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Last California Snow Survey Reveals More Bleak Water News For The State

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The California Department of Water Resources weighs a snow sample on January 29, 2010 near Meyers, California. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

The California Department of Water Resources weighs a snow sample on January 29, 2010 near Meyers, California. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The California Department of Water Resources has released the final survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack of 2014, and it appears the state will be facing a long summer after a near-dry winter.

According to manual and electronic readings, the snowpack is at 18 percent of average for the date. This comes after the last reading on April 1, when the survey found water content at only 32 percent of average. The survey also found more bare ground than snow.

“Anyone who doesn’t think conservation is important should drive up the hill and take a look,” said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin. “Coupled with half our normal rainfall and low reservoir storage, our practically nonexistent snowpack reinforces the message that we need to save every drop we can just to meet basic needs.”

The Sierra Nevada snowpack normally provides about a third of the water for California’s farms and cities.

Thursday’s electronic readings showed 7 percent of average water content in the northern Sierra snowpack. That water normally helps will the state’s major reservoirs, which currently are only half full. Electronic readings for the central and southern Sierra are at 24 and 18 percent of normal, respectively.

The manual measurements are taken near the first of the month from January through May to supplement and check the accuracy of real-time electronic readings.

The DWR said that even with any unlikely late season storms, it will not help the state get out of the current drought.

At the end of January, the DWR set its allocation of State Water Project (SWP) water at zero. The only other previous zero allocation was for agriculture in the drought year of 1991, but cities and others received 30 percent of requested amounts.

After late season storms, the Department of Water Resources in April increased this year’s allocation to 5 percent, and if that stands, it would be the lowest across the board allocation in the 54-year history of the State Water Project.

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