The State Water Board sent letters Monday to 40,000 water rights holders asking them to adopt immediate conservation measures and reduce usage.
Reservoir and groundwater levels are significantly below average, and the snowpack is only 58% of average, despite recent storms.
“Planting crops and other decisions that are dictated by water supply are made early in the year, so early warnings are vital,” said Erik Ekdahl, a deputy director at the agency. “These letters give water users time to prepare and help minimize the impacts of reduced supplies on businesses, farms and homes.”
Farmers are encouraged to reduce irrigated acreage, manage herd size and diversify water supply portfolios.
Researchers with the U.S. Drought Monitor expect dry conditions to continue through at least June.