A plan for more than $680 million in drought relief is headed to Governor Jerry Brown's desk after winning some overwhelming approval in both the state Senate and Assembly.
The plan draws from two previously approved bonds and taps some general fund money for water conservation and recycling projects.
$15 million will go to communities running low on drinking water and $47 million will be allocated to food assistance programs.
The legislation will take effect immediately if signed by the governor, which is expected.
With that, most have welcomed this week's rain, however, it won't leave a lasting impact. The recent storms will help a little with water storage but won't have a large effect on the drought. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Louis Moore says levels are significantly lower compared to last years.
"Today the Central Valley Project is about 59% of our 15 year average and last year, this same date, were were 108% of our 15 year average," Moore stated.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service says they're leveraging for up to $14 million in funding for water districts to conserve water and improve water management.
Locally, the San Juan Water District, which serves portions of Sacramento County and Granite Bay, has voted to enact mandatory 25% cuts in water use for its customers. That level was reduced from a proposed 40% cutback now that our area has finally seen some rain, but officials also tightened rules on waste.
Fines could be levied on water wasters and the timeframe on getting leaks fixed has been reduced from nine days to two. Those who don't comply could see their water shut off within a 48 hour window.
Drought Monitor changes:
The new Drought Monitor was released today with only minor changes to interior northern California (a contraction of the D2 area in the Sierra). This was due to the underlying dry conditions we have seen since the heavy rain event almost 3 weeks ago.
There was however, an expansion of the D4 (Exceptional Drought) just to our south in the San Joaquin valley to the southern Sierra and south through Santa Barbara County and into much of Ventura County.
Meteorological reasoning for changes:
These changes were made due to the ongoing historic rainfall deficits as well as the increasing number of reported impacts in the water supply and agricultural communities. The past few rain systems have brought very little rainfall in the D4 area which has allowed conditions to continue to worsen. That can be seen in this graphic depicting the rainfall over California the last 90 days.
Short Term Forecast:
Central and northern California received moderate rain and mountain snow from Wednesday-Wednesday Nights (2/26-2/27) system. The image below shows the preliminary 24hr precipitation from 4 am Wednesday-4 am Thursday.
Some showers this afternoon and evening, then another round of more widespread rain and mountain snow for early Friday through Saturday. Here's our latest weather story for that.