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A California Drought Report Card

Ellen Hanak, Jeffrey Mount April 11, 2016
FL Folsom Lake

A year ago, Governor Jerry Brown issued California’s first-ever statewide water conservation mandate. Today, conditions are better: Northern California reservoirs have been filling, and the snow survey found a much-improved snowpack compared to last year. But one near-average year is not enough to recover from the driest, warmest four-year stretch on record. El Niño was not a drought-buster. In the southern half of the state, reservoirs remain low and groundwater basins even lower.

The end of the rainy season is a good time to evaluate our drought response. So, how did we do last year, and what changes could help us better manage one or more additional dry years? We graded California’s drought response for urban areas, the farming sector, rural water supply, and the environment, and found great disparities in the results.

This drought gave us a glimpse into a challenging future. Our commentary also outlines policy changes that will help us weather a few more years of drought—and more importantly, improve our ability to adapt to a hotter, drier future.

Read our commentary detailing this drought report card in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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