New Year’s Resolution: A Little Rain?

Since I started on the California Sportsman editor’s gig in August, more than a few fishing and hunting folks I’ve chatted up have shown great concern over the lack of rain throughout the Golden State and the potential for drought-like conditions if this rainy season also disappoints. Now is the time when wet weather should be running amok in California in a normal pattern. But this report from ABC-30 in Fresno (and the Associated Press) is hardly a feel-g00d start to 2014.

Some of the lowlights from the report include dangerously-low waters in San Joaquin Valley lakes:

At Millterton Lake in the Fresno area, a mound in the middle, normally only visible by a few feet, the lake bottom is visible because Millerton Lake is at 43 percent capacity.

 “It comes from here, so if it’s not coming down the mountain, you’ll have to get it out of the ground,” said Judi Silveira of Fresno.

 Silveira and her husband drove to the lake on New Year’s Day to check the levels first hand. They’re worried as growers because they are facing another year with no water allocation and shrinking profits.

Rain totals in both Northern and Southern California are ridiculously below average:

Downtown Los Angeles received a meager 3.60 inches of rain since Jan. 1, the driest calendar year since 1877. Normally, downtown would be soaked with about 15 inches of precipitation.

Similarly, San Francisco recorded just 5.59 inches of rain since the beginning of the year, 18 inches below normal. Sacramento is 14 inches below average after receiving 6.13 inches of rain this year.

This is clearly a bigger issue than just the impact a lack of rain will have on hunting and fishing in California:

Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is currently at 37 percent of its total capacity. Folsom Lake recently dipped below 20 percent of its capacity, marking a historic low for the month. This triggered some communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region to issue water conservation orders.

The Northern California city of Folsom recently mandated that residents cut water consumption by 20 percent. Sacramento County asked unincorporated areas to voluntarily reduce water use by the same amount.

State water managers are also discussing transferring water from places with relative abundance to communities facing critical shortages.

Happy? New Year, California.