State Impacts

This tool sorts and displays impacts by state from the Drought Impact Reporter through 2022. Users can filter impacts by U.S. Drought Monitor status, season, weeks in drought, industry and date range. The Drought Impact Reporter records impacts that have been documented in news media. This may provide insight on what to expect when a state is experiencing a certain level of drought.

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Start Date Seasons Weeks in Drought Historically observed impacts Impact Description
2021-03-22spring0Notices sent to California water usersThe State Water Board sent notices to California’s 40,000 water users, including small farms and big cities, to alert them to prepare for cuts in water deliveries. This is the first step before ordering an end to water draws. San Francisco Chronicle (Calif.), March 23, 2021
2021-02-23winter0Allocations updated for California's Central Valley ProjectThe U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced on May 26 that municipal water agencies that get water from the Central Valley Project would receive just 25% of their allocation, down from the previous estimate of 55%, to a low not seen since drought in 2015. Reclamation also announced that most farm-irrigation districts belonging to the Central Valley Project would get no water in 2021, despite the previous estimate of 5%. San Luis Obispo Tribune (Calif.), May 26, 2021 Farmers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta learned that they will not receive even 5% of contracted water from the Central Valley Project. Water deliveries were suspended, due to limited supply, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. The San Joaquin Valley Sun (Fresno, Calif.), May 5, 2021 Water deliveries will be delayed for most customers of the Central Valley Project, and no date was given for when the water would be released. Many of the project's customers are agricultural. San Francisco Chronicle (Calif.), March 23, 2021 The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial allocation of 5% for the Central Valley Project. The figure will be updated if more rain and snow fall to improve the allocation. The CVP serves farm irrigation districts in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Feb. 23, 2021
2020-12-01winter0Updated water allocation of 5% for California's State Water ProjectThe California Department of Water Resources updated its initial water allocation for the 2021 water year to 5% of requested supplies, down from 10% as announced in December 2020. The allocation will be finalized by May. The State Water Project serves more than 27 million people and provides irrigation for about 750,000 acres of farmland, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. YubaNet (Calif.), March 23, 2021 The California Department of Water Resources announced the initial water allocation of 10 percent for the State Water Project. While the initial allocation was low, the allocation last year was also 10 percent, but was increased to 20 percent in May 2020. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), Dec. 1 2020
2020-08-18summer0Hundreds of wildfires burning in CaliforniaAmid a historic fire season, California has had more acres burn in 2020 than in most other years and the active fall fire season is yet to come. As 7,002 fires charred the landscape, more than 1.4 million acres have burned, compared to 2019 when 4,292 fires consumed 56,000 acres by this time. The Golden State’s second and third largest fires ever were currently burning. The LNU Lightning Complex near Vacaville was the second largest fire at 350,030 acres and was 22 percent contained. The third largest, the SCU Lightning Complex in the South and East Bay, were 10 percent contained at 347,196 acres. Statewide, 625 individual fires were burning. The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.), Aug 25, 2020 California wildfires have burned more than 1.2 million acres, or 1,875 square miles, through Aug. 24, according to Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with Cal Fire. The state endured more than 13,000 lightning strikes, igniting more than 600 wildfires since Aug. 15. ABC News (New York), Aug. 24, 2020 More than 360 wildfires were burning across California as the parched state entered its second week of a heatwave, with many of those blazes moving through areas of brushland, rural spaces, canyons and dense forest to the north, east and south of San Francisco. At least three people lost their lives. More than 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes as fires charred roughly 780 square miles. On Aug. 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the Golden State to make available resources for fighting the wave of fires, many of them sparked by lightning. Most of California was abnormally dry or in drought. Las Vegas Sun (Nev.), Aug. 21, 2020
2020-02-28winter0Rare February brush fire south of San Francisco, CaliforniaAn exceedingly rare six-acre brush fire burned at San Bruno State and County Park to the south of San Francisco. “That we’re seeing *any* wildfire activity in northern California is extremely unusual — let alone this kind of very active fire behavior currently occurring <10 miles from downtown San Francisco,” according to a tweet by Daniel Swain, climatologist with UCLA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Nature Conservancy. Northern California just endured its driest February in recorded history. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Feb. 28, 2020
2020-02-27winter0Supplemental feed needed for cattle in Northern CaliforniaNorthern California ranchers with unirrigated pastures were already giving their cattle supplemental feed as grasses have dried out months earlier than usual. Supplemental feeding does not typically begin until April or May. San Francisco Chronicle ( (Calif.), Feb. 27, 2020
2020-02-25winter0Early water allocations for California's Central Valley ProjectCentral Valley Project settlement and exchange contractors will get 75 percent of their allocation. Agricultural contractors will get 15 percent of supplies south of the delta, and 50 percent north of the delta. Friant Division contractors will receive 55 percent of Class 1 water. Ag Alert (Sacramento, Calif.), May 13, 2020 The initial 2020 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project contractors was announced by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. North-of-Delta agriculture contractors will receive 50 percent of their contracted supply, while South-of-Delta agriculture contractors will receive 15 percent. Future allocation estimates may change, based on water supply fluctuations. Bureau of Reclamation (Washington, D.C.), Feb. 25, 2020
2020-02-21winter0Water delivery dates extended for customers of Turlock Irrigation District in CaliforniaThe Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors extended water delivery dates for farmers as precipitation was just 50 percent of average since the start of the water year in October. Farmers were eager to begin irrigating, but also hoped to receive water through the end of October, and favored an irrigation shutdown of three weeks in September or October in order to receive water until the end of October. Turlock Journal (Calif.), Feb. 21, 2020
2020-02-17winter0Limited grass growth in Napa County, CaliforniaAfter a relatively dry January and February, grass on hillsides in Napa County was a meager four to five inches tall, in comparison with being two to three feet in height one year ago. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), Feb. 17, 2020
2020-02-15winter0Poor grass growth, underweight cattle in San Benito County, CaliforniaWithout rain for more than a month, a San Benito County rancher reported slow grass growth, feed costs were rising and his cattle were underweight. KSBW-TV Salinas (Calif.), Feb. 15, 2020
2020-02-14winter0Growers inquiring about start of irrigation in Stanislaus County, CaliforniaTurlock Irrigation District customers were calling to ask when irrigation deliveries would begin, given the dry conditions. Turlock Journal (Calif.), Feb. 14, 2020
2020-02-09winter0More escaped debris fires in northern CaliforniaDry weather in California has caused numerous escaped debris burns in the northern part of the state, keeping Cal Fire busier than normal. KRCR-TV ABC 7 & KCVU-TV Fox 20 (Redding, Calif.), Feb. 12, 2020
2020-01-01winter0Extreme fire behavior in CaliforniaCalifornia's 2020 fire season was historic with 9,917 wildfires that charred 4,257,863 acres, per Cal Fire. USA Today (McLean, Va.), Feb. 3, 2021 More than 4 million acres have burned in California as the state continued to endure massive wildfires, mostly in the northern part of the state. The amount of land burned is more than twice the previous record area burned during a single year, which occurred in 2018 when blazes charred more than 1.67 million acres. The August Complex exceeded 1 million acres, another record. Many dead trees, upwards of 150 million, were killed during the state's recent five-year drought, and were fueling current wildfires. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), Oct. 6, 2020 Since the start of 2020, California has endured over 7,900 wildfires that consumed more than 3.6 million acres, according to Cal Fire data. Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.), Sept. 21, 2020 Drought and heat in California were leading to extreme fire behavior. Recently numerous fires have grown by tens of thousands of acres in a matter of hours, events that have become more common. The Creek Fire in Sierra National Forest near Yosemite National Park was one such fire that trapper hundreds of campers who had to be airlifted to safety. This far in 2020, California has seen a record 3,900 square miles torched by wildfires as it enters what is typically the height of the fire season. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), Sept. 10, 2020 A historically warm, dry February raised the likelihood of a difficult fire season in California. In Mendocino National Park in northern California, U.S. Forest Service crews were trying to extinguish a blaze burning through timber. State firefighters have battled 280 small fires, compared to just 85 by this time last year. In a rare February event, the U.S. Forest Service put out a fire at the 4,000 level where snow ought to cover the landscape at this time of year. KRON4 (San Francisco, Calif.), Feb. 26, 2020
2020-01-01winter0Less water affects Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northern CaliforniaThe Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is getting less water as it has for the past three years. Less water means less habitat for fewer migrating birds. There is less nesting and fewer bird species. Farmers are also leaving fields fallow for lack of water. Without work, laborers move away to find work. The local economy shrinks as there are fewer people to spend their hard-earned money. Mount Shasta News (Calif.), June 29, 2022
