Watch CBS News

2020 Was The Second-Driest Year In California History

SACRAMENTO (CBSLA) - The California Department of Water Resources has reported that the 2020-21 water year is the driest on record since 1924 - and the second driest in the state's history. Water years are based on the 12 month period between October 1 to September 30 of the following year.

These numbers come from noticeably decreased amounts of both runoff and rainfall.

In that time, California saw just 11.87 inches of rain and snow. According to the Department of Water Resources, California's average rainfall is 28.2 inches.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a response to this report on Tuesday, expanding his state of emergency to the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Ventura and Imperial. They were previously excluded from the state of emergency that he declared in May 2021.

He urged civilians to improve their water conservation practices, "it's critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible.''

Major cities including Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Bakersfield and Sacramento all reported receiving less than half of their average when it comes to snowfall and rainfall in 2020-21.

CalFire reported that 2020 was the worst fire year in California history, with over 8 million acres burned.

2020-21 was characterized as a "hotter year with no water," a classification that attributed to both the fire and drought numbers.

Governor Newsom had previously expanded California's drought emergency declaration in May, citing that extreme water shortages have to do with the emergency declaration for 41 of the state's 58 counties - reaching 30% of the California population.

"The hots are getting a lot hotter in this state, the dries are getting a lot drier," Newsom said in his emergency declaration. "We have a conveyance system, a water system, that was designed for a world that no longer exists."

He also asked residents to reduce their water usage by 15%, including a motion introduced by the water board that restricts water access for California farmers - in an effort to conserve water for drinking purposes.

This last year is part of a larger drought that has spanned over the last three years in California.

While water usage numbers have decreased in many parts of the state, a report actually shows that Los Angeles County's water usage has increased.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.