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.”
Some minor improvement in California drought conditions last week, but long-term drought remains entrenched as the summer dry season is slightly more than a month away.
Outdoor burn permits are now required for most counties in Northern California.
Spring storms help Sierra Nevada snowpack, but there is no reduction in drought conditions in California and Nevada.
More "Spare The Air" alerts may be issued this year in the Sacramento region because the Environmental Protection Agency has lowered the federal ozone health standard.
Weather permitting, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and the U.S. Forest Service may continue prescribed fire operations starting Monday in areas around Lake Tahoe.