2019-12-30winter0State Water Project allocation estimate of 20 percent for California water agenciesAfter a dry winter, the State Water Project increased its allocation to 20 percent following above normal precipitation in May. The initial allocation in December 2019 was 10 percent, and the January estimate was increased to 15 percent. The most recent allocation will likely be final for 2020. East County Today (Antioch, Calif.), May 26, 2020 The State Water Project allocation for 2020 remained at 15 percent as of May 13. Ag Alert (Sacramento, Calif.), May 13, 2020 The California Department of Water Resource estimated a delivery allocation of 15 percent for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and other agencies which receive water from the State Water Project. The SWP typically provides closer to 30 percent of the needed water, but snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 70 percent of normal at the end of January. Highland Community News (Calif.), Feb. 13, 2020
2019-12-01winter0Drought cutting into tule elk populations in Point Reyes National Seashore in CaliforniaThe population of the largest tule elk herd in the Point Reyes National Seashore fell by about a third, due to overpopulation and malnutrition after two years of below normal rainfall. The Tomales Point herd dropped from 445 elk in the winter of 2019-2020 to 293 in the winter that just ended, according to the latest survey. The decline is the largest in the herd since the 2013-2015 drought, when 250 elk died under similar conditions, park officials said. Drought reduced the nutritional value of the forage grasses and plants that the elk consume, but drinking water was not lacking. Marin Independent Journal (Calif.), March 31, 2021
2019-06-03summer0Outdoor burn permits suspended in Riverside, San Bernardino counties in CaliforniaDue to the increasing fire danger, outdoor burn permits in Riverside and San Bernardino counties were suspended until further notice, beginning June 3. The hot, dry conditions expected in the near future and ample dry fuel necessitated the order. California fire crews have responded to more than 950 fires since the start of the year, according to Cal Fire officials. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), June 2, 2019
2018-11-09fall0California's Pacific Gas & Electric striving to keep trees, vegetation away from power linesPacific Gas & Electric has been striving to remove trees and vegetation from the vicinity of its power lines to reduce the fire danger, according to spokesperson Paul Moreno in an email to The Sacramento Bee in October. “In response to the increased risk of fire danger brought on by climate change and drought, we are doing more to ensure PG&E facilities are safe and reliable,” Moreno wrote. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov. 9, 2018
2018-11-08fall0Camp Fire in Butte County, California, deadliest in state's historyThe Camp Fire killed at least 85 people and incinerated 14,000 residences and 153,000 acres in Butte County before the blaze was fully contained on Nov. 25. The number of people still unaccounted for was 296. The Washington Post (D.C.), Nov. 26, 2018 The Camp Fire burned 203 square miles, destroyed 8,817 structures, including 7,600 single-family homes, and was responsible for 48 deaths, through the evening of Nov. 13. The blaze was 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. Des Moines Register (Iowa), Nov. 13, 2018 The Camp Fire became the deadliest fire in California's history, with the death toll at 42. Teams continued to search the burned area. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Nov. 12, 2018 Dry conditions in California following a wet year that produced abundant vegetation has primed the state for wildfires that are destroying thousands of homes and resulting in the deaths of at least 31 people. In Butte County in northern California, the Camp Fire, which began on Nov. 8, charred 111,000 acres, consumed more than 6,700 homes and businesses, killed at least 29 people and devastated the town of Paradise. The Camp Fire was 25 percent contained. ABC News Radio (New York), Nov. 12, 2018
2018-09-24fall0Drought-killed trees hazardous for California firefightersSevere drought killed many of the trees around the Sierra National Forest where firefighters were battling the Oak fire, which burned roughly 400 acres and was 45 percent contained on the morning of Sept. 24, stated Jaime Williams, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The dead trees made firefighting more dangerous, due to falling timber and branches. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Sept. 24, 2018
2018-09-09fall0Recreational target shooting prohibited in Eldorado National Forest in CaliforniaRecreational target shooting was prohibited in the Eldorado National Forest starting Sunday, Sept. 9, due to the extremely dry vegetation and elevated fire danger. YubaNet (Nevada City, Calif.), Sept. 7, 2018
2018-09-06fall0Tree mortality constituting continued local emergency in Placer County, CaliforniaPlacer County officials reaffirmed a local emergency as trees continued to die, due to drought stresses making them more susceptible to bark beetles. The county lost 709,000 trees in 2017, bringing the total loss to 1.5 million. Sierra Sun (Truckee, Calif.), Sept. 6, 2018
2018-07-13summer0Large wildfire consuming drought-stricken trees near Yosemite National Park in CaliforniaThe Ferguson fire charred 56,659 acres, took the lives of two firefighters and was 30 percent contained. Hagerstown Herald-Mail (Md.), July 30, 2018 The Ferguson fire burned more than 17,000 acres and was just 5 percent contained. Hagerstown Herald-Mail (Md.), July 18, 2018 A wildfire burning on the southwest edge of Yosemite National Park grew to 4,000 acres, prompting the closure of a major highway into the park and spurring evacuations of nearby communities. The blaze was 2 percent contained early on July 15. The fire was active in rugged steep terrain, studded with drought-stricken trees, which provided ample fuel. Hagerstown Herald-Mail (Md.), July 15, 2018
2018-07-01summer0One-fourth of California's annual fire budget up in smokeOne-fourth of California’s annual fire budget—at least $130 million—was spent in the first month of the budget year as numerous blazes broke out. Scott McLean of Cal Fire blamed the dry conditions, saying the state never really escaped drought status and needed several years of substantial rainfall to fully recover. Plentiful winter rains also promote vegetation growth, which becomes more fuel for wildfires. Orange County Register (Calif.), Aug. 1, 2018
2018-06-25summer0Burn permits suspended for 14 California countiesThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection suspended all burn permits in Lake and 13 other counties, effective June 25, as drought conditions increased the fire risk in the region. The 13 other counties included Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo and areas west of Interstate 5 in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. Property owners were also advised to create a defensible space of 100 feet around homes. Since the start of 2018, firefighters have responded to roughly 2,100 wildfires that charred more than 32,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. Lakeport Lake County Record-Bee (Calif.), June 23, 2018
2018-06-18summer0Burn permits suspended in Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties in CaliforniaThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection suspended all burn permits for outdoor residential burning in Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties, effective June 18 as warmer weather and winds continued to dry out the ample annual grass crop. “This year the abundant dead grass will only serve as a fuse to the heavier vegetation still suffering the lasting effects of over five years of drought,” according to Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. Since the start of 2018, firefighters have responded to 2,397 wildfires, according to Cal Fire. Sierra Sun Times (Mariposa, Calif.), June 18, 2018
2018-06-18summer0Burn permits suspended in Sonoma County, CaliforniaThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection suspended all burn permits in Sonoma County, effective June 18, due to the extremely high fire hazard conditions. “As conditions across California and Sonoma County are drying out, we must take every step to prevent wildfires from igniting,” said James Williams, Sonoma County Fire Marshal. Property owners were also advised to clear vegetation from around homes. Since the start of 2018, firefighters have responded to 2,700 wildfires, according to Cal Fire. Sonoma West Times & News (Calif.), June 22, 2018
2018-06-06summer0Burn permits suspended in Siskiyou County, CaliforniaThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection suspended all burn permits for Siskiyou County effective June 6 as warmer weather and winds continued to dry out grasses and brush in northern California. “This year the abundant dead grass will only serve as a fuse to the heavier vegetation still suffering the lasting effects of over five years of drought,” according to Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. Since the start of 2018, firefighters have responded to 1,677 wildfires, according to Cal Fire. KDRV-TV ABC 12 (Medford, Ore.), June 5, 2018
2018-02-22winter0Water supply allocation estimate for California's Central Valley ProjectThe Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial water supply allocation for many Central Valley Project contractors. No initial allocation was offered for contractors North-of-Delta, due to very low snowpack, poor runoff forecast and other factors. South-of-Delta Contractors • Agricultural water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated 20 percent of their contract total. • I water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated the greater of 70 percent of their historic use or public health and safety needs. Friant Division Contractors • Based upon Millerton Lake storage and current and forecasted hydrologic conditions in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin, the Friant Division contractors are allocated 30 percent of Class 1 supplies. • For the San Joaquin River Restoration Project, the current best forecast developed jointly by SJRRP and the South-Central California Area Office now indicates a “Critical-High” water year type. Eastside Water Service Contractors • Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) will receive 100 percent of their contract total. Bureau of Reclamation (Sacramento, Calif.), Feb. 22, 2018
2018-02-19winter0Yountville, California warned about low water supplyThe reservoir supplying Yountville was running low, prompting the State Water Resources Control Board to warn the town and the reservoir owner that they may face low water supplies come summer. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), Feb. 19, 2018
2018-02-13winter0Poor snowfall leaves ski resorts closed in CaliforniaRoyal Gorge, Tahoe Donner, TahoeXC and other Nordic trails were closed for skiing, as the poor snowpack left recreationists looking to fat tire biking rather than skiing. The statewide snowpack for this time of year averaged 21 percent. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Feb. 13, 2018
