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Sierra Snowpack Low, Bleak Outlook for Bay Area Water Agencies

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A crew with the California Department of Water Resources measures the snowpack in the Sierra. (CBS)

A crew with the California Department of Water Resources measures the snowpack in the Sierra. (CBS)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— The last Sierra snowpack measurement of the season was released Tuesday and as expected, it did not yield good news for California’s drought.

The California Department of Water Resources reported that the snowpack (usually at its peak this time of year) actually only produced 32 percent of its average water content to date.

State water officials trudged through some fresh snow to get their results, but even the late-season wallop of rain and snow over the last week and a half has only put Northern California rainfall at just 55 percent of its average.

However, rainfall totals and reservoirs are creeping upwards, but not nearly enough according to Andrea Pook from East Bay Municipal Utility District.

“It’s not dire, but it’s not great. We may make it through this year by the skin of our teeth and then we have a long-dry summer and then we’ll have to see what next year brings,” she said.

Pook said rainfall for the East Bay is at 56 percent of normal while her agency’s reservoirs are 62 percent full.

The state’s biggest reservoirs are all currently in the 58 to 68 percent range, depending on the lake. The bottom line, according to state water officials, is that the drought continues despite of the unseasonably wet spring. Conservation is key and mandatory rationing could still be ordered a month from now.

Another Sierra snow check is due on May 1st, but typically numbers go down as the snowpack melts and water runs off.

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