Drought Update

Are We Still in a Drought? 

Many parts of California have experienced heavy rainfall in recent weeks. But, despite January's storms, Californians still need to prepare for the potential of a fourth consecutive dry year. Last year’s conditions were similar with heavy amounts of rain and snow in December followed by the driest January through March on record. Since there is no way of knowing what the next few months will bring in terms of precipitation, it’s always important to use water wisely.

Current Drought Status & Reservoir Levels

California is experiencing severe dry weather. Low snowpack, and even lower runoff, in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains are causing critically low reservoir levels in the Colorado River and State Water Project systems, which is where Rancho Water gets about 67% of our water supply. 

Since October 2021, Riverside County has had an emergency drought declaration, along with the rest of the state. While our imported water supplier currently has above average storage levels from previous wet years, now is the time to save so that we may protect our water supplies for tomorrow. 

Track the latest statewide water supply conditions, snowpack levels, and river flows, and Southern California's reservoir levels in the links below.

Current Drought Map Opens in new windowCA Water Conditions Opens in new window Reservoir Lvl Link Opens in new window

Reservoir Levels_March Opens in new windowClick on graphic above to see more California reservoir levels

Drought Timeline

February 2023Due to winter storms, Department of Water Resources (DWR) increases allocations to 35% (from original 5%) of requested water from State Water Project
December 2022MWD declares regional drought emergency for all of Southern California
May 2022State Water Resources Control Board (SWB) adopts emergency regulations for water use in response to Executive Order N-7-22 including a ban on watering non-functional turf
April 2022Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has implemented water restrictions for parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties (does not apply to Rancho Water).  
March 2022Governor Newsom requires water agencies to reduce water use in coming months
January 2022Rancho Water moves to Stage 3b of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan; State Water Resources Control Board (SWB) approves resolution for drought-related Emergency Regulations pertaining to urban water conservation
November 2021Metropolitan Water District declares Drought Emergency
October 2021Riverside County added to the emergency drought proclamation
September 2021Reports show Californians have only reduced water use by 1.8% (July 2021 vs. July 2020)
August 2021Metropolitan Water District declares Condition 2 – Water Supply Alert; Lake Mead declares first ever water shortage; Lake Oroville shuts down major hydroelectric power plant due to water shortage
July 2021Governor Newsom calls for 15% voluntary water usage from 2020 levels
May 2021Drought declaration expanded to 50 California counties (all except Southern CA)
April 2021Emergency drought declaration in Sonoma & Mendocino Counties

Current Water Restrictions

  1. Water Use Restrictions
  2. Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Water Supply Warning Gauge 3B

Rancho Water is currently in Stage 3b of the 

Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

Water budget reductions are now in place.

Effective now, Stage 3b implements several mandatory outdoor water use restrictions including:

  • Irrigating lawns and landscape only between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. Customers with weather-based irrigation controllers are exempt from this restriction.
  • No watering of outdoor landscapes during a rainfall event and up to 48 hours after measurable rainfall.
  • Irrigation water may not leave the landscaped area.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and other hardscape surfaces.
  • Tuning up irrigation systems by checking for and repairing leaks and damaged sprinklers.
  • Not allowing hoses to run while washing motor vehicles (including autos, trucks, trailers, motor homes, boats, or others).
  • No variances or adjustments for: filling swimming pools, establishing or expanding landscape area, leaks not repaired within 48 hours, or existing outdoor water budgets.


Effective now, the following water budget reductions are in place:

  • Residential, multi-family, and dedicated landscape Tier 3 (inefficient tier) water budgets will be decreased by 50%
  • Agricultural, agricultural/residential, and commercial Tier 2 budgets (inefficient tier) will be decreased by 50%.  

Customers’ efficient water budgets are not being reduced in this stage of the Plan.

The Journey of WaterJourney of Water

To understand how the statewide drought affects Rancho Water, it's important to first understand where our imported water comes from. About 60% of our water is imported from more than 500 miles away from the Sierra Nevada through the State Water Project (SWP) and the Colorado River from the Rockies. The SWP serves 27 million people and about 750,000 acres of farmland. The Colorado River supplies water to more than 35 million people in seven states, and about 4 trillion gallons of water for agriculture. Water from these sources travels through hundreds of miles of pipeline, treatment plants, and reservoirs before eventually reaching Rancho Water customers.

Learn More About Where Your Water Comes From

Join water droplets Wade, Brook, Rain, and Pristine as they make their way to Rancho Water's service area. They all come from different origins but with one goal in mind - to serve Rancho Water customers. 

Wade takes a tubular trip from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the State Water Project. Brook travels from the Rocky Mountains through hundreds of miles of pipeline and pump stations. Rain falls from the sky to Vail Lake and a natural filtration system. And recycled droplet Pristine takes a ride on the purple pipeline after a thorough cleaning at the wastewater plant. 

Learn where your water comes from in the "Journey of Water" video!

How Can I Save Water?

Rancho Water customers are known for their water saving ways! We thank you for the work you've already done to save water. But, with California experiencing very dry conditions and groundwater supplies quickly depleting, it's time to step it up and Check Your Water!

We encourage you to do these three simple steps to tune up your home’s water efficiency and save on your bill.

  • Check your water budget
  • Check for leaks
  • Check sprinkler timers

Save Today to Protect Tomorrow. No Water Wasted.  

Check Your Water poster