LOS ANGELES — California’s recent string of atmospheric rivers has significantly bolstered water supplies. The State Water Project announced Friday that it will increase water deliveries to 75%. In February, the agency said it would release just 35%.
“California continues to experience weather whiplash, going from extreme drought to at least 19 atmospheric rivers since late December,” Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement. “It really demonstrates that in times of plenty, we need to move as much water into storage as is feasible.”
The recent storms followed three consecutive years of drought and allowed the state to capture and store enough water in its reservoirs to deliver an additional 1.7 million acre-feet of water for the 29 water agencies it serves and their 27 million customers. In December, the DWR said it could only provide 5% of what had been requested because of below-average precipitation.
And then it rained. And rained. And rained. Because of extremely high water flows in its system, the State Water Project said it will make additional water available to any contractor that can store extra water.
The DWR said consistent storms in late February and March built up the Sierra snowpack to more than double what it normally is this time of year.
The department will conduct one more monthly snow survey. April 1 traditionally marks the peak of the state’s snowpack, after which it begins to melt. The department plans to conduct its final snowpack survey of the year April 3, after which the agency could further update its water delivery allocations.