drought illustration
Credit: Illustration by Cecily Mireles

Lack of rainfall and snowpack stresses both of California’s main sources of drinking water: underground aquifers and surface water.

The 2021 water year (October 2020 to September 2021) was the state’s second driest year on record and driest year since 1924 in terms of statewide precipitation, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Read more about the impacts of drought from CalMatters: ​​Running out of water and time: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

During droughts, water deliveries are slashed for growers, urban residents and industry. Next year’s initial allocation from the State Water Project, the 700-mile system that channels water from Northern California rivers, is 0%. That means water agencies serving 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland can only expect water from the project if they require it for minimum health and safety needs.

“Parts of Southern California depend on this supply almost exclusively for their water. We are working…to make sure residents and businesses understand the severity and complexity of the situation and are responding by reducing their water use as much as necessary,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District, which provides imported water to 19 million people in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.

Reduced allocations from the massive state project are becoming the norm, not the exception: The last time there was a 100% allocation was in 2006.