California lawmakers call for drought declaration

Getty Images file photoMost of California's water comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

With another dry winter looming, California lawmakers called on Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama to declare a drought emergency and federal disaster in the state.

In a letter sent Monday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic Rep. Jim Costa urged the governor to take immediate action. A separate letter signed by dozens of other California lawmakers called for the same declaration.

The lawmakers cited the California Department of Water Resources' announcement of low water deliveries for Central Valley agriculture due to light rainfall projections.

“While it is early in the 2014 water year and therefore projections on allocations are conservative, what is clear is that we have had two years of dry conditions that have depleted our reservoirs and reduced carry over storage to historically low levels not seen since 1977,” Feinstein and Costa wrote.

While a drought has not been declared, a dry 2014 could be the third straight year with subpar rainfall.

Most of the state's water comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, so in dry years water managers dramatically cut deliveries due to environmental concerns.

Based on projections, the State Water Project in November said its initial allocation would be just 5 percent of requested deliveries in 2014. That number will change if rainfall exceeds projections, officials said.

The governor did not respond to a request for comment.

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