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 has received a double dose of bad drought news. State officials say 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. 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 it wasn't nearly enough to offset weeks of dry weather.

The latest survey makes it likely the 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 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. The last snow survey was taken 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. That is compared to the same month in 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

January was unseasonably dry. It 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. Communities in the South Coast area cut 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. 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?

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COMMENTS (76)
  • ImanB-1
    3/09/2015 - 10:46 a.m.

    It's likely that California will continue to have a drought, making it four years in a row. In California, most of our water comes from the snow in Sierra Nevada, but like the past years, the snow levels have dropped. From December, Californians had cut water use by 22 percent, while Urban water use in January declined by only 9 percent. I'm from California and I recognize this drought, and I don't waste water!

  • ChinDakota-DiB
    3/09/2015 - 11:36 a.m.

    It's a traditional wet season in which people believe that it will produce more rain than usual. Which explains why they would call it miracle march.

  • blakeriley45
    3/09/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    Being a California citizen, this worries me. If I need to watch my water, I will. But I go to the desert with a hundred gallons of water, my mother is a fitness freak and drinks a lot of water. My dad is a firefighter. He uses water. My family life revolves around water. So, if water becomes scarce, we might become hysterical. WE NEED MORE WATER!!!!!!!

  • makaylar-Che
    3/09/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    it was when it was raining and you had a lot of water so you don't have to be out of water and plus it was dry so you can enjoy the beautiful days. and it was a good thing for most people.

  • samf-And
    3/09/2015 - 03:28 p.m.

    I think that the miracle was a abnormal amounts of water and and snow giving California a large amounts of water for the summer and fall.

  • briahnaa-And
    3/09/2015 - 03:37 p.m.

    This article is about how places around the world are running out of water and are having to cut back on the use of their water usages and California is the first to cut back.

  • kelbyd-And
    3/09/2015 - 03:42 p.m.

    The Miracle of March 1991 was that they had a low amount of precipitation and they still did okay. That is the Miracle of March 1991.

  • MiloW-4
    3/09/2015 - 04:06 p.m.

    California has been very unlucky because of the lack of snow and rain. Lots of water conservation is needed because of the lack of water. This is bad because of the needed 20 percent cut on water use made by Jerry Brown. Snow supplies one third of California's water and 6.7 inches of snow has been recorded at Echo Summit, a mountain near Sacramento. This article is interesting because it tells the information of how our state is in a drought and how it is affecting our state. I think that people need to cut on the amount of water they use.

  • CameronS-2
    3/09/2015 - 06:51 p.m.

    In this article shows how the California drought has affected many citizens of America living in California.Many of our water now is coming from the snow in the mountains. This is one of the worst years for California .I live in California and it has affected me.

  • CameronS-2
    3/09/2015 - 06:51 p.m.

    In this article shows how the California drought has affected many citizens of America living in California.Many of our water now is coming from the snow in the mountains. This is one of the worst years for California .I live in California and it has affected me.

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