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This week in… Record-low Snowpack and Mandatory Urban Conservation
Following severe drought conditions and the lowest early-April snowpack record in 75 years, Governor Brown issued the first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions on April 1, 2015. Executive Order B-29-15 calls for cities and towns throughout the state to reduce water use by 25 percent compared to the 2013 level, potentially resulting in a 1.3 million acre-feet of water in savings. The Order also requires frequent water use reporting from agricultural water users; updates standards for toilets, faucets, and outdoor landscaping; streamlines drought response; and necessitates investments in innovative water management technologies.
In other news…
- On April 3, 2015, The State Water Board issued its first Curtailment Order this year to limit diversions from Antelope Creek Tributary in Tehama County to maintain minimum environmental flows for salmon and steelhead migration.
- East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), supplier of potable water to 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, declared a Stage 4 drought emergency – the highest level it can adopt. The District has adopted mandatory outdoor water rules and will consider adopting new water rates in June.
- DWR plans to install a drought barrier on West False River in May to prevent rising salinity level in the central Delta. This action will protect a large portion of the state’s freshwater supplies.
- Tomorrow, the State Water Board will release a draft of the proposed Emergency Water Conservation for an informal public comment. The Regulation is expected to be adopted on May 5 or 6, 2015 following public comment and a formal notice.
- DWR released the first two chapters of California’s Groundwater Update 2013– compiling statewide groundwater findings, data gaps, and recommendations. Chapters broken down by hydrological region will be released each month over the next few months.
California Drought Status
Drought conditions have slightly worsened from two weeks ago, with 44% of the state now in “exceptional drought.” This is an increase from 41% at the end of March.
Average precipitation for the water year (which begins October 1st) is still at or below normal for most of the state.
Statewide, California’s major reservoirs (representing 27.3 million acre-feet of storage) are at 40% of capacity and 62% of group average.