Storms Add 350 Billion Gallons of Water to CA Reservoirs

California flooding (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

California’s crippling five-year drought has come to a temporary halt in the northern part of the state, as roughly 350 billion gallons of water came pouring into the region’s biggest reservoirs over the past few days, boosting storage to levels not seen in years.

However, the drought still remains in effect in Southern California.

According to the East Bay Times, there is so much water in the reservoirs that dam operators were forced to release water to reduce flood risks.

“California is a dry state and probably always will be in most years, but we certainly don’t have a statewide drought right now,” Jay Lund, a professor of engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, told the East Bay Times.

Longtime state hydrologist Maury Roos also told the East Bay Times that the 154 largest reservoirs tracked by the state Department of Water Resources boosted their water capacity to 97 percent of the state’s historic average, adding 1.1 million acre feet of water from Jan. 1 to Monday.

The biggest gain was reportedly the San Luis Reservoir, California’s fifth largest, located between Gilroy and Los Banos. The East Bay Times notes that it was just 10 percent full in August, but is now 66 percent full, having risen 134 feet.

Despite all the liquid gain the Golden State has experienced, California’s drought won’t officially end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency drought declaration he signed three years ago, in January 2014.

Further, it seems unlikely Brown will rescind the emergency declaration entirely, considering other parts of the Golden State, including Santa Barbara, are still reportedly short of rain and have low reservoir levels.

Farmers have been among the hardest hit due to the drought. Some have even turned to President-elect Donald Trump, who has stated his commitment to helping California’s farmers attain more water, contrary to an existing federal water policy in place that favors fish over agriculture.

Over a year ago, Fresno County farmer Wayne Western Jr. penned a letter to Trump pleading for help. His farm, like many others in his situation, was at risk of going out of business if nothing is done to address the water situation. According to the Sacramento Bee, Trump replied to Western’s note with a handwritten pledge, writing: “Got it — crazy. If I win, it will be corrected quickly.”

However, the authority of California’s state agencies over the allocation of its water supply — which includes the federal Central Valley Project — remains a staggering obstacle that the nation’s 45th president must confront. That is especially true, as the Bee points out, regarding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is where the endangered Delta smelt (a small breed of fish) primarily reside.

During the presidential campaign, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina penned an op-ed in Time in which she chastised liberal environmentalists for making a species of fish a priority over human beings.

Fiorina wrote:

While California is clearly experiencing another drought, the extreme water shortages are an ongoing and man-made human tragedy–one that has been brought on by overzealous liberal environmentalists who continue to devalue the lives and livelihoods of California residents in pursuit of their own agenda. It comes down to this: Which do we think is more important, families or fish?

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.


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