cycle in which the suppression of fires itself, successfully fighting fires also as part of the thing that builds a fuel stock. So, the better in some ways you get at fighting fires, the more that you prevent fires, when they start, which is, of course, good for the safety of people, the more you build up fuel stock and then that combines with the drought in its fourth year to create a tremendous amount of dry fuel that is now there throughout southern California. JACKSON: Yes, you know, we talk about this often, that if, you talk about this would be a dry area if there weren`t humans. You`re absolutely correct. If there weren`t, these fires would burn naturally. It would sort of not allow fuels to be replenished for the next fire. But because there are homes, and people, and cars and highways all over southern California, all over California, in these metro areas, that has become the concern, stopping these fires. Protect life, protect property, that is a firefighter mission. HAYES: All right. Hallie thank you so much for joining us this evening. Really appreciate it. We are going to continue to check in with the fire as it burns, hoping the firefighters can get it under control. It appears at this moment, we don`t have any reports of deaths. There are reports we cannot confirm of injuries. But amazing moment, a terrifying moment as the fire swept up on to the freeway. And it gives you a sense of how fast it moved and how close much of the area is to that kind of event. Now, we are here at the Griffith Observatory overlooking the city of Los Angeles for our final installment of "ALL IN America: Water Wars", an in-depth look at what`s happening in California as the state grapples with this historic drought. Tonight, we are taking a closer look at the state`s largest lake, the Salton Sea. It was once a bustling tourist destination, attracting more visitors than Yosemite. But today, the Salton Sea finds itself on the brink of environmental disaster fighting for survival. As filmmaker John Waters once put it, it`s a place where utopia and the apocalypse met to dance a dirty tango. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the amazing qualities about the Salton Sea is if you come to the edge and you just kind of close your eyes for a second and you just listen to the sounds around you, you wouldn`t know you were in the middle of a desert of southern California or an near an agricultural area. You literally think you`re on some tropical island or at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It just has that sound of life and calm, peacefulness that is just waiting here for people to come appreciate. HAYES (voice-over): Drive three hours east of San Diego and you`ll reach California`s Imperial Valley, an arid desert turned agricultural wonderland, home to about 80 percent of the nation`s winter`s vegetables and the largest lake in California, the Salton Sea, a body of water created by accident. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Colorado River is an outstanding example of river which man has put to its own use. HAYES: In 1905, engineers attempted to divert irrigation water from the Colorado River. The efforts failed and the Colorado flooded the Salton Basin for two years, creating an accidental sea, a constant stream of runoff water from surrounding farms helped keep it going. By mid century, developers realized this wasn`t necessarily a bad thing. MACLAGGAN: You are looking at a remarkable idea, an idea that has intrigued, attracted and thrilled thousands upon thousands of men, women and children. This is the story of the miracle sea in the desert, the Salton Sea. HAYES: It was supposed to be the riviera of the west, Palm Springs with beaches, a haven for ordinary Americans and the Hollywood elite. BILY ORR, RESIDENT: We had Frank Sinatra here. Anybody with any recognition whatsoever was down here here. You name it, they were here. JANE SOUTHWORTH, BUSINESS OWNER: I never water skied. I was the boat driver. So my kids, they were the ones and their friends who took turns. And then the fishing was good, too. And so we`d go fishing a lot. WENDALL SOUTHWORTH, BUSINESS OWNER: We have a buggy club, a dune buggy club, that had 110 members. We used to just have a ball. HAYES: But it didn`t last. Two tropical storms in the `70s and a mass die off of fish and bird populations in the `90s, turned this desert paradise into a post apocalyptic landscape. The tourists who come now are witness to a past vision of the future, documenting relics of a bygone era. Today, the sea itself is shrinking, and evaporation and stagnation are making it saltier, twice as salty as the Pacific Ocean. It`s an environment that Tilapia can survive in, for example, but not much else. AL KALIN, FARMER: There change. And it is constantly changing. And it will in the future. And the future of these -- these fish will perish as the sea gets saltier. They won`t be able to survive. And there will be other things that will live here. HAYES: The Salton Sea`s very survival depends on more water, which it gets from area farms through the Colorado River, but that, too, is now at risk. The water agreement is diverting some of that water to cities. Now, a shrinking Salton Sea is exposing lake beds, that stirs up a toxic dust in a place where the air quality already fails federal standards. It will only get worse over time. And so far, little has been done to stop a looming environmental disaster, creating an uncertain future for the thousands of people who still call this place home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this place. And I will fight for it as much as IU can. IT makes you sad. But I won`t leave here. I`ll hang out. