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.
With the shift from winter to spring comes new watering limitations for Sacramento residents. To conserve water, residents are being asked to only water twice a week.
The drought has left honey bees without their normal supply of wildflowers to feed on. Beekeepers have supplemented their diet, but that lacks nutrition to keep hives healthy. CapRadio's Amy Quinton tags along with a local beekeeper to learn more.
There’s a bit more progress in the delicate dance of reaching a deal on a new California water bond proposal that would replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot. But a deal – if any – is still months away.
Many people in the Sacramento region responded to calls to conserve water, using less last month than in the previous two Februaries. Many cities have not met conservation goals.
The city of Sacramento is moving ahead with a plan to offer rebates to people who rip out their front lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant landscaping.
The amount of water in Folsom Lake has nearly doubled in the past month since this picture was taken, but lake levels are still only at 59 percent of average.
The California Drought Task Force says it would have to rain almost non-stop for the next couple of months to bring an end to the drought.