State lawmaker calls for audit after California 'loses' billions of gallons of water

FRESNO, Calif. -- Water is arguably California's most precious resource.

The state is facing its third consecutive dry year. Last year was one of the driest on record.

"In a drought year, every single drop matters so that's why it's coming under scrutiny now that we look back," said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

RELATED: CA plan would pay farmers to grow less to let more water flow to state's major rivers, streams

Jacobsen is referring to an alleged miscalculation by the California Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board.

"There was a difference between the state agency's projection and local agencies and entities projections for the water run-off for the state of California," said Jacobsen.

The amount of water that was "lost" is estimated to be 700,000-acre feet -- that's roughly 228 billion gallons of water, enough to fill over 345,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

RELATED: Data shows driest January, February & March in CA history despite recent Bay Area rain

"We can't get back lost water but we can certainly take the steps to ensure this never happens again going forward," said Asssemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced.

Gray is asking for the state auditor to look into California's Water Operations, specifically the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Department of Water Resources sent Action News a statement -- saying in part, "DWR has invested millions of dollars in new forecasting tools and entered into new partnerships with local, state and federal agencies to coordinate all of our resources. We know it will take all of us working together to manage through this drought and we hope Assemblymember Gray will work with us too."

RELATED: CA's drought to worsen this spring with warmer temps, lack of rain, NOAA says

It also says the department is conserving the most water possible in Lake Oroville by only releasing water for critical human, agriculture and environmental needs.

"It could have been stored for this year, but more importantly it could have been used last year because depending on which water system you're in, last year we were in dire straits," said Jacobsen.

With every drop of water more precious than the last, Jacobsen agrees an audit should be conducted to prevent an alarming miscalculation like this from happening again.



Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.