Public organizations that serve 27 million people in California will receive far more water from the state than they were supposed to a month ago, enough to feed an estimated 4.4 million households for a year. This is due to weeks of historic rainfall in the state.
Due to a severe drought with dangerously low reservoir levels, state officials declared in December that public water agencies would only receive 5% of their requests.
However, a meteorological phenomenon known as “atmospheric rivers” started to batter California on New Year’s Eve and continued for weeks. In three weeks, nine atmospheric rivers are expected to have dropped 32 trillion gallons of water on the state. It was sufficient to add 66% more water storage to the state’s two most enormous reservoirs.
There might be more water on the way. Water that will eventually arrive in the spring when the snow melts in the Sierra Nevada is not included in the allocation for this Thursday. Compared to its historical norm, California has more than twice as much snow in the mountains as Tuesday.
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According to Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, “We are happy that we can enhance the allocation today and deliver more water to local water agencies.”
“These storms highlighted the significance of our efforts to update our water infrastructure to prepare for severe drought and flooding. Due to these extreme oscillations, these storm flows are desperately needed to replenish groundwater basins and support recycled water facilities.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe drought in most of the San Joaquin Valley has been downgraded to moderate drought. Across the central coast, including Monterey Bay, abnormal dryness has replaced moderate drought.
The monitor reported, “during the previous few weeks, a succession of atmospheric rivers dropped considerable volumes of rain and snow across portions of the West, contributing to improvements in soil moisture, streamflow, reservoir levels, and snowpack.”
However, most of the state is still experiencing moderate to severe drought, with only a tiny portion of the far north coast completely drought-free. This month, California eliminated the two harshest drought classifications: exceptional and extreme.
Despite this, state water officials cautioned that the state’s rainy season still has two months to go. California might experience dry weather again before April 1. Californians should “continue to utilize water carefully to help the state adjust to a hotter, drier future and the likely return of drought,” according to state officials.
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