With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. The state has continued to lead the way to make sure California is able to cope with an unprecedented drought.
Top Story: State Reduces Water Use by Nearly 29 Percent in Advance of June Conservation Mandates
July 1, 2015 - As the State continues to experience near-record and record hot conditions, increasing the severity of the drought’s effects on communities, agriculture and the environment, California’s urban water suppliers reported the highest level of conservation achieved to date for the month of May.
Fire Officials Urge Extreme Caution As Fireworks Go On Sale
June 30, 2015 - With the Independence Day holiday rapidly approaching, CAL FIRE is reminding all Californians and visitors to do their part to prevent fires caused by illegal fireworks or the misuse of “Safe and Sane” fireworks. On Sunday, June 28 “Safe and Sane” Fireworks went on sale in approximately 300 communities throughout California. Although fireworks are a symbolic display of patriotism during this time of celebration, they can be dangerous when handled incorrectly or used in the wrong environment.
Save Our Water Launches Summer Public Education Campaign
June 30, 2015 - With California in the grip of the worst drought in a generation, Save Our Water – California’s official statewide conservation education program – is launching a new public education campaign urging Californians to step up and make even more cuts in their water use. The campaign comes at the start of a hot, dry summer and potentially dangerous fire season. Save Our Water’s campaign urges Californians to “Let It Go” by limiting outdoor water use and letting lawns fade to gold for the summer, while preserving precious water resources for trees and other important landscapes.
State Water Board Extended Curtailments on the Merced River
June 26, 2015 - With drought conditions continuing into the summer months, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) extended curtailments on the Merced River for senior water rights dating back to 1858; and all pre-1914 and post-1914 appropriative rights on the Upper San Joaquin River.
Drought Prompts Fish Evacuation at American River and Nimbus Hatcheries
June 25, 2015 - With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and the Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.
Emergency Regulation to Protect Coho Salmon and Steelhead Approved on Russian River Tributaries
June 17, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today approved an emergency regulation to provide a small amount of additional water in four tributaries of the Russian River to protect threatened fish. The regulation affects about 13,000 properties in the watersheds of Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek and Mill Creek. Water users in those watersheds will be subject to enhanced conservation measures and water use reporting.
Drought Conditions Force Difficult Management Decisions For Sacramento River Temperatures
June 16, 2015 - State and federal officials today announced the outlines of a revised plan for managing water flows in the Sacramento River for cities and farms while keeping enough cold water in Shasta Reservoir to avoid high temperatures in the river that could be catastrophic for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan, which is required annually, guides the release of water from Shasta Reservoir to maintain healthy fisheries during the summer and fall, when water temperatures rise. In this fourth year of extended drought, with low reservoir storage levels and higher-than-normal predicted summer temperatures, the plan seeks to prevent another catastrophic loss of this year’s class of juvenile salmon. Federal and state fish agencies believe such a loss would have devastating impacts to the long-term viability of this important species of native salmon.
Senior Water Rights Curtailed in Delta, San Joaquin & Sacramento Watersheds
June 12, 2015 - With drought conditions continuing into the summer months, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that there is insufficient water available for senior water right holders with a priority date of 1903 or later in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and the Delta. The need for further curtailment of more senior rights and curtailments in other watersheds is being assessed weekly.
Revised Ordinance Would Cut Water Use by at Least 30 Percent on New Landscapes for Homes and Businesses
June 12, 2015 - New California yards and commercial landscaping would use far less water under the rules of a model landscape ordinance updated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the direction of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Governor Brown Issues Statement on Federal Drought Aid
June 12, 2015 - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a following statement today after President Barack Obama announced new actions and investments to support workers, farmers and rural communities suffering from drought and to combat wildfires, including $18 million for the State of California to provide jobs for workers dislocated by the drought.
Urban Water Conservation Improves in April Ahead of June 25 Percent Conservation Mandate
June 2, 2015 - With a mandatory average conservation rate of 25 percent beginning this month for all state residents, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced that Californians in cities and towns increased their water conservation to 13.5 percent in April. 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.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development Announces Emergency Adoption of Building Codes to Conserve Water
June 1, 2015 - In view of the urgency to conserve California’s water resources, as deemed essential by Governor Brown’s Executive Order, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is establishing new building standards through an emergency adoption process. These regulations are set forth in the California Green Building Standards (CALGreen) Code and will ensure that newly constructed residential buildings, permitted on or after June 1, 2015, include water-efficient landscaping.
California Building Standards Commission Approves New Water Efficiency Requirements for Nonresidential Construction
June 1, 2015 - In response to the current drought state of emergency declared by Governor Brown, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) today approved new water efficiency requirements for nonresidential construction.
California Building Standards Commission Approves New Water Efficiency Requirements for School Construction
June 1, 2015 - In response to the current drought state of emergency declared by Governor Brown, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) today approved new water efficiency requirements for public school construction.
