Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada should be at its peak this time of year. But the water content for the snow is just 32-percent of average. Frank Gehrke with the California Department of Water Resources says the recent snow can be deceptive.
“It’s very unlikely that we’ll get anything after this. It’s certainly not the improvement that would have been needed to get anywhere close to reasonable conditions for water supply next spring and summer,” says Gehrke.
Snowmelt is carried through rivers and reservoirs and delivered south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through the state and federal water projects. DWR Director Mark Cowin says recent precipitation hasn’t ended the drought. But it will provide some temporary relief. He says the department will quadruple the amount of water it pumps south for at least a week.
“The adjustment will remain in effect as long as the rivers carrying storm water into the Delta continue to run relatively high," says Cowin.
Kate Poole, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the move violates the agencies’ obligation to protect threatened and endangered fish. She says there are reasons pumping levels should be low this time of year.
“By ignoring those requirements and ramping up pumping right now what the agencies are doing is pulling those salmon and steelhead off their migratory path and into the pumps where they die,” says Poole.The National Marine Fisheries Service says the change will still protect migrating steelhead and other fish. It says the adjustments are based on sound science.
Researchers say California has been overdrawing its water account for a century.
Researchers at UC Davis fear that California’s drought may soon claim its first victim, the Red Hills Roach. The tiny fish is losing its water. Scientists fear it may soon be pushed to extinction.
A UC Davis report shows the drought has brought positive and negative effects to Lake Tahoe.
California's farm production costs totaled $36.6 billion in 2013, an 8.6 percent jump from the previous year. Higher rates for feed, labor, improvements and water contributed to the jump.
Californians will be voting on a new water bond this fall. On Wednesday night, Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers replaced the $11 billion bond on the November ballot with a smaller one they believe has a better chance of passing at the polls.