Near Record-Low California Snowpack Measurement Warns of Greater Water Supply Challenges Ahead

21st Century Water Solutions Crucial to Build New, Resilient Water Supply Sources

LOS ANGELES (April 1, 2014) – Critically low California snowpack measurement was reported today by the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) in its annual April snow survey, revealing the  snowpack measurement is at its lowest since 1988 – the fifth lowest reading since snowpack record-keeping began in 1930. With severe to exceptional drought conditions already crippling more than 95 percent of the state, the latest snowpack results serve as a dismal signal of how little water will flow into California streams and rivers that normally replenish the state’s reservoirs in advance of dry summer and fall months. The snowpack – often called California’s largest reservoir – normally provides about one-third of the water used by the state’s cities and farms. 

Natural Resources Defense Council Water Program Director Steve Fleischli made the following statement:

“Recent snow and rains have made only a small dent in California's historic drought, meaning we’re headed into summer with far less snowmelt available than normal. For far too long Californians have used more water than we can sustain and done so in ways that are not as efficient as we could. This system of too little supply and too much demand is finally catching up with us.

“And as climate change becomes the "new normal," our water woes will only get worse. We need to rethink projects that cost billions, take years to build and aren't going to help anytime soon. This drought is a critical opportunity for our leaders to step up and invest in what works: strategies that improve water efficiency and tap underused local supplies.” 

Climate scientists warn less winter snowpack should continue to be expected because of climate change, with the following projections:

While California should plan on getting less water than in the past from snowpack, the opportunities for smarter water use are only growing. Urban and agricultural water efficiency, water recycling, better groundwater management, and stormwater capture are becoming California’s most promising drought-resistant water supplies. Investments in water conservation and local water supplies have consistently been far more cost-effective and less environmentally damaging than investments in new, large reservoir projects in the state.

For more information on California snowpack and the drought, please see:


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