2018-02-13winter0Snowpack too thin for snowmobiling at Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area in CaliforniaThe U.S. Forest Service closed the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area to snowmobiling until the snowpack becomes deeper to avoid damaging the ground. The area opened on Jan. 27 and closed on Feb. 13, which would be the shortest season ever for the area if it does not reopen. The area typically opens where there is 24 inches of snow and closes when there is less than 12 inches of snow, but at present, there were areas of bare soil. Other areas on the Carson Range were having the same problem of too little snow. At Hope Valley there was little to no snow, while at Tahoe Meadows, the snowpack was too thin for snowmobiling. Reno Gazette-Journal (Nev.), Feb. 13, 2018
2018-02-12winter0California water board considering permanent water regulationsThe final decision on permanent water restrictions will occur at an April 17 meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board. The Washington Post (D.C.), Feb. 20, 2018 The California State Water Resources Control Board was considering regulations that would make seven particular wasteful water practices a crime, including activities such as over watering lawns and irrigating street medians. The decision on the regulations is anticipated to occur at a Feb. 20 meeting. Orange County Register (Calif.), Feb. 12, 2018
2018-01-30winter0California's State Water Project estimate at 20 percent of allocationThe California Department of Water Resources announced that customers of the State Water Project would receive 20 percent of their requests, but the estimate could be revised upward as the snowpack deepens. The initial allocation announced in December was 15 percent. Lake County News (Vacaville, Calif.), Jan. 30, 2018
2018-01-15winter0Fewer days of tule fog in California's San Joaquin ValleyDrought has reduced the number of days when the San Joaquin Valley is shrouded in tule fog, reducing the number of school fog delays and closures. (Calif.), Jan. 15, 2018
2017-12-15winter0Irrigation needed in the Sacramento, San Joaquin valleys in CaliforniaFarmers in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys began irrigating in December to make up for the dry start to the water year, which began in October. Farmers typically do not need to start irrigating until mid-May. Given the dry conditions, two irrigation districts, the Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District, were considering offering a winter allocation. Ag Alert (Sacramento, Calif.), Jan. 10, 2018
2017-12-13winter0Drought affected water content of rocks in California's Sierra Nevada, height of mountainsThe loss of water from rocks during drought in California’s Sierra Nevada allowed the land to rise nearly an inch in elevation between October 2011 and October 2015, according to a study by National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In the following two years of improved snow and rainfall, the rocks recovered just half of the water they lost during drought. The height of the mountains also fell by about half an inch. Chico Enterprise Record (Calif.), Dec. 13, 2017
2017-08-22summer0Drought-affected trees being removed along California highwaysCalifornia crews plan to cut down dead and drought-weakened trees along highways in the Tahoe Basin starting in September as part of the statewide movement to remove dangerous trees along highways. Efforts will be focused on Highway 89, where a tree fell and killed a woman in her car, and other area highways. Caltrans has already taken out more than 100,000 dead trees in the Golden State, mostly on state property along highways as part of a $115 million safety campaign. Removing dangerous trees on private property will be the next step. Caltrans identified Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Placer, Tulare and Tuolumne counties as areas of particularly high risk for falling trees. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Aug. 22, 2017
2017-06-01summer0Land subsiding rapidly in Tulare Basin of CaliforniaLand in the Tulare Basin in central California was sinking up to one half meter annually as drought and groundwater extraction exceed the rate of replenishment, according to researchers with Cornell University. EurekAlert! (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 29, 2018
2017-05-19spring0California growers and researchers developing drought defensesGrowers and researchers were working fervently to find ways to help California’s orchards, vineyards and row crops withstand the next drought with as little water as they can manage and yet thrive. Subsurface drip irrigation, minimizing soil disturbance, leaving crop residue, diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops are some of the strategies for improving moisture retention and drought tolerance. Capital Press - Agriculture Weekly (Salem, Ore.), May 19, 2017
2017-05-09spring0Activists protest Nestlé’s use of springs in southern CaliforniaActivists continued to protest Nestlé’s use of springs in southern California for its Arrowhead bottled water as drought and the company’s sourcing of water on public land continues to rile the public. Of the company’s 40 water sources in the U.S., 11 are in California. Nestlé captures about 30 million gallons of water annually and pays the U.S. Forest Service just $524 for the permit. CBS (New York), May 9, 2017
2017-04-17spring0Water supplies still lacking in parts of CaliforniaResidents in parts of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties still lacked running water, despite plentiful winter precipitation and the governor’s proclamation that the drought had ended. Too many people in these counties still have water delivered to their homes because their wells were dry or contaminated. Twin Falls Times-News (Idaho), April 17, 2017
2017-02-28winter0Full water allocations for Central Valley Project customers in CaliforniaThe U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that South of Delta water contractors would receive a 100 percent allocation from the Central Valley Project. San Francisco Chronicle ( (Calif.), April 11, 2017 Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta learned that they will receive 65 percent of full allocations from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in spite of the heavy rainfall the state has received, leading to flooding, full reservoirs and deep snowpack. Farmers were sorely disappointed and angry to be getting less than full deliveries this year. Bureau officials consider many factors when determining water deliveries, including reservoir storage levels, hydrological conditions and requirements to protect endangered species. The Fresno Bee (Calif.), March 22, 2017 The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced on Feb. 28 that initial water allocations will be 100 percent for many of its customers, but will wait until the end of March to reveal water allocations for other customers. Central Valley Project contractors to receive full allocations include those near the American River, Millerton Lake and New Melones Reservoir and settlement contractors. Those still waiting to hear were the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Contra Costa Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. The last time all customers received a full allotment was in 2006. As of Feb. 28, electronic sensors indicated the statewide snowpack averaged 186 for the date. San Francisco Chronicle (, Feb. 28, 2017
2017-02-14winter0California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection preparing public for fire season with millions of dead trees in the forestsThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were planning meetings to prepare Sierra Nevada residents for the upcoming fire season, given the millions of standing dead trees. As of February, there were 61,112 acres of forest in Madera County, 76,878 acres in Mariposa County and 80,451 acres in Fresno County hurt by drought and the bark beetle, according to Cal Fire pre-fire engineer Frank Bigelow Jr. The Fresno Bee (Calif.), April 4, 2017
2017-02-08winter0California water board extends water conservation rules until springThe State Water Resources Control Board opted to keep the water restrictions until spring to see how the rest of winter plays out, in terms of precipitation, before making any changes to the restrictions. In the days leading up to the decision, a coalition of lawmakers and water districts pressed for an end to the regulations and the drought emergency, arguing that the public could see a drought emergency no longer existed. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Feb. 8, 2017
2017-01-18winter0California water authority considering continuation of emergency drought mandatesThe State Water Resources Control Board took up recommendations for the renewal of emergency drought mandates, requiring urban suppliers to have three years’ worth of water in reserve or conserve water. Water agencies would like an end to the conservation mandates, especially since recent plentiful precipitation has deepened the Sierra Nevada snowpack and refilled reservoirs. Tim Quinn, the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, said in an email that conditions had changed and that acting as though the state were still in a drought emergency strained credibility. San Francisco Chronicle ( (Calif.), Jan. 17, 2017 The state water board will hold a vote on Feb. 7 to determine the future of the drought mandates. Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jan. 18, 2017
2017-01-10winter0Heavy rains, strong winds knocking down California's treesCalifornia’s trees, stressed and worn from years of drought, have fallen and killed two people during the past month. Many of the trees seemed strong and sturdy, but give way amid heavy rains and winds. A woman was killed on Jan. 7 in Northern California when a tree collapsed on a golf course. “Pay attention to your surroundings and watch those trees. It is a hazard you need to be aware of,” warned Battalion Chief Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The heavy rain may also be having the effect of suddenly killing trees rather than reviving them, said William Libby, a retired professor of forestry and genetics at the University of California, Berkeley. He compared it to a starving person eating too much food too quickly. Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jan. 10, 2017
2016-12-05winter0President Obama signed bill providing California drought reliefPresident Obama signed the bill authorizing water projects across the nation, including $558 million for drought relief in California. The funds were to "help assure that California is more resilient in the face of growing water demands and drought-based uncertainty." Brownsville Herald (Texas), Dec. 16, 2016 The House passed a bill on Dec. 8 including $558 million in drought relief for California. The measure would mean more water for farms and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley and southern California, but Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has vowed to fight the drought measure, saying it puts the interests of big farms ahead of the fishing industry and weakens endangered species protections. The Washington Post (D.C.), Dec. 8, 2016 House and Senate leaders achieved bipartisan agreement on a bill offering $170 million for cities with lead in their municipal water and for drought relief for California. California Sen. Barbara Boxer and other Democrats derided the measure, saying it would hurt drinking water quality and would undermine the Endangered Species Act. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., however, felt that the measure would mean more water for farming and other uses. Las Vegas Sun (Nev.), Dec. 5, 2016
