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US drought monitor map via NOAA: 12/5/2022

California braces for water shortages amid ongoing drought

More than 70 water agencies in the state could face shortages in the coming months

As California’s fourth consecutive drought worsens, more than 70 water agencies in California could face water shortages in the coming months, according to the state report.

The assessment, which includes annual data through July 1, found that around 18 percent — 73 of the 414 water suppliers — reported that they will soon face potential shortages. This is despite the vast majority — 82 percent — of urban water suppliers who submitted reports that said they had enough water to meet projected demand in the coming year.

This is the first year that California water suppliers are required to submit water shortage reports as climate change grips the water supply across the state.

More than 99 percent of California remains in a drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. Warmer temperatures, lack of storms, and low snowpack triggered the region’s ongoing drought — with the last three years being the driest period on record for California.

There is no reprieve in sight, so it’s expected that these potential water shortages from agencies will worsen in the coming months.

“These annual assessments submitted by local agencies are intended to help state and local water suppliers better prepare for current and future droughts,” the water resources department said in a statement.

The department’s report comes about three months after the federal government announced that the drying Colorado River, which is a water source for many Western states including California, will operate in a Tier 2 shortage condition for the first time starting next year, January 2023.

“With drought, we tend to watch winters and how much moisture is produced in the season through snowpack and rain,” said Currently’s Chief Meteorologist, Megan Montero. “Especially in Colorado since Colorado’s snowpack determines how much water is fed into the Colorado River, a major source of water for the southwest and western portions of the US.”

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