Governor lifts drought declarations from 2008, 2009
Frank Gehrke summed it up: “Well, it has been a really crazy winter,” said the state’s chief surveyor of the Sierra Nevada snowpack.
Statewide averages from the season’s fourth survey Wednesday, shows water content at 165% of normal for April 1.
The latest survey shows statewide, water content of the Sierra snowpack is 165% of normal. Gehrke says it’s been about 15 years since there’s been this much snow on the ground at this point in the season. Earlier this month, some locations were reporting total seasonal accumulations equivalent to the height of a six-story building.
Key reservoirs are also at above-average levels — to the point where managers are now releasing water downstream. Gehrke says that, “Because of the huge snowpack up above, they’ve got to maintain space for that runoff in the spring.”
As expected, Governor Jerry Brown responded by lifting statewide drought emergencies declared under the Schwarzenegger administration. In doing so, the Governor cautioned that “Drought or no drought, demand for water in California always outstrips supply. Continued conservation is key.”
I heard similar cautions from Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of L.A,’s Municipal Water District. “This isn’t an all-clear to consumers to just say ‘Terrific, let’s just start hosing down the sidewalks again’,” said Kightlinger, who’s district serves about 19 million people in Southern California. “We’re really trying to change a mindset here.”
Kightlinger says his board will now rescind penalties for excessive water use that have been in place for MWD customers, but adds that, “We need to conserve water every year, not just during drought.”