We are still, of course, in the worst drought in California history. This California Drought Update post for June 2015 provides information based on recently released figures from the California government. Check out this previous post on the drought for more historical and comparative information.
California has created a dedicated web page for information about the drought, part of which is a weekly drought brief. Below are some of the main points contained in the latest California drought brief, that was issued on Wednesday June 10, 2015:
Drought and Water Top Californians’ List of Concerns: On June 3, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a poll which reveals that 39% of Californians are most likely to name water and drought as the most important current state issue, while 20% list jobs and the economy as their top concern. Some 69% of respondents also say that water supply is a big problem in their part of the state, which is the largest percentage since the question was first asked in 2009.
Hot Temperatures Play Critical Role in Drought, USGS Study Says: According to a new study released on June 3 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and university partners, the lack of precipitation is not the only factor driving California’s historic drought. Recent experiments revealed that abnormally hot temperatures also play a role in worsening the drought’s impacts. This study confirms findings already published and discussed publicly.
Reservoir Levels (% capacity): Since June 5, Central Valley reservoirs from Shasta and Trinity in the North to Isabella in the South had a net loss in storage of 192,564 acre-feet (AF), with total gains being 21,608 AF and total losses being 214,172 AF. Shasta has dropped 53,020 AF, Oroville has dropped 33,439 AF, Folsom has dropped 18,783 AF, and San Luis has dropped 56,535 AF. The following reservoirs increased in storage: Camanche and Pardee +2,499 AF, McClure +4,560 AF, Pine Flat +13,610 AF, and Kaweah +939 AF.
Reservoir Levels as of June 7 remain low, including: Castaic Lake 34% of capacity (38% of year to date average); Don Pedro 40% of capacity (52% of average); Exchequer 13% of capacity (19% of average); Folsom Lake 53% of capacity (63% of average); Lake Oroville 43% of capacity (52% of average); Lake Perris 40% (48% of average); Millerton Lake 33% of capacity (42% of average); New Melones 18% of capacity (29% of average); Pine Flat 27% of capacity (38% of average); San Luis 50% of capacity (67% of average); Lake Shasta 52% of capacity (61% of average); and Trinity Lake 41% of capacity (48% of average). An update of water levels at other smaller reservoirs is also available.
Recent Precipitation: Over the past week, precipitation was mainly confined to the mountains of California while the valley areas remained dry. Areas of the North Coast, Shasta Drainage, and the Feather Basin received 0.1 to 1.0 inches of rainfall. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, from the American Basin down to the Kings Basin, received 0.1 to 2.0 inches of rainfall with the heavier amounts centered around Yosemite National Park.
State Water Board Reports Improved Urban Conservation for April: On June 2, the State Water Board reported April’s statewide water conservation rate at 13.5%. April’s reduction in water use represents a boost in conservation efforts over March’s 3.9%. In addition, nearly 400 water suppliers responded to a first-ever enforcement report, indicating a high level of local activity to respond to reports of leaks and suspected water wasting. From June 2014 to April 2015, the state has conserved more than 175 billion gallons of water.
Whirling Disease Detection Triggers Quarantine at Three California Trout Hatcheries: On June 4, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced that the detection of Whirling disease, a disease-causing parasite, has led to quarantine approximately three million infected trout at three northern California hatcheries. Due to severe drought conditions, water sources are drying up in watersheds that supply water to hatcheries. Terrestrial wildlife (heron, egrets, river otters, and bears) that eat fish can transmit the spoors of the parasite via fish or on their fur or feathers.
As water supplies dry up, wildlife become concentrated at the water sources and more readily transmit disease. Although the disease has no known human health effects, infected hatchery fish cannot be released into California’s waterways in order to prevent the spread of disease to non-infected state waters where the fish would normally be planted.