The U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced in early February $20 million in federal funding for drought relief projects in California. Praising the release of Bureau of Reclamation funds, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said: “This important investment will help us improve how we save and move water, while continuing to protect sensitive habitat and wildlife. Even with recent storms, we have a long, dry trek ahead, and a close partnership with the federal government is crucial.”
Ironically the Governor’s remarks came just as two new storms bore down on the state and delivered significant rainfall. But while the soaking increased storage in California’s major reservoirs, almost all of them remained far below their historical averages for early February, and drought conditions are unabated.
The storms were too warm to deliver significant amounts of snow to the Sierra Nevada which is critical for water inventory. The water equivalent of the state’s snowpack also remained far below normal for this time of the wet season and without a melting snowpack during the late spring and summer months, reservoir storage will likely remain inadequate to satisfy water demands. While the December and February storms delivered significant rainfall, California has had too few of these storms this winter to offset more than three years of drought. tle if any rain in January.
In January, the dept of water resources (DWR) and the Bureau of Reclamation submitted a drought contingency plan to state regulators highlighting potential modifications to water quality rules and water rights permits. New drastic measures need to be taken to keep CA flowing with water.
The current conditions due to the drought makes water conservation as important as ever. Water conservation will be critical in stretching our supplies to the maximum extent possible throughout the coming year.