Recent rains are replenishing reservoirs

Recent precipitation is helping to replenish reservoirs all across the state. (KBAK/KBFX File Photo)

The recent precipitation has helped replenish reservoirs all across the state.

"In Northern California, has already seen 90 percent above normal precipitation for the entire year, and down the Sierras it is a little less, but even in the Southern Sierra Nevadas we are seeing more than 70 percent of average precipitation. And already we are only four months into the season," said Curtis Creel, manager at the Kern County Water Agency.

Here is a list of reservoirs showing how much rain they've seen in the past 30 days and how much of an increase they saw:

  • Lake Shasta: 15.08 inches (20 percent)
  • Lake Oroville: 18.85 inches (57 percent)
  • Folsom Lake: 23.49 inches (14 percent)
  • Millerton Lake: 6.15 inches (28 percent)
  • Lake Success: 17.17 inches (617 percent)
  • Lake Isabella: 15.60 inches (67 percent)

"We are pretty excited about all this rain. This is the first time we have seen this since 2011, and so it's kind of an exciting time to actually be able to put water back into the groundwater basin and start to see our reservoirs filling up statewide," said Creel.

One of the biggest reasons Kern County is still in a drought is due in part to groundwater levels, which are still at historic lows. Originally, the State Water Project and Central Valley Project were created to deter groundwater usage, but because those sources have also seen a hit from below normal precipitation, Kern County hasn't received the water it needs to stop pumping water from the ground.

On average, Kern County gets 60 percent of its surface water from these water projects, and right now its at 45 percent.

"What I want people to take away from all of this, it's not about when the drought is over, that's not the question the question is when are the effects of the drought over and it's long after rain returns because we have to fill up our groundwater basin, we have to fill up reservoirs, we have to get things back to normal conditions before we see those effects dissipate," said Creel.

Creel said that's not going to happen in one single year or even two years of wetter conditions, even though last year precipitation was above normal in lots of locations across California, including Northern California, but we haven't seen our local water supplies recover from that.

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