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.
Top Story: Curtailment Notices Sent to Junior Water Right Holders in San Joaquin Watershed
April 23, 2015 - With California’s extreme drought resulting in insufficient water to serve all water-right holders, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that junior water-right holders in the San Joaquin River watershed and on the Scott River are receiving curtailment notices. The notices advise the recipients to stop diverting water from the watersheds and allow it to flow to more senior water-right holders, as required by state law. Approximately 2,981 junior water-rights in the San Joaquin River watershed held by 1,474 individuals and entities will receive curtailment notices. The Scott River curtailment notice includes 162 water-rights held by 137 individuals and entities.
Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River
April 17, 2015 - Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17. An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.
Drought Triggers Need for Installation of Emergency Salinity Barrier on Delta Channel
April 15, 2015 - Faced with potentially insufficient water supplies to repel salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), in consultation with federal and state water and wildlife agencies, is moving to install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta channel. DWR seeks to install a single emergency salinity barrier across West False River in May, to be removed six months later in November.
CPUC Orders Water Companies to Notify Customers of Drought Restrictions
April 9, 2015 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today ordered the water companies under its jurisdiction to notify customers of emergency regulations that were put into place by the State Water Resources Control Board on March 17, 2015, in order to preserve sufficient potable water and ensure safe drinking water for Californians. In a drought as severe as California is experiencing, prohibitions on the use of potable water for external irrigation is a key step in water conservation.
Energy Commission Approves Water Appliance Standards to Save More Than 100 Billion Gallons Per Year
April 8, 2015 - The California Energy Commission approved standards for water appliances which will save more than 10 billion gallons of water in the first year. The energy efficiency and water standards approved today require water appliances to consume less water thereby using less energy while performing the same function.
Urban Water Conservation Plummets In February
April 7, 2015 – With April snow measured at its lowest level on record, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced that Californians in cities and towns reduced their water consumption by just 2.8 percent in February. This dismal conservation rate is the lowest monthly figure since the State Water Board began tracking the data in July 2014. Today’s announcement comes just days after the State Water Board delivered a second notice to water rights holders – including those with senior water rights – of coming curtailments of their surface water supplies.
State Water Board Warns That Water Right Curtailments Are Coming Soon
April 3, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of drought with a record-low snowpack, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is warning that water right holders, including some senior right holders, are likely to be curtailed soon within key watersheds in the state. The warning, to holders of more than 36,000 water rights across the state, is designed to give water right holders advance notice to help them make difficult spring planting decisions. The availability of water is a key factor in those planting decisions. The warning is the second one this year; the first was issued in January.
Caltrans Continues Pursuing 50 Percent Water Reduction, Backs Irrigation Limits
April 2, 2015 - Caltrans today announced that the California Transportation Commission has allocated emergency funding to continue installing smart sprinklers on state property, technology that automatically adjusts to weather conditions, soil moisture or broken pipes, and has already helped cut water use 50 percent where installed.
Governor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions
April 1, 2015 - Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.
Governor Brown Signs $1 Billion Emergency Drought Package
March 27, 2015 - Moving swiftly to help communities cope with California’s devastating drought and the ongoing effects of climate change, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed emergency legislation – AB 91 and AB 92 – that fast-tracks more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects.
Governor Brown, Legislative Leaders Announce $1 Billion Emergency Drought Package
March 19, 2015 - Mobilizing state resources to face another year of extreme dry conditions, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce legislation to help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought. The $1 billion package will expedite bond funding to make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.
State Water Board Expands and Extends Emergency Water Conservation Regulations
March 17, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted an expanded emergency regulation to safeguard the state’s remaining water supplies. The expanded emergency regulation captures some of these opportunities while continuing to give urban water suppliers flexibility to take actions that reflect their local conditions as long as they meet the minimum requirements. The State Water Board strongly encourages water suppliers to do much more than the minimum required by the regulation.
CSD Provides $1.2 Million in Water Utility Assistance to Low-Income, Drought Impacted Households
March 12, 2015 - The California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) today announced an additional $600,000 available for the Drought Water Assistance Program Pilot Project. This brings the total funding for this emergency assistance program to $1.2 million to assist drought impacted, low-income households with residential water utility bills.
State Water Board Revises Order for State and Federal Water Project Operations During Drought
March 6, 2015 - State Water Resources Control Board Executive Director Tom Howard today made several changes to the Temporary Urgency Change Order, first issued on February 3, covering the operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) in light of the continuing, severe drought. A January 23 Temporary Urgency Change Petition (Petition) from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) asked for several changes in their water right permit and license terms to cope with continuing drought conditions. The Executive Director issued a change order on February 3 granting most of the requests. The February 3 order granted flexibility in the operation of the Delta Cross Channel Gates to combat salinity intrusion, reduced Delta outflow requirements to preserve water in storage for use later in the year, and allowed for a base level of exports to meet water supply needs while protecting fish and wildlife uses. Today’s revised order provides the CVP and SWP further flexibility to store and move water, especially in response to health and safety needs.
