Drought Restrictions Ending Across Bay Area

First came a dozen soaking atmospheric river storms. Then a huge Sierra Nevada snowpack, which on Monday was 248% of normal. Now comes drought relief.

Water agencies across the Bay Area are moving to roll back mandatory drought rules and surcharges as reservoirs have filled this winter and drought conditions have washed away.

Monthly Reservoir Report for February 2

The New Year’s Atmospheric River storms of 2023 have abated and catchments across the State are draining as exemplified by continuing baseflows through their hydrograph recession limbs.  River flows are still elevated, but releases have been incrementally curtailed and stage levels continue to drop.

Despite early positive signs, however, the reality of what this storm (or series of storms) brought in terms of drought relief is made eminently clear by reviewing various data sources.

California Urban Water Use Rose 19% in March Despite Worsening Drought

Despite official calls to increase conservation amid worsening drought, urban water use across California increased by nearly 19% in March, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

The startling conservation figure was among a number of grim assessments water officials offered reporters Tuesday in a California drought outlook. Others included critically low reservoir levels and major shifts in the water cycle due to climate change.

Wet Weather to Provide Drought Relief Across West

AccuWeather forecasters say the stormy parade of the northwestern United States is starting up again this week as storms are expected to sweep through the region one by one. This can provide drought relief for the Northwest as rain and snow will fall.

“The Gulf of Alaska will become the jumping-off point for numerous Pacific storms that will impact the northwestern United States with rounds of rain, wind and mountain snow throughout this week and right through next weekend and into early May,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Michael LeSeney.

Feds Put Another $5 Million Toward Klamath Basin Drought Relief

The federal Bureau of Reclamation has pledged another $5 million toward drought relief in the Klamath Basin as farmers and other stakeholders in the region continue to grapple with a major shortage of water.

Reclamation previously awarded $15 million toward the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, and the additional $5 million will join those funds. KPDRA is tasked with distributing the fund to irrigators in Oregon and California who are without an external water supply due to the drought. Reclamation said that the initial funds will be distributed on a per-acre basis later this year.

Arizona’s Current Historic Drought May Be ‘Baseline for the Future’

Arizona and other Western states just lived through the driest year in more than a century, with no drought relief in sight in the near future, experts told a House panel Tuesday.

The period from last April to this March was the driest in the last 126 years for Arizona and other Western states, witnesses said. It caps a two-decade stretch that was the driest in more than 100 years that records have been kept – and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years based on paleohydrology evidence, one official said.

California Senate Proposes to Spend $3.4 Billion on Drought

Mired in yet another drought that threatens drinking water, endangered species of fish and the state’s massive agriculture industry, Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday detailed a $3.4 billion proposal designed to gird the state for a new crisis on the heels of a deadly and disruptive pandemic.

The proposal would equal all of the state’s combined spending during the previous drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. That drought occurred after the Great Recession, when California routinely battled multibillion-dollar budget deficits and struggled to pay for state services.

PUD Providing Water To Farmers For Drought Relief

The Skagit Public Utility District is making water available to Skagit County farmers through the end of the month for emergency drought relief. PUD commissioners voted Aug. 8 to transfer some of its water rights to irrigation districts 15 and 22 in southwest Skagit County, allowing the districts to pump water from the Skagit River for crop irrigation. The state Department of Ecology approved the transfer Aug. 9. Jason Vander Kooy, a dairy farmer in district 15, said Wednesday the water will help about 10 farmers over 1,000 acres wrap up late-season irrigation.