Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Severe drought continues in California; farmers uprooting almond trees

Severe drought in rural California has caused headaches for local residents, with officials reporting in January that the water supply in 17 communities is quickly running out. One month later, the situation hasn't gotten much better for many people, including almond farmer Barry Baker, who has lost 1,000 acres— or 20 percent of his crop—in Northern California because he lacks access to enough water, NBC News reports. "The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials announced this past Friday that it will not be providing Central Valley (which consists of 6.5 million people) farmers with any water from the federally run system of reservoirs and canals fed by mountain runoff." (NBC photo: Baker's almond farm)

Baker isn't the only one struggling. Northern California's Folsom Lake has shrunk from 97 percent of capacity in 2011 to 17 percent capacity, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The reservoir serves 265,000 customers, reports Thom Jensen of KXTV in Sacramento. Folsom Lake Water Conservation says on its website, "Folsom Lake is at critically low levels, and that means our customers need to conserve water. We have asked our customers to conserve water both outdoors and indoors at significant levels. Please check with your water provider for specific water conservation mandates." (Read more)

Another area hit hard in Northern California is Santa Clara County, where water commissioners on Tuesday approved mandatory drought restrictions, requiring its 1.8 million residents to reduce water use by 20 percent of levels from 2013, M. Alex Johnson reports for NBC. Reservoir levels for the area are at only 33 percent capacity, less than half the average over the past 20 years. (Read more)

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