The year of 2014 is ending today, so let’s compare our water supply situation now to last year at this time. The results are encouraging, but a long way from good. And we need to look at water stored in both the liquid and the solid forms to get the full picture. That’s because about one-third of the California water supply comes from the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
As we look at the main storage reservoir of the State Water Project, Lake Oroville, we see that 2015 starts off at almost the same level of storage as 2014. The good news is that we didn’t lose ground here; the bad news is that 2014 started off about as low as any year on record. Here is the graph for the past few years of storage at Oroville:
Another encouraging sign is the trend for the storage in Oroville this year in contrast to last. Note that the storage is on a definite upward trend after December 1 of this year, compared to the decidedly downward trend one year ago. The increase in storage since December 1 is much more typical of a normal or wet year scenario, and that’s good news.
How about our frozen storage? The California Department of Water Resources conducts a monthly snow survey on about the first day of the month, January through May. DWR just yesterday made the trek to their designated stations at multiple locations in the Sierras to determine how much snow is present. This is in addition to automated stations that it has in many more locations around the mountain range. See this article for more details on the results of this first survey of 2015:
The news is better here, although still not terrific. Our snow pack is well above last year’s level at this date. But last year was a total disaster! Yesterday’s levels are still below the long term average for this date, so we need more snow!
It’s important to realize that we are at the very beginning of the wet season in California, and that things could change dramatically — for better or for worse — in the next few weeks. In short, keep praying for rain — and snow!
And from MOST, a happy new year to all our Subscribers, customers, and other visitors to our site. As is our custom, we’ll keep you posted on the California water supply situation as our wet season unfolds.
And if you just can’t get enough California water, please join us this coming Spring semester at Santiago Canyon College for our online course in California Water Resources. Here is the college web site, where you can see more about the course and enroll:
We hope you’ll join us in 2015!