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California drought: Now and then
BAKERSFIELD, CA - MAY 08: The Kern River remains dry, a condition that is expected to continue, as water upstream is diverted on May 8, 2008 in Bakersfield, California. Opening of the Kern County reserve wells began earlier this week. Urgent calls for California residents to conserve water have grown in the wake of the final Sierra Nevada Mountains snow survey of the season indicating a snow depth and water content at only 67 percent of normal levels. The Sierra snowpack is vital to California water supplies and officials are preparing plans for mandatory water conservation. In Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District, cut deliveries to farmers by nearly a third and growers in Fresno and Kings counties have not planted about 200,000 acres of crops, a third of the land irrigated by Westlands Water District. Many farmers are now selling their government-subsidized water for profit instead of using it to plant crops. Much of the California water supply comes from the Colorado River where a continuing eight-year drought has lowered water storage to roughly half of capacity. Dry conditions across the West have already doubled the wildfires this year causing fire officials to brace for a possible repeat of the devastating 2007 southern California wildfire season. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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