Is the Drought Over?

Is the Drought Over?

A very wet December has everyone’s hopes up that the drought has ended. But as 2022 begins, it’s a bit premature to start celebrating. 

According to the Drought Monitor, the recent rains have moved most of the Bay Area out of the exceptional drought condition into a severe drought stage. So, yes progress has been made. 

Drought Monitor

However, more than a few storms are critical to ending the past two-year deficiency. We need continued precipitation for the next few months to help replenish reservoirs and groundwater tables. 

On a statewide level, all eyes are on the Sierra Nevada snowpack. Often called the “frozen reservoir,” the snow that melts in the spring helps supply up to 30% of California’s water supply. The Department of Water Resources conducted its first snow survey of the season on December 30, 2021. The survey recorded 78.5 inches of snow depth with a snow water equivalent of 20 inches. Statewide, the snowpack is 160% of average for the date. 

“We could not have asked for a better December in terms of Sierra snow and rain,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “But Californians need to be aware that even these big storms may not refill our major reservoirs during the next few months. We need more storms and average temperatures this winter and spring, and we can’t be sure it’s coming. So, it’s important that we continue to do our part to keep conserving – we will need that water this summer.”

The final snow survey, held near April 1st, will provide a clearer view into the state’s water supply situation. 

Locally, San Jose Water’s Lake Elsman in the Santa Cruz Mountains has benefited from December’s rain. After the wet month, the reservoir is now at 62% of capacity, up from 12% in October. Our Montevina Water Treatment Plant is back online after being temporarily shut down last April due to a lack of water in our reservoirs and the Los Gatos Creek.

Lake Elsman is at 62% Capacity

Valley Water, our local water wholesaler, shares a monthly report that shows trends in water supply and use in Santa Clara County.  The December 2022 Water Tracker can be found at: https://www.valleywater.org/your-water/water-supply-planning/monthly-water-tracker

While we patiently wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for us over the next few months, remember that water conservation is a California way of life. Our mandatory conservation plan is in place. Read the latest news on our Drought Page. Check out our Conservation page for ways to save water.