Part of the Bay Area News Group

California has a lot of water – for now

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 at 4:20 pm in Jerry Brown, water.

California may be dangerously low on money, but at least it has water – for now.

As was expected, Gov. Jerry Brown today proclaimed an end to the state’s drought after big increases in statewide rainfall and mountain snowpack. He urged Californians, however, to keep conserving water.

“While this season’s storms have lifted us out of the drought, it’s critical that Californians continue to watch their water use,” Brown said in a news release. “Drought or no drought, demand for water in California always outstrips supply. Continued conservation is key.”

Brown’s proclamation followed the Department of Water Resources’ fourth snow survey of the season, which found that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 165 percent of the April 1 full season average.

Most of California’s major reservoirs are also above normal storage levels. Butte County’s Lake Oroville – the State Water Project’s principal reservoir – is at 104 percent of average for the date, or about 80 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity. And Lake Shasta north of Redding – the federal Central Valley Project’s largest reservoir – is at 111 percent of average for the date, or about 91 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity.

DWR estimates it will be able to deliver 70 percent of requested State Water Project water this year, an estimate that probably will be adjusted upward as hydrologists make adjustments later for snowpack and runoff readings.

California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said that by some measures, California’s drought never really ends.

“Even with all this rain and snow, farmers in parts of the Central Valley still face water shortages because of conflicts over endangered species fish protection and other restrictions,” Wenger said in a news release. “The federal Central Valley Project is offering only two-thirds of contract supplies this year to many of its farm customers, and supplies from the State Water Project will be only slightly better. In Southern California, soaring water prices force farmers to cut down productive avocado trees. Farmers have made significant improvement in water efficiency—producing ‘more crop per drop’—and that will continue. But continued shortages force many farmers into tough decisions about whether they can sustain their crops and their businesses.”

Wenger said much of the water swelling California rivers and streams this spring represents “a lost opportunity.”

“All of us will wish we had that water available when we have our next dry winter. That could be next year, or the year after, but we know drought will come again, probably soon,” he said. “California needs more reservoirs to capture more of these flood flows when they occur, so we can both lessen the chances for catastrophic floods and bank that water for the dry years we know will come.”

To that end, he urged Brown to push for passage of the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012, an $11.14 billion bond ballot measure to bankroll an overhaul of the state’s water system. Big farm groups and some labor unions representing construction workers support the measure, while some lawmakers say its weighted down with pork-barrel spending and many environmentalists object to agricultural water subsidies, water privatization, dam construction and insufficient emphasis on conservation and recycling.

Read Brown’s proclamation, after the jump…

A PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

WHEREAS on June 4, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-06-08, which proclaimed a statewide drought, and ordered executive branch entities to take immediate action to address the water shortage; and,

WHEREAS on June 12, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed a State of Emergency for nine Central Valley counties because the drought had caused conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property; and,

WHEREAS on February 27, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed a State of Emergency for the entire state as the severe drought conditions continued and the impacts were well beyond the Central Valley; and,

WHEREAS the Department of Water Resources today conducted the fourth snow survey of the season and found that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 165 percent of the season average; and,

WHEREAS a majority of California’s major reservoirs are above normal storage levels; and,

WHEREAS Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s principal reservoir, is 104 percent of average, and Lake Shasta, the federal Central Valley Project’s largest reservoir, is at 111 percent of average; and,

WHEREAS the Department of Water Resources estimates it will be able to deliver 70 percent of the requested State Water Project water this year, and this estimate is likely to be adjusted upward after additional snowpack and runoff readings; and,

WHEREAS I am advised by the appropriate agencies of the State of California that current conditions warrant the termination of Executive Order S-06-08 and ending the States of Emergency called on June 12, 2008, and on February 27, 2009.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the State of California, do hereby PROCLAIM THE DROUGHT TO BE AT AN END.

I FURTHER DIRECT that state and public agencies cease all further activities in reliance on Executive Order S-06-08 and the States of Emergency called on June 12, 2008, and February 27, 2009, and that Executive Order S-06-08 and the drought State of Emergency proclamations are terminated.

IT IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED that all Californians continue to minimize water usage and engage in water conservation efforts.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 30th day of March 2011.

____________________________________
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor of California

ATTEST:

____________________________________
DEBRA BOWEN
Secretary of State

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]