Snowpack Measured at 20% of Average, Reservoirs Well Below Capacity

January 4, 2014 10:04 am · 30 comments

Snow levels in the Sierra and reservoirs statewide are well below normal, according to a survey released Friday, triggering calls for water conservation from state water officials.

Statewide, the water content of snowpack was measured at about 20 percent of average for this time of year, and only 7 percent of the average April 1 measurement, the California Department of Water Resources said Friday.

Readings were 11 percent of average for the date for the northern mountains, 21 percent of average for the central Sierra and 30 percent of average for the southern Sierra.

While still early in the season, the results suggest water could be in short supply this summer.

The state has just ended one of the driest years on record and crucial reservoirs that supply irrigation water in areas like the San Joaquin Valley are also low, officials said.

Lake Oroville in Butte County is at only 36 percent of its capacity, or 57 percent of its historic average for this date. Shasta Lake is at 37 percent of capacity, or 57 percent of average for the date.

And San Luis Reservoir, which is affected by pumping restrictions on Delta water as well as by dry weather, is at 30 percent of capacity, or 43 percent of average for the date, officials said.

“This is a clear call for all of us to cut back on the amount of water we use watering lawns and landscaping,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laired. “We have to keep our showers short, and run our washing machines and dishwashers only when we have a full load.”

State officials mobilized a Drought Task Force earlier this month to respond to the potential threat.

“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “And every Californian can help by making water conservation a daily habit.”

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Brian January 4, 2014 at 10:08 AM


Global Warming? January 4, 2014 at 10:08 AM


Chevrolet Girl January 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Let’s get some of our water back from LA.

ClayDen January 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I miss the rain! My 5,000 square feet of lawn also misses it.

Dorothy January 4, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Been conserving water for years to try to control my bill. Doesn’t help now because they will want me (and all of you) to conserve even more while they raise the cost in order to help make you conserve even more. Ever notice that when there is plenty of water they will raise the bill so they can make up lost funds from all that conserving we did?

jussayin January 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

how about telling restaurants to stop giving you water unless you ask for it?

Concord Guy January 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Oh my.

Noflow January 4, 2014 at 11:13 AM

If its yellow, just be mellow.
If its brown, flush it down!

silva January 4, 2014 at 11:22 AM

@Dorothy, yup. That sure is how it works.

Futurama January 4, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Stop sending our water to a bunch of desert dwelling, water wasting idiots. IF YOU LIVE IN A DESERT ITS A FOR DRAWN CONCLUSION YOU DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO WATER. It’s a biome for Christs sake. You don’t “make the desert live again” it is alive!

California should split and So-Cal should be paying us for the water as an out of state resource, This is an ecological disaster that’s been along time coming.

Eddie spaghetti January 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow!!

For those of us who already conserve January 4, 2014 at 12:13 PM

water for budget reasons and conservation, additional rationing would be difficult to adhere to. If we were to try and cut another 10%, personal hygiene would suffer and of course the obligatory rate increase would be devastating.

Noflow January 4, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Eddie @ 11
Yours is the official version. I checked w/ Dad – our version was the result of an objection from one of my uncles who made whiskey….

Salt Water January 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

moonbeam already has planned tunnels under the Delta to take water South.

Two massive tunnels each larger than 33 feet in diameter to steal water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and send it South. Initial LOW BALL Price $24 Billion and we already know how well Sacramento costs out projects. Cough bay-bridge Cough.
Possible take out point just above Walnut Grove.

Bond measure is set to appear on the November 2014 ballot.
They would divert about 67,500 gallons of water a second, enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool in 10 seconds.

Hope you like drinking salt water, bay could end up a rank sewer.

Sinn Feiner January 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

I have a water well for my lawn but will have to cut back on showers it looks like. Every time we go through a drought, it’s amazing how many people don’t conserve. All of my neighbors are still watering their lawns every day for an hour it seems like.

anon January 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM

#10 – where is this “desert” that you speak of that so many people are living in? Souther California has deserts, but is not a desert.

