Update from the Pacific Institute California Drought Response Group –August 26


For the latest updates about the California drought go to www.californiadrought.org

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This week in Chinook Salmon…

At the urging of Native American Indian tribes and other stakeholders, the Bureau of Reclamation has decided to release more water into the Klamath River to prevent die-off of Chinook Salmon. In July, the Bureau had issued a decision to withhold water from the river until the fish began to die; however, scientists noted that, by this point, it would be too late. The major threat to the fish is Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, a parasite that thrives on stagnant, warm waters.

The Bureau noted that the extra water provided for the fish would not reduce the amount of irrigation water diverted to the Sacramento River system; instead, there would be less water carrying over for next year. 

In other news…

  • New research from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows the recent drought is causing an “uplift” effect in California’s mountains, with more than half an inch and on average 0.15 of an inch increase across the west. Researchers estimate the ground and surface water deficit to be around 63 trillion gallons.
  • USGS has released the 2010 California water use estimates. In 2010, USGS estimates Californians withdrew 38 billion gallons per day. USGS releases these estimates every five years; results for the rest of the U.S. will be released later this year.
  • A new report in Environmental Research Letters shows that water rights allocations in California are approximately five times the state’s mean annual runoff.
  • Since January 1st, CAL FIRE has responded to 4,294 wildfires on 84,048 acres. The year-to-date historical average is 3,311 wildfires on 67,492 acres. These figures only represent CALFIRE incidents and so the total number of fires and acres burned is much higher.

California Drought Status

Drought Monitor

Above-normal rainfall in the southeast has improved drought conditions in a small part of California. However, this improvement will not have an effect on overall drought conditions in the state. 



Reservoir Conditions

Statewide, California’s major reservoirs (representing more than 26.6 million acre-feet of storage), are at about 32% of total capacity and 51% of normal.


U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service expects drought to persist or intensify through November in all but the most southeastern part of the state.



The U.S. Energy Information Administration released the Electric Power Monthly report for June. June generation was 74% of last year 58% of the 2001-2011 average.