California's top water official warned Thursday that the state's drought, now in its third year, could become the most severe on record.
The warning came on the heels of a report that the snowpack in the central Sierra Nevada, which supplies most of the Modesto area's water, is at 63 percent of average.
"We may be at the start of the worst California drought in modern history," department director Lester Snow said. "It's imperative for Californians to conserve water immediately at home and in their businesses."
City residents and farmers in most of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have not faced major cutbacks from water providers.
Still, officials are watching the conditions closely. Walt Ward, assistant general manager for water operations at the Modesto Irrigation District, said last week's storms merely took the edge off the problem. "It certainly was welcome and took us in the right direction but probably not for too long," he said.
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