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Coping with the California Drought: The Latest on Our Water Reservoirs & the 2016 Drought Contin

So far the recent El Nino storms have only slightly increased the levels of reservoirs in California,

reaching half of historic depths for this time of year. The federally operated reservoirs that supply California's farms and cities, are now 49 percent full, compared with 47 percent on Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The good news is that the Sierra Nevada snowpack is seeing an increase after 4 years of drought conditions, and when this starts to melt off, it will help replenish the critically low reservoirs. There are also more El Nino storms coming to California in the next two months which will also help add to water and snow levels.

This month the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have finalized the 2016 Drought Contingency Plan that outlines State Water Project and Central Valley Project operations for February-November 2016.

The plan was developed in coordination with staff from State and federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWB). It focuses on water project operations as related to SWB Water Rights Decision-1641 and the potential modification requests needed to balance the competing needs and benefits of our limited water supplies in the context of consecutive dry years. One of the key purposes of this plan is to communicate overarching goals for 2016 water management and the potential operations needed to achieve those goals for water resources stakeholders and the public. Read more: 2016 Drought Contingency Plan

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