Several wet years needed to make a dent in the drought

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Today's snow and rain was a welcome sight, but much more is needed to begin to offset a four-year drought. Five to seven strong snow-making storms would make for a good year and we'd still be playing catch-up.

The rains steadily pelted the valley and gave the ground a good soaking, but we're coming off the driest four-year period in history.

Steve Haugen is the watermaster of the Kings River Water Association. Pine Flat reservoir is only at 12-percent capacity. In a normal year, the Kings River watershed produces 1.7 million acre-feet of water. Haugen explained, "For reference, Pine Flat holds a million-acre feet so that's one entire reservoir we've been short every year for the past four years. That's going to take a lot to get caught back up with."

Many empty irrigation canals were still full of weeds and debris while others have been cleaned up in preparation of future water deliveries should the wet year materialize.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen called the storm a promising start. Jacobsen said, "Hopefully we get many more of these. We're going to need on this year probably in the realm of anywhere from 10 to 12 to 15 good storms to really put us back to where we need to be."

The Sierra snowpack is really our best reservoir. Haugen said, "But it really is going to take a couple of fairly wet years, 150% and above to really see a significant impact on the groundwater."

The storms are needed to recharge underground aquifers depleted by groundwater pumping.
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