Emergency Drought Standards For Hospitals Adopted
June 1, 2015 - In response to California’s ongoing drought conditions, the California Building Standards Commission voted Friday to adopt emergency regulations that limit potable water use for outdoor irrigation at California hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, making them more water efficient. The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), in coordination with the California Building Standards Commission, Department of Water Resources, Department of Housing and Community Development, Division of the State Architect, and other stakeholders, submitted this proposal to the commission. These new emergency regulations amend the 2013 California Green Building Standards Code, also known as "CALGreen."
Emergency Drought Barrier Nears Completion
May 29, 2015 - Construction of a temporary emergency drought barrier at West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is nearing completion about two weeks sooner than anticipated, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR). The barrier now spans the approximately 750-foot-wide river between Jersey and Bradford islands and blocks salt water that tidal action attempts to push eastward from San Francisco Bay into Franks Tract.
State Water Board DROPS Program Awards $30 Million to Schools to Promote Stormwater Capture
May 29, 2015 - Today the State Water Resources Control Board announced 30 school districts and institutions throughout California will receive more than $30 million in funds to educate students and create on-campus projects relating to stormwater capture and water conservation.
Drought Impacts, Public Perceptions To Be Discussed At Upcoming California State Board Of Food And Agriculture Meeting
May 28, 2015 - The complexity of drought impacts and a wide range of public perceptions will be discussed at the next California State Board of Food and Agriculture meeting on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 ‘N’ Street – Main Auditorium, Sacramento, CA 95814.
DWR Endorses NOAA’s Recognition of Need To Improve Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting
May 26, 2015 - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today welcomed NOAA’s recognition of the need to support DWR and other agencies with improved seasonal predictions of precipitation to facilitate water management during California’s four-year drought. Governor Brown’s January 2014 proclamation of a drought emergency specifically directed DWR to improve seasonal climate forecasting and drought prediction. The recently-completed NOAA California Drought Service Assessment contains more than three dozen findings and recommendations that NOAA said may lead to improved and more tailored data products and tools, such as weather forecasts and climate models.
State Water Board Approves Voluntary Cutback Program for Delta Riparian Water Rights
May 22, 2105 - Today the State Water Resources Control Board approved a proposal from riparian water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to voluntarily cut back water use in exchange for assurances they would not face further riparian curtailment during the June-September growing season.
Surviving the Drought: Irrigation Workshops Will Help Landscape Professionals Use Water Efficiently Amid New Restrictions
May 21, 2015 - Mandatory new restrictions on water use are being implemented throughout California as the state begins its fourth consecutive summer of drought. To help professional landscapers improve water use efficiency, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis will hold three workshops over the next few weeks.
State Water Board Approves $19 Million for Interim Emergency Drinking Water and Drought-Related Projects
May 19, 2015 - Today the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) approved guidelines for $19 million in funding to help public agencies, community water systems, not-for-profit organizations and tribal governments meet emergency drinking water needs.
Energy Commission Funds Energy and Water Saving Research
May 13, 2015 - The California Energy Commission today approved more than $16 million in grants to demonstrate water and energy saving technologies that promise to make the water, industrial, and agricultural sectors more efficient. The Energy Commission approved five Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grants which lay a foundation for the Water Energy Technology (WET) program—one of the four Energy Commission responsibilities in Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s April 1 drought-related Executive Order.
CDFW to Host Public Meetings to Initiate Partnership with Sonoma County Landowners
May 11, 2015 - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites Sonoma County residents to two upcoming public meetings to discuss the impacts of the drought on endangered coho salmon and other aquatic life. CDFW is urging landowners to commit to voluntary water conservation measures in critical watersheds as a necessary means to save the fish.
Construction Begins on Emergency Drought Barrier in Delta
May 8, 2015 - The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has begun construction on a temporary emergency drought barrier on West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta after receipt of all necessary state and federal permits for the project. The barrier will help block saltwater from flowing into the central Delta and contaminating water supplies for millions of Californians during a fourth consecutive summer of drought.
CPUC Orders Water Companies To Implement 25 Percent Conservation Measures In Response To Drought
May 7, 2015 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today ordered the water companies under its jurisdiction to comply with emergency water use regulations adopted by the state Water Resources Control Board on May 5, 2015, as the state works to safeguard California’s remaining potable urban water supplies in preparation for a possible fifth year of drought. The CPUC oversees 113 investor-owned water utilities that provide water service to approximately 16 percent of California’s residents. The CPUC today ordered these companies to comply with the state Water Resources Control Board’s adopted measures, which were in response to Governor Brown’s April 1, 2015, Executive Order mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use statewide for all urban water users compared with 2013 usage.
State Water Board Addresses Environmental Concerns In New Desalination Facility Standards
May 6, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today approved an amendment to the state’s Water Quality Control Plan for the Ocean Waters of California (Ocean Plan) to address effects associated with the construction and operation of seawater desalination facilities.
