U.S. report says 58 percent of state under most severe level of drought
Published - 08/04/14 - 01:31 PM | 2387 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A national study says that more than half of California is now under the most severe level of drought for the first time since the federal government began issuing regular drought reports in the late 1990s.

According to the July 31 U.S. Drought Monitor Report, roughly 58 percent of California was considered to be experiencing an "exceptional" drought – the worst level of five. This is the first time any part of California has seen that level of drought.

The state has been in severe drought since May, but more of it has since fallen into more severe categories – “extreme” and "exceptional." Nearly 22 percent more of California was added into the exceptional drought category in the last week alone.

California is also more than a year’s worth of water short in its reservoirs, and moisture in the state's topsoil and subsoil has nearly been depleted, according to the report.

In January, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency, calling on Californians to conserve water whenever possible. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the drought in California could intensify. The U.S> Department of Agriculture has said that the drought and these moisture deficits could seriously impact the prices of fruits, vegetables and dairy products for years to come, because California is a big producer of these items.

The city of San Diego has issued a Level 1 drought alert calling for citizens to voluntarily participate in water conservation measures, including not watering lawns more than three days a week and watering lawns or washing vehicles only before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. during summer months.

“The cheapest gallon of water is the one you don’t use,” said council president pro tem Sherri Lightner, of District 1, who added she’s “proud to see San Diegans stepping up their water-saving practices to help address our drought conditions and long-term supply needs head-on.”

“We need to do everything necessary to deal with drought and water supply conditions,” said Lightner, adding, “Mandatory conservation could become the new standard in our efforts to secure an adequate water supply.”

Noting San Diego’s annual rainfall average at Lindbergh Field is 10.34 inches, National Weather Service forecaster Jimmy Taeger said the rainfall amount for 2013-14, which ended June 30, was 5.06 inches. Taeger said rainfall levels the previous year was 6.51 inches and 8.03 inches the year before that. Taeger said you have to go back to 2010-11 to find the last year when rainfall was at or above normal. 12.62 inches fell that year.

So far, San Diego water restrictions meet those imposed by the state in 2009.
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