A May 2 article in the LA Times predicts another water shortage this summer in California. Apparently our nice amount of rain this winter didn't persist for very long as snowpack in the Sierras: In March, we were at 97% of normal snowpack thanks to a nice series of storms that rolled through California. However, since then we haven't had any of our normally anticipated later March, April, or May showers. Add to this recent court decisions to divert water for ecological reasons, and you have a convergence of factors that will probably result in a water shortage (even rationing is possible) this summer.
If my records are correct, at the end of February we had our last good storm here in LA. We had no rain in March, and early April brought only a light sprinkle. Nonetheless, in early April I stated that we were more likely than not to get another rainfall. I was wrong. Northern California has been suffering with a similar problem along with unusually warm weather that has melted snowpack more rapidly than usual.
Peoples' lawns will be the first to go, of course.
...After a record-dry 2006-07 snow year, water managers had hoped this year would bring ample snow and rainfall to fill reservoirs and ease worries about water shortages. Those concerns have been exacerbated by a long drought in the Colorado River Basin and a federal court ruling curbing water deliveries from Northern California.
Cities throughout Southern California supplement their own local supplies with two major sources outside the region: Sierra water pumped south through the State Water Project, and water transported west from the Colorado River.
Los Angeles traditionally has gotten 30% to 60% of its water from the Eastern Sierra via the Los Angeles Aqueduct, but it still buys water imported from the north and east.
"I think we're all facing a worrisome water picture," said H. David Nahai, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Statewide, early hopes of a wet year faltered when snowfall in some areas of the Sierra -- the source of much of the state's water -- virtually stopped in early March. The months of March and April combined were the driest in the northern Sierra since 1921....
...State meteorologist Elissa Lin fell short of officially declaring a drought. "It's been a very tough two years for water supply in California," Lin said. "All of these things are pointing in that direction. . . . Certainly, if we go into a third year, we're looking at some critical situations."
Further tightening water supplies, state deliveries to Southern California were slashed in December after a federal court decision last summer aimed at protecting endangered smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger, who ordered those restrictions, is scheduled to hold hearings in June to decide whether to impose further cutbacks to protect chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout.
LA Times article on Sierra snowpack.
There's discussion of what motivates people to NOT conserve in the present climate:
"Water is too cheap, until they get the prices right to encourage wise use of water by hitting people in the wallets, they will be pi$$ing in the wind to get people to conserve.
Which gives rise to the sentiment previously expressed of if I conserve they will just route the "saved" water to the profligate user." -Sunsetbeachguy
To which I respond:
I think you have it slightly wrong. What motivates my sentiment is that in previous rationing years, water allocations have been based on historic consumption.
So why should I take extraordinary measures to conserve now when that makes my water allocation during drought unlivable? Furthermore, there is an established history of early adopters of conservation measures being screwed for their investment when later widespread adoption is encouraged by rebate programs.
I do the sensible things right now to save water because I'm a responsible adult, but if were the type who already lived with buckets in my shower what could I do to further reduce consumption when I'm allocated down in a rationing year?
The bottom line is that I'm not in a mode of "If I don't use it someone else will". I'm in a mode of "Don't make my life unlivable when I have to cut back further."
Note: After only a nanosecond more additional thought I think that raising prices more dramatically as you consume more water really would get to the heart of the aggregate water consumption problem. Nonetheless, history has shown that water allocations ARE based on previous consumption, so even if water were priced aggressively and progressively the thought process holds for those anticipating either rationing or rebate.