With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. The state has continued to lead the way to make sure California is able to cope with an unprecedented drought.
Will El Niño End California's Drought?
Novemeber 19, 2015 -- The stage is set for a strong El Niño event this winter, but experts say it is unlikely to erase California’s four-year drought. While there is no single factor that will determine when the drought ends, here is a high-level look at factors the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the California Department of Water Resources will be watching for signs of improvement.
Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Bolster State’s Drought Response
November 13, 2015 - As California prepares for a fifth year of drought, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order that calls for additional actions to build on the state’s ongoing response to record dry conditions and assist recovery efforts from this year’s devastating wildfires.
Sacramento Bee: Op-Ed: Despite a Potentially Wet Winter, the Drought Will Continue
October 31, 2015 - It will take a long time to recover from this water deficit, especially because much of it is groundwater in the driest parts of the southern Central Valley, making it hard to refill
Californians Meet Governor’s Water Conservation Mandate for Fourth Consecutive Month
October 30, 2015 - Californians reduced water use by more than 26 percent during September, exceeding Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s 25 percent conservation mandate for a fourth straight month.
California Department of Housing and Community Development Makes $11 Million Available for Residents Facing Water Shortages
October 16, 2015 - California families who have little or no drinking water as a result of the drought may qualify for a share of $11 million in funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Two assistance programs have recently been created by HCD for the many California residents who are facing water shortages.
Californians Continue Meeting Governor’s Water Conservation Mandate Savings Must Contiue To Reach February 2016 Goal
October 1, 2015 - Californians reduced water use by nearly 27 percent during August, exceeding Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s 25 percent conservation mandate for a third straight month.
California Department of Agriculture funds $9.38 million to Assist Farmers
September 28, 2015 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has selected 100 projects totaling $9.38 million from the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to implement on-farm water irrigation systems that reduce energy use resulting in greenhouse gas (GHGs) emission reductions and water savings.
DWR Seeks Final Public Comment on Key Draft Groundwater Regulations
August 31, 2015 - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will hold three public meetings this week to solicit final public review and comment on the draft regulations that establish a process for local agencies to follow should they seek to modify the boundaries of a groundwater basin.
San Diego Water Board Cracks Down on Over Watering that Leads to Pollution
August 18, 2015 - The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (San Diego Water Board) is cracking down on water wasters throughout its region to stem pollution that is generated by overwatering.
California State Climatologist: Do Not Count on El Niño to End Drought
August 13, 2015 - State Climatologist Michael Anderson said today that California cannot count on potential El Niño conditions to halt or reverse drought conditions. “Historical weather data shows us that at best, there is a 50/50 chance of having a wetter winter. Unfortunately, due to shifting climate patterns, we cannot even be that sure,” he said.
State Announces $30 Million in Rebates to Help Replace Old Toilets and Turf
August 12, 2015 – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced two new rebate programs to help Californians replace inefficient toilets and tear out water-guzzling lawns, further conserving water during the state’s historic drought.
Drought Prompts Fish Rescue at San Joaquin Hatchery
August 11, 2015 - On Wednesday, August 12, 2015 officials from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife will be evacuating rainbow trout in the San Joaquin Hatchery that are threatened by overheating water. A fourth year of extreme drought conditions has reduced the cold water supply in Millerton Reservoi, forcing the transportation of fish to Shaver Lake, approximately one hour away.
Concord DMV Field Office Reuses Water to Combat Drought
July 31, 2015 - The Concord DMV field office has teamed up with the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) to use recycled water to irrigate landscaping. On July 15, 2015, CCCSD connected the irrigation system at the field office to their network of purple pipelines, making it the first state owned DMV property to use recycled water.
California Water Use Drops 27.3 Percent, Exceeds 25 Percent Mandate For June
July 30, 2015 - With record-breaking heat throughout much of the State in June, Californians continued to conserve water, reducing water use by 27.3 percent and exceeding Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s 25 percent mandate in the first month that the new emergency conservation regulation was in effect.
SaveWater.CA.Gov Launched to Help Communities Identify Water Waste
July 30, 2015 -- To help Californians save more water this summer, the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Technology and Save Our Water announced the launch of SaveWater.CA.Gov. The new mobile-optimized website will allow residents to report suspected leaks and water waste anywhere in the state from their smartphones, tablets and computers. Today’s announcement was made following the release of June 2015 statewide conservation progress.
Save Our Water And California ReLEAF Partner To Stress Importance Of Tree Care During Drought
July 23, 2015 – Save Our Water – California’s official statewide conservation education program – has partnered with California ReLeaf to raise awareness of the importance of proper tree care during this historic drought. California ReLeaf is a statewide urban forest nonprofit providing support and services to over 90 community nonprofits that plant and care for trees. With potentially millions of urban trees at risk, Save Our Water, California ReLeaf and a coalition of urban forest and other concerned organizations across California are focusing on a simple yet urgent message: Save Our Water and Our Trees!
