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Low Snowpack Hurts California Water Supply

Above: The California Department of Water Resources issued its lowest ever initial estimate on how much water will be delivered from the State Water Project. Winter rain and snowfall may provide relief, but will likely not counteract three years of drought.

The last survey of the season in the Sierra shows that the snowpack is at two-thirds of normal for this time of year. The lack of snow may further restrict the water supply for cities and farms. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The state depends on the snowpack for much of the summer water supply.

The last snow survey of the season found the snowpack at 66 percent of a typical year across the Sierra.

State Meteorologist Elissa Lynn says the third year of drought means supply from state and federal water projects will be near record lows this year.

"They may do some updates to those but the snowpack doesn't provide any assurance that you could raise those numbers," Lynn said. "So the big reservoirs that we have at the north end of the state were not able to fill. That definitely didn't occur. Those two, Oroville and Shasta, are somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of capacity."

She says the low snowpack and low reservoir storage combined with drought, restrictions on Delta pumping, and a growing population means California will be facing water supply issues for many years.

The San Diego County Water Authority last week told customers it would be reducing water deliveries by eight percent starting July 1.

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