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By the Numbers: A Drought Update

The numbers used to explain the California drought can often be overwhelming and confusing. Here’s a simple summary of some of the most important measurements of the drought, with an idea of how they’ve changed as the crisis continues.

Written by Matt Weiser Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes
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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 Nov. 25:


Number of local governments and tribes that have declared an emergency due to water problems. Calaveras County is a new addition to the list since Oct. 30.


Number of farmworkers enrolled in job training programs triggered by job losses related to the drought, as of Nov. 25, with $103,112 allocated for the program so far. Up from 39 farmworkers enrolled as of Oct. 30 (total funds allocated unchanged).


Number of well failures, affecting 12,275 people, as of Nov. 18. This marks an improvement since Nov. 4, when 2,617 dry wells were reported, affecting 13,085 people.


Total subsidies paid to 2,899 low-income households by the Department of Community Services to help cover their water bills, as of Nov. 13. Up from $570,299 issued to 2,837 households as of Oct. 30.


Acres burned so far this year on U.S. Forest Service and CalFire-responsibility lands, across a total of 8,184 wildfires statewide. Up from 8,069 fires burning 824,499 acres as of Nov. 12. Fire activity remains high, with 155 ongoing wildfires over the past two weeks.


Emergency food boxes distributed to community food banks since June 2014, averaging 13,250 boxes per week. About 915,013 boxes of food have been picked up by 478,110 households. That’s an increase of about 13,000 households since Nov. 12. An additional 8,400 boxes were set for delivery the week ending Nov. 27 to Fresno, Kern, Kings, Riverside and Tulare counties.


Water, in acre-feet, held in Shasta and Oroville reservoirs, the state’s two largest, as of Nov. 30. Down from 2,402,280 as of Nov. 4.


Emergency funding issued to 2,271 households as of Nov. 13 through the Drought Emergency Assistance Program (DEAP), which provides emergency relief and support services to drought-impacted families. Up from $2,425,988 allocated to 1,845 households reported on Oct. 30.

$468 million

Issued in grants to water systems for drought-related improvements as ordered by state emergency legislation in March 2015 out of $687 million allocated. Unchanged from Sept. 30.

Top image: In this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 photo, Palo Verde Irrigation District general manager Ned Hyduke looks out across farmland sitting fallow in Blythe, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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