Depleted Reservoirs, Water Restrictions Worry Sacramento Area Farmers

By Steve Milne for Cap Radio

The main reason farmers are facing curtailment is because the drought is depleting California's reservoirs which feed into rivers, streams and bays.

Scientists say this year's drought is hotter and drier than previous ones. That means the water in California's reservoirs is evaporating faster. And that’s making it harder for farmers to grow crops. It also makes it difficult for endangered fish species to survive.

“For some of the major reservoirs, they are lower than they were at this time of the year during 2014 and 2015 which were the worst years of the previous drought,” said Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. “Basically we're seeing, in the second year of this drought, the same kind of low reservoir levels that we saw in the third year of the previous drought."

Consequently, the state's more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year.

“This year is extraordinarily dry,” said Lund. “This is the third driest year on record for Northern California in terms of precipitation — and it's warm. So we're going to see that the cold water behind those dams does not remain cold very far downstream and that's going to be problematic for some of the salmon as well."

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