Two years ago, over half of California suffered from “exceptional drought”, the worst possible designation given by the U.S. Drought Monitor. That number stands at over 21% today. Huge portions of that area along the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles, and a substantial portion of area inland from there remain parched. Much of this is farmland
Some of the areas most desperate will receive little or no help from the government at all. According to the Sacramento Bee, a reporter writing in April observed:
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in an eagerly anticipated announcement, outlined the initial 2016 water allocations from the Central Valley Project, the federal government’s massive network of reservoirs, pumps and canals.
The results after a relatively wet winter and early spring: Rice growers and others north of the Delta can expect 100 percent of their contracted water deliveries. That represents a significant improvement over last year, when even those farmers with some of the state’s most senior water rights lost more than 25 percent of the water they would receive in a non-drought year.
The picture is far less rosy below the federal pumping station near Tracy that supplies farmers south of the Delta. The sprawling agricultural districts on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley were told they’re getting only 5 percent of their contract supply.
Will the problem get better soon? Not according to the Accuweather winter forecast:
For Southern California, the pattern will exacerbate ongoing drought conditions.
“We’re in a pattern that doesn’t really show a lot of rain coming toward Southern California, so I don’t expect too much relief,” AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.
What precipitation does fall in California will aim primarily for the north, though it will fail to have the significance of last January when the region was hammered by heavy rain and snow.
“I do think in the early part of the season we’re looking good anywhere from San Francisco, Sacramento and into the mountains.”
It does not appear the 20% number will get better soon.