Western Grower & Shipper 2018 05 MayJune

feet (MAF) of water may be available to replenish groundwater basins in an average year. With additional investments in programs such as water storage, conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, desalination, and conveyance improvements, more water could be available for replenishment in the future. Water deliveries from the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have reduced groundwater overdraft in many basins in the state; however, average deliveries have declined in recent years due to drought and regulatory requirements to protect water quality and critical species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and tributaries. Climate change is expected to further exacerbate these challenges. The WAFR report states that constructing additional storage north and south of the Delta and improving Delta conveyance infrastructure would limit the decline of water project deliveries and provide a more reliable supply of surface water for replenishment and other purposes. The WAFR report analyzed water supply, demand, and runoff in 10 regions of the state to estimate how much surface water could be available to replenish groundwater basins. It provided a visual depiction of supply and demand in each region, as well as a range of potential water available for replenishment estimates. It is available through DWR.

year continues a string of below-average years, only interrupted by one rainy year, concerns will be heightened. As a point of reference, the four drought years produced an aggregate rainfall of less than 75 percent of average, which means the average of the previous 50 years. Again, speaking in averages, about 75 percent of California’s annual statewide precipitation occurs from November through March with 50 percent occurring from December through February. The average precipitation is dependent on a relatively small number of storms. Typically, only a few storms during the winter season can determine if the year will be wet or dry. The March storms underscored this fact. On March 1, the statewide snow pack was only at 23 percent of the average. By April 1, average snowpack had climbed to 52 percent of average. In a press release distributed in early April, California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth expressed exasperation at the state’s weather patterns. “These snowpack results—while better than they were a few weeks ago—still underscore the need for widespread careful and wise use of our water supplies. The only thing predictable about California’s climate is that it’s unpredictable. We need to make our water system more resilient so we’re prepared for the extreme fluctuations in

our water system, especially in the face of climate change.” The snow survey found a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 12.4 inches, or 49 percent of average for this time of year. The snowpack normally provides about a third of the water for California’s farms and communities as it melts in the spring and summer and fills reservoirs and rivers. Several days later, DWR released a report detailing the water available for aquifer recharge, which was also less than optimistic. The updated analysis of California’s water resources argued that investment, innovation, and infrastructure will be necessary to achieve the state’s goal of sustainable groundwater management. The report provided an estimate of the amount of water available to replenish groundwater basins to help inform development of local groundwater sustainability plans for critically overdrafted basins by January 2020. “The WAFR (Water Available For Replenishment) report makes it abundantly clear that a diversified water resources portfolio is needed at the local, regional and state levels,” said Director Nemeth. “If California is to simultaneously bring sustainability to its groundwater basins, cope with climate change, and meet future demands, water managers must embrace a comprehensive, innovative approach.” DWR estimates that 1.5 million acre-

Drought conditions (Percent Area)

as of 04-17-18

None D0-D4 D1-D4 D2-D4 D3-D4 D4


34.10 65.90 37.10 13.77 2.50 0.00

Last Week 04-10-2018

33.85 66.15 37.10 13.77 2.50 0.00

3 Months Ago 01-16-2018

53.21 46.79 12.69 0.00 0.00 0.00

Start of Calendar Year 01-02-2018

55.70 44.30 12.69 0.00 0.00 0.00

Start of Water Year 09-26-2017

77.88 22.12 8.24 0.00 0.00 0.00

One Year Ago 04-18-2017

76.54 23.46 8.24 1.06 0.00 0.00

Intensity D0 Abnormally Dry D1 Moderate Drought D2 Severe Drought D3 Extreme Drought D4 Exceptional Drought

18   Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com   MAY | JUNE 2018

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