Final snowpack survey doesn't look encouraging

Unfortunately, our latest storm basically amounts to a drop in the bucket.
March 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Tuesday the Department of Water Resources will take the state's final snowpack survey of the season.

Unfortunately, our latest storm basically amounts to a drop in the bucket.

A miracle march never materialized in this our third straight drought year. Despite our recent storms the snowpack still looks bleak - a third of normal. The final snowpack survey of the season will give us an idea of how much water is available for the spring and summer.

Sarge Green of the California Water Institute at Fresno State said, "It might go from 30 to 35% in some places but that's probably the best we can do."

The state's dry conditions already have some communities instituting water restrictions.

Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute said, "The drought is not only severe but it's extensive. 100% of the state is considered to be in some degree of water stress."

Green explained we were hurt by the lack of storms early in the season. "In the early part of the year it establishes a base and then a lot of times the snow freezes hard, which then slows down how much it will run off and percolate slowly and fill up the reservoirs. This year there was no base."

The low reservoir levels are a big reason why many farmers on both the west and east side of the Valley are now looking at zero water allocation this year.

Staff attorney Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, "Drought and not environmental restrictions are really the cause of the low water allocations in this incredibly dry year. There's been no water supply restrictions to protect delta smelt this year."

The April snowpack at least is an improvement from February's survey which was at 22% of average.


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