By Matt Weiser
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 – 7:51 am

The California Department of Water Resources is planning to draft an emergency drought declaration for Gov. Jerry Brown’s consideration as dry winter conditions continue.

DWR Director Mark Cowin told the California Board of Food and Agriculture at a meeting Tuesday that his agency is weighing whether to present the governor with a drought declaration. Spokeswoman Nancy Foley said that declaration could be forthcoming “within a couple weeks.”

“We will likely, given the circumstances, make a recommendation for a drought declaration,” Foley said. “The snow survey last Friday was so dismal and there doesn’t seem to be any storms on the horizon, so it just seems we’ve got to start preparing a drought declaration.”

She was referring to the first regular snow survey of the winter season, conducted by DWR on Jan. 3 at locations throughout the Sierra Nevada. It found the snowpack at 19 percent of average on that date. In the five days since, the snowpack has shrunk to 17 percent.

This comes after two dry years, which left many reservoirs in the state depleted. Folsom Reservoir in the Sacramento area was at 18 percent of capacity on Tuesday. Water agencies that depend on the reservoir have begun enacting water conservation orders. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has cut flows into the American River to levels not seen in 20 years.

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