Drought-hit California unable to supply state water

Small pool of water is surrounded by cracked earth at the Almaden Reservoir (28 January 2014) Farmers said the announcement was "a terrible blow"

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California's water agency has announced it may for the first time be unable to deliver water to local agencies, amid a worsening drought.

Two-thirds of state residents and 1m acres (404,500 hectares) of farmland get part or all of their drinking and irrigation supplies from the agency.

A state-wide drought was declared earlier this month, as the largest reservoirs sank to record low levels.

Forecasters have warned 2014 could be California's driest year on record.

The extreme conditions have already caused a wildfire that destroyed homes in the Los Angeles area.

Previous extremely dry years led to catastrophic wildfire seasons in California in 2003 and 2007.

'Drought is real'

It is the first time in the water agency's history that it has predicted a so-called "zero allocation", which will affect around 25m people.

State governor Jerry Brown said the announcement was a "stark reminder that California's drought is real".

He urged residents to conserve water, suggesting they avoid flushing toilets unnecessarily and to turn off the tap while shaving.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the state's farming federation called the news "a terrible blow".

The water originates from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

It is delivered to local agencies via a vast network of reservoirs, pipelines, aqueducts and pumping stations.

The 29 agencies that draw from the state's water-delivery system have other sources, Associated Press reports, although these too have been badly hit.

Car sits at the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir (28 January 2014) A car sits in dried and cracked earth of what was the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir
No swimming sign at the Almaden Reservoir (28 January 2014) Residents have been urged to double their water conservation efforts
Houseboats docked at Holiday Harbor (23 January 2014) These houseboats lie docked in Shasta Lake, which is 100 feet (30 metres) below its normal levels
Dying grass and trees near Shasta Lake (23 January 2014) The dry conditions have heightened the risk of wildfires

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