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California Lawmakers Call For Drought Emergency Declaration

The Colorado River Aqueduct transports water from the Colorado River to South...

Credit: Metropolitan Water District Of Southern California

Above: The Colorado River Aqueduct transports water from the Colorado River to Southern California.

With reservoirs depleting and forecasters predicting another dry winter, California lawmakers are calling on President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency and federal disaster in the state.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) sent a letter Monday urging the governor to take immediate action. Dozens of other California lawmakers sent a separate letter that called for the same declaration.

Costa and Feinstein stressed that low storage levels will leave the state with fewer options to adapt to next year’s dry conditions and that drought declarations in previous years have helped ease the pain.

“We are already looking down the barrel of another dry, dry year that potentially could create devastating hardship for the people of our Valley and the entire state,” Costa said. “If current conditions continue, we will be left with fewer options than we have had in previous years to offer relief. Senator Feinstein and I know that we will need all the resources available at the state and federal level to cope with the challenges ahead and are calling for swift action from Gov. Brown to help give us the necessary tools.”

For the first time in five years, water officials tapped into water reserves this year to meet demand.

Photo credit: California Department of Water

As of Dec. 10, 2013, many of California's largest reservoirs were far below normal.

As of Dec. 10, many of Northern California reserves were far below the level they should be for this time of year:

Lake Shasta: 37 percent full, normal is 60 percent.

Lake Oroville: 39 percent full, normal is 62.

Trinity Lake: 47 percent full, normal is 74.

Folsom Lake: 22 perecent full, normal is 47.

In 2008 and 2009, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger declared states of emergency and authorized additional drought relief activities.

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