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California’s “Water Year” Among The Driest Ever

santa margarita lake marlin harms.jpg
Marlin Harms
Flickr / Creative Commons
Santa Margarita Lake, near San Luis Obispo, has seen lower water levels due to the state's continuing drought.

Water years begin every October 1st. And the last one was one of California’s driest water years ever, with the continuing drought affecting most of the state.

The state’s Department of Water Resources ranked the 2020-21 water year as California’s fourth-driest on record.

In San Francisco, about nine inches of rain fell between October 1st, 2020 and September 30 of this year, compared to about 24 inches in a normal year. According to the National Weather Service, that’s the second-driest total in more than 170 years.

In San Jose, they’ve received about five inches of precipitation — about a third of what they normally get in a water year.

It’s even worse in downtown Sacramento. As of last Friday, the National Weather Service climate station in downtown Sacramento hadn’t recorded any rainfall in 195 days, breaking a record set in 1880.

The lack of rainfall has drastically affected California’s vast reservoir system. Reservoirs, on average, were at 93 percent at the start of the previous water year. Now officials say they’re at 60 percent of their historic average.

Without relief, they warn that many state residents could face mandatory water restrictions.

Governor Newsom has already declared water emergencies in 50 of the state’s 58 counties, but he has not declared a statewide emergency.