The rain that came to Northern California early this week did some good, but in terms of helping overall water supply, it was the proverbial drop in a bucket.
On a positive note, the rain knocked down the demand for irrigation for a few days, according to Frank Gehrke of the California Department of Water Resources. Gehrke also said the spring storm increased the freshwater outflow in the Delta, which is important for the health of that waterway. And it slowed down the snowmelt in the Sierra.
Northern California has no large scale infrastructure to capture urban rain water for re-use. That’s because, according to Gehrke, the region typically gets plenty of water from snowmelt into reservoirs.
The water content in the Sierra snowpack is now only about 15 percent of normal after an unusually dry late-winter.
Northern California reservoirs are still healthy from previous years with lake levels currently averaging about 95 percent of normal. “And that should, for most areas, kind of get us through this season,” said Gehrke. “The real dilemma is…we aren’t going to get the runoff during the summer to boost that reservoir storage.”
At Folsom Lake right now, it is apparent that a “healthy” water level still leaves a lot of room for improvement. The upper boat ramp at Beale Point is closed because the water has receded too far away from it.
FOX40 found a boater, Doug Byers, enjoying the lake on Tuesday while there is still ample open water, free of obstacles. But looking at the water level, Byers said, “I think it’s going to be an early season. It’s going to shut the lake down early it looks like.”