California Drought: Hydrological and Regulatory Water Supply Issues [August 14, 2015] [open pdf - 2MB]
"California is in its fourth year of drought. As of late July 2015, 47% of California was experiencing exceptional drought--the most severe U.S. federal drought classification--and approximately 71% of the state was experiencing extreme drought. The 2014 water year (October 2013 through September 2014) was the third driest on record. Water users that receive water supplies from the state of California and federal water projects are experiencing unprecedented water supply shortages due to the drought. Severe water supply shortages also hampered the state during a recent three-year drought (2008-2010). Paleontological and tree-ring records indicate that California has experienced many multiyear droughts over several millennia; however, some experts estimate that the current drought may be the most severe in the past 1,200 years. This report focuses on hydrological and regulatory compliance issues that affect operation and management of two large water supply projects that serve farms and communities throughout California: the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in the Department of the Interior, and the State Water Project (SWP), owned and operated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Reductions in water supplied by these projects in drought years result in economic disruption across the state such as concentrated crop and financial losses in agricultural areas throughout the Central Valley, including portions of the San Joaquin Valley. At the same time, several fish species--one of which may be close to extinction--whose habitat lies at the heart of California's water supply system and throughout its northern rivers are in decline. Declining fish species, exacerbated by drought, also may have economic implications, resulting in job and income losses in coastal areas. In addition, the drought and low water supplies affect recreation, power production, other industries, and small and large communities."
CRS Report for Congress, R40979
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html