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Water Update

Woodcreek News
Jack Duran
February 2017

Water update  

The storm door is wide open and thankfully we have received several inches of rain over the last few weeks. After four years of meager precipitation, a series of soaking storms have quenched the region’s thirst for water. 

Precipitation levels have been exceptionally strong. Lake Spaulding, which accounts for 90 percent of Placer County Water Agency’s supply, is at 217 percent of average compared to this time last year. This is on track to exceed water year 1995, the wettest year on record. Additionally, monthly precipitation levels for the last three months have been above average with no less than 130 percent of average for each month. 

The snow pack is also in great shape. Statewide, the measured snowpack is 135 percent of average and the American River Basin boasts a snowpack of 125 percent of average.  These measurements will surely increase given the amount of snow that has fallen over the last couple of weeks. 

While a number of our reservoirs were nearly empty at this same time last year, the recent rains have filled them up. The French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs, which are part of the PCWA owned Middle Fork American River Project, are currently holding 309,677 acre feet of water. Their combined storage allows for 340,000 acre feet of water. Thus, they are currently at 186 percent of average.  To help put this in perspective, an acre foot of water equals 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover an acre of land, about the size of a football field, one foot deep. 

Folsom Lake, another reservoir we rely on, is currently holding 669,690 acre feet of water or 69 percent of its total capacity. It is currently 137 percent of average compared to this time last year and can hold up to 977,000 acre feet of water. Water officials have had to release some of the water in the reservoir to make room for the recent rains and snowmelt. Had they not done so before the recent storms, we would have likely seen more flooding. 

Lake Shasta, the largest reservoir in the state with the ability to hold 4.5 million acre feet, is at 129 percent of average for this date. It currently holds 3.7 million acre feet of water, or 83 percent of its capacity. Lake Oroville is also in great shape. It can hold up to 3.5 million acre feet and is currently at 79 percent capacity. The current water level sits at 126 percent of average. This is all great news and I am hopeful that all of this water will save us from falling into another drought in the near future.   

Although we have received drought relief in Northern California, I urge everyone to remain diligent and continue water saving methods. We do not know what next winter has in store for us. It would be wise to be judicious with our water usage as we do not want to find ourselves in the same place we were just a few months ago. It’s good to see lawns greening and parks, landscaping around houses and horticulture thriving. 

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 916-787-8950.