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California water officials: No more water for agencies during drought

California water officials announced they will not provide water to many agencies this year due to drought.
January 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Despite Southern California finally getting some much-needed rain and snow this week, it hasn't put a dent in the drought. State water officials say they will not provide water to many agencies this year.

The California Department of Water Resources says it has to conserve the water that remains in its reservoirs, so it must cut the amount it can allocate to agencies, farmers and municipalities to zero.

"Simply put, there is not enough water to go around," said Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources.

Cowin announced the state will not deliver any water to agricultural and municipal users south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That doesn't mean those users will run out of water, since most have other supplies, but it shows how serious this is.

"Today's actions mean that everyone -- farmers, fish, people -- in our cities and towns will get less water as a result. But these actions will protect us all better in the long run," said Cowin.

The hardest-hit could be farmers.

In Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District says it has reserves in place, at least for now.

"We have carryover water from 2013 that we expect to deliver to the south coastal plain. We also have some partnerships in the San Joaquin Valley which we could also turn to," said Bob Muir, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District.

Officials say the water content in the snowpack is just 12 percent of normal. We would need heavy rain and snowfall every other day from now until May just to get back to average precipitation levels. State officials are urging everyone to conserve water.

"It's not about picking between fish and farms, or people and the environment. It is about making really hard decisions on a real-time basis where we may have to accept some impact now to avoid much greater impact later," said Chuck Bonham, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Officials say there could be legal fights in the next few months over water.


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