Drought Preparedness, Water Conservation and Water Supply Emergency Response


Drinking Water Emergencies: During the ongoing extreme dought conditons in the state, the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) is identifying public drinking water systems that may be vulnerable to acute drinking water shortages due to drought. DDW is continuing to monitor and evaluate drinking water systems to determine drinking water systems that may soon be at risk. Emergency drinking water grants are available. If you have concerns or questions about your public water system, please contact the Drinking Water Hotline at 1-855-737-1796.

Drought-Related Activities and Information

California is facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history. On January 17, 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions. A second proclamation was issued on April 25, 2014 to redouble State drought actions. This follows the creation of a Drought Task Force that was established in December.

In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The Governor also directed state agencies to use less water and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.

Division of Drinking Water (DDW) Actions

  • Collect information on public water systems to help identify those anticipating severe shortages or water outages
  • Provide assistance in identifying and permitting alternative water supplies
  • Participate on the Governor's Drought Task Force
  • Provide Funding and Technical Assistance

Important Contact Information

Public Water System Actions

  • All public water supply systems are encouraged to keep records of their water system production and delivery activities through metering at the source and at customer connections.
  • All public water supply systems are also encouraged to adopt metered water rates that reflect the full cost of the water production and delivery and which encourage customers to minimize water use through progressively increasing water rates or other measures that penalize excessive water use.
  • All public water supply systems that do not have customer meters and effective metered rates are encouraged to take the steps needed obtain the funds needed to install meters and adopt effective metered rates. Such water systems are also encouraged to adopt water conservation plans that minimize waste. Such plans should include voluntary and/or mandatory schedules for landscape irrigation, prohibitions on "gutter flooding", and may include restrictions on car washing and other uses if a severe water shortage is anticipated.
  • All public water systems using wells should regularly measure and record the static and pumping water levels in their groundwater wells (at least monthly), watching for changes in the measurements. Declining water levels may result in reduced pumping capacity or a loss of suction in the pump if the water level drops below the pump bowls. Water level measuring tapes or sounding wires can be used in wells equipped with casing vents or sounding tubes. Alternatively, sonar water level indicators may be used on wells equipped without a casing vent or sounding tube. Instructions on how to measure well water levels, as well as the tools needed, can be found here (courtesy of California Rural Water Association). Information on groundwater elevation monitoring in your area may be available through the Department of Water Resources' Groundwater Elevation Monitoring study.
  • All public water supply systems are encouraged to regularly conduct evaluations of the water losses in their delivery systems. The difference in water produced versus the water sold to customers should be tabulated and tracked at least on an annual basis. This information should be used to identify badly worn transmission and distribution system pipelines and storage facilities, which contribute to water loss.
  • All public water systems are required to complete an electronic annual report. CDPH has added questions related to drought conditions which will greatly assist in identifying potential problems before they become a crisis.
  • All public water systems should consider adopting local ordinances concerning drought and/or water conservation. Click here for sample documents and templates.
  • Any public water system that anticipates severe shortages or water outages due to drought conditions should immediately contact its DDW District Office (PDF) to begin work on contingencies.

Public Actions

  • The Governor has asked California residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.

Helpful Links

Governor's Office of Planning and Research Drought Information Clearinghouse

Information from the Department of Water Resources regarding the current drought conditions

Information from the State Water Resources Control Board regarding water rights and allocations

Information from California Rural Water Association on how to measure water levels in wells

Water Conservation

Local Resources

Rural Communities, Businesses and Farmers

Recycled Water