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By the Numbers: A Drought Update

A look at status changes in a number of important criteria that track California’s ongoing drought.

Written by Matt Weiser Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Every two weeks, the California Office of Emergency Services publishes an official “drought update” highlighting important changes in water supply, emergency assistance, fire risk and other factors.

Here are highlights from the latest report, published on October 16:


Number of local governments and tribes that have declared an emergency due to water problems. Up from 60 reported on September 30. The one new addition was the city of Fort Bragg.


Number of well failures, affecting 12,510 people. Up from 2,409 wells affecting 11,990 people as of September 30.


Total subsidies paid to 2,534 low-income households by the Department of Community Services to help cover their water bills, as of October 2. Up from $459,777 issued to 2,279 households as of September 18.


Acres burned so far this year on U.S. Forest Service and CalFire-responsibility lands, across a total of 7,524 wildfires statewide. Up from 7,187 fires burning 799,974 acres as of September 30. Fire activity remains high, with 159 ongoing wildfires over the past week.


Emergency food boxes distributed to community food banks since June 2014, averaging 13,250 boxes per week. About 831,765 boxes of food have been picked up by 435,908 households. That’s an increase of about 14,800 households since September 30. An additional 10,800 boxes were set for delivery the week ending October 16 to Fresno, Kern, Merced, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus and Tulare counties.


Emergency funding issued to 1,094 households as of October 2 through the Drought Emergency Assistance Program (DEAP), which provides emergency relief and support services to drought-impacted families. Up from $846,242 allocated to 777 households reported on September 18.


Water held in Shasta and Oroville reservoirs, the state’s two largest, in acre-feet, as of October 8. Down from 2,698,987 as of September 24.

$468 million

Issued in grants to water systems for drought-related improvements as ordered by state emergency legislation in March 2015 out of $685 million allocated. Unchanged from September 30.

Top image: TreePeople volunteers water a tree at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center Martinez Arena in Griffith Park, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Los Angeles. As Californians and the communities they live in cut back water usage and let lawns go golden, arborists and state officials are worrying about a potentially dangerous ripple effect. Nearby trees are going neglected and becoming diseased or dying. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

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