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Dry times in California

oroville.jpgCalifornia’s Department of Water Resources estimates it can supply only 5% of the water requested by the state’s cities and farms in 2010. The allocation is the lowest since the department was created in 1967. (SF Chronicle)

The announcement comes a month after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature approved a $40 billion project to overhaul the state’s water system, including building new dams, restoring a crucial river delta and improving groundwater monitoring (NY Times).

The state system provides drinking water for some 23 million California residents, from San Francisco to southern California, and irrigates 755,000 acres of farms. The rest of the state — about 13 million residents — relies on independent water systems.

In previous years, the amount of water supplied tended to be substantially higher than the initial estimate. The water agency based their 5% estimate on current weather conditions and the fact that the state is about to hit its wetter season — but with cities in northern California meeting record highs last week, the severe, 3-year drought shows no signs of abating. The agency hopes a “moderate” El Niño will soon bring heavy rains (SF Chronicle).

Image: California’s second largest reservoir, Lake Oroville (California Department of Water Resources)


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