Record amounts of snow and severe winter storms have filled reservoirs after years of drought conditions
For the first time since 2006, California’s government will be able to provide 100% of the water requested by farms and cities across the state, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced on Thursday.
Record snowpack on the state’s mountain ranges and unusually wet winter storms have reversed the state’s fortunes after years spent languishing in partial or total drought conditions. The State Water Project is fully stocked to supply 29 water agencies that in turn supply 27 million customers and 750,000 acres of farms, the DWR said – an improved outlook from even last month’s forecast, which predicted the state would be able to provide 75% of what was requested.
The regulator declared that reservoir storage was operating at 105% of average for the date on Thursday, while the US Drought Monitor announced that 65% of the state was no longer considered to be in drought.
It will take more than one year to replenish all that was lost during the drought, and some regions, like the Colorado River Basin, have been dry for decades. Years of pumping out underground water to supply the agricultural Central Valley have also depleted groundwater in that area.
Californians tempted to start watering their “non-functional turf” again – a practice that was banned last May amid what Governor Gavin Newsom termed a “drought crisis” – have been warned against doing so, however. State officials explained that one extremely wet year could be followed by another lengthy drought period, warning the state is facing a “hotter, drier future.”
The water now reviving parched California was mostly deposited starting in December in a series of devastating storms dubbed “atmospheric rivers,” which caused extensive flooding and damaged homes and infrastructure. These weather patterns dropped up to 700 inches (17.8 meters) of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which form the border between California and Nevada, leading to snowpack that is twice as thick as normal in many places – and as much as seven to 10 times normal in others.
Indeed, while the famers who’ve been allotted none of their requested water for two years in a row are finally getting what they asked for, parts of central California are now too wet to plant. Meanwhile, other parts of the state are bracing for floods, along with about 44% of the whole country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Water Center director Ed Clark.
April 22, 2023 at 03:04AM