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.
Improved drought conditions and more renewables lead to decrease in natural gas use this summer.
Californians' water use kept creeping back up in July after the lifting of mandatory statewide conservation orders for the drought.
A new study shows fire-fighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals is contaminating drinking water supplies around many of the nation's military bases, airports and industrial sites.
It has been a busy fire season across California. But there are fewer fires in the state’s 18 U.S. national forests so far this year, compared to 2015.
Update 8:00 p.m. Sunday: Crews are making "good progress" on the Cold Fire in Yolo County, now at 60% containment. In Monterey County, the Soberanes Fire remains at 45% containment with wind creating an additional challenge for firefighters.
The Soberanes Fire near Big Sur is burning in a rugged area that hasn't "seen fire in decades." The wildfire is 45 percent contained at 57,500 acres.
The number of acres burned by wildfires in the U.S. is about average for this time of year. But, in California, the 'new normal' includes larger and more frequent wildfires.