Kevin Hostert, Water Resources Analyst, MWDOC
Did you know? Even though California received a lot of rain and snow in December, it’s not nearly enough to end the drought. Water providers continue to monitor drought conditions to ensure reliable water supplies for their communities statewide.
Despite recent rains and snowfall, California is still experiencing drought. While we live in a semiarid region and exceptionally dry periods are expected, we can’t accurately predict when drought begins or ends. Water providers across the state take their responsibility to ensure adequate water supplies are available to meet the needs of our communities and will continue to monitor drought conditions closely, making adjustments between available supply sources where needed.
Here are a few critical facts about our current water supply conditions:
1. CALIFORNIA GOT A LOT OF RAIN AND SNOW RECENTLY, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO END THE DROUGHT.
Accumulated precipitation is above the historical average in Northern California for this time of year. However, snow and rain runoff are projected only to be slightly above average in water year 2022. Also, precipitation in the last two years was extremely low.
2. KEY RESERVOIRS LEVELS ARE STILL LOW COMPARED TO HISTORICAL AVERAGES.
Lake Oroville storage is 45% full and is 80% of normal storage (1,600,000 acrefeet). In January, the Department of Water Resources increased the Table A allocation to 15% for water year 2022.
3. A “WATER YEAR” IS A 12-MONTH PERIOD THAT EXTENDS FROM OCTOBER 1 TO SEPTEMBER 30.
There are still good opportunities to receive large amounts of snow and rainfall; 40% of Northern California precipitation comes in February to May.
4. WHILE STILL IN DECLINE, THE COLORADO RIVER SYSTEM HAS SEEN A POSITIVE START TO THE 2022 WATER YEAR.
Snowpack levels are off to a good start this water year. However, there is still a good chance that Lake Mead will be in a shortage level for the next five (5) years.
5. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S IMPORTED WATER STORAGE IS STILL HEALTHY.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s (MWD) dry year storage is healthy, sitting at 2.5 million acre-feet (MAF). Historically, MWD allocates imported water when storage levels hover around 1 MAF. With no additional precipitation this water year, MWD would probably need to take water from
6. APRIL 1, 2022.
On this day, it will be clearer where the drought is headed and whether water cutbacks will be necessary.