Snowpack water supply 40 percent less full than usual after dry winter

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A sign warns that swimming is prohibited in an irrigation canal which has since dried up on April 19, 2009 near Tranquility, California. The heads of California’s three higher education systems all are lobbying Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers to change their budget priorities.

It's been a dry winter, and the last snow survey of the year finds California's already-reduced mountain snowpack is steadily melting – so much so that the snowpack water content is only 40 percent of what's normal for this time of year.

About a third of the state relies on mountain snowpack for its water supply.

December and January were exceptionally dry. So even with some recent snowstorms in the Sierra, John King of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) says the snowpack never reached its normal volume.

"We've been off the mark since the beginning of the season," he says. "And it's really difficult to make it up."

Still, the DWR expects to be able to allocate 60 percent of the water requested this year by districts, thanks to an abnormally wet season last year has kept many reservoirs fairly full.

This water goes to more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.

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