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California is prepping for the next drought after heading into second dry year

All signs point to a well below average end to the rainy season. The state is already preparing California residents for less water this summer.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — March was no miracle for California, with well below-average rain and snow for the wettest regions. Tuesday, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced lower State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year.

California is heading into the second dry year which greatly impacts the water supply. The reserves in place are running thin and adjustments must be made to keep the state from going dry.

The Regional Water Authority, which works with regional water suppliers in Northern California, along with the Sacramento Water Forum, a diverse group working on a healthy long-term water supply, responded by explaining the many ways water agencies have been working together since the last drought from 2012-16.

Seeing this dry trend continue, they worked alongside other water providers, environmental groups and government agencies to help alleviate the effects of drought.

Drought is a part of California's climate. It has been here before and will be here again. That is why so many agencies throughout the state have been preparing to meet this challenge on many levels.

Since the last drought in 2012-16, there have been nearly 20 projects in the works to help the Sacramento region’s resiliency to drought conditions.

The region continues to work together on strategies to help strengthen the area's drought resiliency.

Plans include:

  • Shifting to using more groundwater: Over the past several decades, local water providers have been working together to strategically shift the region’s water use to surface water or groundwater according to availability. This has allowed more groundwater to be available for dry times, such as we are currently facing. This approach was successful during California’s most recent drought. For example, the Sacramento region used more groundwater than typical in order to leave more in our waterways for fish and wildlife. We are planning to do the same in 2021.
  • Sharing water around the region: Since the last drought, water providers have invested in new pipelines, interties, pumps and groundwater wells to move water where it’s needed. This system is ready to assist the communities most directly impacted by lower levels at Folsom. 
  • Asking customers to be vigilant about stopping water waste: We ask our customers to use water efficiently no matter the weather. Now, they must be even more focused on efficiency and stopping water waste. During the last drought, local residents reached some of the state’s highest conservation rates and ultimately contributed 12% of the state’s total water savings even with only 5% of the population. We know our customers will answer the call to conserve when needed. 

WATCH NEXT: Is California ready for the next drought? | ABC10 Originals

The last drought in California from 2012-16 was so catastrophic, some of the hardest-hit communities still haven’t recovered. Can the Golden State get ready in time to make it through the next one before even more towns go under? An ABC10 Originals investigation from Monica Woods.

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