Dire water availability in Montague draws state task force

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, June 13 2014 at 5:06 PM, Updated: Fri, June 13 2014 at 5:35 PM

Montague, Ca. -- The City of Montague in Northern California is at risk of completely running out of water in just a couple months, but on Friday progress was made as local leaders and community members met with the Governor's Drought Task Force.

California's extreme drought conditions are extending to all parts of the state, including Montague.

"Everybody's cut back. We've all cut back," said Brandon Criss, a Siskiyou County farmer as well as a Siskiyou County Supervisor for District 1.

In an effort to find ways to conserve water and make sure communities get it, the Governor's Drought Task Force was in Montague on Friday to hear from residents living in eight counties in Northern California.

Montague is a city hit hard by the drought. It relies on water from the Dwinnell Reservoir.

"The Dwinnell Reservoir is right now sitting at 5,000 acre feet of water which normally this time of year is at about 33,000 acre feet," said Ron Quigley with the Office of Emergency Service for Siskiyou County.

Now residents can only use so much water before they're penalized.

"This is the first time Montague has had to deal with a water conservation measure like this," said Quigley.

According to officials with the task force, the drought is just as dire on the state level.

"It's going to have the worst impact of any drought in modern times," said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the California Water Resources Control Board.

For Montague, Quigley said one step forward on Friday was signing  an agreement with the state that would authorize funding for a project that would divert more water from the Shasta River into the city.

"Hopefully with the signing of that contract, we will be starting the construction phase ... as soon as next week," Quigley said.

However, even if the project gets underway soon, the water shortage continues to be a very real threat.

"This drought isn't going to be a one time event. A lot of people think it's going to be a 100 meter dash, but it's actually a marathon," said Criss.

It's a marathon, that alfalfa hay farmer Brandon Criss hopes he and others in Northern California finish unscathed.

Officials with the City of Montague is asking residents to be vigilant about their water use.

If water runs out, the back-up plan is to truck water in from Yreka or use wells in the area.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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