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: As the California drought continues, some companies and cities are looking to the ocean for solutions. I visited a desalinization plant to find out the future of converting saltwater to fresh water. Much more, when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: A scary scene just several miles from where we are standing as a wildfire swept up a slope and engulfed some of the cars that you are seeing there right there on the Interstate 15 in flames. The cars had to be evacuated. That fire now, at least among the vehicles, appears to be under control. And you can see folks walking along the side, it appearing they are being led back to their cars now that firefighters have managed to suppress and extinguish the fire along that stretch of abandoned cars on 15. It is still blocked both north and southbound. And the fire, which has reached 2,000 acres still sweeping through San Bernardino. We will continue to monitor that here in California where we have been reporting all week. It`s a dry place, even when it`s not in the midst of a historic drought. But there are drier places on Earth that still support modern civilization -- places like the Gulf states and Israel, for example. And one of the ways that they have solved their water problem is by taking seawater and removing the salt through a process called reverse osmosis, making it safe to drink. It works but it is extremely expensive and energy intensive. And this fall, here in California, one of the most controversial water projects in the state will come online after a 15 year battle and a billion dollar investment. The Carlsbad desalination plant, the largest of its kind in the entire country, was built by a private company, Boston-based Poseidon Water, which has a 30-year contract to sell drinking water to San Diego County. Environmentalists have fought the project over concerns about its impacts on the ocean, surrounding natural habitat. But advocates say that given the increasing strain on California`s water supply, this is what the future looks like. I went to Carlsbad to check it out. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE: HAYES: It`s been a centuries long dream of humankind that they can take sea water and drink it. Explorers going across the Atlantic to the New World had to take their drinking water, and if only we can just dip our cups in there -- when does that begin to become a reality technologically? MACLAGGAN: Well, the technology has evolved. Since the `50s, there`s been desalination plants installed in the Middle East and elsewhere. But here in North America, where water has been cheap and plentiful historically it hasn`t been needed. So we have always relied on traditional sources of supply. What has changed is first of all the traditional sources are no longer cheap and plentiful, and the desalination technology has gotten much more affordable. So, we are at the crossover point where it now makes sense to look to the ocean for part of our municipal supplies. HAYES: Traditionally, the technology has been expensive. I mean, even now what we are standing on is a billion dollar facility. MACLAGGAN: No doubt. This water that we are producing here at the plant will cost more than our existing sources of supply. Our partner in the project, the San Diego County Water Authority is looking at this supply as a hedge on future droughts. And they also expect in the middle of the next decade, this plant will be competitive with their traditional sources of supply, because additional investment will be required to keep the waters flowing as well. HAYES: Yeah, also it`s very hard to see how things don`t just become drier as the climate changes, as things get warmer. MACLAGGAN: Well, you`ve got growth throughout the southwest, we are all dependent on the same sources of water. You have the Colorado River and the Sacramento River are basically what serves San Diego County along with a little bit of local runoff. So, this is an opportunity to look to the Pacific Ocean for a new supply to meet a portion of our needs. HAYES: Well, that`s obviously -- that`s the Pacific Ocean right there. That`s the stuff that you are going to use to turn it into drinking water. How does the process start? How do you get that in here? MACLAGGAN: Well, we