Atmospheric rivers, heavy rain, and snowstorms have impacted California during the fall and early winter months.
In December alone, as much snow fell in the Sierra Nevada as fell in almost all of 2021.
As of the end of 2021, the average snowfall between the Northern and Southern Sierra is approximately 165% of normal, and more storms are expected going into January. The Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the country, added 89 feet across its 10-mile reservoir.
The good news is the fall storms have made a positive impact on the California drought situation. However, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Central Valley is still in an 'extreme” drought, and the Bay Area and other parts of California remain in a “severe” drought. It will take another 189 feet of water to fill the Oroville Dam.
Suffice it to say, despite a promising beginning to the 2022 water year, California has a long way to go to break the grip of the current two-year drought.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for 15% voluntary water conservation has mostly fallen on deaf ears, especially in the southern parts of the state, where reservoirs are in better shape than in Northern California.
For the fifth month in a row since Newsom asked California residents to voluntarily cut water use, they missed the target — by a lot.
Amid that news, and emphasizing California’s drought still is not over, state water officials approved new rules this week to prohibit wasteful water practices such as washing cars without a hose shut-off nozzle.
Under the new rules adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board, it will be illegal for anyone in California to:
• Water landscaping so that “more than incidental runoff” flows into a road, sidewalk, or parking lot.
• Wash a vehicle with a hose unless the hose has a shut-off nozzle.
• Hose off sidewalks, driveways, patios, and buildings “except in cases where health and safety are at risk.”
• Water grass or landscaping within 48 hours of rain.
• Use water in decorative fountains or ponds unless they have a pump to recirculate it.
• Irrigate grass on street medians with potable water.
• Use potable water for street cleaning or construction “unless no other method can be used to protect the health and safety of the public.”
In July 2021, as the state was mired in a worsening drought, Newsom asked all Californians to reduce urban water use by 15% from 2020 levels. State water officials have reported that the total statewide reduction was just 6.8% in November compared with November 2020.
In a much-needed boost, December brought huge storms that dumped more than 15 feet of snow in the Sierra and soaked cities from Northern to Southern California.
But one month hasn’t erased two years of severe drought, because most of the state’s large reservoirs remain well below normal levels. The forecast for the rest of January was looking dry, state water officials have said.
“We saw a parade of storms providing a lot of snow, starting the snowpack off in quite impressive fashion,” said MichaelAnderson, state climatologist with the Department of Water Resources. “It looks like after we get through this weather system this week, things go dry.”
Three months remain in the winter rainy season with no guarantees on how many more storms the state will receive. However, for now, the California swimming pool and spa industry should be thankful for the rain and snow the state has received thus far and keep its collective fingers crossed we will get another three or four big storms necessary to take the pressure off the state and local public entities to impose water use restrictions that could impact the industry, commented John Norwood, head of government relations for CPSA.