How Much Rain Has Runoff Into San Diego Reservoirs In Recent Weeks?

To say it rained a lot this year is an understatement and the reservoirs in the City of San Diego have been filling up. To get a better idea on that we talked with Drew Kleis, San Diego’s public utilities assistant director. He said he likes the impressive rainfall totals.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell Water Levels Have Risen, But Runoff Slowing Down

Lake Mead has risen more than 3 feet over the past month, and nearly 13 feet since Jan. 1.

The lake, which supplies 90% of the water used in the Las Vegas valley, is bucking the trend of the past five years. Lake Mead typically drops beginning around April, following a seasonal pattern.

As snow melts upstream in the Upper Colorado River Basin, water is held back in dams all along the way to prepare for higher consumption during the hot summer months. Water eventually reaches Lake Powell before flowing through the Grand Canyon and into Lake Mead.

Snowmelt is Swelling Colorado’s Rivers, but Much More Snow is Still Waiting in the High Country

Floods, swollen rivers, road closures — Colorado’s spring runoff season is in full swing and much of the snow in the state’s mountains hasn’t melted yet. Colorado saw higher-than-average snowfall build up on the Western Slope this year, a boon for irrigators and other water users who rely on the Colorado River Basin which spans Colorado, tribal lands, six Western states and parts of Mexico. But the snowmelt, with the help of recent weather, is leading to high runoff and its adverse impacts are popping up around the state like a game of whack-a-mole.

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

Give Your Irrigation System a Fall Checkup

Staying on top of your irrigation system – especially in the midst of a drought – can mean the difference between maximizing your water efficiency and unknowingly wasting water running down sidewalks unused into the storm drain. Follow these tips for a thorough checkup.

Turn on each valve of your irrigation system and observe how quickly water begins to run off your landscaping. Note the time when each runoff occurs. For some systems, this could be immediate. For others, it may take as long as five minutes.

Make sure spray irrigation is never running for longer than eight minutes at any one time.

Take notes on your irrigation plan, and turn off your irrigation until you can fix the following issues:

  • Do you have broken sprinkler heads?
  • Are there heads that are blocked by plants or objects such as planters or lights?
  • When the system turns off, does water come out of the lowest heads in the landscape?
  • Are any heads in need of adjustment, so they don’t directly spay onto the hardscape, such as sidewalks or patios?

Adjust your sprinklers to eliminate runoff

Don't allow your spriinklers to overspray your landscaping and waste water. Photo: Wikimedia irrigation tips

Don’t allow your sprinklers to overspray your landscaping and waste water. Photo: Wikimedia

Several things can be done to minimize runoff due to irrigation. This is among the most important factors in using irrigation efficiently.

  • Tune up spray irrigation systems, so there is no overspray on hard surfaces
  • Do not install spray irrigation in areas that are too narrow (generally eight feet wide or narrower)
  • Move spray heads 24 inches away from buildings or impermeable surfaces
  • Convent spray systems to micro or drip irrigation with pressure regulation and a filter
  • In lawn areas, be sure to follow the organic maintenance practices to keep your soil ‘spongy’ (link to soil post)
  • Replace standard overhead sprayers with high-efficiency rotator nozzles, or other types of low precipitation rate nozzles

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at

State Shares Framework for New Surface Water Quality Protections

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is beginning to draft a set of regulations to protect surface water following the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Act.

The changes that took effect in June significantly narrow the list of waters that receive federal protection from pollution and contaminants, known as “waters of the U.S.” or the acronym “WOTUS.” And that leaves a big regulatory gap in Arizona, which currently has no surface water protection program.

Runoff From Tijuana River Closes Imperial Beach Shoreline

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health announced Wednesday it has extended the existing water contact closure area at the Tijuana Slough shoreline north to include the Imperial Beach shoreline. Sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River has been entering the Tijuana Estuary, and observations indicate contamination of ocean water now extends from the International Border north to the Imperial Beach shoreline, DEH officials said.

Gold Rush-Era Mercury Mine Closed in 1972 Is Still Contaminating

Nearly half a century after a Gold Rush-era quicksilver mining operation shut down in northern California, mercury continues to flow into a nearby creek, and federal officials blame the mine’s state landmark status for cleanup delays.

Tijuana Sewage Runoff Prompts County to Extend Beach Closure to Imperial Beach

Water pollution from Tijuana sewage runoff has once again shuttered the Imperial Beach shoreline. The County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health on Saturday extended north the existing beach water-contact closure area at the Tijuana Slough shoreline to now also include the Imperial Beach shoreline.

Expected Spring Runoff into Colorado River Plunges After Dry April

A dry April caused the expected spring-summer runoff into Lake Powell to plunge dramatically, with the water-flow forecast down the Colorado River declining as much in one month as Tucson Water customers use in 10 years.

State Water Project Allocation Increased

The California Department of Water Resources announced Friday an increase in 2020 State Water Project allocations to 15 percent of requested supplies, up from the year’s initial 10 percent allocation announced on Dec. 2.

Allocations are reviewed monthly based on snowpack and runoff information and are typically finalized by May, according to DWR officials.