California’s severe drought continues, with many rivers and dams at historic lows. The Californian government website has dramatic photos showing the fall in water levels. Many towns in the state’s west are now in a Drought Emergency with local reservoirs down to 10% of capacity.
Wildfires continue to appear in the forests, with 200 new fires just last week. As California is now entering its driest period of the year, the predictions for summer are grim.
Farmers are also feeling the pinch with water rights to many rivers now curtailed so there’s enough water for migratory fish.
During the past year, historically low rainfall has compounded a very small snow melt, the usual source of water for many districts. There are hopes that a possible an El Niño event later this year could mean a wet winter for the USA west coast but there’s a long, hot summer to get through in the meantime.
Despite a vigorous government campaign to use less water, and 92% of Californians saying they are doing something to reduce their water consumption, it seems that the message is not really getting through. There are only small reductions state-wide in water usage, from nothing in San Jose to a higher 8% in San Francisco. With a government reduction target of 20%, there’s a long way to go.
Only a few parts of California have mandatory water restrictions, but given the low dam and reservoir levels, it seems likely that more will be introduced as the summer heats up.