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Special water supply update -- WINTER HAS BEEN CANCELLED (Jan. 22, 2015)
1/22/2015 4:42:25 PM

SPECIAL WATER SUPPLY UPDATE – January 22, 2015

We interrupt your morning perusal of the Water News clippings to bring you this exclusive report:  the remainder of California’s 2015 winter season has been cancelled. Sources close to Mother Nature, speaking on condition of anonymity, report the grand lady suffered a rotator cuff injury delivering those hopeful December Deluges, and subsequently has been unable to throw anything but soft pitch. Rather than risk further injury, MN has decided to hang it up for the remainder of the season and try again next year. There you have it.

The implications to Californians and California water agencies are myriad.  If you are one of the few Californians who own an umbrella, put it away. If you were planning a ski trip in the Sierra Nevada, fly to Colorado. If you were hoping to keep your remaining lawn green through the summer, buy lawn dye. And if you were hoping the State Water Resources Control Board would stay out of your business and let you manage your own water supplies, well, sorry about that.

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We have reached the half-way point by volume of the Sierra Nevada snow accumulation season. On average, the Sierra snowpack peaks on April 1 (Runoff New Year’s Day!), and by now we should have accumulated 50 percent of the April 1 average snowpack.  What do we have instead? 15 percent, or 30 percent of the average to date. To give you a taste of how bad January has been, consider the Mammoth Mountain snow report page, which includes a list of daily snow accumulation for the month, usually a source of pride for one of the snowiest spots in the state.  Here is the box as of this morning:

Mammoth Mountain Snow History for January

This Month

Inches

Jan, 10

0.4

Jan. 11

0.4

 

 

AND THAT’S NOT EVEN WATER CONTENT, that’s just snowfall, likely sublimated away the same day it fell. Pathetic. No upper gondola yo-yo powder shots down Climax this month. Oh well.

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Where do we go from here you ask?  Here are three possibilities:

  • Atmospheric Rivers to the Rescue!:  In this wildly optimistic scenario, winter makes a major reprise and brings us to 100 percent or more of a normal season’s snowpack, partially filling the state’s drought-depleted storage reservoirs and lessening, though not entirely eliminating, our drought water use restrictions. Betting book: 5-1.
  • Meh: We get average precipitation in February and March, bringing us to about 60 percent of an average season snowpack. State Water Project deliveries increase somewhat compared to last year, we draw down storage reserves a bit more but not as much as we did last year, and most of the state struggles by with approximately the same level of pain as last year.  Unless . . . the State Board decides we need stronger medicine for our own good, but let’s see what happens.  Betting book: 3-2.
  • Ridiculously Resilient Ridge Resplendent:  The notorious northeastern Pacific high pressure blocking ridge, the Triple R, sets up in force, pushing the storm track well to the North of the Golden state, and winter really is cancelled. The result: mandatory water use restrictions, budget challenges due to reduced water sales, Water Supply Assessments become challenging without offsets, and lawn dye sales increase. Have you checked your long-term water demand forecast lately?  Betting book:  2-1.

Ah, exciting times in the water business as always.  Have fun out there, and if you need expert help planning, documenting, or managing your water supplies, please give me a call.

Cheers,
-- Doug

 

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