Thursday, December 23, 2010

California water supply off to good start in new year

Dave Marquis in News 10 (California): After three years of drought, California is off to a banner year for precipitation. "(We) might well be in in the upper 10 percent of the historical record, so we're off to a good start," said Department of Water Resources Chief Hydrologist Maurice Roos. "December, with the storm we had, is about one and a half times the average for the month," said Roos.

Many of the state's reservoirs are operating in the flood control mode, according to Roos. "Keeping enough space empty just in case we get another big storm or a flood," he added. The rain and runoff is good for area rivers and streams and especially for the health of the Sacramento Delta, according to DWR Senior Engineeer Boone Lek. "The flow would definitely benefit the Delta by providing more flows than it has seen in probably the last five years or so."

But experts caution that one great year, or even several, won't change concerns over a drier future predicted by computer models of climate change. "If the snow level is higher, which it would be in a warmer world, there wouldn't be as much snowpack to work with and so we lose a lot of natural storage," Roos said. The likelihood of less rain and snow means the state should focus on more and better ways to store water….

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, shot by Samuel Wong (wongsamuel), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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