With the storms hitting Northern California, the Sacramento Valley is suddenly switching from drought management to flood management. This is normal for the Sacramento Valley, where the water system transitions on a regular basis from flood to water supply management, and vice-versa. This weekend, several reservoirs will be spilling water, the bypasses will be shunting water off the bulging rivers and creeks will create localized flooding.
With the shift in water availability, now is the time for state and federal agencies to also shift their mindset and immediately take all efforts to help maximize diversions to satisfy various beneficial uses throughout California, all of which have been limited for the past four years. This should include:
- Cities and rural communities that have been stretching supplies for the past several years.
- Farms and their soils, which have been suffering from lack of water over the past four years.
- Groundwater recharge, particularly in areas where groundwater has been depleted from additional pumping during the past several years.
- Wildlife refuges and other managed wetlands, where the moist-soil from irrigation is important to produce the food for waterfowl and will help maintain summer pools for brood habitat.
- Additional exports to move water through the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) into San Luis Reservoir and other reservoirs south of the Delta.
Additionally, if Sites Reservoir were already online, the California Department of Water Resources has estimated that it would have already stored more than 500,000 acre-feet of water this year, or nearly 150 billion gallons.