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Stories from the valley

Yes it’s dry but don’t lose hope

Contributed by Tim Johnson

Over the holidays, I have found myself looking at the weather app a lot, not to find out the driving conditions, but to see if rain is in the forecast. I’m worried about drought. Based on the conversations around the holidays, others are anxious as well. In reality, the amount of rain to date is only part of the water picture. Looking at all of the information eases the fears and helps one not lose hope.

So far this year, Placerville has had 8.6 inches of rain, with the last drops falling only six days ago. Not bad but not up to our average for this point of the season. This leaves us at 66 percent of average for the year.

On the positive side, January and February typically see a lot of rainfall. Last year both months saw over 17 inches of rain. Even during the drought years there was significant rain through March and April. Looking at the data, it is clear that the wet season is far from finished with an average of over 23 inches of rain over the next four months.

The best news comes when you look at the rain from last year that is still sitting behind the reservoirs. Our local reservoir is almost as full this year as last year. Statewide the information is even better with all reservoirs holding more water than is typical for this time of year – last year’s rain and snow saved for a dry year!

It’s normal human behavior to be anxious about what we can’t control. We can plan however for those times when there is less. Thankfully those that came before us did just that by building reservoirs to capture the winter water for use during our hot dry summers. Without them California would never have grown and thrived.

For our generation, there is more we can do like building off–stream storage like Sites Reservoir. We can also store water in the ground to draw upon in dryer years. Conservation is also a good tool.

Rather than be anxious, we can be thankful and use our energy to do our part to adapt to dryer dry years and wetter wet years. Importantly, we don’t have to lose hope.


Photo courtesy Sheri Harral  US Bureau of Reclamation