Drought
7:52 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Total California Water Storage Near Decade Low

Friant Dam (file photo)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins are experiencing the steepest drop in water storage in nearly a decade. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new study looked at all water storage in the basins, including snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater.

The report from UC Irvine’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling is an update to a 2011 study which showed the basins lost nearly as much water as the volume of Lake Mead over a seven year period.  The new report finds water storage in the last two years continues to plummet, and the study doesn’t even include the most recent dry winter. Report author Jay Famiglietti says the amount of water lost is equal to the water used by all of California’s urban areas each year. Most of the loss is due to groundwater withdrawals.

FamThis is a worse than ever situation, so we really have to watch what’s going to happen with the groundwater, it’s been bad in the past during drought periods and now with a zero surface water allocation I’m quite concerned that it will be terrible in the future.”

Famiglietti says groundwater levels drop faster during drought than they can be replenished during wet periods.

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