The California State Water Resources Control Board requests that water suppliers submit data outlining their monthly water production, the population served and the percentage of residential use earlier than usual.
As it stands, the state’s suppliers have been required to share the data by the 28th of the following month. For instance, water-use data for the month of April were not submitted until the end of May and were not available to policymakers until June.
In a message to water suppliers, state water officials wrote, “access to current water consumption data is essential to state and local management of the drought emergency.”
Last summer, Newsom pleaded with residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 15%. But by the end of March, urban water usage was up by 19% compared to March 2020, the year the drought began.
It was the highest March water consumption since 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board reported.
California’s drought emergency now covers all 58 counties as the state is pushing into its third year of the megadrought. The board pointed to the worsening conditions, with the largest reservoirs in the state currently at half their historical averages.
This year, the state faced the driest January, February and March since California started keeping records more than 100 years ago, the board noted.
The State Water Project, which pipes water down from the northern Sierra Nevada and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the southern part of the state, will only receive 5% of its requested water supplies this year according to the water resources department’s finalized plans.
Citing “unprecedented dry conditions,” the control board in May cut how much water right holders receive from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, the state’s largest source of surface water. The agency also said it expects further cuts will follow in June and through the summer and early fall — until there’s a chance for substantial precipitation. The watershed supplies water to two-thirds of Californians and “millions of acres” of farmland, according to the board.
The US Bureau of Reclamation is also cutting allocations to the Central Valley Project, which provides water to the state’s Central Valley, San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.