With warm weather, no meaningful precipitation lately and dry winds, the statewide snowpack has been dropping by about 1% every day, according to state water board staff.
“We have to assume that we don’t get another drop,” said board chair Joaquin Esquivel during a hearing Tuesday.
Board member Sean Maguire called it sobering how reservoir storage now stands at close to the same level as the record 1976-77 drought.
“If that’s not a wakeup call, I really don’t know what is,” said Maguire.
Staff are anticipating the board will need to extend a series of emergency curtailment regulations approved last year. The first would be in May or June for the Russian River watershed, followed by the Scott and Shasta rivers, which have posed challenges with increased stream depletion from nearby groundwater pumping. The Delta regulation would be up for renewal in August.
The board spent several hours on technical updates to a potential temporary urgency change petition proposed by the Newsom administration. If approved by the board, the regulation would allow the Department of Water Resources to circumvent Trump-era biological opinions for Delta species while federal agencies rewrite the opinions.
Parts of the Sierra did gain just over an inch of snow Tuesday, the first measurable accumulation in 37 days.