Save Our Water And Bay Area Council Partner To Release PSA With Sergio Romo
July 21, 2015 - Save Our Water – California’s official statewide conservation education program – has released a new Public Service Announcement featuring San Francisco Giants star Sergio Romo in partnership with the Bay Area Council. The PSA, filmed at the Giants’ garden in AT&T Park, urges Californians to step up and make even more cuts in their water use.
Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Served with Draft Administrative Civil Liability, $1.5 Million Penalty
July 20, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today issued a draft Administrative Civil Liability Complaint to Byron-Bethany Irrigation District for unauthorized diversion and use of water, and has proposed a $1.5 million penalty for the alleged violations. This allegation is the first such enforcement complaint for a senior water right holder in 2015, related to drought conditions.
Trinity County Property Owner Issued Draft Cease and Desist Order for Unauthorized Water Diversion, Bulk Water Delivery
July 17, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today issued a draft Cease and Desist Order against a Trinity County property owner to halt illegal diversion and bulk delivery of water. This action follows a joint investigation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
West Side Irrigation District Issued Draft Cease and Desist Order for Unauthorized Diversion
July 16, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board has issued a draft Cease and Desist Order against the West Side Irrigation District of Tracy for the unauthorized diversion or use of water. This is the first water right enforcement action related to drought conditions in 2015.
Water Commission Adopts Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
July 15, 2015 - New California yards and commercial landscaping installed after December 1, 2015 will use up to a third less water on average under the rules of a model landscape ordinance adopted today by the California Water Commission. The revised ordinance will not apply to existing lawns and landscapes unless they are modified significantly after December 1. Prepared by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the model ordinance effectively limits lawn in commercial settings to specific functional uses such as recreation and public assembly, requires efficient sprinkler nozzles in landscape irrigation systems and, with few exceptions, bans turf in street medians and parkways.
State Water Board Reissues Water Unavailability Notification Letters Following Court Action
July 15, 2015 - Today the State Water Board partially rescinded and reissued a water supply availability notice to more than 4,600 holders of over 9,300 junior and senior water rights to clarify that although previous notices were only advisory, diverting water where none is legally available could result in significant penalties.
DWR Offers Water-Saving Tips at California State Fair
July 10, 2015 - Experts from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) are helping visitors to the California State Fair put a dent in the state’s historic drought, with water-saving tips for their homes and yards. The Department’s award-winning “Californians Don’t Waste – Save Water in Your Home” exhibit in the Counties Building offers fairgoers hands-on demonstrations of simple ways to save water in their kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms. A companion outdoor garden exhibit in the State Fair’s Farm section offers equally simple tips to increase landscape irrigation efficiency, including how to keep shade-giving trees alive during drought.
State Reduces Water Use by Nearly 29 Percent in Advance of June Conservation Mandates
July 1, 2015 - As the State continues to experience near-record and record hot conditions, increasing the severity of the drought’s effects on communities, agriculture and the environment, California’s urban water suppliers reported the highest level of conservation achieved to date for the month of May.
Fire Officials Urge Extreme Caution As Fireworks Go On Sale
June 30, 2015 - With the Independence Day holiday rapidly approaching, CAL FIRE is reminding all Californians and visitors to do their part to prevent fires caused by illegal fireworks or the misuse of “Safe and Sane” fireworks. On Sunday, June 28 “Safe and Sane” Fireworks went on sale in approximately 300 communities throughout California. Although fireworks are a symbolic display of patriotism during this time of celebration, they can be dangerous when handled incorrectly or used in the wrong environment.
Save Our Water Launches Summer Public Education Campaign
June 30, 2015 - With California in the grip of the worst drought in a generation, Save Our Water – California’s official statewide conservation education program – is launching a new public education campaign urging Californians to step up and make even more cuts in their water use. The campaign comes at the start of a hot, dry summer and potentially dangerous fire season. Save Our Water’s campaign urges Californians to “Let It Go” by limiting outdoor water use and letting lawns fade to gold for the summer, while preserving precious water resources for trees and other important landscapes.
State Water Board Extended Curtailments on the Merced River
June 26, 2015 - With drought conditions continuing into the summer months, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) extended curtailments on the Merced River for senior water rights dating back to 1858; and all pre-1914 and post-1914 appropriative rights on the Upper San Joaquin River.
Drought Prompts Fish Evacuation at American River and Nimbus Hatcheries
June 25, 2015 - With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and the Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.
Emergency Regulation to Protect Coho Salmon and Steelhead Approved on Russian River Tributaries
June 17, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today approved an emergency regulation to provide a small amount of additional water in four tributaries of the Russian River to protect threatened fish. The regulation affects about 13,000 properties in the watersheds of Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek and Mill Creek. Water users in those watersheds will be subject to enhanced conservation measures and water use reporting.
