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California drought causes officials to cut off water supply to many residents

San Gabriel Reservoir in the Angeles National Forest on Jan. 22, 2014 in near Azusa, California
San Gabriel Reservoir in the Angeles National Forest on Jan. 22, 2014 in near Azusa, California

The L.A. Times reported that in an unprecedented move, state officials announced on Friday January 31 that beginning this spring, the state reservoir will effectively be closed for business.

 Almaden Reservoir on Jan. 28, 2014 in San Jose, California

For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project, a backbone of California's water system, will provide no water to millions of urban residents or farmers this year because of the severe drought.

"This is the most serious drought we've faced in modern times," Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, told the Associated Press. "We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years."

California is in its third straight year of drought conditions, with 2014 as the driest year on record — setting the stage for disastrous consequences for people, animals and the environment.

"We expect hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Central Valley to go unplanted," said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. "That will cause severe economic problems in our rural regions -- loss of jobs and economic activity, with all the heartache that entails."

The announcement does not mean that communities will have no water this summer. But it does mean that every region is largely on its own now and will have to rely on water stored in local reservoirs, pumped from underground wells, recycled water and conservation to satisfy demand.

In what is typically one of the wettest months of the year, January 2014 has turned out to be among the driest in history for some cities. Here's a few examples:

  • San Francisco: This was the first January in recorded history with less than a quarter inch of rain. Through Jan. 30, the city had just one-hundredth of an inch of rain.
  • Los Angeles: No measurable rain fell in Los Angeles during January for only the fifth time since 1878.
  • Redding, Sacramento, Stockton: All recorded their third driest January.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency and urged all Californians to cut water use by 20%. The state has identified 17 communities in Central and Northern California that could run out of water in the next couple of months.

To learn on the most effect ways to conserve water, visit this site and stock up on water if your community is going to be affected.

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