September 24 2021 03:30 pm

California water officials talk statewide drought impact, agency response efforts

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Extreme heat, wildfire risk and stress on the state’s power grid have become a part of daily life for thousands of Californians lately.

Experts with state agencies put their heads together Wednesday to talk about where the state stands when it comes to the climate conditions fueling the drought and how to find solutions.

California averages two Flex Alerts or calls for power conservation a year over the last decade.

There have already been six flex alerts to date in 2021.

“As we closed out water year 2020, we had record heat in August and September,” explained California Department of Water Resources state climatologist Mike Anderson. “That, coupled with the late start of precipitation, left our snowpack developing on very dry soils. Pivot into spring, April, May and June were both the warmest and driest in our period of record that dates back to 1896.

The panel of experts said Wednesday that we would need to get 140% of average precipitation next year just to get back to the average amount of water run-off the state depends on during the summer annually.

Combined with the increased demand for power in hot, dry conditions, the state has focused on a variety of solutions.

“We are committed to getting to 100% clean energy as quickly as we can,” said David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission. “So, we’re focusing on clean resources, including demand response and energy storage.”

The drought has the California Department of Parks and Recreation doing things differently as the daily demand for water in the state park system is outpacing water input in some areas.

For example, Mount Diablo State Park has turned off its public-access faucets to help conserve water.

They ask park visitors to check their website at www.parks.ca.gov when planning their trip to see how conservation efforts are reducing amenities at their destination.

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