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California Water Officials Prepare for Water Shortage

California Water Officials Prepare for Water Shortage

More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply


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LOS ANGELES — California officials said Wednesday they are preparing for the possibility of a water shortage that could threaten nearly one million residents as they prepare to cut water use in Colorado River water supplies.

The state expects to draw about 7 percent less water from the system this summer than this summer of 2006, state water officials said. The reduction is because of higher flow rates to more than 3,000 hydroelectric power plants, which the West water officials said account for the most water.

But California water officials said the state will have more storage available to deal with potential shortages than it did last year. The state’s three reservoirs are expected to hold more water than last year.

The state on Wednesday released its annual conservation plan for this year. It would reduce water use by about 4 percent this year, from 1,450 million gallons this year to 1,360 million gallons next year.

Water officials said there have been several reasons for the drop in water use. Among them are higher demand in the state’s power sector, a drop in snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the impact of water-rights disputes with neighboring states.

The biggest water-reduction threat this year is a drop in snowpack, according to the department’s report.

“The most recent snowpack information indicates that flow rates for the reservoirs are the highest since the snowpack monitoring program began in 1988 and the highest since the program began in 1976,” said Tom Williams, the department’s deputy director.

“We would expect additional snow and rain over the next couple of months, which will further reduce reservoir storage,” he said.

The state expects the demand for water in the state’s power sector to increase as a result of the use of a new generation of plants that runs on less electricity.

The average peak electricity demand during the summer will be about 7 percent higher than last year, Williams said.

The state Department of Water Resources had estimated water-use savings of about 4 percent in 2003 and about 5.5 percent in 2004. But some water planners say

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