2016-12-01winter0New water conservation plan in CaliforniaCalifornia state water officials worked on a new conservation plan featuring the creation of customized water-use limits for urban water districts and a focus on fixing leaks, which can drain more than 10 percent of processed water. Towns and cities will also be required to create five-year drought contingency plans rather than three-year plans. Critics complain that the agricultural sector was not asked to conserve. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Dec. 1, 2016
2016-09-17fall0California lakes, waterways tainted by toxic algaeMore than 40 California lakes and waterways were infected with cyanobacteria, surprising people and water agencies with its prevalence, and was twice the number of 22 cyanobacteria-affected water bodies in 2015. State officials were more aware of the problem, as were lake operators, and more signs were being posted this year to warn the public of the danger to themselves and pets. East Bay Times (San Jose, Calif.), Sept. 17, 2016
2016-09-15fall0Californians still conservingMore than a third of California’s water agencies were still able to save 20 percent or more water compared to the same month in 2013, the benchmark year. San Francisco Chronicle (, Nov. 7, 2016
2016-09-05fall0California Chinook salmon surviving years of drought, thanks to interventionsMost of the existing California Chinook salmon were products of California and federal agencies’ fish hatcheries and were trucked downstream to be released during the past years of drought, and would not have survived otherwise. Salmon grow, spawn and die in three-year cycles, making three consecutive years of drought challenges all the populations can stand before going extinct. During 2014 and 2015, millions of young salmon were raised in hatcheries to keep fall-run Chinook salmon thriving. Winter-run Chinook salmon received a federal listing in 2015 as one the eight U.S. species most in danger of imminent extinction after drought depleted California’s rivers in 2014 and 2015, leaving river water too warm and low to sustain the fish. Federal authorities announced intentions to formally review their management of key state waterways and reservoirs concerning the survival of native species. Savannah Morning News (Ga.), Sept. 5, 2016
2016-08-31summer0New California law on excessive water use amid droughtGov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring retail urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to establish rules defining “excessive water use” and impose those rules during drought emergencies. Those water suppliers must either impose tiered rates charging people more for using more than a certain amount or fine households for using more than a certain amount, which then triggers a requirement in state law mandating that their names be made public. The new law will be in effect when California is in a drought emergency as declared by the governor and when the state requires mandatory conservation. The state remained in a drought emergency declared by Gov. Brown in January 2014. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug. 31, 2016
2016-08-29summer0California farmers use drones to monitor crops, waterCalifornia farmers strive to wisely and efficiently use the water they have for irrigation and have been using drones to monitor crop health or check for broken water lines. Since the Federal Aviation Administration softened rules so that operators of commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds no longer must earn an airplane pilot’s license, but only need to take a written test to get a drone license, it will be easier for farmers to get a license to fly a drone and use it to monitor crops and water in their fields. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug. 29, 2916
2016-08-22summer0California’s state fire department slightly understaffedCalifornia’s state fire department was slightly understaffed, with vacancy rates exceeding 15 percent for some firefighters and supervisors and more than 10 percent for some fire engine drivers, according to statistics given to The Associated Press. Since the fire season has become a year-round battle, it was no longer just a summer job as it used to be. Being slightly understaffed, firefighters must work longer stretches when fighting massive wildfires. Almost 25 percent of departing employees over the last two years left for better-paying jobs with other firefighting agencies, according to the statistics given to the AP by CalFire. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Aug. 22, 2016
2016-08-19summer0Homeowner drought-relief bill passed California SenateAssembly Bill 1588, which would allow drought-affected homeowners to seek state grants or low-interest loans for water and wastewater projects, unanimously passed the state Senate and was in the Assembly. Current law only provides funding for public water systems and communities, but AB 1588, would help homeowners with dry wells. The bill authorizes up to $15 million for water and wastewater projects for qualifying homeowners, based on income and other factors. The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Aug. 19, 2016
2016-08-16summer0About 85 percent of California's urban water districts certify that they have a 3-year supply of waterRoughly 85 percent of California’s 411 urban water districts told the State Water Resources Control Board that they had at least a three-year water supply even if the drought continued. Districts maintaining that their water supplies were sufficient were not required to adopt state-mandated water restrictions, while districts without enough water set conservation goals that would make up the anticipated shortfall should drought continue another three years. Most of the water districts that acknowledged inadequate supplies were located in the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and the Los Angeles area. State officials did not audit stress test results, but depended on the water districts to offer honest assessments of their water supplies. Tracy Quinn, a policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said her research showed that water districts were overestimating the depth of their supplies. She stated that it was unlikely that nearly nine out of ten water districts would have enough water if drought persisted for three additional years. “The requirements of the regulations allowed water districts to be overly optimistic,” she said. “The zero percent (conservation targets) we are seeing aren’t real numbers.” The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Aug. 16, 2016
2016-07-01summer0California's firefighting costsSince July 1, the start of the 2016-17 fiscal year, Cal Fire has spent $165 million of the budgeted $425 million emergency fund to fight fires. The emergency fund covers all expenses apart from paying day-to-day staffing. For the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended in June, Cal Fire spent $547 million in emergency funds fighting fires, in comparison with$402 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year, $242 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, $311 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year, $140 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year and just $90 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year. “The drought is the biggest factor in this,” said Daniel Berlant, chief of public information for the Cal Fire. “Not only have we seen larger, more damaging fires in the last couple of years, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of fires.” Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Aug. 21, 2016
2013-05-02spring0Cal Fire officials to begin hiring and training firemen in northern California a month ahead of scheduleThe dry, windy conditions prompted Cal Fire officials to begin hiring and training firemen in northern California in early May, a month ahead of schedule. Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), May 2, 2013
2013-04-29spring0Stage 3 water shortage in Mendocino, CaliforniaA stage 2 water shortage was declared on April 29 by the by the Mendocino City Community Services District, due to below normal precipitation. The MCCSD declared a stage 3 water shortage on Dec. 16 because monitoring wells were far below average. During a stage 3 shortage, water users must curb their water use by 20 percent. Mendocino Beacon (Calif.), Dec. 20, 2013
2013-04-19spring0Cal Fire began deploying fire crews ahead of schedule in SoCalCal Fire began deploying fire crews ahead of schedule since dry conditions have resulted in greater fire danger and more fires than usual early in the year. Brush in the hills of Los Angeles has dried out more quickly than usual; Ventura County firefighters say the arid conditions resemble that of June or July; and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to 150 more fires in 2013 than it had by this time last year. Southern California is on track to have its fourth driest year since 1877. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), April 19, 2013
2013-04-01spring0Stanford University in California has not diverted water from San Francisquito Creek in more than a yearStanford University has not diverted water from San Francisquito Creek in more than a year, due to ongoing drought, said a spokeswoman for the university in an email. San Francisco Chronicle (, April 9, 2014
2013-03-22spring0California State Water Project water allocations reduced from an estimated 40 percent to 35 percentThe last snow survey in California revealed just 17 percent of normal snowpack, said California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Due to the slim snowpack, the DWR said that it may be able to provide just 35 percent of the requested water amounts from the State Water Project to the 29 agencies that buy water from the DWR. Water allotments have not been so low since 2008. The projected runoff from the Colorado River into Lake Powell is 44 percent and has been below normal for 11 of the last 14 years. The limited water supply in California means that the state will have to use stored water from large reservoirs in southern California, such as Diamond Valley Lake, which contains 800,000 acre-feet of water. KPBS-TV PBS San Diego (Calif.), May 3, 2013. The California Department of Water Resources announced that State Water Project water allocations were reduced from an estimated 40 percent to 35 percent since the average snowpack was 57 percent of normal for mid to late March. Napa Valley Register (Calif.), March 27, 2013.
