Lack of water a big problem for California
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: 1060L

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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 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 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. That is 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. 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 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. 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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Assigned 26 times

  • nariahb-
    10/19/2015 - 04:17 p.m.

    The Miracle March means that the rainfall came because they needed the water. The article was good and it gave lots of information on the info on the water.

  • nathaenw-
    10/19/2015 - 04:17 p.m.

    What was the "miracle" of March 1991? The miracle of March in 1991 was a time when there was more precipitation than normal. The amount was actually significantly more and was considered a "miracle."

  • allenj-
    10/20/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    What was the "miracle" of March 1991? It was when rain fell more than normal. There was a decent amount.

  • austinh-
    10/20/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    What is the "Miracle of March"?
    The "Miracle of March" in 1991 was a time that had more precipitation than normal. People said it was a miracle there was so much rain. It also ended on April 1 with a really low total of rain.

  • ryanb-
    10/20/2015 - 03:55 p.m.

    What was the miracle march of 1991? The miracle march of 1991 was a year where there was more rain than usual. Now that there has been a drought where "It's very meager and it is clearly flirting with being the lowest on record" which was said by Frank Gehrke.

  • colleens-
    10/20/2015 - 03:58 p.m.

    The miracle of March,1991 was there was more precipitation than normal. This pulled Californa out a drought when they had to use less water. It was a miracle because with so much precipitation they had a lot of water!

  • landonp-
    10/20/2015 - 04:01 p.m.

    Many things happened at the time. There was more precipitation than normal. The season will end on april 1 with a low total.

  • brookeh-
    10/20/2015 - 04:11 p.m.

    The miracle of March 1991 was it had more precipitation than normal.The wet season will end in April. There should be no reason for people to think that March will be better than any other month.

  • ameliar-
    10/21/2015 - 02:36 p.m.

    The miracle of March 1991 was when they got a sufficient amount of snow. The article supplied a lot of information about the subject. It was easy to read and it was very interesting.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    11/03/2015 - 09:03 p.m.

    I think that the lack of water is affecting California very much. People need to conserve the water and not waste it. California has lost a lot of water and there have been very large amounts of snow that melted and was wasted. The "miracle" of March 1991 is when there is more rainfall or precipitation than normal. California really needs a lot of water and needs to stop wasting it. There has not been that much rainfall so there is being a lack of water in California. I hope that people will not waste water but conserve it so that California could have a lot of water.

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