Lack of water a big problem for California Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, measures the snowpack in Phillips, California. There were 6.7 inches of snow on the ground near Echo Summit, which is about 90 miles east of the state capital of Sacramento (Reuters)
Lack of water a big problem for California
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California needs water. It's in a drought, which is an especially long period of time of dry weather with little rain or snow.

And now, California has received a double dose of bad drought news.

Officials say the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is far below normal. And residents aren't coming close to meeting Gov. Jerry Brown's call for a 20 percent cut in water use.

Snow supplies about a third of the state's water. A higher winter snowpack translates to more water in California reservoirs. When that happens, there is enough water to meet the demand in summer and fall. A recent Sierra snowfall pleased skiers and snowboarders. But it wasn't nearly enough to offset weeks of dry weather.

The latest survey makes it likely California's drought will run through a fourth year. Brown declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17, 2014. His office continues to underline the need for water conservation.

Frank Gehrke is the chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. He said there were 6.7 inches of snow on the ground at the survey spot. That is near Echo Summit. The summit is about 90 miles east of Sacramento. The city is the state capital.

"It's very meager. It is clearly flirting with being the lowest on record," he said.

The survey found a snowpack water equivalent of just 0.9 inches. The last snow survey was taken on Jan. 29. There was a water equivalent of 2.3 inches in the same spot.

Officials only can only hope for a "Miracle March." The last was in 1991. That month, there was significantly more precipitation than normal. The state's traditional wet season will end on April 1. Now, it appears the total amount of precipitation will be alarmingly low.

"There is no reason to think we will have such a good March again this year," Gehrke said.

Meanwhile, a report showed state water conservation slipping from December. That month, Californians cut water use by 22 percent. Urban water use, in areas where many people live, in January, declined by only 9 percent. That is compared to the same month in 2013. The figures are according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

January was unseasonably dry. It brought no measurable rainfall in downtown San Francisco. That was the first time in history the city got no rain. Overall water use stayed flat compared to the rainy December.

The water board report showed conservation varied widely across the state. Communities in the South Coast area cut its water use by 9 percent. The San Francisco Bay Area was down by just 4 percent.

The monthly data helps officials monitor the effectiveness of the state's emergency conservation regulations. Those include a ban on washing cars using hoses that do not have a shut-off valve and restrictions on watering lawns.

Critical thinking challenge: What was the "miracle" of March 1991?

Assigned 57 times


COMMENTS (29)
  • emrar-boo
    3/10/2015 - 11:28 a.m.

    The "miracle" of March 1991 was a period of time where California had more precipitation than normal. California is hoping for another "Miracle March", but Gehrke believes there will be no such thing this year.

  • DorrN-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    The last Miracle March was in 1991,and that month, there was significantly more precipitation than normal. The state's traditional wet season will end on April 1. Now, it appears the total amount of precipitation will be alarmingly low.

  • DorrN-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:36 p.m.

    "Miracle March." The last was in 1991. That month, there was significantly more precipitation than normal. The state's traditional wet season will end on April 1. Now, it appears the total amount of precipitation will be alarmingly low

  • KerrF-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:54 p.m.

    The question is what was the miracle of march 1991? The miracle was that there was a HUGE drought and there was lots of rain. That basically got them out of the drought. Now people think in droughts that they will get out of the drought by March, even if it's not true. That is the miracle of of March 1991.

  • ManuelJ-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:56 p.m.

    In California, we are having a drought. Since I am In Fairfeild,CA, There is a lot of farmland around, so some of the crops can't grow because the lack of rain. GOV. Brown cut down the water usage by 22 percent, so that we have enough water for growing crops for food. In 1991 they had something called "Miracle" March, I think they called that because they might of had a major drought too and a bunch of rain came and they didn't have drought. So that is my comment for this article.

  • BachraM-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:56 p.m.

    The miracle was there was more priperation then normal. I think that means there was more water then normal. That was the miracle march

  • HokettK-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:57 p.m.

    The miracle of march 1991 was about how all the rain stopped the drought in calfonia and nevada

  • MayerS-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:57 p.m.

    The miracle of march 1991 was a miracle that help Californian with the drought in 1991. One of the wass that it was a miracle is because it snowed in California on 1991 when we needed water. A second reason why it was a miracle because it was snowing and the snow is cold water that is freezed together. The last reason why it was a miracle because the water help with the drought in Californian in 1991. That is the reasons why the miracle helped California with the drought on 1991.

  • MangayayamB-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:59 p.m.

    The miracle of march in 1991 is they were more precipitation then normal. Also I think people should save more water like not let water go on the floor because it does nothing it is just a waste of water. Also people should do is not have plants that need water to grow. Also people should not be filling up things with water and throwing it on the floor. I think the people made this because it might help people save more water.

  • CirilloP-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 02:59 p.m.

    "Miracle" of march 1991 is the month that was significantly more precipitation than normal. So the states tradition wet season is going to end. But "Miracle" of march 1991 is also how wet it is. And it is the year when we had a good amount of water. That is what miracle is.

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