It’s been a wacky few years for water supply in California. After a string of dry years, last year we had record precipitation, coupled with a mild, wet Spring, and the result was a significant increase in water stored in our reservoirs. This year has been a different story altogether.
We got off to a nice start with some early season precipitation last Fall. But what are normally our wettest months — December, January, and February — brought us almost nothing. Our next wettest month, March, also started out very poorly. But the last few weeks of March brought significant relief to our State. See:
What is so important to realize is that the water stored in our reservoirs is only part of our water supply. If you look at the reservoir situation today, you will see that we are still well above historical average levels throughout the State. See:
Despite the near-record storage, the California Department of Water Resources actually dropped its allocation to 50%! It is rare indeed that DWR will reduce the allocation; they are remarkably conservative with this. In fact, we remarked last year how surprised we were with the initial allocation of 60%. But the poor Winter precipitation this year prompted this unusual action by DWR. And all this despite near-record storage! What gives?
The excellent storage situation is due to spectactular precipitation last year. In effect, next year’s storage is this year’s snow pack. And this year we’ve had very little of that. So DWR is trying to save some of last year’s water for two years: this year and next year.
Let’s hope for another unusually cool and wet Spring, so that we can put a little more water into storage in the Sierra Nevada. It may be too late to get DWR to release more water this year, but it could make a profound difference in 2013.