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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

Summary of current level

97%
of average levels

Total capacity

38.12 millions of acre feet (MAF)

Average level historically

22.80 millions of acre feet (MAF)

Current level

22.10 millions of acre feet (MAF)

Statewide snowpack levels

Snow melt feeds our reservoirs & rivers

Summary of current level

129% of average peak snowpack

Average peak snow water equivalent
from 1991–2020

25.3 inches

Current snow water equivalent

33.8 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 Jorge 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. The State Water Board releases monthly conservation reports.

14.2%

November 2022 reduction in use relative to November 2020

Person sweeping alt.

Around the yard

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

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Use mulch to save water

Landscape with mulch! It’s low maintenance, keeps your plants healthy and helps save water by retaining moisture in the soil.

State actions against drought

California is taking urgent action to protect communities from climate-driven extremes in weather and expand the state’s capacity to capture storm runoff in wet years. Strategies to boost water supplies include groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, reservoir storage and more.

As drought conditions continue throughout the state, the State Water Resources Control Board readopted an emergency regulation that bolsters California’s conservation efforts by prohibiting wasteful water practices like watering lawns when it rains. The regulation now extends to January 2024 and it applies to all water users.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted new performance standards for urban retail water suppliers that it estimates will save about 88,000 acre-feet of water per year, or enough to supply over 260,000 households, by requiring suppliers to monitor and reduce leakage in their distribution systems.

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