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January 14, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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January 14, 2015
 

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12B :Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Sur00ey finds more mountain snow, but lower water content The first manual snow survey of the Sierra snowpack this winter found more snow than last year at this time, but the snow water equivalent as measured statewide remains far below average for this date. The Department of Water ' Resources conducted the survey Dec. 30, 2014, about 90 miles east of Sacramento on a plot along Highway 50 near Echo Summit. Snow covered the ground there to a depth of 21.3 inches, according to DWR's Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, who conducted the survey. The snow water equivalent was 4 inches at that particular snow course, or 33 percent of average. Statewide, 105 electronic sensors in the Sierra detected a snow water equivalent of 4.8 inches, 50 percent of the multiyear average for Dec. 30. That compares favorably with last winter's first survey, when the snow water equivalent statewide was only 20 percent of normal, which tied with 2012 as the driest readings on record. DWR Director Mark Cowin said of the recent survey results: "Although this year's survey shows a deeper snowpack than last year, California needs much more rain and snow than We've experienced over the past two years to end the drought in 2015. The department encourages Californians to continue their water conservation practices." Cowin said the state's surface and groundwater reservoirs have been severely depleted during the drought, which now is in its fourth consecutive year. He said a snowpack built up "Although this year's survey shows a deeper snowpack than last year, California needs much more rain and snow than we've experienced over the past two years to end the drought in 2015." Mark Cowin, Department of Water Resources director significantly during the winter months will be needed to recharge the reservoirs to their historical averages as the snow melts during the late spring and summer months. Generally, California's normal for the date and 20 percent of the average on April 1, when the snowpack normally is at its peak before the spring melt. Electronic readings in the central Sierra show 45 percent of normal for snowpack supplies about a the date and 16 percent of the third of the water needed by the April 1 average. The numbers state's residents, agriculture and industry as it melts in the late spring and summer. The recent electronic readings indicate that water content in the northern mountains is 57 percent of for the southern Sierra are 48 percent of average for the date and 15 percent of the April 1 average. DWR and cooperating agencies conduct manual snow surveys around the i'n'st s5900. s4900 s8700. Rt.d $5 99. 12ea. s8900. I of the month from January to May. The manual measurements supplement and check the accuracy of real-time electronic readings. Historical comparison The average Jan. 1 snowpack water content at Phillips Station is about 12 inches; the April I average 27.6 inches. Phillips had its lowest early-January water content reading of 0.1 inch in 2012, in a snow depth of only 0.6 inches. On Jan. 3, 2014, Phillips had 2.3 inches of water content in 9.3 inches of snow. Besides that reading and the similar one in 2012, the driest January readings at Phillips were in 1987 (0.9 inches of snowpack water content), 1981 (2 inches), 1976 (2.7 inches) and 2000 (3 inches). Records at Phillips go back 50 years. DWR currently estimates it will be able to deliver only 10 percent of the slightly more than 4 million acre-feet of State Water Project water requested for calendar year 2015 by the 29 public agencies that collectively supply more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland. It is hoped the initial 10 percent delivery estimate will increase as winter storms develop. The fmal State Water Project allocation for calendar year 2014 was 5 percent of the slightly more than 4 million acre-feet requested. In 2013, it was 35 percent, and in 2012, the fmal allocation was 65 percent. It was 80 percent in 2011, up dramatically from an initial allocation of 25 percent. The final allocation was 50 percent in 2010, 40 percent in 2009, 35 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2007. The last 100-percent allocation -- difficult to achieve even in wet years because of Delta pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish -- was in 2006. DWR weather watchers note that it's early in the season with plenty of time for the snowpack to build. The concern, however, is that irrigation-dependent San Joaquin Valley farms and some other areas will be hard hit if water year 2015 ends as the fourth full year of drought. Storage in key reservoirs has increased due to heavy December rainfall but is still far below normal levels for the date. Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project's principal reservoir, today is at only 38 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity (61 percent of its historical average for the date). Shasta Lake north of Redding, California's and the federal Central Valley Project's largest reservoir, is at 41 percent of its 4.5 million acre-feet capacity (66 percent of average for the date). San Luis Reservoir, a critical south-of-Delta reservoir for both the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, holds a mere 39 percent of its 2 million acre-foot capacity (58 percent of average for the date) due both to dry weather and Delta pumping restrictions to protect salmon and Delta smelt. Delta water is pumped into the off-stream reservoir in winter and early spring for summer use in the. Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Southern California. Continuing dry weather prompted Cowin to mobilize DWR's drought management team in December "to offset potentially devastating impacts to citizen health, well-being and our economy." Go. Edmund G. Brown Jr. declared a drought emergency Jan. 17, 2014. In October DWR announced the award of more than $200 million in grants to reduce drought impacts on local communities and improve access to water supplies. Cal Fire seeks entries for youth poster contest Trees are an essential part of California's climate and are vital to improving air quality and conserving water, says the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. To help educate Californians on the value that trees provide to building successful, healthy cities and neighborhoods, Cal Fire and California ReLeaf are announcing the annual statewide Arbor Week poster contestfor students in third, fourth and Fifth grades. Students are asked to create original artwork based on the theme "We Need Trees and Trees Need Us." Submissions are due to California ReLeaf by Feb. 13. Winners will be featured at the State Fair and awarded cash prizes provided by the California Community Forests Foundation. Cal Fire and California ReLeaf are partnering to encourage cities, nature groups, schools and youth organizations to celebrate California Arbor Week by planting trees in their communities. California ReLeaf is an alliance of community-based groups, individuals, businesses and government agencies working to protect the environment by planting and caring for trees and the state's urban and community forests. "Trees are vital, functional parts Of our communities, our homes and yards, and our lives," said Cal Fire Deputy Director Duane Shintaku. "This is especially true during times of challenging drought conditions. Focused education for California's youth is one of the most effective ways we can increase awareness of the important roles trees play in California and the many benefits they provide to the communities in which we live." The goals of Arbor Week include educating Californians about trees, encouraging tree planting, teaching elementary school children the environmental, social and economic benefits of trees, and protecting the state's valuable natural resources. "One of the numerous benefits of trees is that they make California's cities and towns healthier places to live," said Cindy Blain, executive director of California ReLeaf. "Children who have access to nature and green spaces to play and learn are more active, have lower incidences of obesity, concentrate better in school and demonstrate healthier social behaviors. Planting and caring for trees means investing in a better future for our children and California." Contest rules, as well as educational materials related to the value of trees, community benefits of trees, jobs in the urban and community forestry field, and tree identification can be downloaded at arborweek.org/contests. The contest is sponsored by California ReLeaf, Cal Fire and the California Community Forests Foundation. California Arbor Week runs March 7 - 14 every year to mark famed horticulturist Luther Burbank's birthday and to raise awareness of the benefits of trees in the state's communities. In 2011, legislation was passed to define California Arbor Week in statute. Visit arborweek.org for more information.