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 has received a double dose of bad drought news, with state officials saying the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is far below normal and that residents again 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 and a higher winter snowpack translates to more water in California reservoirs to meet demand in summer and fall. A recent Sierra snowfall pleased skiers and snowboarders but 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, and his office continues to underline the need for sustained water conservation.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, said there were 6.7 inches of snow on the ground at the survey spot near Echo Summit, about 90 miles east of Sacramento.

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

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

Unless this month approximates the 1991 "Miracle March" with significantly more precipitation than normal, the traditional wet season will end on April 1 with an alarmingly low total.

"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 when Californians cut water use by 22 percent. Urban water use in January declined by only 9 percent compared to the same month in 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

January was unseasonably dry and brought no measurable rainfall in downtown San Francisco for the first time in history. Overall water use stayed flat compared to the rainy December.

The water board report showed conservation varied widely across the state, with communities in the South Coast area scaling back 9 percent and the San Francisco Bay Area by just 4 percent.

The monthly data helps officials monitor the effectiveness of the state's emergency conservation regulations, which include a ban on washing cars using hoses that do not have a shut-off valve and restrictions on watering lawns. Later this month the board will consider extending and expanding these regulations.

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

Assigned 22 times


COMMENTS (33)
  • jm1999gizmo
    3/09/2015 - 08:43 a.m.

    in 1991 there was more persipation in california so there would be more water to stop the drout and they would have more water to use.

  • Son_Of_Zeus
    3/09/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    California is in a huge drought problem. Two reasons for this are there is not enough snowfall in the Sierras and California residents are not heeding the 20% water usage cut issued by Gov. Jerry Brown. The miracle of 1991 was there was lots more of precipitation which led to more snow and rain which helped California get out of a 7 year drought.

  • nicholas.jones07
    3/09/2015 - 12:36 p.m.

    I think that the drought is a very interesting topic. I believe that all we need to do is lower our water usage more and hope everything turns out all right. We need to lower X by Y to get A the perfect water supply until this drought ends. If X is our water usage now and we need to lower it by Y (30%) then we will have A. I believe that the drought will come to an end soon.

  • luisr-DiB
    3/09/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    Snow supplies about a third of the state's water and a higher winter snowpack translates to more water in California reservoirs to meet demand in summer.The survey found a snowpack water equivalent of just 0.9 inches. During the last snow survey on Jan. 29 there was a water equivalent of 2.3 inches in the same spot.

  • TF000Music
    3/09/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    The miracle of March 1991 was when California got more precipitation than normal and they had a nice rain. It would be nice to have Californias problem for water to be solved and hopefuly people can have an idea to help that soon. I feel like there is a way for California to stop being in a droubt. If they have alot of water surrounding them, the pacific, they should be able to make a water system where it makes salwater fresh water. I'm sure there's something like that out there anyways.

  • pp2000boa
    3/09/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    This drought sounds like it's caused by Earth pollution. My older half brother lives in Los Angeles and I wonder if the drought extends to there. I also wonder if the snowstorms are a good source of water?

  • mackinzy.oneil65
    3/09/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    A new study says that California's drought is so severe its causing the ground to rise. It doesn't take much to understand why California is so worried about drought. The majority of California is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought and the states condition isn't expected to improve in the near future. The month of January 2015 was considered the driest since meteorological records have been kept. Few storms have graced California so far this winter, but those that did - in mid December and early February - will allow the California Department of Water Resources to increase water deliveries to most customers of the state water project by an additional 204,000 acre feet.

  • pabloc-DiB
    3/09/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

    iin 1991 there was more persipation in california so there would be more water to stop the drout and they would have more water to use

  • namelt-Che
    3/09/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    this lack of water thing is very bad. the reason that this is bad is because your body needs all of the water it can get. The water is very important for the body because if your body doesn't get the water it needs, it dies out.

  • dianaz-Che
    3/09/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    I think that the drought is a scary thing to go through. The fact that its close to having a 20% cut in water use is going to be difficult and harsh.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT