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California drought action

California drought action

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Tracking conditions

See current conditions

A ridge in the Sierra Nevada mountains with no snow coverage. Photo from April 2022 snow survey.

Do we have enough water stored?

In drier seasons, we rely on other sources of water. These include reservoirs and melted snowpack. But we are now facing a historic level of dryness that has gone on for 3 years. And it’s only getting worse: 2022 had the driest January, February, and March in over 100 years.

Major reservoir levels

Reservoirs get us through the dry months

71%
of average levels

A chart that shows total major reservoir levels.
Total capacityAverage level historicallyCurrent level
75,534 thousands of acre feet (TAF)56,526 thousands of acre feet (TAF)40,409 thousands of acre feet (TAF)

Statewide snowpack levels

Snow melt feeds our reservoirs & rivers

5% of average peak snowpack

A chart of current snowpack level compared to the historic April 1 peak.
Average peak snow water equivalent
from 1991–2020
Current snow water equivalent
25.3 inches1.3 inches

Preparing for a new, drier normal

Weather extremes brought on by climate change have reduced our water supply. We are in a third year of drought and need to use less water.

Drought map

This map shows rain and temperature effects on moisture on a 12 month Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI)

This map of California illustrates severe drought conditions across the state.

Helping people now

California’s long drought threatens many people’s access to clean, safe drinking water.

353,000 Californians received state help for drinking water problems in 2021

$92 million distributed to California communities (in 26 counties) for drought-related projects

The state is working to give access to clean water for all.

Find drought assistance

Drought help spotlight

Emergency water delivery

Jorge Aguilar of Self Help Enterprises delivering water in Visalia, CA.
Jorge Aguilar of Self Help Enterprises delivering water in Visalia, CA. Photo credit: Edward Ortiz. March 2022.

When the wells of rural communities go dry or get contaminated, the state has water delivered to them. Here is Jose Aguilar of Self Help Enterprises bringing water to a community in the Central Valley. The State Water Board funds this project, providing water Californians need to survive in areas most stricken by drought.

What the state is doing

Here’s how California government is taking action:

  • Giving agencies the tools they need to tackle the drought emergency
  • Addressing long-standing water challenges
  • Securing vital and limited water supplies to sustain our state into the future

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How you can help

Use less water

It is critical that Californians work together to save our water. That’s why we developed the Save Our Water campaign. More clean water makes the world a better place for our children and future generations.

Visit Save our Water

Do your part

The Governor asks that Californians cut their water use by 15% from 2020 levels. We’re not yet meeting that goal.

3.7% of 15% goal

Reduction in use from 2020

Person sweeping alt.

Around the yard

Learn some simple habits to reduce water use outside your home.

Person sweeping alt.

Tips to prepare your yard for the summer

Find the steps you can take in spring to help maintain a beautiful, water-wise yard all year long.

State actions against drought

Governor Gavin Newsom called on local water suppliers to move to Level 2 of their contingency plans. This would help conserve water across all sectors. He also asked that a ban be considered on watering decorative lawns at businesses and institutions.

The State Water Board adopted new regulations to prohibit water waste in response to the ongoing drought emergency. They went into effect January 18, 2022.

Governor Gavin Newsom extended the drought emergency statewide. He further urged Californians to step up their water conservation efforts as the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought.

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