California is now entering the fifth year of a major drought.  On January 17, 2014, the Governor of California declared a statewide drought emergency. By many measures, 2014 and 2015 have been the worst years of the drought.  Based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of December 29, 2015, over 95 percent of California’s $43-billion agricultural sector was experiencing severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

However, in California, exposure to local water shortages, which is what the Drought Monitor measures, are only part of how the drought is affecting farms.  California agriculture relies heavily on irrigation, and much of the irrigation water is supplied by large-scale State and Federal water projects that store and transport water across hundreds of miles. Therefore, the degree of drought exposure based on local weather does not fully capture the potential impacts. Many other factors, such as surface water availability, groundwater access and cost, irrigation technology choice, crop insurance enrollment, availability, and water rights, influence the vulnerability of farms to ongoing drought.

With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions.

Below are links to drought-related resources and information.

Water Rights Programs – State Water Resources
Drought Resources for Farmers
– CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture.
Drought Information – Dept. of Water Resources.
California Water Crisis: Curtailments – California Farm Bureau links and information.

U.S. Drought Monitor – a weekly map of drought conditions.
UC Drought Management – drought information resources.

California Groundwater Data – from the US Geological Survey.
California Streamflow Conditions – from the US Geological Survey.
California Reservoir Conditions – Department of Water Resources

Crop Insurance and Drought – what growers need to know and understand.
FSA Disaster Program
– emergency programs admini stered by the Farm Service Agency.

CA Drought Facts
What are the impacts of the drought?
Water quality degradation, surface and groundwater level declines, land subsidence - all are impacts of drought. Understanding the impacts of drought can help mitigate drought-related issues and prepare for future dry periods.

How does drought affect groundwater?
Groundwater provides drinking water for a large portion of the nation's population, supplies business and industries, and is used extensively for irrigation. But what happens to this resource during drought?

How does drought affect surface water?
Careful observation and analysis of the movement and condition of surface water is essential for understanding this resource, especially during times of drought. The California Water Science Center uses a network of over 400 streamgages to collect real-time data on surface water at locations across the state.

How is water managed during a drought?
Water shortages during drought are not only a concern for humans, but for ecosystems in the Bay Delta and Central Valley as well.