Despite heavy rains and a good winter snowpack in the mountains, Pleasanton plans to continue its drinking water restrictions and has now resumed excessive use penalties.
"Last year, we reduced water use across the city by 24% compared to 2013, so we're doing quite well," said Kathy Yurchak, director of Community Services and the city's water department. "Even so, we're in a holding pattern right now to see what the state does. It's unlikely the state will declare an end of the drought."
Still, the latest news is good with regard to the drought, particularly for Pleasanton, the Tri-Valley and Northern California.
In a report to the City Council, Dan Martin, the city's utilities superintendent, said that with 20 inches of rain this winter season, "we're right about average."
"Even with no more rainfall this season, we'd be OK," he said.
Reservoirs that supply Zone 7 and Pleasanton with drinking water, including Lake Oroville, are still below their average capacity, although seeing rising levels. With melting snowpack, they should continue nearing capacity, Martin said. He noted that Lake Shasta is now at 106%, of capacity.
Reservoir capacity is not as good in Southern California, Martin added, which is why the state may continue water use restrictions, at least for another year.
"Even with the recent rainfalls, we're still just n the average range of water supplies, but not enough yet to reverse the drought," he said.
The effects of the drought are still seen in limited groundwater supplies. The groundwater basin refills from all the pumping in the past few years very slowly, Martin said. As of March 1, the statewide snowpack is holding at the average for this time of year.
Yesterday, when surveyors climbed in the Sierra Nevada, they found a welcome sight that wasn't there last year: snow.
Gov. Jerry Brown infamously made the trek to Phillips Station on April 1, 2015, and stood on dry grass where every year for the previous 75
years there had been snow.
Governors usually don't accompany surveyors on snowpack measurement missions, but standing there Brown did another thing no sitting governor had ever done before: he mandated that all Californians reduce their water use by 25%.
While this year's wet winter has left the drought-ridden state in far better shape than it was last year, snowpack levels are still below
average and officials with the state Department of Water Resources are still urging conservation.
Surveyors found 58.4 inches of snow at Phillips Station this year with a water content 97 percent of the long-term historical average.
Statewide, the snowpack water content is at 87 percent of average, according to state water officials.
Snowpack is estimated to be at its highest at about this time of year, as winter ends and the mountain snow begins to melt. Mountain runoff
helps keep reservoirs full throughout the year so it's vital to have sufficient snowpack to last through the dry months.
So while California's drought conditions aren't as dire as they were last year, the heavy rains this winter haven't been enough to end them
In Pleasanton, starting now, all residents and businesses must achieve a 25% mandatory water reduction over their 2013 consumption or face penalties, Yurchak said. Outdoor irrigation is allowed only between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. and swimming pools must now be covered.