The report from UC Irvine’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling is an update to a 2011 study which showed the basins lost nearly as much water as the volume of Lake Mead over a seven year period.
The new report finds water storage in the last two years continues to plummet, and the study doesn’t even include the most recent dry winter.
Report author Jay Famiglietti says the amount of water lost is equal to the water used by all of California’s urban areas each year. Most of the loss is due to groundwater withdrawals.
Famiglietti says groundwater levels drop faster during drought than they can be replenished during wet periods.
“This is a worse than ever situation," says Famiglietti. "So we really have to watch what’s going to happen with the groundwater. It’s been bad in the past during drought periods and now with a zero surface water allocation I’m quite concerned that it will be terrible in the future.”
Sacramento city council voted in favor of a proposal that makes some drought watering restrictions permanent.
Tuesday marks the start of a shortened commercial salmon fishing season in the waters off San Francisco. A smaller salmon population is one effect of the drought that could persist for years.
A wealth of weather and climate data and the jobs of the scientists who analyze it may be at risk under President Trump’s budget proposal.
The Central Sierra Nevada snowpack this year is larger than the previous four years combined, according to new data from NASA.
It is now the wettest season on record in Northern California, where most of the state gets its water supply.