2013-03-01spring0California ranchers have to feed, water cattlePoor rains during the spring left pastures rather dry and offering little for grazing this fall, said a University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Yuba, Sutter and Butte counties. Fall rains, too, have been disappointing, and did not promote much grass growth, leaving ranchers to buy dry feed and hay, although hay prices were high in California, due to poor production. Stock water supplies were low also. A dryland cattle producer in Riverside and Tulare counties said that he began feeding hay in September and buys culled oranges, lemons, avocadoes and other fruit and vegetable byproducts to feed his cattle until he has better range for his cattle. To conserve feed, he weaned his calves early and sold about 25 percent of his cows. He had already culled 15 percent of his cattle in 2012 and sold all of his heifers during the last two years, leaving him no replacements. A San Joaquin County cattle producer moved his cattle to several properties to allow them to graze and stretch the feed. He also sent some yearlings to feedlots early. A cattle producer in Nevada County reported that drought has driven up his production costs, forcing him to leave his cattle on the range longer and buy more hay than usual. A Santa Cruz County cattle producer began feeding hay in September and hopes there will be adequate grass in January or February to feed the livestock because he’ll be out of feed by then. He has thinned his herd by about 10 percent and purchased about 30 percent more hay. Central Valley Business Times (Calif.), Dec. 4, 2013
2013-01-01winter0Thousands of Chinook salmon eggs and newly hatched salmon died in the Sacramento River in California this yearThousands of Chinook salmon eggs and newly hatched salmon died in the Sacramento River this year, due to lower water releases from Shasta and Keswick dams and little contribution from the river’s tributaries. An environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that 20 to 40 percent of the salmon nests were exposed when the river level fell in early November. Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.), Dec. 12, 2013
2013-01-01winter0Wells going dry in San Diego County, CaliforniaGroundwater levels in San Diego County dropped so much in 2013 that the county had the fifth most wells that were dug deeper. A residential well in Alpine went dry, forcing the owner to dig deeper to reach water again. The manager of a San Diego-area water well drilling business recommended that everyone pray for rain as water supplies above and below ground become depleted. ABC10 (San Diego, Calif.), May 5, 2014
2013-01-01winter0The California State Water Project dropped its water allocations by 35 percent, due to below normal precipitationThe California State Water Project dropped its water allocations by 35 percent, due to below normal precipitation between January and June 2013, which was the driest in the state’s recorded history. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Oct. 15, 2013
2013-01-01winter0More fires in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Cal Fire unit in 2013 than in previous yearThe San Mateo-Santa Cruz Cal Fire unit has responded to 344 fires that charred 152 acres in 2013, which was considerably higher than fire statistics from 2012 when 296 blazes burned about 33 acres. So far, 2013 has been one of the driest years on record in California. (Calif.), Nov. 18, 2013
2013-01-01winter0Christmas trees in California growing slower amid droughtFewer big Christmas trees can be found in California after five years of below-normal precipitation, but tree growers were selling what they had. A Christmas tree farmer in El Dorado County said demand exceeded supply, but that they would be open while they had trees to sell. The growth of firs and other traditional Christmas trees has been slowed significantly by the meager rain and snowfall in recent years, so it takes longer to get a “full-sized” tree. Drought has been particularly hard on Noble fir trees, with many of them bearing plenty of brown needles. Silver tip firs, Douglas firs, white firs and native incense cedars have tolerated the scarce precipitation better. Drought in 2013 and 2014 cost tree growers thousands of seedlings planted in those years. In recent years, growers have begun buying water to keep the trees growing. Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.), Dec. 5, 2016
2012-06-01summer0Reduction in water main flushing in Calistoga, CaliforniaThe City of Calistoga was resuming its water main flushing after the practice was intermittently suspended since 2012, due to drought. The Weekly Calistogan (Calif.), March 21, 2019
2012-02-20winter0Farmers on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley in California were bracing for a difficult summerFarmers on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley were bracing for a difficult summer since snowfall has been about one-third of normal, meaning that farmers who rely on the San Joaquin River for water will not receive as much water as they need. Farmers were restoring old wells, seeking to purchase water from neighbors and anticipating withdrawing water from underground water banks to eke through the summer. They also hope for good storms in the next six weeks to deepen the snow pack and provide enough water for all activities. This has been one of the driest winters in the past century. Fresno Bee (Calif.), Feb. 20, 2012
2012-01-29winter0Sales and rentals were far below normal at a ski shop in Big Bear Lake, CaliforniaSales and rentals were far below normal at a ski shop in Big Bear Lake, stated the shop owner. Snowfall for January at Big Bear Lake was just 4 inches, compared to an average of 14.8 inches, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. Twenty-five of the 26 runs were open at Snow Summit since one was closed for snowmaking. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Jan. 29, 2012
2012-01-26winter0Farmer near Hemet, California replanted his wheat crop for lack of rainA farmer near Hemet had to replant his wheat crop because the seeds could not push through the crusty, dry soil. Some of the wheat that did manage to emerge was growing slower than it normally does due to insufficient rainfall. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Jan. 30, 2012
2012-01-20winter0Fire danger rising in Kern County, CaliforniaThe Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, Tule River Reservation Fire Department, Kern County Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Field Office caution people to be cognizant of the fire risk, to be careful with fire and to eliminate flammable materials around their homes. Bakersfield Californian (Calif.), Jan. 20, 2012
2012-01-18winter0Ranchers in California's San Joaquin Valley sought alternate pastures, bought pricey haySome farmers and ranchers had to move cattle to alternate pastures or purchase expensive hay because dry conditions have eliminated grass growth for livestock. Hay was selling for about $300 per ton. Some have also requested early water deliveries. Fresno Bee (Calif.), Jan. 18, 2012
2012-01-01winter0Irrigation deliveries began months early due to lack of rainfall in the San Joaquin Valley, CaliforniaThe Kings River Water District began its irrigation water deliveries in January. The secretary-treasurer of the water district stated, “It is almost unheard of to be delivering water in January, but it has been so dry and we are getting requests for water.” Fresno Bee (Calif.), Jan. 18, 2012
2012-01-01winter0Dry conditions in California cutting the carrying capacity of pastures and rangeland, prompting producers to thin their herdsDry conditions in California are cutting the carrying capacity of pastures and rangeland, prompting producers to thin their herds. A cattle rancher east of Fresno compared his pasture to a parking lot because not enough rain has fallen for his grass to grow. Further west in Mariposa, Merced and Madera counties, forage production was also down, noted a University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources farm advisor. A livestock producer in Monterey County sold about two-thirds of his herd after enduring 2012 with just a third of normal rainfall and less than a third of average forage production. A Napa County livestock producer had little forage in 2012, due to scant rainfall, and sold all of his cattle in January 2013 rather than struggle through another dry year. Drovers Cattle Network (Kan.), July 9, 2013
2012-01-01winter0Number of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus at an all-time high in CaliforniaNearly 800 Californians were infected with the West Nile virus in 2014, the worst outbreak in a decade. Drought was blamed for the record number of cases, and 2015 is expected to bring more of the same. The virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and transmit the virus to humans. Many people suffer no ill effects from the virus, while others become extremely sick and even die. When the California drought began in 2012, the number of West Nile virus cases rose to 479 from 158 the previous year. In 2014, 798 cases were recorded, the highest number since 2005, said the California Department of Public Health. Twenty-nine people died. Experts attribute the elevated West Nile activity to stagnant water and water sources in populated areas bringing the virus closer to people. The virus activity was most intense in Southern California, and especially in Orange County where 266 human cases were reported and the highest rate of infected mosquitoes was found. Water conservation measures prevented the county from flushing its underground storm drains where mosquitoes flourished. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Feb. 24, 2015 The number of California mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus has risen to record heights this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Santa Clara County has been a hot spot for birds carrying the West Nile virus, with more than one-third of the total affected birds statewide being found there. Health departments in Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties have been taking measures to reduce the number mosquitoes with the West Nile virus since mosquitoes transmit the disease to birds. The Santa Clara County Vector Control District found that 1 in 20 mosquitoes were infected with the West Nile virus this summer. Eighty of Alameda County’s 92 West Nile-positive birds were found in Livermore, leading health officials to pull out the stops to eradicate the mosquitoes. Throughout California, there have been 562 human cases of West Nile reported through Oct. 21, more than twice the count at this time in 2013. Seventeen deaths have been related to the virus since the start of the year, compared with 15 deaths in all of 2013. Five human cases leading to the neural-invasive type of complication were confirmed in Contra Costa County. A dozen people in Santa Clara County contracted the virus, with four being hospitalized also with neural-invasive complications. Public health officials say the uptick in West Nile virus cases could be attributed to climate, the number and types of birds and mosquitoes in an area, birds’ immune systems and drought. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Oct. 19, 2014 The number of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus was at an all-time high, said state health officials. Since the start of the year, 181 cases of West Nile virus were reported to the California Department of Public Health, and eight people have died. During the last week alone, 52 new cases were reported. A state public health official said drought may be contributing to the spread of the virus via birds and mosquitoes. San Francisco Chronicle (, Sept. 4, 2014