Urban Water Conservation Drops From 22 Percent to Near 9 Percent in January
March 3, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of drought, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced a steep decline in water conservation during the month of January, considered the driest January since meteorological records have been kept. Additionally, per capita water use inched up in January as compared to December 2014. In the most recent statewide survey of nearly 400 urban water retailers, the amount of water conserved by the state’s large water agency customers declined from 22 percent in December 2014 to approximately 8.8 percent in January in year-over-year water use comparisons. January followed a very wet December 2014, which reduced the need for outdoor water use and likely contributed to the high conservation rate in December.
Nature’s Mountain Snowpack "Reservoir" Still Lacking; Third Manual Survey Confirms Shrinking Water Content
March 3, 2015 - The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which Californians rely on heavily during the dry summer months for their water needs, continues to disappoint this winter. Despite the snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Range over the weekend that gladdened ski and snowboard enthusiasts, it was not enough to offset weeks with no snow at all. Today’s manual survey by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the Phillips snow course in the mountains 90 miles east of Sacramento found 0.9 inches of water content in the snow, just 5 percent of the March 3 historical average for that site. Electronic readings by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today indicate the water content of the northern Sierra snowpack is 4.4 inches, 16 percent of average for the date. The central and southern Sierra readings were 5.5 inches (20 percent of average) and 5 inches (22 percent) respectively.
DWR State Water Project Deliveries Increased Slightly
March 2, 2015 - 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 (DWR) to increase water deliveries to most customers of the State Water Project (SWP) by an additional 204,000 acre-feet (AF).
State Water Board Orders More Information from Diverters Claiming Senior Delta Water Rights
February 4, 2015 - Persons claiming senior water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed will be required to provide the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) detailed information on the water rights they claim and diversions associated with those rights under a new order issued by the State Water Board. The order comes after the State Water Board received information that some riparian and pre-1914 water right holders may be illegally diverting stored water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds and the Delta.
State Urban Water Users Exceed 20 Percent Conservation Goal For December
February 3, 2015 - While much of California has so far endured an exceptionally dry 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that the statewide urban water conservation rate climbed to 22 percent in December, aided by a very wet end of 2014. Additionally, total water use by individual Californians continued to decline in December, another positive development as the state is threatened by a fourth consecutive dry year. Encouraged by the newest data, State Water Board officials called on Californians to continue conserving as the drought persists.
State Water Board Addresses State and Federal Water Projects Petition to Conserve Water During Drought Conditions
February 3, 2015 - Facing the likelihood of a fourth consecutive drought year, the State Water Resources Control Board announced two actions today that will allow the state and federal water projects to conserve water supplies in upstream reservoirs and more effectively operate their facilities in response to ongoing dry conditions. The actions, in response to a petition by the Department of Water Resources and the federal Bureau of Reclamation, balance public health, water supply and environmental needs and allow the projects to better prepare for extreme drought conditions should they persist into 2015. The actions are similar to those taken last January in anticipation of statewide drought conditions.
Water Board: Staff Report on Ways to Improve State’s Oversight of Water Right Systems During Drought Cycles Released for Public Review
January 30, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today released a review of its implementation of the water rights system during 2014, part of an effort to improve the process as the state faces the likelihood of a fourth consecutive drought year. The staff review, developed from public input, focuses on ways to improve the state’s water right system and the data it relies upon to administer and enforce it during drought years, when demand by water right holders exceeds the available supply.
DWR Plans for Possible Need of Delta Salinity Control Barriers
January 26, 2015 - It may be necessary to install emergency salinity control barriers across three channels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta if the weather stays exceedingly dry through spring. In order to prepare for worst-case drought conditions, and after an extensive environmental analysis and more than nine months of discussion with Delta residents and local water district managers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow for the temporary installation of rock barriers at intervals over the next 10 years when saltwater threatens deep intrusion into the Delta.
CDFA Awards $5.8 Million To Assist Farmers In Second Phase Of State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program
January 21, 2015 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.
DWR Increases 2015 Allocation to Water Contractors
January 15, 2015 - December storm runoff and close coordination among federal and state agencies to take advantage of it will allow the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to increase expected water deliveries in 2015 to most customers of the State Water Project (SWP) from 10 percent of their requested amounts to 15 percent. The new allocation replaces the initial allocation of 10 percent announced on December 1.
California Arts Council: California Students Invited to Participate in Water Conservation Creativity Poster Contest
January 7, 2015 - The California Arts Council invites California students to participate in the Conservation Creativity Challenge Poster Contest. This contest supports State Drought Task Force efforts and Governor Brown's goal of awakening all Californians - including young people - to the ongoing need for water conservation in our state. The contest aims to educate students about the serious matter of California's drought, and to help raise awareness of everyday water conservation practices through the arts and creativity. This is the first time the California Arts Council and Department of Water Resources have partnered on an initiative.
