Kevin Hostert, Water Resources Analyst, MWDOC
Did you know? Water providers statewide are monitoring drought conditions and reservoir levels closely to ensure water demands can be met.
Once again, California is experiencing drought. While this is not uncommon, warming temperatures and precipitation shifts are making the current situation worse. Water providers across the state continue to monitor drought conditions closely and make necessary adjustments to ensure there are adequate water supplies to meet the needs of our communities.
Here are a few critical facts about drought and our current water supply conditions:
1. CALIFORNIA GOT A LOT OF RAIN IN OCTOBER, BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH TO END THE DROUGHT.
Accumulated precipitation is well above the historical average in Northern California for this time of year. However, the last two years it was extremely low.
2. KEY STATE AND FEDERAL RESERVOIR LEVELS ARE STILL AT CRITICAL LOW LEVELS.
Lake Oroville needs an additional 600,000 acre-feet of water in order for the Department of Water Resources to increase the Table A allocation above 0% for the current water year.
3. A “WATER YEAR” IS A 12-MONTH PERIOD THAT EXTENDS FROM OCTOBER 1 TO SEPTEMBER 30.
85% of Northern California precipitation comes in the months of November to April.
4. WHILE STILL IN DECLINE, THE COLORADO RIVER SYSTEM HAS SEEN AN AVERAGE START TO THE 2022 WATER YEAR.
Snowpack levels are off to an average start this water year. However, there is still a good chance that Lake Mead will be in a shortage level for the next 5 years.
5. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S IMPORTED WATER STORAGE IS STILL HEALTHY.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) dry year storage is still very healthy sitting at 2.5 million acre-feet (MAF). Historically, MWD allocates imported water when storage levels hover around 1 MAF.
6. WATER AGENCIES ARE BRACING FOR ANOTHER DRY YEAR.
In November, MWDOC activated the Water Shortage Contingency Plan at Level 2, and MWD declared a drought emergency for water agencies dependent on State Water Project water. Both actions call for increased conservation measures to extend limited water supply.