We’ve had a nice December in California, precipitation-wise. And now we have enough numbers from the California Department of Water Resources to put together a new water supply update. And it’s captured pretty well in this recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle:
There are two very important points presented in this article. First, the snow survey is critical because the snow in the Sierra is about two-thirds of the water that will be available this year. We tend to fixate on liquid water and the levels in our major storage reservoirs, but that is only part of the picture. The solid form of water is vital to our water supply here in the Golden State.
And the first snow survey of the year was a great one. We are at 134 percent of normal for this time of year, and have nearly half of what we usually receive by the critical April 1 date. Of course, we do need it to continue snowing, because we are only at half of that level!
The second important point is that we are way better off than last year at this time. The January 1 snow survey from last year was the lowest ever recorded, since the survey began in 1964! In fact, where DWR found 4 feet this year, last year they only found a small patch that was 4 inches deep!
This year’s good news is reflected in the allocation level from the DWR. It has been increased from the December 1 level of 30 percent to 40 percent.
Let’s hope the good news continues, and DWR can increase the allocation to something closer to the full 100 percent level. Anything short of that level impacts agricultural operations in this state more than any other activity, and agriculture — not Hollywood! — remains the largest industry in California. A water shortage impacts the entire economic well-being of our state — so pray (or engage in an equivalent atheistic ritual) for rain!