Water Storage & Drought

Water Storage & Drought

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Folsom Lake Dam

The southeast view of Folsom Lake and the dam in Folsom, Calif. on September 8, 2015. On this day, the water storage was 188,854 acre feet, 19% of total capacity, and 32% of historical average for this date. Folsom Lake is a reservoir in Northern California about 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Sacramento in Placer, El Dorado, and Sacramento Counties. (Photo by Florence Low/CA Dept. of Water Resources.)

California is experiencing the effects of a multi-year drought combined with the issues of an outdated water distribution system. Currently, two-thirds of water for Californians starts in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and flows through the state’s antiquated main water distribution system through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to other parts of the state, including Northern California, the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Southern California.

 

Extremely low water levels at Folsom Lake. 1/31/14 (Photo by John Chacon/CA Dept. of Water Resources.)

Extremely low water levels at Folsom Lake. 1/31/14 (Photo by John Chacon/CA Dept. of Water Resources.)

However, California’s outdated water distribution system can’t meet the demands of these 25 million Californians, resulting in significant water supply cutbacks and shortages for people, farms, and businesses. This year alone, 486,000 total acre-feet (AF) of water that could have been collected in rainy season was lost to sea because of California’s outdated water infrastructure. That’s equal to 486,000 football fields filled one foot deep with water.

The equivalent of 486,000 AF of water:

  • 158 billion gallons of water
  • 21,170,000,000 cubic feet
  • Could have supplied 3.6 million people water for a year

Because California was not able to capture and store the heavy rainfall this year, our state is not adequately prepared for future prolonged droughts. Equally alarming, in the event of the next big earthquake or natural disaster, this system is at risk of collapse. Experts warn that such disaster could cut off water supplies for more than a year and cost our economy billions of dollars.

“This new conveyance system would give us the flexibility to take big gulps of big storms and lay off the pumping in drier times, when pumping poses more risk to fish and water quality.” — John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources

The California WaterFix is the solution that California needs. As the best long-term plan supported by scientists and water experts, the California WaterFix will protect water supplies by creating a modern water pipeline so we don’t have to rely solely on today’s deteriorating dirt levee system. It will improve the ability to capture water and move it to storage facilities throughout the state so we can use it when we really need it – in times of drought. According to John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources, “This new conveyance system would give us the flexibility to take big gulps of big storms and lay off the pumping in drier times, when pumping poses more risk to fish and water quality.” Protecting our state’s water supplies is a priority—it’s time to move forward with the California WaterFix.

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Governor Jerry Brown’s California WaterFix would secure our state’s water supplies by upgrading current infrastructure and conveyance for California communities by building a modern water pipeline to transport water and reducing reliance on old, dirt levees.

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Governor Jerry Brown’s California WaterFix would secure our state’s water supplies by upgrading current infrastructure and conveyance for California communities by building a modern water pipeline to transport water and reducing reliance on old, dirt levees.

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