The problem with SoCal is that they really don’t seem to care about water conservation. Up here, it’s low pressure, water saving systems in every bathroom. Down there, it seems like maximum pressure, “use all you want.” If they paid the actual price for their water, things would change. Howevever, hyperbole by calling it a “desert” doesn’t do anyone any good.

Gus January 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Water softeners, for every 200 gallons they “clean,” 20 gallons goes down the drain loaded with five pounds of salt.

Reverse osmosis units, for every gallon of water they “clean,” three go down the drain.

Is thee city water poisoned? No.
Ban them.

Amy January 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

@Dorothy. I agree with you. I lived here during the drought of the late 70’s and early 80’s. We were asked to conserve water. Then the water company raised our rates because we weren’t using enough water and they weren’t making enough money. When the drought was over they didn’t lower our rates even though we used plenty of water. It’s business.

Futurama January 4, 2014 at 3:47 PM


So-cal is most assuredly a desert. There are many books on the subject of the years of work that went into converting it into what it is now by channeling water from all over California. The geological spaces in socal are defined as semi arid, arid and hot and dry deserts, there are sparse areas that aren’t desert, not the other way around.

Incognito January 4, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The water districts need to start inspecting businesses….
I worked for a well-known leak detection company for many years and one of the major issues in businesses was toilets and faucets which ran continuously and wasting water!

We are always first to target the “homeowner”, but let me tell you, when Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner get their water bill which is abnormally high with a suspected water leak – they get it fixed. Unlike commercial buildings who just pay the bill and leave issues unresolved and leaking.

Teacher Wannabe January 4, 2014 at 5:01 PM

How about closing a few golf courses. Waste of space ANYWAY. The savings from not watering these huge lawns would be phenomenal.

California Nightmare January 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Once again we will be at the mercy of bureaucrats telling us to spare the water in addition to spare the air.

California climate is drought and flood prone. We should build more dams to retain water in wet years so we have ample supply in the dry years.

Unfortunately the democrats are running this state, and they choose not to build more dams, since that would offend one of their biggest funding sources – the extreme environmentalist lobby.

So we will have to suffer through another preventable disaster.

Rick January 4, 2014 at 5:51 PM

@ Teacher Wannabe-21

As a scratch golfer, golf courses are not a waste of space. It’s a healthy activity for a lot of men, and women too.

Would you prefer infidelity or criminal activity?

People need hobbies, and a lot of business is done on the course as well.

ClayDen January 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Another advantage of building more dams is hydroelectric power.

anon January 4, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Hey! Golf courses are lovely and green! They provide lush habitat for deer* raccoon, squirrels, California Valley Quail, Jack Rabbits and the occasional spouse who have been displaced b our constant intrusion into their domain. Most (if not all) are actually irrigated by well water and recycled water. And what, pray tell, would Cal Fir, Co Co Fire have done if they had not been able to dip their helicopter fire bucket into the pond at Oakhurst to save Mt. Diablo, Clayton and other locales over last year’s fire season?

Hip hip hurray for golf courses, fire heroes and Oakhurst!!! 🙂

Kirk January 4, 2014 at 8:03 PM

If golf is all that keeps you from being a criminal or cheating on your wife you are a turd with legs.

Are riots your primary source of new shoes?

Suburban Dad January 4, 2014 at 9:21 PM

Hey California Nightmare,
We’ve already dammed every major river, some multiple times. Ever look at a map?
I’m guessing you don’t go outside much!

Noflow January 5, 2014 at 1:10 AM

Gus @ 17

What about ion exchange resin?

Killjoy January 5, 2014 at 5:31 AM

Spare the air. Spare the water.
Next big fire, what happens? Are they going to let it burn because we are out of water?

Killjoy January 5, 2014 at 5:32 AM

By the way, that was sarcasm.

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