Drought Conditions Force Difficult Management Decisions For Sacramento River Temperatures
June 16, 2015 - State and federal officials today announced the outlines of a revised plan for managing water flows in the Sacramento River for cities and farms while keeping enough cold water in Shasta Reservoir to avoid high temperatures in the river that could be catastrophic for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan, which is required annually, guides the release of water from Shasta Reservoir to maintain healthy fisheries during the summer and fall, when water temperatures rise. In this fourth year of extended drought, with low reservoir storage levels and higher-than-normal predicted summer temperatures, the plan seeks to prevent another catastrophic loss of this year’s class of juvenile salmon. Federal and state fish agencies believe such a loss would have devastating impacts to the long-term viability of this important species of native salmon.
Senior Water Rights Curtailed in Delta, San Joaquin & Sacramento Watersheds
June 12, 2015 - With drought conditions continuing into the summer months, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that there is insufficient water available for senior water right holders with a priority date of 1903 or later in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and the Delta. The need for further curtailment of more senior rights and curtailments in other watersheds is being assessed weekly.
Revised Ordinance Would Cut Water Use by at Least 30 Percent on New Landscapes for Homes and Businesses
June 12, 2015 - New California yards and commercial landscaping would use far less water under the rules of a model landscape ordinance updated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the direction of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Governor Brown Issues Statement on Federal Drought Aid
June 12, 2015 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a following statement today after President Barack Obama announced new actions and investments to support workers, farmers and rural communities suffering from drought and to combat wildfires, including $18 million for the State of California to provide jobs for workers dislocated by the drought.
Urban Water Conservation Improves in April Ahead of June 25 Percent Conservation Mandate
June 2, 2015 - With a mandatory average conservation rate of 25 percent beginning this month for all state residents, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced that Californians in cities and towns increased their water conservation to 13.5 percent in April. In addition, nearly 400 water suppliers responded to a first-ever enforcement report, indicating a high level of local activity to respond to reports of leaks and suspected water wasting.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development Announces Emergency Adoption of Building Codes to Conserve Water
June 1, 2015 - In view of the urgency to conserve California’s water resources, as deemed essential by Governor Brown’s Executive Order, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is establishing new building standards through an emergency adoption process. These regulations are set forth in the California Green Building Standards (CALGreen) Code and will ensure that newly constructed residential buildings, permitted on or after June 1, 2015, include water-efficient landscaping.
California Building Standards Commission Approves New Water Efficiency Requirements for Nonresidential Construction
June 1, 2015 - In response to the current drought state of emergency declared by Governor Brown, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) today approved new water efficiency requirements for nonresidential construction.
California Building Standards Commission Approves New Water Efficiency Requirements for School Construction
June 1, 2015 - In response to the current drought state of emergency declared by Governor Brown, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) today approved new water efficiency requirements for public school construction.
Emergency Drought Standards For Hospitals Adopted
June 1, 2015 - In response to California’s ongoing drought conditions, the California Building Standards Commission voted Friday to adopt emergency regulations that limit potable water use for outdoor irrigation at California hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, making them more water efficient. The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), in coordination with the California Building Standards Commission, Department of Water Resources, Department of Housing and Community Development, Division of the State Architect, and other stakeholders, submitted this proposal to the commission. These new emergency regulations amend the 2013 California Green Building Standards Code, also known as "CALGreen."
Emergency Drought Barrier Nears Completion
May 29, 2015 - Construction of a temporary emergency drought barrier at West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is nearing completion about two weeks sooner than anticipated, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR). The barrier now spans the approximately 750-foot-wide river between Jersey and Bradford islands and blocks salt water that tidal action attempts to push eastward from San Francisco Bay into Franks Tract.
Governor Brown has convened an interagency Drought Task Force to provide a coordinated assessment of the State’s dry conditions and provide recommendations on current and future state actions. The response to this statewide disaster requires the combined efforts of all state agencies and the state's model mutual aid system to address.
In support of this unified effort, all state agencies with a role in supporting drought mitigation and relief efforts are organized under the Incident Command System and will continue provide emergency planning, response, and mitigation support as long as needs exist. Similar task forces have been assembled in the droughts of the 2000's, 1990's,
1980's and 1970's.
What You Can Do
- Weekly Drought Brief - November 25
- How Water Is Used in California
- 2015: Will El Niño Make a Difference?
- California Drought Assistance Programs
- Drought Assistance Brochure
- Federal Funding Programs for Drought - May 2015
- State Funding Programs for Drought - May 2015
- Household Water Tank Guidance - September 2015
- Household Water Tank Program - September 2015
State Drought Response
- Drought Contracts
- Dept. of Water Resources
- Dept. of Water Resources Publications
- Dept. of Food & Ag Drought Portal
- Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
- Dept. of General Services
- Dept. of Public Health
- Office of Emergency Services
- State Water Resources Control Board
- Office of Planning and Research
- CPUC Drought Information
Drought News Archive
Weekly Drought Brief Archive
Drought Partner Links
- Find Your Local Water Agency
- California Weather Data
- California Reservoir Conditions
- Daily Reservoir Storage Summary
- Central Valley Project Water Supply Information
- U.S. Drought Portal
- USGS Drought Information
- USFS 2015 Fire Season Outlook
- U.S. Navy Region Southwest Conservation Actions
- California Urban Water Conservation Council