SACRAMENTO - California water officials said it's almost certain they won't be able to meet their obligations in the coming months.

"It's scary, to put it bluntly," said David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association, which represents rural water districts. "It's the combination that the
reservoirs are at all-time-low levels as well as the fact that we simply do not have inflow coming into the reservoirs."

The Bureau of Reclamation began cutting flows to the lower American River Monday to conserve what little water remains in Folsom Lake. Outflows will gradually be reduced through the week from 1,400 cubic feet per second (CFS) last weekend to 500 CFS by Friday. Even then, more water will be leaving the reservoir than is coming in.

The cities and water districts serving 500,000 customers in Placer and Sacramento Counties that get their water directly from Folsom Lake have already asked customers to cut back their water use. Roughly half of those customers are served by the San Juan Water District and its retail providers, which may now ask customers to stop watering their yards entirely.

"I don't recall that ever having occurred," San Juan Water District General Manager Shauna Lorance said. "I've been there for almost 20 years and I don't have any recollection of this ever occurring before."

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture convened a summit Monday to sound the alarm that water deliveries this summer will almost certainly fail to meet the needs of the farmers and ranchers.

"Today's meeting really pointed out that we may be looking at the fallowing of 300,000 to 500,000 acres of prime land in the Central Valley of California," said Craig McNamara, a Winters walnut farmer and president of the board. "You're going to see tremendous unemployment. You're going to see increased food insecurity. These are issues this board takes very seriously."

By George Warren,