2012-01-01winter0Large water withdrawals in the Westlands Water District of Southern CaliforniaFarmers in the Westlands Water District pumped 40 percent more groundwater than usual during the past few years, due to drought and cutbacks in the water supply. The State Water Project provided just 5 percent of full allocations in 2014, while the state ordered thousands of water rights holders to stop drawing water in the watershed supplying the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The New York Times, Feb. 14, 2015
2012-01-01winter0California farmers pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of droughtCalifornia farmers were pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of drought and were using hundreds of millions of dollars more electricity than normal to power the pumps. The co-owner of a ranch northwest of Fresno reported that their power use was two and a half times higher than normal. In response to the higher demand for electricity, utilities were building new transmission lines and substations to support the additional electricity. In the Central Valley, farmers may use groundwater to meet more than 60 percent of their irrigation needs in 2015, one-third more than a normal year, said a senior researcher at the University of California at Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. At that rate, electric bills would rise 77 percent, or $600 million, compared to a year with normal precipitation. The amount of energy needed to pump groundwater was up 90 megawatt-hours, said the senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Southern California Edison Co., a subsidiary of Edison International. The utility built the $190 million San Joaquin Cross Valley Loop transmission project in November to meet farmers’ increased need for electricity. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has proposed a 230-kilovolt transmission line through the Central Valley where power demand for groundwater pumping rose about 40 percent over the average levels for 2008 to 2011. The Washington Post (D.C.), Sept. 3, 2015
2012-01-01winter0Twice the amount of idled farmland in California's Central ValleyPersistent drought in California caused farmers to fallow 1.03 million acres of land in the Central Valley, amounting to about 15 percent of the 7 million acres of irrigated farmland in the Valley, found a study undertaken by NASA, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Geological Survey, and the California Department of Water Resources. The amount of idled land was more than twice that left idle in 2011, the most recent year with a winter of average to above average precipitation statewide. The biggest increases in idle acreage were seen along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno, Kings and Kern counties. "These datasets highlight the continuing impacts of the drought on agricultural communities in California, and identify regions in the state that have been particularly hard hit by water shortages. At the same time, the data provide insights into regions of the state that have been more resilient to the drought and that have been able to sustain agricultural production despite the reductions in surface water supplies," said a senior research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in San Jose. Central Valley Business Times (Calif.), Oct. 26, 2015
2012-01-01winter0Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County, California low after years of droughtThe level of Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County went from being full in 2012 to being 13.5 feet low on May 10, 2016. Mike Stephenson, the general manager of Big Bear Municipal Water District, stated that the lake provides water for local ski resorts’ snowmaking guns. Years of drought also have depleted the lake. Of the decline, the general manager said, “The last four years has seen the steepest line from full to 13-and-a-half feet down that I’ve seen in recorded history. There is no steeper line in any of the graphs that I can find.” Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), May 10, 2016
2012-01-01winter0Spate of well-drilling in San Joaquin Valley, CaliforniaAs drought persisted and water deliveries from the state and federal projects were slim, California farmers resorted to using groundwater to keep crops growing. In the San Joaquin Valley in 2015, farmers dug about 2,500 new wells, the most in one year and five times the annual average for the previous 30 years, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of state and local data. From 2012 through 2015, San Joaquin Valley farmers dug more than 5,000 wells, more than were dug altogether during the previous 12 years. Most of the new wells were in Fresno and Tulare counties, where officials issued an average of nearly 10 agricultural well permits each business day in 2015, although some of the permits were not used. The permit-issuing pace has slowed in the first few months of 2016, but still remained higher than pre-drought levels. There were plenty of drilling jobs lined up for a Fresno-based well driller, who expected to drill about 260 new wells in the San Joaquin Valley in 2016. A recent well was sunk 1,200 feet in Poplar at a cost of $260,000, although just a few years ago, the average well depth was roughly 600 feet. Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Sept. 25, 2016
2012-01-01winter0Drought reduced California's hydropower productionThe recent years of drought caused a significant lull in hydropower production, but the unusually snowy 2016-17 winter refilled reservoirs and promised to bring plenty of hydropower, possibly as much as 21 percent of the state’s total electricity output, according to the California Energy Commission. Fifteen to 18 percent of California’s electricity generation typically comes from hydropower, according to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, but during the drought, hydropower generation dropped to less than 10 percent on average. The state turned to burning natural gas to make up the difference, driving up greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over what they would have been. Burning natural gas also cost Californians $2.4 billion more than they would have paid if hydropower production had been near normal. San Francisco Chronicle (, March 20, 2017
2012-01-01winter0Californians’ electric bills rose $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016Californians’ electric bills rose a collective $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016 as drought sharply reduced the availability of cheap hydroelectricity, estimated the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy think tank. In 2016, federal data showed that Californians spent nearly $39 million on electricity Peter Gleick, the study’s author and institute’s president emeritus, noted that the loss of hydropower caused environmental impacts too. Carbon emissions from the state’s power plants increased 10 percent during the drought as utilities reverted to conventional sources like natural gas. The Fresno Bee (Calif.), April 26, 2017
2012-01-01winter0Dominant species, carnivores struggled in California droughtDue to drought in the Carrizo Plains of southern California between 2012 and 2015, dominant species suffered in the drought, while less dominant species benefited, found researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley. Carnivores also struggled when their prey became scarce. EurekAlert! (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 20, 2018
2011-11-21fall0Firefighting resources in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California being kept at summer levelsFirefighting resources in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are being kept at summer levels. Normally at this time of year, reductions in staffing and equipment are made, but the fire danger remains high, so the staffing reduction is being postponed. Cal Fire records show that their Inland units have not transitioned to winter preparedness staffing since Nov. 21, 2011. The U.S. Forest Service also has kept its staffing levels high in the San Bernardino National Forest and the Cleveland National Forest and continues to renew contracts for firefighting airplanes on a weekly basis. Sixteen permanent full-time firefighters were hired to have more staff on hand after the seasonal firefighters leave. With the critically low level of moisture in vegetation, residents are urged to continue to keep vegetation 100 feet away from homes and take other precautions to fire-proof their homes and landscape as much as possible. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Nov. 15, 2014
2011-02-09winter0Push for stricter regulation of California's protection of aquifersMembers of the California Senate committees on environmental quality and natural resources met after critical state and federal reviews of the oil and gas industry’s wastewater disposal activities. Loose enforcement of regulations and errors in record-keeping have endangered federally protected water sources for drinking and irrigation. State regulators say they are committed to intensifying supervision of water disposal. San Francisco Chronicle (, March 10, 2015 California could see new changes in the protection of underground water supplies from oil and gas operations if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves a plan to do so. The aim is to return the state to compliance with federal safe-drinking water laws since it was revealed that more than 2,500 authorizations for oil field injections into protected aquifers took place. The Associated Press uncovered that nearly half of the injection wells received approval or began operation in the last four years. CBS News (N.Y.), Feb. 9, 2015
2011-01-01winter0California hydropower down 60 percentAcross California, the supply of hydropower fell 60 percent from 2011 to 2014, and 2015 was expected to be poor as well. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), April 6, 2015
2010-06-23summer0State Department of Water Resources intends to deliver 50 percent of requested waterThe Department of Water Resources announced that water allocation will rise to 50 percent of requested supplies since additional precipitation has fallen in the Sierra Nevada. Initial estimates of water deliveries at the beginning of the year were just 5 percent and 45 percent in May.
