Northbound I-5, north of Highway 165, down to 1 lane due to an overturned big rig

California News

California drought prompts conservation measures

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The impact is already being felt from California's drought emergency, and summer is still months away. There are efforts underway to deal with the looming water shortage. Officials say it could be the worst water crisis in the state's history.

"We are tracking below 1977, the previous driest year at this point in time," said Michael Connor, commissioner of the state Bureau of Reclamation.

California fishing regulators shut down recreational fishing Wednesday on portions of two rivers in Santa Cruz County, concerned about salmon and steelhead trout.

"There are no good options during a drought of this magnitude and there will be impacts to salmon populations that we work so hard to protect in this state," said Maria Rea, National Marine Fisheries.

And you can expect to pay more for electricity this summer. Energy officials say with less water in hydroelectric dams, there will be less power produced, so expect the power to come from other sources.

"What's going to happen is because we will have less hydro, which is among our cheapest resources, we will have to burn more gas in power plants, and we'll also have to buy more power from out of state," said Robert Weisenmiller, California Energy Commission.

The federal government is also concerned about farmland that will be left barren this year because there is simply not enough water to grow crops. For now there are only voluntary water restrictions, but it could change.

"We may quickly get to the point that we're asking all Californians to take mandatory cuts in their water supplies," said Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources.

Governor Jerry Brown and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will meet with federal officials next week to try to come up with ways to deal with the dwindling water supply.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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