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NASA Photos Show Dramatic Change at Shasta Lake, California’s Largest Reservoir

Pictures taken from a NASA satellite earlier this month show a big difference in the water level at Shasta Lake from just two years ago. According to NASA, the older photo shows the lake at around 40% capacity, the low water level leaving a bright outline around California’s biggest reservoir.

2023 Water Year Was 8th Wettest of Past Five Decades, California Department of Water Resources Says

California groundwater storage increased by roughly 8.7 million acre-feet in the 2023 water year, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) said. The department said that it was the 8th wettest water year in 50 years and the groundwater storage increase was the first since 2019.

Lake Oroville, One of California’s Largest Water Reservoirs, is Full for the 2nd Year in a Row

For the second year in a row, Lake Oroville, one of California’s largest reservoirs, is at full capacity.

‘Innovation is the Cornerstone’ of the California Water Plan

Governor Gavin Newsom, with the support of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and other state agencies, signed into effect new developments for the California Water Plan which details water conservation efforts for the next five years.

Newsom said that the state has invested $9 billion in the last three years, and that “I want folks to know that we are not just victims of fate, that we recognize the world we’re living in.”

California Farmers and Residents to Receive an Increase in Water Supply From DWR

The California Department of Water Resources announced an increase in the State Water Project water supply allocation forecast for 2024.

Healthy California Snowpack Increases Water Resources Across State

The California Department of Water Resources announced an increased water supply allocation for 2024.

The forecasted allocation has increased to 40%, up from 30% last month.

The increase would provide an additional 420,000 acre-feet of water, according to the department. That’s enough water to serve around 1.5 million households for a year.

(Left to right) California Dept. of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Gov. Gavin Newsom join the snow survey team for fourth media snow survey of the 2024 season is held at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The survey is held approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento off Highway 50 in El Dorado County. Photo:  Andrew Nixon, California Dept. of Water Resources

Snow Survey Confirms Water Supplies Remain Plentiful for San Diego

The California Department of Water Resources performed its fourth snowpack survey of the season on Tuesday, April 2, confirming that the early winter’s “snow drought” gave way to a slightly above-normal snowpack following a series of storms.

DWR’s early April snow survey marks what is considered the peak snowpack for the year in the Sierra Nevada. The Colorado River Basin – San Diego County’s main source of water – also reports more snow than average for this time of year.

DWR’s survey recorded 64 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 27.5 inches, which is 113 percent of the average. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

Two consecutive wet winters, combined with regional investments and conservation by residents and businesses, delivered enough water to meet the San Diego region’s needs for the rest of 2024.

Wet Winter and Full Reservoirs Support Region

Across California, reservoirs are nearly full as we approach the start of summer—the heaviest water-use months. Plentiful water is a rare occurrence in the arid Southwest. From 2020 to 2022, the state suffered severe drought conditions that forced water-use reductions for millions of California residents.

California's major reservoirs are between 69 and 99 percent of capacity as of April 1. Graphic: California Dept. of Water Resources snow survey

California’s major reservoirs are between 69 and 99 percent of capacity as of April 1. Graphic: California Dept. of Water Resources

For the past decade, San Diego County has been insulated from drought-induced cutbacks due to the long-term investments in secure water supplies, a strategy that emerged in the early 1990s following an economically devastating drought. Since 1990, the region has dramatically cut water demands, reducing per capita water use by more than 50 percent. Water conservation has become a “way of life” for the region’s residents and businesses.

Innovative Leadership in Water Management

The Water Authority is currently working to sell or transfer some of its surplus water supply to areas with greater needs. For instance, an innovative water transfer deal could eventually deliver drought-resilient water supplies to South Orange County through the Moulton Niguel Water District and help combat increasing water rates for San Diegans.

A deal completed in late 2023 saved the San Diego region about $20 million. These water transfers help maintain the viability of the Colorado River as the most critical water resource for the Southwest.

“Wet years are the right time to prepare for the inevitable dry years,” said Water Authority General Manager Dan Denham. “That’s why we’re working every day to explore creative deals that help us reduce water rate pressures for San Diegans, enhance our long-term water security, and help our neighbors meet their needs for drought-resilient water supplies.”

(Editor’s Note: Information in this story was provided by the California Department of Water Resources).

 

New Recycled Water Pipelines to be Installed In Encinitas and Carlsbad

The construction of new recycled water pipelines in North County is expected to begin next week, according to the Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Thanks in part to about $900,000 in grants from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources, the district will begin work on extending several underground pipelines in Encinitas and Carlsbad.

What Uses Most of California’s Water Supply?

Even following a water year like 2023 and historic flooding events in recent months, California continues to see the need to conserve water. A water year, or a “wet year,” according to the United States Geological Survey, is defined as a 12-month period in which precipitation levels are measured.

Current California Snowpack Pales in Comparison to 2023’s Wet Winter

California’s snowpack is above average this winter following a series of storms that replenished one of the state’s most crucial water supplies, but still far behind where it stood during last year’s especially wet winter.