February first is the date of the next snow survey. And water managers say unless California sees significant rain or snow, a drought proclamation is expected.
“My belief is that we will have a drought proclamation," says Mark Cowin, Director of Water Resources. "The signs are pretty clear at this point. The remaining question is, ‘what do we need to put in that drought proclamation that will actually, beyond the messaging, help us deal with the impending crisis.’”
Federal reservoir levels keep dropping.
“Most of our reservoirs are way down for this time of year," says Paul Fujitani, with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. "They’re all well under what we have seen for the past 15 years,”
It’s a grim scenario for farmers.
“What I think it means particularly in the San Joaquin Valley is the fallowing of possibly 300,000 to 500,000 acres," says Craig McNamara, President of the Board of Food and Agriculture. "That’s an area that’s spans almost 700 square miles.”
That wouldn’t just hurt farmers, but also farm workers. California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross says that was made abundantly clear during the last drought.
“We saw it in 2009 with much more demand for food bank assistance, for rental assistance, and what it did to the businesses in those small towns it has a big ripple effect and it’s happening in some of our most stressed counties and that’s the part that worries me the most,” says Ross.
Water agencies are also worried. Jason Peltier with the Westlands Water District says he’s telling water users that they should brace for a 0-percent water allocation.
"If I sound apocalyptic, it’s because we have an obligation to plan for and expect the worst case scenario, we can’t hope for better conditions and operate that way."
A drought proclamation would make it easier to relax water quality standards and streamline water transfers. But some water districts say conditions are so dry, even finding water to transfer might be difficult.
Another dry winter worries California rice farmers who are planning for this year's crop. The state's harvest was down nearly 25 percent last year. And, it's not just water that worries growers.
California’s water supply continues to diminish. The water content in the Sierra snowpack is the worst it’s been this time of year since 1991. Water conservation rates are equally dismal, dropping dramatically in January.
(AP) - The California Department of Water Resources says it will carry out the winter's third survey of the Sierra Nevada's snowpack.
What little bit of rain California received in December and February was just enough to help reservoir storage. The Department of Water Resources announced it will increase water deliveries through the State Water Project.
The US Bureau of Reclamation says most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will face a second year with no water from the Central Valley Project. Some farmers and cities may receive more.
It would not be an odd sight in the spring. But there is something depressing about a closed ski slope in the middle of winter. The trails are bare and grassy. The chairlifts just hang there, waving a little with the breeze.
A new poll finds nearly all Californians think the state's drought is serious -- and there's growing support for mandatory water rationing.