State Water Board Adopts 25 Percent Mandatory Water Conservation Regulation
May 5, 2105 - With emergency drought conditions persisting throughout California, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use statewide in accordance with Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 Executive Order. The action follows the release of water production figures for the month of March which registered only a slight increase from the amount of water saved in the prior month. The amount of water conserved in March 2015, as compared to March 2013 was 3.6 percent, up less than one percent from February’s results.
State Water Board Curtails Sacramento River, Delta Junior Water Rights
May 1, 2015 - With California’s extreme drought resulting in insufficient water to serve all water-right holders, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that junior water-right holders in the Sacramento River watershed and Delta are receiving curtailment notices. The notices advise the recipients to stop diversions of water and allow it to flow to more senior water-right holders, as required by state law.
CSLB’s Compton Sting Shows Phony Landscapers Sprout in Drought
April 30, 2015 – As the California drought grows more severe, more homeowners are looking to replace their grass lawns with water-efficient landscaping or synthetic turf. However, a sting operation conducted by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) this week in Compton confirmed how unlicensed contractors are looking to cash in on the trend toward less-thirsty yards.
Governor Brown To Help Cities Bolster Water Waste Enforcement, Streamline Environmental Review Of Water Projects
April 28, 2015 - Governor Brown, meeting with mayors from across the state, today announced he will propose legislation to help local officials better enforce conservation requirements and will direct state agencies to streamline environmental review of local water supply projects.
Sacramento River Fishing Closure Into Effect Monday
April 27, 2015 – The recommendation by the state Fish and Game Commission to close more than five miles of the Sacramento River to fishing was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on Friday April 24. An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River went into effect April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.
State Water Board Approves Petition to Allow Water Transfers South of the Delta
April 27, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board’s Deputy Director for Water Rights today approved a request from the state’s two major water projects to allow more efficient transfers of water south of the Delta to address critical supply needs.The approval, similar to those granted in previous years, is supportive of the Governor’s direction to take actions to expedite transfers. It allows easier water transfers among contractors of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, making sure water gets to the users who need it most during the extreme drought now in its fourth year.
Curtailment Notices Sent to Junior Water Right Holders in San Joaquin Watershed
April 23, 2015 - With California’s extreme drought resulting in insufficient water to serve all water-right holders, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that junior water-right holders in the San Joaquin River watershed and on the Scott River are receiving curtailment notices. The notices advise the recipients to stop diverting water from the watersheds and allow it to flow to more senior water-right holders, as required by state law. Approximately 2,981 junior water-rights in the San Joaquin River watershed held by 1,474 individuals and entities will receive curtailment notices. The Scott River curtailment notice includes 162 water-rights held by 137 individuals and entities.
Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River
April 17, 2015 - Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17. An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.
Drought Triggers Need for Installation of Emergency Salinity Barrier on Delta Channel
April 15, 2015 - Faced with potentially insufficient water supplies to repel salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), in consultation with federal and state water and wildlife agencies, is moving to install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta channel. DWR seeks to install a single emergency salinity barrier across West False River in May, to be removed six months later in November.
CPUC Orders Water Companies to Notify Customers of Drought Restrictions
April 9, 2015 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today ordered the water companies under its jurisdiction to notify customers of emergency regulations that were put into place by the State Water Resources Control Board on March 17, 2015, in order to preserve sufficient potable water and ensure safe drinking water for Californians. In a drought as severe as California is experiencing, prohibitions on the use of potable water for external irrigation is a key step in water conservation.
Governor Brown has convened an interagency Drought Task Force to provide a coordinated assessment of the State’s dry conditions and provide recommendations on current and future state actions. The response to this statewide disaster requires the combined efforts of all state agencies and the state's model mutual aid system to address.
In support of this unified effort, all state agencies with a role in supporting drought mitigation and relief efforts are organized under the Incident Command System and will continue provide emergency planning, response, and mitigation support as long as needs exist. Similar task forces have been assembled in the droughts of the 2000's, 1990's,
1980's and 1970's.
What You Can Do
- Weekly Drought Brief - July 2
- California Drought Assistance Programs
- Drought Assistance Brochure
- Federal Funding Programs for Drought - May 2015
- State Funding Programs for Drought - May 2015
- Summary of Water Management Actions
- Dept. of Water Resources
- Dept. of Water Resources Publications
- Dept. of Food & Ag Drought Portal
- Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
- Dept. of General Services
- Dept. of Public Health
- Office of Emergency Services
- State Water Resources Control Board
- Office of Planning and Research
- CPUC Drought Information
Drought News Archive
Weekly Drought Brief Archive
Drought Partner Links
- Find Your Local Water Agency
- California Weather Data
- California Reservoir Conditions
- Daily Reservoir Storage Summary
- Central Valley Project Water Supply Information
- U.S. Drought Portal
- USGS Drought Information
- USFS 2015 Fire Season Outlook
- U.S. Navy Region Southwest Conservation Actions
- California Urban Water Conservation Council