Miracle March: California’s Reservoirs Are Filling Up Fast

Keenan Grady | | WeatherWeatherFeatured ArticleFeatured Article

March truly has been a miracle for California residents.  Over the last two weeks of storms, the two largest reservoirs- Oroville and Shasta, have surpassed historical averages for this year, for the first time since 2013.  If this wet weather continues throughout the month and into May, some of the water restrictions might even begin to get phased out.  Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board said in regards to the water use reductions, “In May, we’ll be either lifting it or changing it significantly”.  

Lake Oroville before the drought and during the drought
Lake Oroville before the drought and during the drought

Doug Carlson, spokesperson for the Department of Water Resources, mentions the impact that these water levels have been having on California residents.  With the reservoirs at their historical average levels for the first time in years, “that is some cause for optimism, because it has been such a long, long slog trying to come back from the real lows that Oroville, for example, has hit in the past couple of years.”

infographic of water levels throughout California reservoirs
infographic of water levels throughout California reservoirs

These two reservoirs alone contain more than 40% of the total water now stored in California’s largest reservoirs, totaling up to 6.07 million acre feet of water in Shasta and Oroville.  If this precipitation keeps up, California can look optimistic towards reducing the 25% urban water reduction, which might make lives more pleasant for residents.  Showers can be a place to stand and think once again and the grass on lawns will be lively with growth instead of a dirty brown.

Lake Shasta before the drought and during the drought
Lake Shasta before the drought and during the drought

December and January were great months in terms of snowfall and precipitation, the reservoirs rose greatly during this time.  Sentiment was similar as now with optimistic hopes that California will soon be out of drought.  However February was bone dry and people went back to worrying about having an adequate water supply for the summer.  Thanks to miracle March water levels are back on the right track.  However my personal opinion is to keep the water restrictions in use until we can determine that the climate, not the weather, will truly favor a wet year.  It is too reckless to keep going back on forth on legislation and forget about the present issues of climate.

 


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