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
Lexile

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 58 times


COMMENTS (29)
  • CooperK-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:01 p.m.

    As you may know the governor said to all California to cut your water bill to 20%. In the past there was a drought and there was a miracle. The water was fine because most of California drooped their water bill down 20%. By doing this we have to take quicker showers, wash your hands quicker, and recycle some water. This could work if everybody tries hard enough to cut their bill down 20%. Again people did this in 1991. They even had a miracle day! I think that everybody can do help if they try hard enough.

  • NicholsE-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:02 p.m.

    What was the "miracle" of March 1991?

    There was significantly thing more precipitation than normal in the state. The state's traditional wet season will end on April 1. Now, it appears the total amount of precipitation will be alarmingly low.The miracle End on April and the whole state was wet in fewer spots.After ,the water started to get low.This year the march is going to be a good weather.

  • StoneM-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:02 p.m.

    The officials hoped for a miracle in March of 1991 and here is what they got. In March it was a wet season. The precipitation was alarmingly low for the season. There was , significantly more precipitation than the other months. So those are how there was a Miracle in March of 1991.

  • LiCausiM-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:03 p.m.

    California is in a big brought and need a Miracle March. The miracle of March is when there is significantly more precipitation. They want this because they need it to survive. They tried to cut down the water use to 20 to save some water. So in the end we need water so help us and try to stop leaks.

  • KapapaZ-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:03 p.m.

    The miracle or March 1991 was that there was a lot more rain than normal. When California was in a drought they were hoping the a lot of rain

  • SinningK-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 03:03 p.m.

    Question of the Day: What was the "miracle" of March 1991?
    The question that I was asked was "What was the "miracle" of March 1991? I think that there is just a HUMONGOUS drought and is a big problem, and they cannot fix it. I think that the "Miracle March" was a traditional month and ended on April 1st. My final opinion what I think "Miracle March" is alarmingly low. That is why I think what "Miracle March" is.

  • KapapaZ-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 06:32 p.m.

    The miracle or March 1991 was that there was a lot more rain than normal. When California was in a drought they were hoping that a lot of rain would come. They wanted a miracle to happen like miracle March 1991. California is still in a drought miracle march did not come March 2015.

  • CooperT-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 07:18 p.m.

    In March 1991 there was more rain than usual. They call it the Miracle March. So far California has not had a Miracle March in a very long time. California is in a deep drought. People are suppose to monitor washing their cars and watering their lawn.

  • GuisihanJ-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 09:59 p.m.

    These are three parts of the miracle in march 1991. One part was there was significantly more precipitation than normal in that month. Another part is their States traditional wet season will end in April 1st. Another part is the amount of preparation will be lowered. These were three parts of the miracle and I hope you like them and keep up the good work.

  • KnightA-Sua
    3/23/2015 - 11:27 p.m.

    The March miracle in 1991 was that we got a lot more rain than usual. We have a low snow pack so there isn't a lot to melt. Californians are not saving water as much as we did in December. And we are still not getting a lot of rain. If things don't change our drought will last a long time.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT