As the water year in California emerges, we have been blessed with snow in the high country and rain in many parts of the state. We are continually reminded that there is variability inherent in California’s precipitation and weather patterns and our water system has been built to address this variability and the maldistribution of water in California. We are also reminded that there is tremendous value in having stored water, both in reservoirs and aquifers, for both flood and water supply management.
Water resources managers in Northern California have learned from recent wet and dry years. It is still early in the water year, however, thanks to the good planning and work of water resources managers, Northern California is well prepared for this upcoming year as shown by the following:
1) Reservoir levels in Northern California are essentially full following several wet years, with Central Valley Project storage levels at 119% and 110% of historical average at Shasta and Folsom. On the State Water Project, Oroville is at 94% of historical average. Local reservoirs are also nearly full. Reservoir levels can be seen through CDEC.
2) Groundwater levels in Northern California have risen in the recent wet years as you would expect and groundwater is generally in balanced conditions across the region. The Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are also working to improve groundwater conditions as part of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) by 2022, with a focus on recharge opportunities and other ways to assure sustainable groundwater levels in the region. See Fact Sheet: Sacramento Valley Groundwater.
3) Looking to the future, the proposed Sites Reservoir, if it was online, could also provide benefits in every year type by helping California prepare for dry years. After wet years in Northern California, Sites Reservoir would be nearly full and the water could be used for various public benefits and meeting beneficial uses throughout the state. The information below shows how Sites Reservoir could benefit California in dry years.