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Drought Watch 2014

No matter what happens in the remaining few weeks of the “wet season,” California's drought is unlikely to be quenched. 2013 is in the books as California's driest calendar year on record. More than half of our precipitation typically falls in three months: December, January and February. There was virtually nothing in the rain gauge for December and January and the precipitation window has essentially closed as we move into summer, with profound implications for life and livelihoods in California.

Low water levels leave much of Folsom Lake, east of Sacramento, looking like a mud flat. (Dan Brekke)

Low water levels leave much of Folsom Lake, east of Sacramento, looking like a mud flat. (Dan Brekke)

All Eyes on the Sierra

Snow that accumulates in the Sierra accounts for about a third of the state's water supply. Water content of the snowpack is a small fraction of what's considered normal.

Reservoirs Dropping

Officials are also watching key reservoirs that supply the complicated plumbing that carries water to farms and cities throughout the state. Reservoirs are low without the benefit of much recharge from winter rain and snowfall. Last winter was dry, too, especially the latter part. That means there is little carryover supply to help get us through the summer.

The Latest

The list of cities and water districts announcing water restrictions – both voluntary and mandatory — is growing rapidly.

The state’s $45 billion agricultural sector faces severe cuts in water supply, too, which could mean acres — reportedly as many as a half-million — taken out of production, leading to high unemployment in farm communities and, potentially, higher food prices.

State and federal water managers have set planned allocations from the state's two largest water delivery projects at zero for the first time ever, though “health and safety” supplies, like drinking water, will be provided.

Scant rainfall in the new year has set the stage for more than 600 wildfires and added a new threat for endangered salmon.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an official statewide drought on January 17, as he called for a voluntary statewide reduction in water consumption. The drought declaration outlines 20 steps, some mandatory, some merely advisory, to meet water shortages that have already started to affect many communities. State water officials have released monthly plans for operating the state's reservoirs and rivers in an attempt to balance the needs of people and wildlife.

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California’s Drought Enters the ‘What Drought?’ Phase

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Drought Diary: My Pursuit of a Home Graywater System

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Bay Area: Do You Know Where Your Water Comes From?

KQED Science | February 28, 2014 | 3 Comments

Bay Area: Do You Know Where Your Water Comes From?

No matter where you live in the Bay Area, the answer might surprise you.

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Bay Area Storm Triggers Flood Alert, Power Outages

News Fix | February 26, 2014

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Latest series of storms is expected to douse entire region. But the drought? It's still with us. ...Read More

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California Drought One More Setback for River That Runs Dry

KQED Science | February 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

California Drought One More Setback for River That Runs Dry

Just as salmon are being returned to the San Joaquin River, the extreme drought is bringing political heat to one of the most ambitious environmental restoration efforts in the state.

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Feds Move to Deny Water to Some Central Valley Farms

The California Report | February 21, 2014

Feds Move to Deny Water to Some Central Valley Farms

Federal water managers have announced some Central Valley farms won't get any water this year unless the drought lets up. It's a dramatic move, and it comes just a couple weeks after state water managers warned they won't be sending water to customers. This could mean hundreds of thousands of ...Read More

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Key California Water Project Announces Drastic Cuts as Drought Deepens

News Fix | February 21, 2014

Key California Water Project Announces Drastic Cuts as Drought Deepens

Federal officials announced Friday that many California farmers caught in the state’s drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state.

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Governor, Legislative Leaders Announce Drought Aid Package

News Fix | February 19, 2014

Governor, Legislative Leaders Announce Drought Aid Package

Package aims at helping those suffering worst impact of crisis, with emphasis on securing emergency water. ...Read More

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Why the Next Rainstorm Might Make a Bigger Dent in the Drought

KQED Science | February 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Why the Next Rainstorm Might Make a Bigger Dent in the Drought

Soils may be better primed for the next big downpour.

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Drought Leads to Tough Tradeoffs for California Salmon

KQED Science | February 12, 2014 | 1 Comment

Drought Leads to Tough Tradeoffs for California Salmon

State officials are trying to do damage control to help endangered salmon during the drought, but helping some fish could hurt others.

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State Senate Panel Gives OK to First of a Wave of Water Bond Measures

News Fix | February 11, 2014

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Record Drought Could Hurt Water Quality

KQED Science | February 11, 2014 | 1 Comment

Record Drought Could Hurt Water Quality

With low water levels in rivers, water quality could suffer, creating toxic algae blooms and causing concerns for water districts.

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After the Rain: Did the Storm Put a Dent in the Drought?

News Fix | February 10, 2014

After the Rain: Did the Storm Put a Dent in the Drought?

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Megadroughts: Four Points to Put California’s Dry Times in Perspective

KQED Science | February 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Megadroughts: Four Points to Put California’s Dry Times in Perspective

California has had its share of "megadroughts." This isn't one of them...yet.

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Drought Forces Tough Decisions on Farmers and Ranchers

KQED Science | February 7, 2014 | 1 Comment

Drought Forces Tough Decisions on Farmers and Ranchers

Among the first and hardest-hit by the drought are ranchers and farmers who are now faced with some tough choices. The decisions they'll soon be making will have a ripple effect from the farm to the table.

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California Drought: Town North of L.A. Could Run Out of Water

KQED Science | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

California Drought: Town North of L.A. Could Run Out of Water

Even with some recent rain, California’s drought grinds on, and health officials say 17 communities could run out of water within the next four months – or sooner. One of those, an hour north of Los Angeles, is the town of Lake of the Woods, perched above the Tejon Pass.

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L.A. Ducks Drought by Saving up Water for a Dry Day

KQED Science | February 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

L.A. Ducks Drought by Saving up Water for a Dry Day

In Southern California there’s no imminent threat of water rationing. In fact, the region may be in a position to help other water-starved parts of the state.

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Bay Area Rain: The Deluge Is Over; What’s Next?

News Fix | February 5, 2014

Bay Area Rain: The Deluge Is Over; What’s Next?

This morning’s forecast from the National Weather Service Bay Area office in Monterey is calling for a “fairly quiet week” ahead.

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Despite Recent Rain, Drought Fears Escalate

Forum | February 5, 2014

Despite Recent Rain, Drought Fears Escalate

California faces what may be its worst drought in modern history. At least 17 communities and water districts in the state could run out of water within 100 days. On Tuesday, state and federal officials announced a $20 million aid package for agricultural water conservation. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives …Read More Source: Forum – […]

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