Water agencies across Southern California will receive an additional supply of water from the state as a result of the storms earlier in the year, the Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday.
The department expects to deliver 35% of requested water supplies this year, up from the 30% that was forecast in January. That will provide an additional 210,000 acre-feet of water to the state through its 29 public water agencies. At the beginning of December, the state projected only being able to deliver 5% of requested supplies.
The DWR cited early gains in the Sierra snowpack for the increased numbers.
Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said in a statement that the district appreciates and supports the state’s “cautious approach to ensure the snowmelt reaches our reservoirs before providing a more substantial increase in supplies.”
“We are hopeful that our snowpack continues to grow as the winter season progresses, and that it translates into the runoff we need to have a healthier water supply this year,” Hagekhalil said. “It will provide some welcome relief to the drought that has plagued our state and the cities and communities we serve throughout Southern California.”
Hagekhalil said that with the exception of the upcoming storms this week and next, February will be a mostly dry month and “we don’t know what March will bring.”
“Extremely variable weather — including drier, hotter periods followed by periods of intense storms — have become an increasingly challenging reality in managing Southern California’s water resources,” Hagekhalil said. “We must ensure we are protecting the state’s storage reserves while balancing the need to address the impacts of the severe drought
over the last three years.”
So far, the state has seen less than a inch of precipitation in February after record-breaking atmospheric rivers in January.
“We’re hopeful that more storms this week are a sign that the wet weather will return, but there remains a chance that 2023 will be a below-average water year in the northern Sierra,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said.
“Careful planning and the use of advanced forecasting tools will enable the department to balance the needs of our communities, agriculture, and the environment should dry conditions continue this spring and into next year.”