January Storms Bring Needed Precipitation; Drought Outlook Uncertain
January 19, 2017
As one winter storm rolls into another and saturated lawns begin to flood, Californians are zipping up raincoats and stepping into galoshes. How is all this precipitation affecting the drought? The answer: to be determined.
Recent precipitation numbers might seem outstanding, but the drought story is a bit more complicated. The United States Drought Monitor shows significant portions of the state still in drought conditions, and the state’s water system is a complicated network of storage and delivery infrastructure to ensure that all Californians have access to water.
Recent winter storms are helping the state build water supply, but ongoing challenges with adequate storage, delivery systems and continued conservation coupled with precipitation rates may not result in an all-clear signal on the state’s drought. Additionally, groundwater is an integral part of the water supply. The next few months of the water year will be crucial and should provide a more complete picture about the condition of the state’s water supply. At a recent meeting, the Water Board signaled that they are likely to keep conservation requirements in effect for now.
State and local water officials are keeping a close eye on the multitude of data available. This week’s numbers show that most regions have received a great deal of precipitation – including some startling totals that have led to flooding – and in many cases, rainfall and snowpack totals are tracking well above average for this time of year. Data from the Department of Water Resources shows that in addition to the major rain and snow we all experience personally, reservoirs are filling up and spillways are cranking open. These are all significant positive indicators for the state’s water supply. CSAC will continue to provide information and analysis about the state’s water supply throughout the water year.