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California Water Supply Drying Up


Aired 4/19/09

California's water supply isn't getting a boost from Mother Nature so far this year.  And prospects don't look promising in the months to come, as KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce explains.

The first comprehensive snow survey of the winter season shows the water content is about 61 percent of normal statewide.


Lynn: We're definitely in a third dry year now. It gets harder and harder to make up for this lack of snowfall as you go later into the season.

That's State Meteorologist Elissa Lynn.

She says California's Sierra snowpack water content is particularly significant this year because the state has endured two years of drought and reservoirs are low.  

: We could possibly have another dry spring like last year. So the average of these three years, what we've seen in terms of the dry conditions is very similar to what we had in the six-year drought we had from '87-to-'92. We just really have to consider that we're in pretty bad shape. I know we're all crisised-out but, a water shortage will trump 'em all.

Lynn says with supply cutbacks from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect endangered fish, water supplies will be at critically low levels.

Lynn: People in California have to wake up. Even though we're tired of hearing about all the things going away, we have some problems now.  Crop shortages or at least the lack of planting of crops is probably going to take place, it already is in some parts of the state. There's the possibility that more communities will have to ration their water or possible see higher fees for their water as we go into the future. It's just really not good.

Many water agencies have already enacted mandatory or voluntary water rationing.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.


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