DWR Details Recent Storms’ Drought Impact

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The Department of Water Resources says recent storms have improved dry conditions in California, but the state remains in a severe drought.

The DWR increased its allocation estimate to 45 percent of requests Thursday, in light of recent rainfall increasing reservoir levels.

After a mostly dry February, March rain and snow caused water levels to raise past historical record at Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, California’s two largest reservoirs. Folsom Lake, meanwhile, has required flood control for its water rising to 70 percent capacity.

Despite this, other Central Valley water sources — including the San Luis Reservoir and many groundwater basins — are still below expected levels for this time of year.

Water level requests, carried out by the DWR’s state water project, have not been at 100 percent since 2006. In 2015, the project’s allocation was at 20 percent.

The state water project’s allocation percentage accounts for streams, groundwater, and reservoirs.

The drought is not over yet, but the DWR will not install a drought barrier — normally used to control saltwater content — this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will announce the Central Valley project’s allocation to farms and cities later this month.

— Tyler Heberle filed this report