Rainfall during the past two weeks was not sufficient to rescind Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought declaration. Less than an inch of rain fell on the Hill since Jan. 31. The Keenwild Ranger Station recorded just 0.28 inches on Friday, Jan. 31, and another 0.6 inches from Thursday night, Feb. 6, through Friday morning, Feb. 7. George Tate recorded just more than an inch in Pine Cove.
Although the Hill has avoided the worst of one of the most severe droughts ever in California, its toll is being felt throughout the rest of the state.
According to the State Department of Water Resources, while more winter storms may provide a limited boost to reservoir storage and water deliveries, rain and snow would need to fall heavily every other day from now until May to get back to average annual rain and snowfall. Even then, California still would be in a drought, because normally wet December and January have been critically dry — and follow a record-dry 2013 and a dry 2012.
On Jan. 30, DWR reported that its second snow survey of the season found little snow available for the spring run-off. Readings of the snowpack recorded water content at only 12 percent of the average for the end of January.
Not only is the snowpack low, but DWR reported that the state’s major reservoirs are well below average. Consequently, on Friday, DWR announced that customers of the State Water Project will get no deliveries in 2014 if current dry conditions persist. Deliveries to agricultural districts with long-standing water rights in the Sacramento Valley may be cut 50 percent — the maximum permitted by contract — depending upon future snow survey results.
Earlier in that week, the California Department of Public Health identified 17 rural communities in Northern California that had vulnerable water systems as a result of the drought. CDPH will be working with these communities, which range in size from 39 to 11,000 residents, to ensure adequate water for public health.
Cal Fire announced it had hired 125 additional firefighters to be prepared for the increased fire threat.