California Issues Earliest Ever 0 Percent Water Allocation Amid Drought

California Issues Earliest Ever 0 Percent Water Allocation Amid Drought houseboats sit in very low lake Houseboats sit in a depleted Lake Oroville in Oroville, California on September 5, 2021. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Thursday, 02 December 2021 02:15 PM

The California drought conditions are so dire the Department of Water Resources has issued its earliest ever 0% water allocation heading into 2022, signaling even further issues for water conservation in the most populous state in the U.S.

"If conditions continue this dry, we will see mandatory cutbacks," California DWR Director Karla Nemeth told reporters, KCRA-3 Sacramento reported Thursday.

While drinking and bathing water is not at risk right now, consumers are urged in the state to conserve water. The water agencies serve 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland, which might not get the necessary high-volume water for irrigation, landscaping, and gardening.

"The dramatic reduction of our Northern California supplies means we all must step up our conservation efforts," Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said in a statement to KCRA. "Reduce the amount you are watering outside by a day, or two. Take shorter showers. Fix leaks. If we all do our part, we'll get through this together."

Southern California, the largest consuming district in the state serving 19 million, declared a drought emergency in November.

California's State Water Project reservoirs and canals that provide water to nearly 40 million in the state are running low. The largest, Lake Oroville, is only at 30% capacity, which is half of what is normal for this time of year, according to the report.

"This certainly isn’t what anyone wanted to hear," Las Virgenes Municipal Water District President Jay Lewitt told KCRA.

The last time districts received 0% water allocation was in January 2014.

Last year was the second-driest winter on record in the state, which provided a 10% water allocation in December and was down to 5% by March as the state awaited the seasonal snow melt and rainfall, KCRA reported.