California’s State Water Resources Control Board has decided to restrict the storing of river water by the city of San Francisco inside its Hetch Hetchy Dam, in lieu of the severe drought which has afflicted the state.
A SWRC board meeting was held on Friday with the intent analyzing and finding new solution for dwindling water levels throughout the state. Board members convened to restrict the city of San Francisco’s future accumulation of water reserves, so as to let water levels replenish and provide more sustenance in combating the flood.
SWRC board members also added that the city isn’t in any danger of running out of water, as its water supplies can sustain all of its population for the next two years. The decision will not apply retroactively, leaving the city with water reserves already collected from rivers. The exact amount of the restriction was not specified publicly.
The restriction will apply to the Merced, Tuolumne and upper parts of the San Joaquin rivers. The Tuolumne itself iCas an important supplier of drinkable water for San Francisco, with it traditionally exploiting its increased riverbed after snows melted in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Reliability on the river has decreased lately since the drought has also had a negative effect on snow levels.
Alongside San Francisco, other 15 senior diverters had their water rights restricted from Central Valley Waters and streams. Most of the senior diverters trace their water rights back more than a century, making it the first time since the 1977 drought that the board restricts water usage by them. Over 100 junior diverters have also had their rights restricted in the past couple of months.
The inclusion of San Francisco in the restricted category is not expected to make a world of difference for water levels, as 95 percent of the water in the Hetch Hetchy reservoir is filled up by storms and rain. Water consumption is quite high in the Bay Area city, with 45 gallons per individual being consumed each day.
The ongoing drought in California is hard-hitting on the state’s agriculture-oriented economy, with 2015 losses alone projected at $2.7 billion. California itself is responsible for nearly 10 percent of the agricultural output of the entire United States. Some specialists are pointing that, beyond the drought, a more worrying factor would the continued depletion of the Colorado river due to high levels of exploitation in the past century.
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