SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dying native fish, rural communities with dry wells and some other sectors hardest-hit by California’s drought may still need extra support long after the current dry spell ends, an analysis of the state’s drought response said Friday.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office also urged officials to study the effectiveness of the state’s more than $3 billion in drought programs to learn lessons for managing the next drought.
California has marked the four driest consecutive years on record, although rain and snow so far this winter are raising hopes of the drought easing.
The analysis toted up drought-response programs by 13 state agencies.
While the state’s focus this year rightly remains immediate drought response, state leaders should keep in mind communities in California’s Central Valley and elsewhere that have exhausted wells and groundwater, the analysis said.
Those dry towns will need long-term state programs to hook them up with other sources of water, the report advised.
The report also cited the 18 native fish species that researchers say are being brought to the brink of extinction with the drought, with record low survival rates for some salmon and other species the past two years.
Some native fish may need long-term additional monitoring and support to survive, the drought report said.
The legislative analyst report also urged long-term funding for some of the State Water Resources Control Board’s studies related to the drought, including the board’s look at the state’s Gold Rush-era system of water rights.
The report called it essential that state agencies study what worked and what failed in their drought programs. It again cited the population collapses of some native fish in waterways with too little water.
The state has spent $471 million of the $3 billion committed for long-term drought projects, and more than two-thirds of the $628 million set aside for immediate drought-related needs, the Department of Finance said.