Drought concerns plague state

With severe drought conditions plaguing California and a decreasing groundwater supply in Sonoma Valley, water supply is a top concern for the Sonoma County Water Agency and area agricultural producers.

Since Jan. 1, 2013, Sonoma has received only 7.6 inches of rain. Normally, the Valley gets 33 inches of rain in a calendar year.

With no precipitation in sight over at least the next two weeks, water agency Chief Engineer Jay Jasperse said drought conditions are real in the Valley. Ukiah and Mendocino County are the driest they’ve been since 1894, Jasperse notes, while Sonoma is experiencing the third driest year on record.

And drought seems to be affecting all of California, with record low rainfall throughout the state. On Dec. 9, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Rep. Jim Costa asked Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a statewide drought and call on President Barack Obama to make a federal declaration. The Congressional members wrote, “… we believe it would be prudent to declare a state drought emergency now and to request a broad federal disaster from the president as soon as possible.”

After two dry years, in June 2008 and February 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought. In March 2011, after a wet year, Brown rescinded that drought declaration.

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