California Still Needs 11 Trillion Gallons Of Rain To End Drought As Water Officials Continue Call For Conservation

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – All the rain the Bay Area has experienced this month has put a dent in the statewide drought.

New numbers from the U.S. Drought Monitor show the percentage of the state in the exceptional drought category has dropped from just over 55 percent last week to 32 percent. Marty Grimes, spokesperson for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, said the rainy season has gotten off to a good start.

“Today we’re at 39.4 percent of capacity for our ten reservoirs, which is about ten percent higher than it was a week ago,” said Grimes. “We’re now seeing that each successive storm is producing better runoff into our reservoirs. Before, the watersheds above our reservoirs were so dry that a lot of that water was just soaked in.”

But water officials are warning, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet. A new analysis from NASA satellite data shows the state still needs 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from its three-year dry spell. And data released this week by NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory indicates that snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada range – a key source of spring runoff – is only half of previous estimates.

“We have groundwater storage, which is much lower than normal, and much lower than it was a year ago. We really need that groundwater basin to recover before we can start thinking about this drought being over,” said Grimes. “That’s why we’re still asking the community to reduce their water use by 20 percent. We have not changed that since last February. We expect we’re going to need that conservation into the middle of 2015 at minimum, just to help our groundwater basins recover.”

Grimes said the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s conservation incentives program has also been extended to June.

More from Mike Colgan
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