Big Bear, CA, February 29th, 2016 – After a sunny February, the hopes that El Nino storms would go a long way toward restoring California’s water supplies and correcting the damage done by years of drought are now fading. Instead, the new assumption is that in April, the state government will renew strict rules mandating water conservation in local water districts for another year.
“It’s already a less dire situation, given the precipitation we have received so far this winter. But it would have to rain almost every day — storm after storm after storm — in March for there to be no drought rules this summer,” Max Gomberg, a top official with the State Water Resources Control Board.
Nevertheless, this dry period isn’t as bad news for the region as it might seem, because the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California gets 30 percent of its water from Northern California via the State Water Project’s 444-mile-long aqueduct. As of Feb. 22, the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which feeds the state water system, was 94 percent of normal.
Northern California and the Pacific Northwest have gotten soaked, while Southern California has been left pretty dry (with a few notable exceptions). Many of California’s most populous cities haven’t witnessed an especially remarkable winter to date. This isn’t quite the blockbuster year that many had hoped for (especially in the south).
The result is likely to be another year of pressure from water officials to keep showers short, let lawns go brown and wash vehicles less often.