2010-05-20spring0California Department of Water Resources increases water deliveriesThe state Department of Water Resources revealed that it would provide 45 percent of requested water deliveries since storms have boosted water supplies, but Lake Oroville contains just 68 percent of capacity.
2010-05-04spring0California State Board of Food and Agriculture sought to alleviate Central Valley food crisisThe California State Board of Food and Agriculture met in San Joaquin to seek solutions to the continuing food insecurity of those affected by drought and water shortages in the Central Valley.
2010-05-04spring0Water allocations rise for California Department of Water Resources customersWater allocations for customers of the state Department of Water Resources have risen to 40 percent, an increase of 10 ten percent over the last estimate. In the aftermath of three years of drought, a plentiful Sierra snowpack of 143 percent of normal does not mean that all water needs are met. Lake Oroville lags at 61 percent of capacity or roughly 75 percent of normal for early May.
2010-05-04spring0Federal Bureau of Reclamation raises water allocation for those south of the San Joaquin DeltaThe federal Bureau of Reclamation also increased its water allocation to 40 percent for customers south of the San Joaquin Delta. In the aftermath of three years of drought, a plentiful Sierra snowpack of 143 percent of normal does not mean that all water needs are met.
2010-03-19spring0California red-legged frog threatened by droughtThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared roughly half of California, which has been stricken by drought, to be critical habitat for the California red-legged frog. The frog’s habitat reaches from southern California up the coast through Mendocino County and northeast to Butte County.
2010-03-19spring0A Regional Economic Impact National Emergency Grant worth $8.2 million for the San Joaquin ValleyA federal grant worth $8.2 million is aimed toward assisting San Joaquin Valley workers who have lost jobs due to drought and the poor economy. Roughly 1,439 dislocated workers in Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne may be eligible for retraining.
2010-03-16spring0Additional water for Central Valley farmersCentral Valley farmers learned that they will receive 25 % of their contracted allotments from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, while those farmers north of the San Joaquin Delta will get 50 % as the Interior Secretary Salazar made the announcement on March 16. Farmers had previously been told that they would get a mere 5 % of their water allotment.
2010-03-04spring0USDA offered $10 million in aid to farmers in San Joaquin ValleyThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $10 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to aid farmers in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties struggling with an insufficient water supply. Farmers can use the aid to sustain permanent crops and also to limit blowing dust and soil erosion. EQIP funds will also be used to continue work done through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and help farms transition to much more efficient irrigation methods.
2010-03-02spring0The uncertainty in the water allocations for west side farmers makes planning difficultThe slim water allocations for farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley are frustrating farmers who feel that the rising reservoir levels and healthy snowpack in the Sierra should result in greater water allocations. The uncertainty in the water allocations, which are expected to improve, makes it very difficult for farmers to plan their growing season in terms of bank loans and processing contracts, although plans should already be complete at this time.
2010-02-26winter0Water allocations rise for water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaWater allocations have risen for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who receive water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. They were told that they may receive up to thirty percent of their allocation if rain continues to fall, but that their allocation could slip to just five percent if the precipitation ends. Last year they got just ten percent of their allocation. Agricultural water customers of the State Water Project expect to receive fifteen percent of their allocation, although that amount could rise to forty-five percent if rains continue. Farmers received just five percent in 2009. Municipalities south of the Delta expect to receive seventy-five percent of their allocation.
2010-02-26winter0Metropolitan Water District reminds Southern Californians to conserveThe Metropolitan Water District has begun a radio advertising campaign to remind Southern Californians that water conservation is still needed, in spite of recent precipitation. The messages are broadcast in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese and will be heard through March 12. Presently the MWD is slated to get fifteen percent of its water allocation from the State Water Project.
2010-02-25winter0Food distribution in SelmaFood was distributed to people unemployed due to drought and the recession at the Selma Flea Market on February 25. People began lining up almost twelve hours before the food distribution began, despite the cold temperatures, but some of the late comers were turned away as food ran out. The state-funded food distributions will continue through the end of March and will take place on March 6, March 11, and March 25 in Selma.
2010-02-15winter0Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority sues Bureau of ReclamationThe Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority is suing the Bureau of Reclamation and other parties in an attempt to keep enough water to satisfy local agricultural needs before sending water to other parts of the state. In the past thirty-three years, there were only ten years when north state water customers got their entire allocation.
2010-02-05winter0Los Angeles County water customers urged to turn off lawn irrigation systems temporarilyWater customers of California American Water in Los Angeles County are encouraged to turn off their lawn irrigation systems for at least seven days after the storms forecast for the weekend end.
2010-02-05winter0Additional pumping in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to benefit west side farmersA federal judge has ruled that an extra 40,000 to 50,000 acre feet of water may be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta over the next 14 days. The salmon management plan has been put on hold for two weeks because it was enacted without a critical environmental analysis, which is a prerequisite according to the National Environmental Policy Act.
2010-02-03winter0Four communities in Ventura County struggling to meet conservation requestWater customers in the Moorpark, Lake Sherwood, Somis, and Bell Canyon are struggling to reduce their water use by 15 % as requested by the Metropolitan Water District. These communities have only trimmed their water consumption by 6 % at present.
2010-01-29winter0Irrigation water purifier business in Bakersfield benefits from water shortageA Bakersfield company that sells irrigation water purifiers is experiencing an uptick in business as more farmers turn to wells to irrigate their crops.
2010-01-27winter0California State Board of Food and Agriculture met with officials in Sacramento to prepare for another dry yearThe California State Board of Food and Agriculture met with the state officials, water agency executives, and county agricultural commissioners to further discuss the effects of the drought and water supplies. The state is preparing for a fourth year of drought in the event that sufficient precipitation does not materialize.
2010-01-05winter0Californians urged to conserve water in 2010California’s water officials are urging residents to conserve water as the state heads into its fourth year of drought. The average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is 85 % of normal, while Lake Oroville is a mere 29 % of capacity. The initial allocation from the State Water Project was just 5 %.