have a pump station that we constructed right on oceanfront. It sends 100 million gallons of seawater up to the facility where we`re sanding. That`s the first stage filtration. We run the water slowly through a deep bed of sand and charcoal, and that gets out the sediment and the silt and the organics. Another filtration step right here that gets the water even cleaner in terms of in terms of suspended impurities. Then the last step is reverse osmosis process that physically separates the fresh water and the salt water. Every two gallons that go in, one gallon of fresh water comes out, one gallon of extra salty water is the byproduct that goes back to the ocean. HAYES: We are now in the third final chamber of this process, which is where the actual desalinization, reverse osmosis happens, right? MACLAGGAN: Where the magic happens. This is where we separate the salt from the water. HAYES: How does it work? MACLAGGAN: Well, it works is you pressurize the sea water to real high pressure. HAYES: I mean, you really have got to pressurize it. MACLAGGAN: Almost 800 to 900 pounds per square inch. HAYES: What does that mean for someone that doesn`t know what that means? Like what is a fire hydrant compared to that? MACLAGGAN: So, the tire in your car is 30 PSI. So, we are looking at 30 times that pressure, 25 to 30 times higher pressure than that in the tire of your car. HAYES: OK. MACLAGGAN: And so then the water is introduced to this filter. There are 17,000 of these in the plant. Inside this filter is a very fine membrane material, it looks like that. HAYES: I mean, this is actually fairly simple, in certain ways. You pressurize the water and you are going to force it through these -- this paper, basically, that`s got very, very small holes. MACLAGGAN: Right. HAYES: How small are the holes? MACLAGGAN: Just small enough so a water molecule can get through that salt can`t get through. HAYES: A water molecule? MACLAGGAN: A water molecule can get through. HAYES: How small is that? MACLAGGAN: Half a million times smaller than the diameter of the hair on your head, so it`s pretty darned small. HAYES: It`s sort of a miracle of engineering. But what do you say to someone who says, look, the trade you are making at these desalinization plants is energy for water, right. You are using energy to get fresh water, right? MACLAGGAN: Correct. But, we also have a heavy energy load embedded into the supplies that are coming in to Southern California from other locations. They get pumped over the mountains. So, energy is part of our water supply regardless of the source. This source requires energy to remove salt. The sources require energy to physically transport it here. HAYES: I mean, I guess the question is carbon emissions and water are two things that we both are -- have constraints on. So, are we making the right trade when we do something like this? MACLAGGAN: Well, in this case we are, because we have committed to make this plant carbon neutral. We have -- we are buying electricity from our local utility, and that utility is producing that electricity with fossil fuels and renewables. To the extent that the electricity used in this plant comes from fossil fuels, we have committed to go out into the marketplace and buy carbon offsets and renewable energy credits to make this entire facility carbon neutral. That`s our commitment, but in full 30 years of the operation of this facility. HAYES: Do you think you are the first wave? I mean, do you think we`re going to see -- if I come back here in 20 years, more of these? MACLAGGAN: Absolutely. There`s going to be more. As utilities all the way from Orange County to the north of us up into the San Francisco Bay Area looking at similar projects, some smaller, some comparable size. But, this is not the last desal plant of this scale that we build in California. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Coming up, a man that`s been critical of California`s drought strategy who said in an L.A. Times op-ed, the state`s contingency plan consists of, quote, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain. Jay Famiglietti joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: We`re keeping our eye on the wildland fire here in San Bernadino just a few miles from where I am, a fire that`s part of a larger phenomenon of this drought, which is a drier and drier state and higher risk of both fire and other kind of disasters. We have been crisscrossing the state all week as part of our intensive reporting on the California drought through the water wars series. And if you want to check out any of those segments, you can go to facebook.com/allinwithchris. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Joining me now is Jay Famiglietti, hydrologist and senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Good to have you here. JAY FAMIGLIETTI, JET PROPULSION LABORATORY: Thanks for having me. HAYES: OK, so maybe let`s start -- we are going to talk about solutions. This is the end of the week as the fires burn over the mountains there. One possible solution would be desalination on a much bigger scale. This is the first of those in Carlsbad, What do you think of that? FAMIGLIETTI: Well, actually I think the best solution is to try to use less. So conservation and efficiency should always be the first step. But then when that isn`t enough, then we have to start looking at things like desalinization and sewage recycling. Desalination is going to be a big part of our future. HAYES: It is? FAMIGLIETTI: Absolutely. It has its issues, disposal of the bring, it`s energy intensive. HAYES: Yeah, because the water that comes out -- so people should know, is twice as salty and then that gets shot back into the ocean, and eventually that`s going to have some effect. FAMIGLIETTI: Yeah, exactly. And so we can`t be sacrificing square footage of the sea floor, because as we start to expand desal up and down the coast, it`s too much waste. HAYES: I don`t know. There are folks going into cars here, being allowed back into their vehicles, it appears, what`s left of them, many of them were burned in that fire. That`s continuing over the mountains there. You say conservation is the first. And one things that`s been really interesting this whole week is that this is a dry place, way drier than, say, you know, east coast. FAMIGLIETTI: Yeah. HAYES: Before the drought. The drought is very intense. And there`s a lot of people who live here and there`s a lot of farms and cities, and yet there`s still a ton of slack in the system. That has been one of the most fascinating things we`ve learned here. FAMIGLIETTI: Yeah, I agree with you. And sometimes, you know, I can imagine that someone like you coming over from the other side of the country takes a look around and thinks what drought. You know, it`s pretty green and there`s lots trees. So, you are right, there is -- we are not behaving like it is a semiarid to arid region that it really is. We haven`t made that mental shift and we have to. HAYES: What does that mean? FAMIGLIETTI: That means using less water, that means scaling back on what we are doing with agriculture, that -- we can`t do -- that means accepting that we can`t do all the things that is we want to do. HAYES: But that -- who is that we? Becuase this gets to the political conflict. It`s very easy for you to sit here and say we, but if that means that some relatively new farmer in the imperial valley with junior water right can`t grow his stuff, he doesn`t like that we. FAMILGLIETTI: Of course not. And we need to grow food. But the fact is, California is running out of water. We have been running out for a long time, and that`s because of the depletion of our ground water. So when add the ground water back in to the total supply when we think how much we get from snow and rainfall each year, we are losing water. So e have to address that there now competing needs for water, environment, growing food, producing energy, domestic and municipal supply. We -- and we have to balance those. HAYES: So, what does that mean in real terms? So, you have been critical of the governor. FAMIGLIETTI: No, I haven`t been. I think he`s doing a great job. I think that we need to have a long-term plan and we don`t. And it`s tough to do long-term planning when your back is against the wall. But actually I think that that the governor and his cabinet are probably the best group of people that we could have at the helm. HAYES: Really? Why do you say that? FAMIGLIETTI: Well, Governor Brown has been exceptionally focused on water, even before the drought. And so he`s using the drought as an opportunity to get long term infrastructure things done. HAYES: OK, so there are people watching this, you know, in Virginia or Dallas or Boston, and they are saying, well, you know, California, I don`t know. I guess that`s bad. But like why the hell do I care? I think there`s an answer to that, but what is your answer? FAMIGLIETTI: Well, one of the big reasons is that we grow a tremendous amount of food. We grow almost all the produce consumed around the country. As that starts to take a hit, the ripple effects will spread across the country in the form of higher food prices. And that will be a big problem. HAYES: People are also moving to drier parts of the country. They are moving to sunnier parts of the country. Everything essentially west of the Mississippi, a huge expanse, or at least or west of the sort of midlands, right, the kind of like amazing prairie we have, everything to the west of that is basically sustained by the Bureau of Reclamation having figured out how to divert these big rivers, right? So, an era of sustained climate change is going to need serious adjustment. FAMIGLIETTI: It will. And so what we are seeing is that we did go through that area of dam building and that`s allowed the settling of the west. But as climate changes, the snow load, the snowpack in the mountains is decreasing. So, that surface water availability is decreasing. And in the meantime, we are depleting our