CA drought lowers streamflow levels across state, affects water resources

Sponsored by


Feb. 14, 2014 -- The state of California is experiencing its worst drought in over a century, and the lack of precipitation for much of the past three months has exacerbated the dryness, causing varying degrees of low levels of streamflow in the northern two-thirds of the state.

Low streamflow can affect water availability for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses, water quality, water temperature, recreational opportunities, and the maintenance of fish populations. Many of the nearly 500 stream gages are currently at below normal flows for this time of year. Likewise, forty-one low-flow measurements have been made in the northern parts of the state, 12 of which have been measured at record low flows.

Water deliveries from the State Water Project and Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project to urban residents and farmers have been severely cut or eliminated in some instances. As of February 12, the California Department of Water Resources measured the statewide water content of snowpack at only 27 percent of the average for this time of year. California snowpack melts into streams and reservoirs, providing about one-third of the water used by California's cities and farms.

During periods of drought, groundwater use can increase, but it is generally drawn in part from groundwater that may be slow to replenish. Also, once new wells are installed during droughts, it is common for the resulting groundwater-use increases to remain in effect long after the droughts have passed. About 20 percent of the nation's groundwater pumping occurs in the Central Valley of California, which contributes to 8 percent of the country's agricultural output and 25 percent of its food source.

Recent precipitation has resulted in some increases in streamflow, snowpack and reservoir levels, but severe drought conditions remain. Without significant additional precipitation, prior conditions will quickly return, leaving most streams in the state at less than 10 percent of normal for this time of year. Further, USGS crews from the California Water Science Center are monitoring conditions on a continuing basis.

See also:

"CA declares drought state of emergency, water agencies stable, research shows"

"New California Water Action Plan outlines state's future water goals"

###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

Recipients of prestigious CG/LA 2014 Project of the Year Awards announced

CG/LA Infrastructure recently announced the recipients of its prestigious 2014 Projects of the Year Awards during the 6th North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum held in the nation's capital.

Major water distribution contract approved in city of San Antonio

Today in a unanimous vote, the San Antonio City Council approved a contract between the San Antonio Water System and Vista Ridge Consortium to bring 16.3 billion gallons of new non-Edwards Aquifer water to San Antonio annually for 30 years.

New Ontario, Chinese partnership to unlock market opportunities for energy, water innovation

The Advanced Energy Centre, Water Technology Acceleration Project and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group have announced an MOU signing to explore deployment opportunities for Ontario's advanced energy and water technologies in China.

VIDEO: Desalination global news round-up

Join WWi Chief Editor Tom Freyberg for a round-up of the latest desalination industry news from the last two weeks. Watch the video for the full stories…

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA