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 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.
Energy Commission Approves Water Appliance Standards to Save More Than 100 Billion Gallons Per Year
April 8, 2015 - The California Energy Commission approved standards for water appliances which will save more than 10 billion gallons of water in the first year. The energy efficiency and water standards approved today require water appliances to consume less water thereby using less energy while performing the same function.
Urban Water Conservation Plummets In February
April 7, 2015 – With April snow measured at its lowest level on record, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced that Californians in cities and towns reduced their water consumption by just 2.8 percent in February. This dismal conservation rate is the lowest monthly figure since the State Water Board began tracking the data in July 2014. Today’s announcement comes just days after the State Water Board delivered a second notice to water rights holders – including those with senior water rights – of coming curtailments of their surface water supplies.
State Water Board Warns That Water Right Curtailments Are Coming Soon
April 3, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of drought with a record-low snowpack, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is warning that water right holders, including some senior right holders, are likely to be curtailed soon within key watersheds in the state. The warning, to holders of more than 36,000 water rights across the state, is designed to give water right holders advance notice to help them make difficult spring planting decisions. The availability of water is a key factor in those planting decisions. The warning is the second one this year; the first was issued in January.
Caltrans Continues Pursuing 50 Percent Water Reduction, Backs Irrigation Limits
April 2, 2015 - Caltrans today announced that the California Transportation Commission has allocated emergency funding to continue installing smart sprinklers on state property, technology that automatically adjusts to weather conditions, soil moisture or broken pipes, and has already helped cut water use 50 percent where installed.
Governor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions
April 1, 2015 - Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.
Governor Brown Signs $1 Billion Emergency Drought Package
March 27, 2015 - Moving swiftly to help communities cope with California’s devastating drought and the ongoing effects of climate change, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed emergency legislation – AB 91 and AB 92 – that fast-tracks more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects.
Governor Brown, Legislative Leaders Announce $1 Billion Emergency Drought Package
March 19, 2015 - Mobilizing state resources to face another year of extreme dry conditions, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce legislation to help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought. The $1 billion package will expedite bond funding to make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.
State Water Board Expands and Extends Emergency Water Conservation Regulations
March 17, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted an expanded emergency regulation to safeguard the state’s remaining water supplies. The expanded emergency regulation captures some of these opportunities while continuing to give urban water suppliers flexibility to take actions that reflect their local conditions as long as they meet the minimum requirements. The State Water Board strongly encourages water suppliers to do much more than the minimum required by the regulation.
CSD Provides $1.2 Million in Water Utility Assistance to Low-Income, Drought Impacted Households
March 12, 2015 - The California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) today announced an additional $600,000 available for the Drought Water Assistance Program Pilot Project. This brings the total funding for this emergency assistance program to $1.2 million to assist drought impacted, low-income households with residential water utility bills.
State Water Board Revises Order for State and Federal Water Project Operations During Drought
March 6, 2015 - State Water Resources Control Board Executive Director Tom Howard today made several changes to the Temporary Urgency Change Order, first issued on February 3, covering the operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) in light of the continuing, severe drought. A January 23 Temporary Urgency Change Petition (Petition) from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) asked for several changes in their water right permit and license terms to cope with continuing drought conditions. The Executive Director issued a change order on February 3 granting most of the requests. The February 3 order granted flexibility in the operation of the Delta Cross Channel Gates to combat salinity intrusion, reduced Delta outflow requirements to preserve water in storage for use later in the year, and allowed for a base level of exports to meet water supply needs while protecting fish and wildlife uses. Today’s revised order provides the CVP and SWP further flexibility to store and move water, especially in response to health and safety needs.
Urban Water Conservation Drops From 22 Percent to Near 9 Percent in January
March 3, 2015 - As California enters a fourth year of drought, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced a steep decline in water conservation during the month of January, considered the driest January since meteorological records have been kept. Additionally, per capita water use inched up in January as compared to December 2014. In the most recent statewide survey of nearly 400 urban water retailers, the amount of water conserved by the state’s large water agency customers declined from 22 percent in December 2014 to approximately 8.8 percent in January in year-over-year water use comparisons. January followed a very wet December 2014, which reduced the need for outdoor water use and likely contributed to the high conservation rate in December.
Nature’s Mountain Snowpack "Reservoir" Still Lacking; Third Manual Survey Confirms Shrinking Water Content
March 3, 2015 - The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which Californians rely on heavily during the dry summer months for their water needs, continues to disappoint this winter. Despite the snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Range over the weekend that gladdened ski and snowboard enthusiasts, it was not enough to offset weeks with no snow at all. Today’s manual survey by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the Phillips snow course in the mountains 90 miles east of Sacramento found 0.9 inches of water content in the snow, just 5 percent of the March 3 historical average for that site. Electronic readings by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today indicate the water content of the northern Sierra snowpack is 4.4 inches, 16 percent of average for the date. The central and southern Sierra readings were 5.5 inches (20 percent of average) and 5 inches (22 percent) respectively.
DWR State Water Project Deliveries Increased Slightly
March 2, 2015 - Few storms have graced California so far this winter, but those that did – in mid-December and early February – will allow the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to increase water deliveries to most customers of the State Water Project (SWP) by an additional 204,000 acre-feet (AF).
State Water Board Orders More Information from Diverters Claiming Senior Delta Water Rights
February 4, 2015 - Persons claiming senior water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed will be required to provide the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) detailed information on the water rights they claim and diversions associated with those rights under a new order issued by the State Water Board. The order comes after the State Water Board received information that some riparian and pre-1914 water right holders may be illegally diverting stored water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds and the Delta.
State Urban Water Users Exceed 20 Percent Conservation Goal For December
February 3, 2015 - While much of California has so far endured an exceptionally dry 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that the statewide urban water conservation rate climbed to 22 percent in December, aided by a very wet end of 2014. Additionally, total water use by individual Californians continued to decline in December, another positive development as the state is threatened by a fourth consecutive dry year. Encouraged by the newest data, State Water Board officials called on Californians to continue conserving as the drought persists.
State Water Board Addresses State and Federal Water Projects Petition to Conserve Water During Drought Conditions
February 3, 2015 - Facing the likelihood of a fourth consecutive drought year, the State Water Resources Control Board announced two actions today that will allow the state and federal water projects to conserve water supplies in upstream reservoirs and more effectively operate their facilities in response to ongoing dry conditions. The actions, in response to a petition by the Department of Water Resources and the federal Bureau of Reclamation, balance public health, water supply and environmental needs and allow the projects to better prepare for extreme drought conditions should they persist into 2015. The actions are similar to those taken last January in anticipation of statewide drought conditions.
Water Board: Staff Report on Ways to Improve State’s Oversight of Water Right Systems During Drought Cycles Released for Public Review
January 30, 2015 - The State Water Resources Control Board today released a review of its implementation of the water rights system during 2014, part of an effort to improve the process as the state faces the likelihood of a fourth consecutive drought year. The staff review, developed from public input, focuses on ways to improve the state’s water right system and the data it relies upon to administer and enforce it during drought years, when demand by water right holders exceeds the available supply.
DWR Plans for Possible Need of Delta Salinity Control Barriers
January 26, 2015 - It may be necessary to install emergency salinity control barriers across three channels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta if the weather stays exceedingly dry through spring. In order to prepare for worst-case drought conditions, and after an extensive environmental analysis and more than nine months of discussion with Delta residents and local water district managers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow for the temporary installation of rock barriers at intervals over the next 10 years when saltwater threatens deep intrusion into the Delta.
CDFA Awards $5.8 Million To Assist Farmers In Second Phase Of State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program
January 21, 2015 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.
DWR Increases 2015 Allocation to Water Contractors
January 15, 2015 - December storm runoff and close coordination among federal and state agencies to take advantage of it will allow the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to increase expected water deliveries in 2015 to most customers of the State Water Project (SWP) from 10 percent of their requested amounts to 15 percent. The new allocation replaces the initial allocation of 10 percent announced on December 1.
California Arts Council: California Students Invited to Participate in Water Conservation Creativity Poster Contest
January 7, 2015 - The California Arts Council invites California students to participate in the Conservation Creativity Challenge Poster Contest. This contest supports State Drought Task Force efforts and Governor Brown's goal of awakening all Californians - including young people - to the ongoing need for water conservation in our state. The contest aims to educate students about the serious matter of California's drought, and to help raise awareness of everyday water conservation practices through the arts and creativity. This is the first time the California Arts Council and Department of Water Resources have partnered on an initiative.
Save Our Water Launches New Website, Offers Californians Tools and Tips to Reduce Their Water Use
January 7, 2015 - With the state still gripped by serious drought, Save Our Water has launched an all-new website at www.SaveOurWater.com to help Californians make lasting and permanent reductions in the amount of water they use every day. Californians made strides in 2014 to save water in the face of one of the worst droughts in generations. From the thousands of individuals who shared their conservation tips and ideas to celebrities including Lady Gaga and Conan O’Brien, Californians of all stripes joined the effort to save water last year.
State Water Board Reports Improvement in Urban Water Conservation Rates for November
January 6, 2015 - Against the backdrop of early season rainfall that has delivered only a third of what would be needed to end the prolonged drought, statewide residential water conservation in November climbed to a 9.8 percent reduction in year-over-year water use. This change was an improvement from the October data, which indicated conservation efforts were slipping, compared to previous months. In the most recent survey of nearly 400 urban water retailers, while the amount of water conserved by residential and commercial customers statewide continues to hover at around 10 percent, many of the State’s hydrologic regions are seeing marked increases in conservation efforts.
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 - May 18
- California Drought Assistance Programs
- 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
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