Snow-Pack and Water-Saved

February 2, 2016

california-water-mapFaded sunshine and a bit overcast this Tuesday afternoon on California’s north coast, and still on the way-chilly side, too.
And maybe to continue in that fashion as a cold front is expected across the region tomorrow, armed not only with rain and snow, but some quick-winds, gusts supposedly up to 45-mph along the shoreline.

In this El Niño-influenced ‘conveyor-belt’ storm season, California residents have gotten a little complacent in the struggle to save water — we reduced water usage only 18.3 percent in December, the smallest amount since last June, at least according to data released today by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Close, but no cigar — we’re still .10-million gallons short of a targeted 1.2 million acre-feet that should be saved through this month.

(Illustration above: ‘California Water Map,’ found here).

Although what Californians have already saved is enough to provide water to more than 5 million people for a year, it’s still too early to predict this rain season’s influence on the drought.
Via The Desert Sun this afternoon:

“Do you feel like we’re on target to meet it, or is it a nail-biter?” Felicia Marcus, the board’s chair, asked a staff member during Tuesday’s meeting in Sacramento as the figures were announced.
Turning to a football analogy, Marcus quipped: “We’re in field goal range is what you’re saying.”
She said a touchdown would be better, of course, but she also said Californians and water agencies have by and large done a stellar job cutting back during the drought.
She said it’s important for the state to continue doing more.
“I think people understand and have a much more sophisticated view, despite the precipitation, as weird as it seems, to be saying we need to conserve until we know where we are,” Marcus said.
“The fact that we’re focused on those percentages I think is less important than the fact that folks have really stepped up to do extraordinary stuff at extraordinary cost in many cases, and I think the community spirit of us all being in this together has really held.”

Yet the biggest water bitch ain’t consumers, it’s our snowpack.
From SFGate, also this afternoon:

Those measurements currently show a water content of 20 inches, or 114 percent of the historical average for Feb. 2.
The snow is thickest in the northern part of the state, where it is 120 percent of the average.
Water resources managers say the current mounds of snow in the sierra are no guarantee that the drought that has left the Golden State high and dry is coming to an end.

The measurements of water content are important given that snow makes up 60 percent of the water captured in California’s reservoirs when it melts in the spring — and 30 percent of the state’s overall water supply during a normal year.
The benchmark level is April 1, when the snowpack normally begins to melt.

State water officials estimate that the snowpack will will have to be at least 150 percent of normal on April 1 before the drought could be considered over.
Although storage in the state’s major reservoirs has increased significantly since Dec. 1, all of them remain below their historical averages for February.

Water less, water more…

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