Voluntary 20 percent cut in California's water consumption sought

Water leaders today urged Californians to make every effort to cut water consumption by 20 percent this year because of the growing likelihood of a third straight drought year.

The state today held its water delivery forecast for the year at just 15 percent of contracted amounts. It is very rare for that forecast to flat-line, rather than grow, as winter unfolds. It means all state water contractors -- mainly cities from the Bay Area to San Diego -- will likely impose mandatory water rationing soon, if they haven't already.

Even worse was the forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Folsom and Shasta dams. It told agricultural contractors both north and south of the Delta that, for now, they can expect zero water deliveries this year, which has never happened. Its urban customers can expect only half of normal supplies.

Both state and federal allocations could grow if the weather cooperates. But officials urged the public to brace for a historically dry year.

"We're dependent on nature right now," said Donald Glaser, Reclamation's regional director.

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