California water officials are urging residents and local water agencies to brace for a third dry year in 2014.
The California Department of Water Resources issued the cautionary statement Thursday partly because the state will head into winter with little surplus water in its reservoirs that could be used as a cushion against drought. That cushion is being drained off by the dry year now under way.
Problems could be acute for small water systems that rely on groundwater, said Jeanine Jones, DWR interstate resources manager.
"Smaller systems don't have a lot of staff, so often they don't even do such basic things as regularly monitor groundwater levels or maintain their wells," Jones said.
The department plans a series of drought preparedness workshops for small water systems, mostly in Southern California, starting Sept. 24 and running through October.
On Tuesday, the issue will be the focus of a joint meeting in Sacramento of the California Water Commission and the state Board of Food and Agriculture.
The meeting is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N St.
Jones urged Californians to heed conservation messages from their local water agency, and closely watch landscape watering, where simple actions can save a lot of water.
"Turn off your sprinklers when it's raining," she said. "Be attentive to your landscape and don't overwater it."