Friday, May 2, 2008
The final snow survey of the year in Northern California shows much of the early season snow is gone. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has more now on what that means for our water supply.
The California Department of Water Resources says the snow survey near Lake Tahoe shows the snowpack is 67 percent of normal statewide.
Elissa Lynn is the department's senior meteorologist.
Lynn: So we are in our second dry year in a row.
She says March and April combined are the driest in the northern Sierras since 1921, the first year that records were kept.
Lynn says after heavy snow in January and February there wasn't much more.
Lynn: The ground is very, very dry, we're losing a lot into the soil moisture. Some of it may have evaporated right into the dry sunshine of March and April.
Lynn says water runoff into streams and reservoirs is half of normal.
Storage in California's major reservoirs is also low because of last year's dry conditions.
Another factor limiting supplies - court-imposed restrictions on water exports from the Sacramento Delta.
Those restrictions mean the state water project will deliver about 35 percent of requested amounts to San Diego and the rest of Southern California.
All these factors are one reason water agencies are calling for more conservation.
Bob Yamada is a water resources manager with the San Diego County Water Authority.
Yamada: It's incumbent upon our region to really adopt an ethos of conservation. That is one of the key things that is going to sustain us and help us to forestall getting into rationing or allocations.
Despite the dry water picture now, meteorologist Elissa Lynn is looking ahead to better and wetter days.
Lynn: There's another year around the corner, another winter is on the way. When we were in the late 80s to early 90s in was a period of several years in a row. This is our second dry year but there is always hope, like in baseball, that, you know, next season will turn around.
In the meantime, it's possible water supplies could be pinched even more.
Next month a federal judge starts hearings to talk about further reductions in pumping from the Delta to help protect salmon runs.
Ed Joyce, KPBS News.