California water officials say 2022 driest winter on record

State and local water agencies say this week's wet weather is not enough to alleviate the severe drought conditions facing California.

"This rainy weather that we're experiencing across the Bay Area today is not going to make a difference in a bad drought that is worsening by the month," said Wade Crowfoot, the California Secretary of Natural Resources, who issued a warning at an event in San Jose Thursday with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

"Since the January first, since the New Year, we have had the driest first three months of any year in the state's history," said Crowfoot.

The California Department of Water Resources posted the data on social media showing a record-breaking low of just 1.75 inches average precipitation so far this year.

"We have the sierra snow pack at the fifth-lowest level that it's ever been," said Rick Callender, CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which has already called for 2-day per week limits on outdoor irrigation.

The Sierra snow pack is a critical source of water in the dry summer months.

"Ninety percent of our water supplies comes from the Sierra Nevada foothills and systemwide across all of the reservoirs, they're full 70%," said Tracie Morales, an EBMUD spokeswoman.

East Bay MUD is asking customers for 10% voluntary reduction, but at the next April 26th Board meeting, Morales says that could switch to mandatory reductions and fees to cover purchases of outside water to meet demand.

"When we bring in those additional water sources that means more expenses so that's what drought surcharges could potentially cover," said Morales.

The state climatologist says the timing of this week's rainfall does have one benefit.

"Having it come at the time when the snow's melting, to really help that water get into the streams and move down to the reservoirs is a really good thing. That was absent last year," said Michael Anderson, State Climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map created by the University of Nebraska Lincoln, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows California already in severe drought conditions.

The biggest message from water officials is the need for consumers to continue to conserve by reducing water use indoors and outdoor irrigation.Some people who've already reduced water use are looking for ways to save more.

"Wanting to have a nice place outside, I wanted to make sure I'm doing it responsibly," said Christie Pollet-Young of Oakland.

Pollet-Young said she decided to have a greywater system installed using water from her shower to irrigate her garden.

Joseah Rosales, the founder of Greywater Landscape Design says Pollet-Young is among a growing number of people calling to request such systems.

"Typcial family of four can produce enough water for 30 basins in a landscape and 30 basins equals about 13,000 gallons a year," said Rosales.

"I was hand-watering my plants, and now I really don't need to do that," said Pollet-Young.

By state law, each water agency must have an emergency drought plan with 6 stages of response. Governor Newsom is calling for the Water Board to declare a Stage 2 emergency which anticipates a 10-20% shortage and calls for more conservation.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or