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Posts Tagged ‘Sierra snowpack’

California Drought: Brown Orders First Ever Statewide Water Cutbacks

Posted by feww on April 2, 2015



Statewide water content of Sierra snowpack drops to 5 percent of April 1st average

Worsening drought has forced California governor to implement the first mandatory water cutbacks in the parched state’s history, ordering residents and businesses to cut water use by 25 percent.

At just five percent of average for April 1, the snowpack water content  is at its lowest level since records began, reported California Department of Water Resources.

On April 1, 2015, the California Department of Water Resources measured the statewide water content of Sierra snowpack at five percent of average for April 1st. These levels are lower than any year in records going back to 1950. The April 1 snowpack measurement is crucial because this is when the snowpack is normally at its peak and begins to melt into streams and reservoirs. Snowpack, through runoff, provides about one-third of the water used by California’s cities and farms.

California’s 2014 Water Year, which ended September 30, 2014, was the third driest in 119 years of record. It also was the warmest year on record.

Located at the base of the Sierra foothills in Northern California’s Placer, El Dorado, and Sacramento Counties, Folsom Lake Reservoir is one of California’s most popular recreation areas with more than 2.5 million visitors annually. Releases from the reservoir, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Central Valley Project, go to the nearby American River for urban use, flood control, hydropower, fish and wildlife, and water quality purposes. USGS Image by David Pratt. 

“We are standing on dried grass, and we should be standing in five feet of snow,” said Mr Brown, speaking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“People should realize we’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water everyday—that’s going to be a thing of the past,” he said, adding that the cutbacks would save about 1.5 million acre-feet (~ 1.85 cubic kilometer) of water this year.

Mr Brown declared a statewide drought state of emergency on January 17, 2014.

California Snow Water Equivalent: Statewide Summary

Data For: 01-Apr-2015
Number of Stations Reporting: 97
Average snow water equivalent: 1.4″ (3.5 cm)
Percent of April 1 Average: 5%
Percent of normal for this date: 5%

Oil Industry in California Wastes 2 Million Gallons of Water Each Day

“Each day, the oil and gas industry uses more than 2 million gallons of water on average in California on dangerous extraction techniques such as fracking, acidizing, and cyclic steam injection. At a time when California is facing the worst drought on record, when farmers and cities are both struggling to find ways to conserve water, the oil and gas industry continues to use, contaminate, and dispose of staggering amounts of precious water resources each day,” says the environmental activist group Californians Against Fracking.

Brown’s order, however, neither requires the frackers to cut their water usage, nor calls for a freeze, at least temporarily, on the tremendously water intensive process of fracking say the activists.

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