SANTA CLARA VALLEY (KPIX 5) — From years of exceptional drought to the wettest year on record, California has experienced a string of weather extremes in recent years. As the state closes in on the midpoint of this rain season, it faces a different scenario; normalcy.
The Guadalupe Reservoir, just outside of San Jose, is just one piece of the Santa Clara Valley Water District storage system. As of Wednesday, it was 42.9 percent of capacity, just about where the district wants it.
The reservoir, a bit like California itself, is having a pretty good water year. “Yes, we’re having a wonderful year,” says Linda J. LeZotte board Chair at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. “Expecting some rain today, and that always adds to the amount of water we can put in the reservoirs.”
It may seem like it’s been a while but this is about what a normal water years looks like. Rainfall totals and storm pacing have slowly filled reservoirs to theirs seasonal averages, and for customers in this district there is still more good news.
“We spent this last year, when we did have some rain, we spent a lot of that time filling our groundwater basins,” explains LeZotte. “The groundwater basins are terrific. They’re back to normal, and that’s our reserve supply.”
It’s a similar story across the bay in Contra Costa County at the Briones Reservoir, which is owned and operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).
“Our total reservoir storage is at 80% which is right where we want to be,” said district representative Andrea Pook. “We experienced many years of really dry conditions, and they were followed by a super wet year where we had flooding. So it feels like a very good place to be.”
Statewide, it’s a similar picture. Most of the state’s major reservoirs are hovering around their historical averages as are precipitation totals. That said, the rain year is only halfway complete.
“I think the new normal is that we don’t know what nature is going to do with regard to the rain,” says LeZotte. “I think we can always expect more droughts. And we never know what year we’ll have a drought, even though we may have rain the beginning of the year. It may stop raining tomorrow.”