Water officials in California have announced that water agencies that serve 27 million people will get just 5% of what they requested from the state to start 2023.
This comes as California concludes its driest three-year stretch on record and as water managers brace for a fourth year with below-average precipitation.
However, if the winter is wetter than expected, the state could boost how much supply it plans to give out — as it did last year when allocations started at 0% and ended the winter at 5%.
A storm currently bringing snow and rain to the northern end of the state has been welcome news, warned Michael Anderson, the state climatologist warned that people shouldn’t get too optimistic. Last year two major storms in October and December were followed by months of bone-dry weather.
According to reports, Much of California’s water supply comes from the snow that falls in the mountains during the winter and enters the watershed as it melts through spring. Some of it is stored in reservoirs for later use, while some are sent south through massive pumping systems.
Given the uncertainty about how long the drought will last, the state wants to keep water in Lake Oroville, its largest reservoir which at the moment is about half as full as it usually, is at this time of year and officials plan to tap excess water from winter storms to provide the 5% supply and take some water out of the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.
“If drought conditions extend into 2023, Reclamation will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to meet all the competing needs of the Central Valley Project without beginning the implementation of additional and more severe water conservation actions,” said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Story was adapted from AP.