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Water Officials Hope Storm Boosts Snowpack Following Dry January

The Los Angeles Aqueduct carries water from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Moun...

Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

Above: The Los Angeles Aqueduct carries water from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountains.

A near-record dry January dramatically drained the Sierra Mountain snowpack and dampened optimistic water supply outlooks. The snowpack, which provides a third of the region’s water, was at 134 percent of normal at the end of December. Now it’s 81 percent of normal for this time of year.

Ken Weinberg, director of water resources for the San Diego County Water Authority, said the region is still in good shape thanks to abundant reservoir levels.

"There are still are two months left to see if we recover a little bit," said Weinberg. "I think one of the positive signs that we look at is the storage levels in the state. Not only up in Northern California but down here in Southern California. The storage is at very good levels."

Weinberg said the stockpiled supplies are due to increased conservation, but emphasized the weather is unpredictable and the region is "a dry year a way from having to tighten its belt."

"We’ve got to look very closely at imported water supplies," he said, "and it highlights our vulnerability to the vagaries of weather -- especially when you’re in an environment where you’ve got big shifts on the climate."

The State Water Project expects to deliver 40 percent of the amount of water requested by its customers in 2013. Last year, contractors received 65 percent.

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