Turn off that faucet or the "water police" may be doing it for you in the not so distant future.
As water rationing continues down the seemingly inevitable path of moving from the "maybe category" to that of "reality", the chances of the government telling you when and how much water you can use seems more probable every day.
Drought conditions, both in the county and statewide, have worsened during these first 31 days of 2009. Year to year, January is California's wettest month but this time around Mother Nature was stingy.
Lindbergh Field, San Diego County's official reporting station, received only .08" where it usually logs about 2.25 inches. And, while the overall temperature figures are still being compiled by the National Weather Service, you can bet the month will end up warmer than normal making maters even worse.
How bad is it? Well, the Federal Government's drought monitor lists San Diego County as being in a "moderate drought". The Central Valley and the rest of the state is in worse shape, falling into the "severe" category and north of Sacramento the situation is even worse. There's a large area where conditions are in the red, which designates "extreme drought". This area includes Lake Oroville, one of the state's largest reservoirs - it's only at 28% of capacity.
Will the snow pack help? - Sure, but not enough. Following a very wet, snowy November and December, the state ended 2008 well above normal, up around 120%. Now the snow pack is half that at 62%. What does this mean to you? Simple, more than 90% of the water that comes out of your faucet comes from either Northern California via the aqueduct or from the Colorado River, which is in even worse shape.
Things could get better, it's happened before. Back in the early 1990s, California saw a 5-year drought and rationing was taking place statewide. Then we had our "Miracle March", the skies opened up and rain fell almost constantly for most of the month and the drought was over. February and March are it though, our last chance to end this drought. As we transition from winter to spring, our rainy season ends and from April into fall, we see little if any rain whatsoever.
Is there a silver lining to this dark cloud of pessimism – definitely maybe. The long-range models show a shift in conditions to our west. Instead of the jet stream continually driving the storms up into Oregon, Washington and Canada, it appears a shift may take place, which, if it happens, will deliver a more constant stream of storms our way. In fact, the first is expected next weekend. Let's hope so, otherwise those "water police" could come knocking.