I've pulled the following quotes from Adam Nagourney's March 17 report for The New York Times (As California Drought Enters 4th Year, Conservation Efforts and Worries Increase):
> "Any hope climatologists had that California would be rescued again by a wet El Niño winter weather system is fading with the arrival of spring."
> "[T] he Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is counted on to provide 30 percent of the state’s water supply as it melts through early summer, is at its second-lowest level on record. [...] The March 3 measurement of the statewide snowpack was the water equivalent of five inches, or 19 percent of the average for that date. That is barely above the record low snowpack measurement from 1991, according to state officials. “That’s pretty grim,” Mr. Anderson said. “We were hoping for the number of inches to be in the 30s."
> “Last year people thought we were in a regular three-year drought cycle and that it would rain next year,” said Felicia Marcus, the board’s chairwoman.
The response to the drought was shaped by hope and assumptions. So what else is new about human nature?
But they were thinking in terms of drought, not record high temperatures piled on top of record low precipitation, which is happening now. So there's an eerie inadequacy to the emergency measures, as if they're running in slow motion.
Here are a few more quotes from the Times report:
"State regulators are prepared this week to impose a new round of water conservation rules, including sharp restrictions on landscape watering and orders to restaurants not to serve water to customers unless asked."
> "And with paucity and increased prices has come water theft. John A. Coleman, a member of the board of directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland and president of the Association of California Water Agencies, said the East Bay agency wanted to impose serious fines on water thieves for the first time. “It’s a problem, and it’s becoming more of a problem as the drought intensifies,” he said. “I’m not one who is big on penalties, but this is not right.”
> "Pushing for more conservation, the Sacramento City Council voted last month to order faster installation of water meters across the city; the deadline has been moved to 2020 from 2024."
> "In Santa Barbara, the desalination plant is being taken out of mothballs at a cost of about $40 million. “Desalination is our absolute last resort,” said Helene Schneider, the mayor. “Unfortunately, given the way the drought is going, we are now at that last resort.”
Plenty more in the Times report about the current status of the water shortage crisis in California and how individuals and governing entities in the state are responding to it.