LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Drought conditions are getting worse by the day in California and experts say the average resident is going to see the changes.
In the latest move by officials, the State Water Project announced Friday that it won’t send any more water down from Northern California, something that hasn’t been done in more than five decades.
The news comes in the middle of one of California’s driest winters on record and after two dry years that have depleted reservoirs.
Officials say the Water Project’s decision to hold back supply is necessary to save water in the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency Jan. 17 and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for the drought conditions.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said. “I’ve declared this emergency, and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
Brown called on Golden State residents to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
“This takes a coming together of all the people of California to deal with this serious and prolonged event of nature,” he said.
Brown also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters. In addition, the Democratic governor has initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.
In addition to the SWP, Southern California residents can get water from Colorado River, the LA Aqueduct in Owens Valley and groundwater, which provides most of the water supply.
Surprisingly, the drought may be good news to some. Prospectors are making their way into the hills and mountains to see if the lack of water will make it easier to find gold grains and nuggets.
Northern California is typically believed to be prime gold country, but Curt Timmons of Digger Mining and Supply in Baldwin Park says a little time in the desert, Big Bear or the San Gabriel Canyon could yield some sparkly dividends.
“You can pretty much go to the bottom of these creeks with a shovel and have easy access to these gold-bearing materials,” Timmons said.
With water levels in the state’s rivers so low, gold diggers can now get to places that haven’t been touched by man in perhaps more than a century.