The California Chamber of Commerce presents an excellent analysis of our current water supply situation resulting from the storms.
“January 12, 2011) Early measurements of California’s snowpack are in and the results raise hopes for water users around the state. The mountain snowpack, a key source of water supply throughout the year, is at about twice its average volume of water for this time of year following a large storm that blanketed California with precipitation in late December.
“That storm dumped a deep layer of snow over the state’s high country, bringing snowpack levels to above 50-60 inches, the highest in 17 years.
“As of January 3, the Northern statistical mountain snowpack was measured at 174 percent of average while the Central section held 198 percent of average snowpack and the Southern section held onto 277 percent of its average snowpack.
“The statewide mountain snowpack average is about 212 percent of normal, providing a stream of snowmelt throughout the warmer months that will replenish the state’s reservoirs.
“One such reservoir is Lake Oroville, which depends heavily on spring and summer snowmelt for recharge, and has not reached its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity since 2003.
“Heavy rains have also refilled reservoirs around the state, bringing levels above 100 percent of seasonal average in many cases.
“Oroville, the main reservoir of the State Water Project (SWP), is already at 99 percent of normal, holding more than 2.22 million acre-feet of water.
“Lake Shasta, the main reservoir of the Central Valley Project (CVP), is at 118 percent of normal, with more than 3.45 million acre-feet of water.
“Folsom Lake, also part of the CVP system, is at 86 percent of normal with about 415,950 acre-feet of water.
“The positive news follows several consecutive years of below-average precipitation and ongoing drought conditions. In response, the SWP and CVP dramatically reduced water allocations in 2008 and 2009 to as low as 15 percent of normal.
“The economic harm was unmistakable when these shortages were combined with pumping restrictions stemming from environmental concerns, as Central Valley farmers were forced to fallow crop land and unemployment reached as high as 30 percent in some rural counties.”