Does California really only have one year of water left?

A recent article by the LA Times raised concerns over the past few days about California's water supply. The author, Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist, said the state only has one year of water supply left, with no contingency plan for when it runs out.

One official was pretty blunt about how to respond to the article.

"The entire state of California is certainly not about to run out of water," said Jeanine Jones, Interstate Resources Manager with the California Department of Water Resources.

Jones said that the LA Times article was not entirely accurate, especially the claim about the state only having one year of water left in the supply.

"I think it's perhaps written from the perspective of an academic who is less familiar with how water operations actually work at the water agency supply level," said Jones.

She said the storage that the author of the article referred to only represented a portion of the state's annual water portfolio.

Rain and snow fill the reservoirs during the wet season, and what was not used during the year, carried over to storage for the next year. Even though precipitation had been far below expectations, Folsom Lake for example, was improving. Bill Busath, Interim Director of the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities said the levels are more encouraging than before.

"From a Folsom lake supply, we're in a much better situation than we were last year at this time," he said. "Last year in 2014 at this time, Folsom Lake was under 200,000 acre feet. Right now, it's over 500,000, almost 600,000 acre feet."

Busath said currently Sacramento is at stage two, meaning 20 percent water conservation was in effect, with two days set aside for watering. There was a stage 3, which was 30 percent water conservation and just one day a week for watering. That never happened before in Sacramento.

There's even a stage four and stage five.

"Stage five would be 50 percent mandated conservation with no irrigation. It would be pretty drastic." Said Busath.

Busath said from the city's perspective, there was no immediate plans to increase to stage three.

Tuesday, the State Water Resources control board will introduce new water conservation regulations, but those won't change anything in Sacramento, because the city already had those same restrictions in place.


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