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.”
Record dry January expected in many Northern and Central California cities as drought drops reservoir levels.
The California Department of Water Resources says the state’s snowpack is “dismally meager.” A lack of snow in the Sierra is keeping rivers low and drying up some reservoirs.
The City of Roseville is yanking grass and replacing it with drought-resistant landscaping to conserve water. Roseville also offers homeowners a 'Cash For Grass' rebate program.
The City of Sacramento says water customers in 2014 "cut water use to the lowest level per person per day in 100 years."
Salmon rely on cool water temperatures and aquatic plants to survive. So California’s drought has hit them particularly hard. But UC Davis researchers have found one area where the fish are flourishing.