Is the drought over?

We’ve had a little rain – does this mean the drought is over? The answer to that is no.

It is going to take a long time to catch up on the water loss from this drought. The state of California as a whole has suffered a three year drought, but the area that Madera County is in has suffered five years of drought.

California has seen many droughts come and go, we even have an annual drought that most states do not have. It is different this time, historic low precipitation in 2013 and 2014 preceded by below normal precipitation in 2012, has left the Southern Sierra reservoirs at about 6% storage. And whether you believe in Climate Change or not, one thing is for certain – our temperatures are warmer so even if we get the same amount of precipitation, more of it is coming down as rain instead of snow.

Our snow pack is lessening each year so the foothills are losing their only means of storage and well recharge. Wells are going dry and we are slowly losing plant and animal species due to the lack of water.

So, where do you go if you have questions about water? There are many groups who work on different areas of water issues in the foothills – here are some of the groups who are here to help. These groups have meetings that are open to the public and are there to assist the public:

Chowchilla Red Top Resource Conservation District: Valley/foothill resource conservation district with focus on agriculture, dairies, and Arundo (an invasive weed) removal.

Details: (559) 665-0420; or

Coarsegold Resource Conservation District: Foothill based resource conservation district focused on fuels management and water quality.

Details: (559) 676-0576; or

Madera Resource Conservation District: Valley based resource conservation district focused on agriculture and irrigated lands.

Details: (559) 674-2108 ext. 2.

MD22A - Oakhurst Sewer Advisory Committee: Appointed to review Oakhurst sewer issues and advise the Madera County Board of Supervisors.

Details: (559) 683-5757.

Regional Water Management Group – Madera Region: County-wide group formed to work on/with the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.

Details: (559) 673-3514; or

Sierra - San Joaquin Weed Noxious Weed Alliance: Three county (Madera, Mariposa, Fresno) group focused on the eradication and control of noxious/invasive weeds.

Details: (559) 877-2218, ext. 3150.

Yosemite /Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council: Resource conservation and development council focused on natural resources and economic development for Madera, Mariposa, Fresno, and Tulare counties.

Details: (559) 877-8664; or

Note: Jeannie Habben was the Mountain Area’s Watershed Coordinator for the past 10 years paid through a grant from the Department of Conservation. This watershed coordinator has provided education and outreach through presentations, publications, and public appearances acting as the liaison between landowners, agencies, and other organizations and writing grants in the amount of nearly $6 million for watershed projects and watershed education. Details: Jeannie Habben, ( 559-642-3263).