California still faces water shortage

13:09, April 03, 2010      

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California will continue to have a water shortage this year despite a return to normal snowpack and higher precipitation this winter, authorities said.

"The impression seems to be that the drought has been broken," director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Mark Cowin said in remarks published by the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

"Clearly we're going to have water shortages this year. We all need to conserve water."

He blamed the hit-or-miss nature of winter storms that have pushed statewide precipitation and snowpack to average or slightly higher levels for this time of year but that bypassed some key areas.

Storage in Northern California's Shasta Lake, which supplies the federal system that irrigates much of California agriculture, is at 104 percent of average for this time of year. But the level of Lake Oroville, key storage in the state system, is only 60 percent of normal, lower than it was last spring, according to the paper.

"The State Water Project is not in as good a position as we would like it to be -- and perhaps worse than you might expect based on those fairly good numbers regarding snowpack and precipitation," Cowin observed.

Environmental restrictions on pumping Northern California water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are lowering the state deliveries by about 10 percent, he added.

But most of the delivery cuts are because of the drought. "We still are primarily suffering from the dry conditions of the last three years," Cowin said.

The state system is rarely able to give its customers, which include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, all the water they want. Typically, allocations are about 68 percent of requests.

"The ethic of using water efficiently in California has got to be the normal course of business and not dependent on the weather forecast," Cowin said.

Source: Xinhua


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