Save Our Water Launches New Website, Offers Californians Tools and Tips to Reduce Their Water Use
January 7, 2015 - With the state still gripped by serious drought, Save Our Water has launched an all-new website at www.SaveOurWater.com to help Californians make lasting and permanent reductions in the amount of water they use every day. Californians made strides in 2014 to save water in the face of one of the worst droughts in generations. From the thousands of individuals who shared their conservation tips and ideas to celebrities including Lady Gaga and Conan O’Brien, Californians of all stripes joined the effort to save water last year.
State Water Board Reports Improvement in Urban Water Conservation Rates for November
January 6, 2015 - Against the backdrop of early season rainfall that has delivered only a third of what would be needed to end the prolonged drought, statewide residential water conservation in November climbed to a 9.8 percent reduction in year-over-year water use. This change was an improvement from the October data, which indicated conservation efforts were slipping, compared to previous months. In the most recent survey of nearly 400 urban water retailers, while the amount of water conserved by residential and commercial customers statewide continues to hover at around 10 percent, many of the State’s hydrologic regions are seeing marked increases in conservation efforts.
Survey Finds More Snow in Mountains, but Water Content Is Still Far Below Average for Date
December 30, 2014 - The first manual snow survey of the Sierra snowpack this winter found more snow than last year at this time, but the snow water equivalent as measured statewide remains far below average for this date. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the survey today about 90 miles east of Sacramento on a plot along Highway 50 near Echo Summit. Snow covered the ground there to a depth of 21.3 inches, according to DWR’s Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program who conducted the survey. The snow water equivalent was 4 inches at that particular snow course, or 33 percent of average. Statewide, 105 electronic sensors in the Sierra detected a snow water equivalent of 4.8 inches, 50 percent of the multi-year average for December 30. That compares favorably with last Winter’s first survey, when the snow water equivalent statewide was only 20 percent of normal, which tied with 2012 as the driest readings on record.
CDFW Completes Drought Related Restoration Project at Lindsey Slough, Solano County
December 19, 2014 - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently completed an important watershed project for the benefit of fish and wildlife impacted by the state's historic drought. The Lindsey Slough Restoration Project in Solano County was completed at Calhoun Cut Ecological Reserve in November. The entire project included excavation and placement of fill at the historic Lindsey Slough to reestablish tidal connection to the historic marsh and channel system and enhance existing marsh habitat and associated vernal pools and grassland.
Federal, State Agencies Plan Drought Operations for 2015
December 12, 2014 - This week brings sorely needed and significant precipitation to California. But similar levels of rain and snow would have to fall consistently throughout this winter and spring for the state to begin to recover from extreme drought conditions. In preparation for a fourth year of drought, the directors of five federal and state agencies primarily involved in operating and regulating California’s two biggest water projects, the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, together have developed a strategy for potential implementation. State and federal agencies have developed a plan for 2015 operations and a summary of key lessons learned during 2014 in managing this extreme drought.
Brown Administration Opposes Federal Drought Legislation
December 9, 2014 - Writing on behalf of the State of California, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird today issued a formal opposition letter to HR5781: “Coming off a year where more progress has been made on water policy in California than any time in recent years – with broad support evident in the electorate for this strategy – this is no time to reignite water wars, move water policy back into the courts, and try to pit one part of the state against another. For this reason, the administration opposes HR5781. Our collective energies should be devoted to a long-term solution for California’s water needs in a way that rewards working together as opposed to dividing interests, just as the successful campaign for the water bond recently did. We stand ready to work with the supporters and opponents of HR5781 to that end.”
State Water Board Reports Decline In Urban Water Conservation Rates In October, But Total Urban Water Production Rates Down
December 2, 2014 - After leveling off in September, statewide residential water conservation receded in October to just a 6.7 percent reduction in year-over-year water use. In the most recent survey of nearly 400 urban water retailers, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) learned that while residential water use per person continues to decline this year, the rate at which water conservation has been occurring in each community compared to water use last year declined for the second straight month.
DWR: Updated Report: Groundwater Resources Depleted By Drought
December 2, 2014 - Following one of the driest years on record when groundwater resources have provided an increasing percentage of California’s water supply, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released an updated report on groundwater basins that details groundwater level changes, potential water shortages, land subsidence, farmland fallowing and gaps in groundwater monitoring.
Initial State Water Project Allocation Set at 10 Percent
December 1, 2014 - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced an initial allocation of 10 percent for the customers of the State Water Project. Depending upon the volume of rain and snow that reaches California this winter that initial allocation may be increased. Should dry conditions return, DWR may reallocate State Water Project supplies to meet critical human health and safety needs. Improved precipitation forecasts this week allow DWR to set the initial allocation for 2015 at 10 percent, up from the five percent allocation SWP customers got this year.
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 - April 20
- Summary of Water Management Actions
- 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
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
- U.S. Navy Region Southwest Conservation Actions
- California Urban Water Conservation Council