SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State water officials have raised a red flag over water supplies later this year, saying another drought is likely for Californians.
Federal and state water allocations from water storage projects have already been drastically reduced.
The evidence of a possible drought has been trickling in and capped by the most recent snow survey, which determines how much water flows into reservoirs downstream.
“It’s been very dry both this year and last year if you go back to the previous water year,” said Erik Ekdahl, State Water Resources Control Board department director. “People should start to plan accordingly.”
The news means water suppliers should make sure back-up water supplies are in place.
The Water Board must navigate complex water rights laws, but like the last drought in 2014 and ’15, some agricultural users lose out, meaning some fields may not be planted.
Residential water districts were also put on notice during the last drought.
“If conditions continue to be this dry, we may need to take additional steps like those curtailment notices that we sent out in previous years,” Ekdahl said.
Any kind of drought or severe water shortage could greatly affect the Sacramento region. Many urban and suburban water suppliers get their water supplies directly from Folsom Lake, the lower American River and the Sacramento River downstream.
“No surprises. We’ve seen this before, and we’re ready,“ said Jessica Law, Water Forum executive director.
The Water Forum is a collection of water purveyors, water agencies and businesses that helped plan for water shortages.
Since the last drought, projects to move water to where it’s needed, groundwater projects and conservation strategies have been developed.
“We’ve put in place about 20 projects that will help provide some flexibility in sharing water around the region,” Law explained.
Left over from the last drought are rules likes landscape watering days and the increased use of residential water meters.
“This region really learned lessons. I think the whole state did from the experience,” Law said.
A drought emergency hasn’t been declared just yet, but state officials say it’s not too early to get ready.
“Conserve water. That is something that’s an everyday activity, whether we’re going into a drought year or not. It’s really all of us who can pull together and help conserve water,” Law said.
Some encouraging news, however, is that even though the population has grown, the state as a whole is using 16% less water than it did before the last drought.