California’s largest source of irrigation water entered a new water year this month at one of the lowest storage levels on record. Central Valley Project reservoirs hold just 3.2 million acre-feet of water, less than a third of the storage held in 2017. Powerplant generation during the 2021 water year was nearly half of average production.

“Reclamation remains all-hands-on-deck and fully committed to planning for another dry year,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant in a statement Wednesday.

During a meeting of the Association of California Water Agencies last week, Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth shared a more ominous vision of the coming water year. Various forecasting models, she explained, portend extended dry conditions.

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“It doesn't seem like there's any real path to generating something beyond a zero allocation to the State Water Project starting in December,” said Nemeth. “That definitely gets everybody's attention.”

According to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, the current drought has now narrowly beat out the last one to be the worst on record, which goes back to the late 1800s.