Thursday, January 30, 2014

Severe drought in California draining water supply for 17 rural communities

UPDATE, Feb. 3: State officials announced Friday they were cutting off the water supply to 25 million residents and about 750,000 acres of farmland, Ian Lovett reports for The New York Times. "With no end in sight for the dry spell and reservoirs at historic lows, Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said his agency needed to preserve what little water remained so it could be used “as wisely as possible.” (Read more)

Severe drought in California could drain the water supply from 17 rural communities within 60 to 120 days, and more communities could be in danger of running out of water if conditions continue, Paul Rogers reports for the San Jose Mercury News. Last year California had its lowest rainfall in state history, and state officials said some wells are running dry, while some reservoirs are nearly empty. Wells for the 17 communities serve between 39 to 11,000 residents. (Bay Area News Group graphic)

"Most of the affected water districts have so few customers that they can't charge enough money to pay for backup water supplies or repair failing equipment, leaving them more vulnerable to drought than large urban areas," Rogers writes. Bill Croyle, director of the state Drought Task Force, told Rogers, "This is a statewide drought. This is a serious drought. It's all hands on deck."

"State health officials are in discussion with leaders of other agencies, including the state Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to work on immediate solutions," Rogers writes. "Those could include everything from trucking in water to the health department providing emergency funds for drilling new wells or connecting faltering systems to other water systems." (Read more)

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