The Sierra’s first snow survey, conducted early this month, indicated what we already knew – it’s the beginning of another dry year.
According to a recently published article in the Sacramento Bee, California experienced one of the driest starts to winter ever recorded. In fact, in its first snow survey, the California Department of Water Resources found the snowpack at only 20 percent of average – a water supply crucial to both California and Nevada.
In the northern Sierra, according to the Bee, which supplies much of the Reno-Sparks’ area water via the Truckee River, the snowpack is just 10 percent of average.
That stacks up to 9.3 inches of snow depth – 2.3 inches of water content – at Echo Summit near South Lake Tahoe, according to an article in the Sierra Sun.
The results weren’t surprising after 2013’s record-setting drought, the driest in California’s 119 years of data, according to the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.
“The water situation is bad; we’re kind of in unprecedented conditions. We’re looking at a year that’s potentially going to be worse than the 1976-77 drought,” John Woodling, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority, noted in the Sacramento Bee article.
Reports by the Reno Gazette-Journal indicate that if the weather keeps up, California will only be able to deliver 5 percent of the water requested by 29 public agencies this year.
“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources in an issued statement.
At Lake Tahoe, officials are already urging conservation, according to the Sierra Sun.
“Every gallon a customer conserves will help preserve the necessary water resources available during a drought situation,” Tony Laliotis, director of utilities for the Tahoe City Public Utility District told the Sun. “Conserving water in the winter is just as important as conserving in the summer.”
The season isn’t over yet though, as some officials have pointed out.
“One giant storm can turn it around,” said Steven Poncelet of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District in the Sierra Sun article.