California has been experiencing much needed rain and snow that is helping to combat the ongoing drought.
No one can look past their windows and not see that it has been quite wet for a while. This is tremendous news for the state’s depleted reservoirs, arid soils, and thirsty trees. But what may look like a wet winter that provides a projection of the next few months isn’t necessarily what could happen.
Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s service area receives all our water from the State Water Project via the California Aqueduct through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). Our water travels over 400 miles from Lake Oroville at the base of the Northern Sierra Mountain range. Because of our location within MWD’s distribution system, we cannot receive adequate Colorado River supplies to meet the demands of residents and businesses throughout the region. Snowpack and rain comprise our water supply entirely.
The California Department of Water Resources issues daily hydrologic conditions throughout the year. On average the Northern Sierra Mountains receive 53.2 inches of precipitation annually. In the 2016-2017 water year, 94.7 inches of precipitation was recorded, making it the wettest year on record, while last year, 24 inches of precipitation was recorded making it the third driest year on record. As of today, 30.2 inches of precipitation has fallen on the Sierras.
The precipitation has allowed Lake Oroville to fill to 38% of its capacity thus far, creating optimism throughout potable water agencies.
“LVMWD is seeing what you are seeing… much needed rain and snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and here in parched Southern California,” said John Zhao, LVMWD’s Director of Facilities and Operations. “The rain is making up the deficit in the state’s water storage supplies, but we need a few more precipitation events like these to be out of drought conditions.”
LVMWD continues to ask customers to eliminate all excessive or wasteful water use to avoid penalties and to minimize outdoor irrigation which is not permitted for 48 hours after a measurable precipitation event. All residents control how much or little water they use. Minimizing water usage is a community effort which benefits everyone. California is on the front line of receiving climate change impacts as we are now.
Erratic weather patterns like we have experienced in recent years demonstrate that conservation is a California way of life and that we cannot be assured that wet trends will continue. “Many of our customers have stepped up and significantly curbed their water usage in recent years,” said Dave Roberts, LVMWD’s Resource Conservation Manager. “Our new normal is prioritizing water use efficiency so our supplies can be stretched when its dry.”
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