Why Those in the Know Still Worry About Drought

It's hard to understand after all the rain we've had, but those in the know say the Bay Area is still not out of the woods when it comes to the dreaded "D" word.  Yep, they are still talking about drought.

The weekend rain was a welcome sight, but believe it or now more is still needed to relieve the drought conditions and to fill our reservoirs.
The latest storm brought the heaviest rain to the North Bay, the Coastal Range and in the Santa Cruz Mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

Here are the numbers:

Santa Rosa received 2.93 inches between midnight Sunday and 10 a.m. Monday, meteorologist Brian Tentinger said.

San Rafael got 3.42 inches, Oakland received 1.53 inches and San Francisco got 1.25 inches.

Ben Lomond received 5.79 inches and Boulder Creek got 3.86 inches.

Angwin in Napa County got 4.40 inches, Mount St. Helena received 5.55 inches and Napa got 1.83 inches.

In Marin County the Olema Valley received 4.46 inches and the Inverness area got 5.68 inches.

Rain was sparse in the East Bay with Concord and Livermore not even getting a full inch.

Scattered light showers are forecast for the rest of the week.  The next chance of a real dumper comes Saturday.

"We're in an active pattern that helps but we need a lot over a long period of time," Tentinger said.

Susan Siravo, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Water  District, said that area has received about 90 percent of its normal rainfall  so far. Reservoirs are at 53.8 percent capacity, she said. They were at 44  percent 10 days ago.

The recent rains will help but not as much as people might think, Siravo said.

"We still have to conserve. We're coming off two dry years and are not able to capture and store as much water as we should," Siravo said.

Fifty percent of the district's water supply comes from the Sierra snowpack and the district expects to receive only one-third from that source,  Siravo said.

"If it continues to rain consistently over the next six weeks, we will still have a lot less water coming in from the Delta, so we're still in  a difficult situation," Siravo said.

The district supplies water to cities and water companies that serve 1.8 million people in the Santa Clara Valley, Siravo said.

Brad Sherwood, spokesman for the Sonoma County Water Agency, said rain is needed in the Ukiah area so Lake Mendocino's level rises. Water from  the lake that flows into the Russian River is key to supplying the agency's  nearly 800,000 customers in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties.

Ukiah received less than an inch of rain in the past 24 hours and Lake Mendocino is at 44 percent capacity, Sherwood said. Last year at this  time the lake was at 90 percent capacity, he said.

Santa Rosa has received 63 percent of its normal rainfall since the water measurement year began July 1, 2008 Sherwood said.

The water agency anticipated about 7 inches of rain would fall near Lake Mendocino in February and March but the agency still planned to  reduce water deliveries to the cities and water districts it serves by at  least 30 percent, Sherwood said. Customers should still expect water  rationing of 30 percent by this summer, he said.

The rain so far this month shriveled forecasts a 50 percent reduction of water deliveries could be needed, Sherwood said.

"We're still catching up from a very dry January. This is the third consecutive dry year and we need more rain like this through the  spring," Sherwood said.

Charles Hardy, spokesman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the recent rain helped but the district is more concerned with rain  and snowfall in the Mokelumne Watershed 92 miles away.

The snowpack is 70 percent of normal and its water content is only 50 percent, Hardy said.

"We need average rainfall. We're still at 76 percent of normal. It was 69 percent 10 days ago," Hardy said.

Last year precipitation was 120 percent of the average with heavy rain in January and near flooding in February. Then, only three inches of  rain fell in March, April and May, Hardy said.

"We're not in as good shape as last year. We have a long way to go to be out of the woods," Hardy said.

EBMUD enacted 15 percent mandatory water conservation on May 13, Hardy said.

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