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Climate and Environment

State Cuts Allocation To Water Districts As Three-Year Drought Continues

In an aerial view, low water levels are visible at Lime Saddle Marina at Lake Oroville. Boats are clustered in what little water remains with steep embankments marking previous water lines.
As the extreme drought emergency continues in California, Lake Oroville's water levels continue to drop. Statewide reservoir levels are at about 70% of average after the three-year drought.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
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After a bone-dry start to the year, California water officials announced today that it's cutting the State Water Project allocation to 5% from 15% as we prepare for a third dry year.

The State Water Project feeds 29 water agencies, including 13 here in southern California. The Department of Water Resources says reducing this year's allocation amount will conserve the available water supply.

Director Karla Nemeth stressed the state is experiencing "climate change whiplash in real-time" and that the state will continue a series of actions to balance water conservation and water deliveries for millions of Californians.

“While we had hoped for more rain and snow, DWR has been preparing for a third consecutive year of drought since October,” Nemeth said. “We are continuing with a series of actions to balance the needs of endangered species, water supply conservation, and water deliveries for millions of Californians.”

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These water conservation measures include preserving water storage in Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s largest reservoir, which provides drinking water to 23 million people in the state.

The department also plans to submit an application for a petition to conserve stored water in its other large reservoirs, including Shasta and Folsom.

The lack of precipitation at the beginning of 2022 has led to decreasing reservoir levels statewide with reservoirs being at about 70% of average levels.

In the meantime, the state is calling on Californians to do their part in conserving water.

In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded the drought emergency statewide, urging Californians to reduce their water usage by 15% in order to conserve the already low levels in reservoirs.

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Board adopted regulations to prevent Californians from unnecessary water usage, like rinsing sidewalks with drinking water and watering lawns after rainfall.

The Department is expected to make its next assessment on allocating water when the next snow survey is taken on April 1.

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