In the next few weeks, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is planning to release its next set of drought criteria, which are expected to address water quality and drought impacts on the US West Coast.
A new drought guidance document published by the USDA late last month will detail how the agency will determine whether to classify drought conditions as extreme, in which cases the state will have to temporarily impose water restrictions.
The drought criteria will be in place for five years from December 2018 through January 2020, and it will be updated once each year for at least five years.
Drought criteria for California The drought criteria for the Golden State are similar to those in place in other parts of the country, with the exception of a new water management strategy and the need for a mandatory statewide water conservation plan, the USDA said.
The drought guidelines were put in place because California experienced a massive water loss during the El Niño event, which occurred between March and September.
In addition to California, the drought criteria are also applicable to the other 49 states, the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
These states are in the middle of their worst drought in more than 40 years.
As of March 31, the average daily average temperature for the contiguous 48 states was 43.2 degrees Fahrenheit (7.7 degrees Celsius), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And the record-breaking winter of 2016 saw temperatures plummet by 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 degrees Celsius) during a span of 24 hours, according to a study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
The drought was caused by a combination of two factors: an unprecedented drought that affected California, which lost an estimated 14 million acre-feet (9,500 million cubic meters) of water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack over the winter, and extensive drought across the US, where water is scarce.
A combination of the two factors resulted in the severe drought conditions that affected parts of California and the Southwest in late March.
The drought that started in early February is still ongoing, and scientists have not yet determined how long the drought will last.
According to a report released by the USGS in February, the current drought has resulted in widespread crop loss, crop failures, and livestock deaths, with an estimated 11,000 to 16,000 livestock deaths.
There is still no drought relief in place, and most Californians do not have access to drinking water.
With the state struggling to recover from the El Nino, the government has been scrambling to find ways to increase water supply.
This week, Governor Jerry Brown announced a $3 billion drought relief package, including $1 billion for agricultural water projects.
California is also preparing for a new round of drought emergencies that could include a new statewide water restrictions law, as well as restrictions on the use of certain agricultural chemicals, including glyphosate.