ground water. So, we are running out of water in the western U.S. and especially the southwestern U.S. HAYES: What do you say to someone who is in the Central Valley who doesn`t believe in climate change ad say, we have droughts, we have always had droughts. You get droughts, you don`t get droughts. FAMIGLIETTI: I say it`s fine. I mean, that`s fine. But, the reality of what`s happening there is that the water table is dropping, and dropping, and dropping. It`s a record lows. And so there`s no denying they see that. They can see the well levels. They can see. HAYES: Right. Whether you believe in that or not, you can see where the water table is at. FAMIGLIETTI: You can see it. HAYES: And finally, I guess this question of the ultimate waste water, the actual sewage water, purifying and reusing that, which it sounds politically tough to sell people on. Is that a possibility? FAMIGLIETTI: It`s excellent. HAYES: Tasty. FAMIGLIETTI: It is an excellent strategy. It`s an excellent component. HAYES: And that`s a doable thing? FAMIGLIETTI: It happens now. It happens in Orange County, it`s a world class facility. HAYES: Orange County -- well, maybe when we come back here, we will do that, taking the salt out seems less of an uphill battle than taking other things out, but technology is amazing. And here is to incredible things. So I guess -- do you think we are going to see that at a larger scale, too? FAMIGLIETTI: Absolutely. It`s a little bit cheaper right now. HAYES: Cheaper than desalination? FAMIGLIETTI: Yes. HAYES: Oh, that`s very interesting. I think we probably will see that. All right, Jay Famiglietti, great pleasure to have you here. I follow you closely on water issues. Thanks so much. We are live at the Griffith observatory in Los Angeles. And we are monitoring, of course, that fire from before. And up next, I`ll ask the director of the observatory about this week`s big news from outer space: the first up close pictures of Pluto. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: All right, we are here at the Griffith Observatory high above Los Angeles. And it`s my pleasure to have with me the director of the Griffith Observatory for four decades, if I`m not mistaken, right. DR. EDWIN KRUPP, DIRECTOR, GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY: It`s the case. And almost as old as the solar system. HAYES: Dr. Krupp thanks so much for having us. So, this Pluto thing, how big of a deal is what we have been able to pull off in terms of getting this close to Pluto and snapping the photos? KRUPP: It`s huge from several points of view. First, it`s the first time in the entire history of planet Earth that anybody has ever seen Pluto close up. We didn`t know what it was. Second, we`ve got the technology that actually managed to work. Going for practical purposes into hibernation for nine-and-a-half years and then come out working like it should. And then finally, what we see there is a complete surprise. HAYES: What is the surprise? What are we learning? KRUPP: The surface of Pluto obviously never seen before seems to be very young, covered with huge mountains of ice. It`s not heavily cratered like other objects in the solar system that we`ve seen elsewhere. It is a rocky, icy world, but the details tell us about processes that are, up to now, unknown. HAYES: So, this is more than an incredibly cool thing for people. It`s more than an amazing technical achievement. We are going to get a lot of information about how our universe works from this? KRUPP: Not only how the universe works, but how we get here. I mean, the story the solar system, as far as we are concerned, really is us And Pluto is a part of that story. We think about way the heck out there not making much difference. But the solar system is process. And we have got to understand the process and Pluto is part of that story. HAYES: Pluto has actually been weirdly controversial, because it was a planet, then it was demoted away from being a planet. There are some people who should be back in a planet. Is what we are learning now going to contribute to that determination? KRUPP: Well, it`s fair to say any kind of definition of a planet or something else is going to be somewhat arbitrary. And the reason this happened to Pluto, because we know there are lots of other objects, large, out in the outer solar system. And of course some people just didn`t know what to do with them. And so, it was simply declared to make this simple. But the bottom line is, Pluto is interesting. and here at Griffith Observatory, when we were redoing the whole place, the major $93 million renovation and expansion, we knew this was coming. And we had to look at the whole thing. And we just simply said it really doesn`t matter whether Pluto is a planet or not, it`s always welcome at Griffith Observatory. HAYES: All right, Dr. Ed Krupp, it`s really a pleasure to have you on today. Thanks a lot. KRUPP: Thank you. HAYES: That is All In for this evening. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END