Updates to add details of evacuation near Oroville Dam.
For Paul Wenger, whose family has been growing almonds and walnuts in California's Central Valley for three generations, his state's historic drought may be ending just as pressures from regulators and incursions from private equity and pension funds make it harder to wring a profit from his 400-acre farm.
As of last week, about 42% of California has emerged from drought, according to a weekly report by the U.S. Drought Monitor. About 11% is in an abnormally dry period, 36% is in moderate drought, 10% is in severe drought and 1% is in extreme drought, after massive rain and snow storms drenched the state over the last month. A drought emergency was declared by California Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2014.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, the increased precipitation resulted in the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents near the 770-foot Oroville Dam. On Sunday, the spillway on the dam, the tallest in the U.S., began to erode, causing water levels to rise at such a rate that officials forced residents of nearby counties and cities to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere.
For now, the state may have dodged the effects it faced in 2015 from the drought, when 30% of cropland and workers were reduced in the state, resulting in a loss of $1.84 billion and 10,100 jobs. Wenger's Central Valley Region, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield, was the hardest hit in the state, according to analysis from the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences.