Most of California Facing Extreme Drought Despite December Storm

Posted in: Drought, United States Water News, Water Crisis
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Article courtesy of Matt Keller | January 2, 2014 | Abc7 News | Shared as educational material

A stormy December saved it from being another record dry year, but 78 percent of the state is still experiencing exceptional or extreme drought.

This week’s snow survey found the snowpack is just 50 percent of normal for this time of year.

“In San Francisco and San Jose — both a little above average. But the key to that was most of it came in that 17- to 18-day window just last month. Otherwise, most of the year was very dry,” explained ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco.

The Bay Area saw its driest year on record in 2013.

The 10 reservoirs in the Santa Clara Valley Water District are at about 40% capacity right now. Before the recent rains they were at just 28 percent capacity. That’s a big jump and an encouraging sign heading into the winter season.

“I was here about a month back. It’s getting better. It’s gone up quite a bit, but still in the small lake, there’s nothing in there. I grew up and actually lived on Monte Vina. That was full when I grew up. So you can see that we need a lot more water,” said Tony Giovacchina, a Los Gatos resident.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District says customers cut back usage by 13 percent from February to November. That’s a lot better than the rest of the state, but the goal is 20 percent.

A water conservation rebate program for converting lawns to low water use landscapes was doubled and extended through June.

Some residents say the recent rain doesn’t mean they’ll relax.

“We’re still showering really quickly. We don’t keep the water on when we wash our dishes. We lather them up and then wash them. So no, still conserving and trying to be as thoughtful as possible when it comes to our water use,” said Flaherty Ward of San Jose.

Water officials say above average rainfall could get us back to normal in about a year, but conservation efforts could get us there quicker.

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