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State Plans for Continued Drought

California water officials are making plans to deal with severe drought conditions that show no signs of changing anytime soon. One plan would ship water from the north to San Diego and other areas of

State Plans for Continued Drought

California water officials are making plans to deal with severe drought conditions that show no signs of changing anytime soon. One plan would ship water from the north to San Diego and other areas of the state. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

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The San Diego County Water Authority met with state officials to figure out how to deal with the ongoing drought.

Susan Sims is the Chief Deputy Director for the Department of Water Resources.

She says forecast models show a dryer than normal fall for much of the state.

Sims says usually that wouldn't be a problem.

But the last two years have been two of the driest on record.

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Sims: We're starting in a very deep hole and so a dry fall, a normal or below normal winter and another dry spring puts a lot of communities in California in a very serious water situation.

She says state officials are creating a Drought Water Bank next year.  

Sims says the bank will buy water from willing sellers, such as farmers in Northern California, and transfer it to other parts of the state willing to buy it.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

2008 California Drought Facts

  • For the Northern Sierra, this spring and summer were the driest on record since 1921. In addition, 2007 and 2008 made up the ninth driest two-year period in 88 years of record keeping for the Northern Sierra.
  • Statewide precipitation for the six-month period February through July 2008 was 45% of average – the fourth driest of 114 years on record.
  • State reservoir capacities are at severe lows, with Folsom at 31%, Shasta at 34% and San Luis at 13%.
  • By the end of this water year (Sept. 30), Lake Oroville will reach its lowest carryover storage since the drought of 1977.
  • The water shortage is affecting the state’s economy, slowing down development projects and forcing growers to fallow land. For example, farmers in northern San Diego County are stumping avocado trees and pulling out citrus trees due to water shortages. The Westland Water District reports that one-third of the farmland is being fallowed this year, at a loss of at least 500 jobs. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports the result of the drought is a $260 million loss to the state’s ag industry this year.

Preliminary information shows that the 2009 water year likely will also be severely dry.  State water planners are preparing for a protracted drought by instituting a variety of programs intended to conserve water and stretch the state’s resources. 
(Source: California Department of Water Resources )

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