2010-01-01winter0Many millions of dead trees in California's Sierra NevadaCalifornia has had about 102 million trees die in its forests since 2010, according to the results of an aerial survey released by the U.S. Forest Service. Sixty-two million trees died in 2016 alone. The die-off presents an enormous fire threat, not to mention the challenge of removing the trees, particularly those near power lines, roads and near people. Most of the dead trees were in the central and southern Sierra. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Nov. 28, 2016 Roughly 66 million trees died since 2010 in a six-county region of California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada most severely affected by the drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warm temperatures, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The tree mortality from Tuolumne to Kern counties rose by 65 percent since the last figures announced in October 2015, which documented 40 million dead trees. The sheer number of dead trees could fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives, said officials. California’s Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency and formed a task committee to quickly remove the trees for public safety, but the tree removal process has not gone quickly enough. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, said in a statement, "Tree die-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk. We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country." San Francisco Chronicle (, June 22, 2016 California’s ongoing drought and a bark beetle epidemic contributed to the largest tree die-off in the Sierra Nevada’s modern history, leaving around 40 million dead trees that could fall on people or fuel ferocious wildfires that could threaten mountain communities. Most of the dead trees were in the central and southern Sierra, and the epidemic was moving north. Crews were felling trees, but have no way to dispose of them all. One option is to use 10 large mechanized incinerators to burn up some of the trees, but environmentalists say that is not a good solution. Some of the trees can also be sent to biomass plants that turn agriculture and tree waste into electricity. Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), June 19, 2016
2010-01-01winter0California's Bay Area residents taking to native plants, drought-tolerant landscapingDespite the easing of water restrictions in California, Bay Area nursery and gardening businesses still see high demand and preference for drought-tolerant landscaping and feel the change is permanent. Residents have taken advantage of their water districts’ lawn removal rebate programs and have curbed their water use. The Contra Costa Water District has paid $1 per square foot for 1.5 million square feet of grass to be removed since January 2014. The East Bay Municipal Utility District compensated customers for removing 2.8 million square feet of grass from January 2014 to March 2016. The Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency in San Mateo began offering lawn-removal rebates in 2010, but 225 of the total 290 rebates were issued within the past two years. The Bend Bulletin (Ore.), June 19, 2016
2010-01-01winter0Millions of trees continued to die in California's Sierra Nevada after end of droughtCalifornia suffered the loss of another 18 million trees since the fall of 2017, a substantial number, but fewer than the 27 million dead trees counted in the fall of 2017 or the 62 million dead trees documented in the fall of 2016. The return to more rainfall and less drought has helped trees resist the bark beetles that have damaged and killed so many trees. Since drought began in 2010, more than 147 million trees on 9.7 million acres died. The slowing rate of tree mortality was encouraging. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Feb. 11, 2019 Trees continued to die in the Sierra Nevada more than a year after the end of California’s multiyear drought. The U.S. Forest Service reported that 27 million trees died since November 2016, bringing the total of dead trees to roughly 129 million on about 8.9 million acres of land since 2010. The trees were stressed and dehydrated by drought, making them more vulnerable to bark beetle infestations and other ills. The density of dead trees was so great in areas that foresters closed roads and campgrounds to protect the public from falling trees. Views in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks were marred by the spectacle of rust-colored trees, as were some stretches along the coast. San Francisco Chronicle ( (Calif.), Dec. 11, 2017
2009-04-14spring0Water rate hike for Padre Dam Municipal Water DistrictThe Padre Dam Municipal Water District passed a large water rate increase for its customers in Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest to keep up with large rates increases instituted by Metropolitan Water District. Padre Dam has received 29 letters in opposition to the rate hike, while roughly 70 customers attended the meeting on April 14 to voice their disapproval of the increase.
2009-04-08spring0More people in Ramona and Poway looking into drilling wellsMore people in the communities of Ramona and Poway have looked into having a well drilled so they are unaffected by potential water shortages and rationing, but often do not have a well drilled when they discover that the price tag comes to $20,000 on average. The water table in San Diego County has fallen from 500 – 600 feet in 1991 to 1,300 feet at present.
2009-04-01spring0Bill sets aside $26 million for Riverside-Corona FeederThe president signed a bill that designates $26 million toward the creation and building of the Riverside-Corona Feeder, a project that will provide additional water for people in western Riverside County. The funds will pay for wells, pumps, and pipelines to allow water storage in an aquifer in the San Bernardino/Chino area in years of normal rainfall and provide stored water when it is needed, such as in drought years.
2009-04-01spring0High demand for rebates through the SoCal Water$mart programThe Water$mart program ran short by about $34 million in 2009 as numerous Californians requested rebates. Originally only $20 million was budgeted for the program, but the Metropolitan Water District trimmed incentives by half and started an online rebate reservation system to avoid another shortfall in the future. Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.), Feb. 12, 2014 The SoCal Water$mart program offered by the Metropolitan Water District has run $24 million short of the requests for rebates for low-flow toilets, washing machines, artificial turf, irrigation sensors and sprinkler heads. Funds are allocated toward the program on a monthly basis, but have run out quickly in the first eight days of April and in less than two hours in May as the number of requests for the rebates has tripled compared to last year.
2009-04-01spring0Water use in San Diego County down more than expectedWater sales in San Diego County have fallen by twenty percent between April and July 2009, in comparison to the same time last year, and have resulted in a revenue shortfall. The Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos is leaving some vacant positions unfilled and are talking less about conservation since water sales dropped by twenty percent. Similarly, water use in Poway declined by twenty-two percent in comparison with 2008 or roughly thirty percent in comparison with 2007. Lakeside Water District also experienced a twenty percent decline in water use between April and July.
2009-03-20spring0Vallecitos Water District urges customers to lower water use by 10 %The Vallecitos Water District is in a Stage 1 drought watch and asks residents of San Marcos, Lake San Marcos, and portions of Carlsbad and Escondido to voluntarily lower their water use by 10 %.
2009-03-19spring0Mayor of Rancho Santa Margarita contact governor of California, president about city's water supplyThe mayor of Rancho Santa Margarita has appealed to the governor of California and the president to request that the ruling on endangered fish be set aside to allow adequate water supplies to reach his city.
2009-03-18spring0Informational meeting to prepare for possible water rationingThe South Coast Water District is holding a meeting to educate the public about the water supply situation. The district is preparing for potential water rationing over the summer.
2008-05-13spring0Drought surcharges net $6 million for East Bay Municipal Utility DistrictSix million dollars has been collected by East Bay Municipal Utility District through drought surcharges for water use beyond their monthly allotment. EBMUB anticipated collecting only half that amount in surcharges.
2008-04-15spring0Suppplemental feeding of livestock begins earlyA rancher near Williams revealed that drought forced him to begin feeding his cattle in the middle of April because there was no suitable rangeland. He usually would allow them to graze until the end of May of the beginning of June.
2008-01-01winter0Drought, economic recession affect California's garden industryDrought and economic recession dealt a serious blow to California’s garden industry from 2008 through 2010. Retail sales of lawn and garden products, including nursery items, fell $1.6 billion to $11.7 billion, according to a study from the University of California, Davis agricultural economist Hoy Carman. Nursery production and retail companies lost roughly 25,492 jobs in 2008 and 2009. The Bend Bulletin (Ore.), June 19, 2016
2007-01-01winter0Drought kills mule deer on Santa Catalina IslandMany mule deer on Santa Catalina Island died in 2007 due to drought.
2007-01-01winter0California Aqueduct sinks due to increased groundwater pumpingIncreased groundwater pumping due to drought and reduced water supplies has caused the California Aqueduct to sink up to 6 feet in certain locations over the last few years. Officials are concerned that the sinking could cause the aqueduct to rupture.
2006-12-19winter0San Luis National Wildlife Refuge receives water to keep marshes moistThe San Luis National Wildlife Refuge has received infusions of water to keep its marshes wet for the past three years, as drought dried the area.
2006-01-01winter0Fire impact from Media submitted on 12/6/2006California has experienced a dearth of precipitation that has contributed to over 91,000 fires that burned 9.58 million acres this year. Impact Source: Media More Information:

To view simple examples of impacts reported in the past in each state at different levels of drought, check out our tables of historically observed impacts.