California governor to declare end to drought

Table from Department of Water Resources (DWR) here

Governor to Declare End of Drought

By Nicole Garcia KMPH TV, Fresno.

Fresno –  Thanks to our wetter than normal winter, Governor Jerry Brown is set to declare an end to California’s 3-year-drought.

At Friant Dam, officials have been running flood release operations for more than a week now.

Millerton Lake is at 85% capacity, and Friant Dam officials need to make room for all the snow melt that will come pouring in once the temperatures get warmer.

Water is being released at a rate of 7,000 cubic feet of water per second, that’s equivalent to 52,000 gallons or enough water to fill up 8 swimming pools every second.

But all that excess water isn’t staying in the Valley; it will likely flow into the California aqueduct and into the Pacific Ocean.

Governor Brown is expected to announce an end to the drought on Wednesday, after the Department of Water Resources conducts their last monthly snow survey.

At last check, the sierra snowpack was 159% of normal.

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March 29, 2011 11:48 pm

What is their definition of “drought”? If it is a “below normal” year than we will have “drought” fairly often.

March 30, 2011 2:40 am

Three years? Three years? Pah! That is a ‘dry spell’ down here!

March 30, 2011 2:42 am

When a drought broke in the Northern Territories a few years back, there were a large number of children who were terrified. They had literally never seen rain!

Eric Anderson
March 30, 2011 2:55 am

Thanks, Anthony. I saw this in the paper and have been meaning to write up a short article on this topic for a while. Specifically, one of the alleged results that we were supposed to experience in California from global warming is increased drought conditions. Based on the basic figures I’ve studied for the San Jose area, there is no discernable trend over the past 100 years. The precipitation numbers vary widely, depending on the year, but tend to oscillate around a general norm. Couple of dry years followed by a couple of wet ones, etc. If I get enough time, I’ll do a quick write-up of what I’ve found.
We do have water challenges from time to time, but it has much more to do with the fact that there are many, many more people in the area than there were 100 years ago, not because the precipitation amounts have changed in any meaningful way over that period.
On a related note, a few weeks ago there was an article in the paper about several of the reservoirs in the area not being able to hold capacity, due to concerns about seismic stability of the structures. As a result, some of the reserviors were only being purposely kept below capacity (for example, 80% rather than 100%). This also contributes to water shortages in the summer from time to time, but, again, does not point to global warming, but rather to an aging infrastructure in need of retrofit.

March 30, 2011 4:09 am

Hi Jerome,
You don’t have to go to the Northern Territory to experiece a drought.
Our second youngest grandaughter was born in the most recent Sydney drought.
When it finally rained (she was about three by then, I recall) her father took her outside and told her to hold up her hands so she could feel that it was really wet, like water out of the tap.
Same stuff apparently.

March 30, 2011 4:12 am

Nowadays, it rains or showers most days.
The gardens are all very moist and the old several hundred giant gum trees are growing taller by the day.
It seems that the weather comes in very long unsteady cycles.
Almost like the climate actually.

Joe Lalonde
March 30, 2011 4:36 am

Now that California has no more drought, will they inherit this problem next?

March 30, 2011 7:02 am

I didn’t even know we were in a drought…

March 30, 2011 7:36 am

Well, if Jerry Brown says so, then it must be right.
“But all that excess water isn’t staying in the Valley; it will likely flow into the California aqueduct and into the Pacific Ocean.”
Whaaa???!!!!! Californians are causing sea-level rise!!!!!!

March 30, 2011 7:40 am

They see increasing drought rather than outdated and inadequate reservoirs and infrastructure. Governments simply haven’t expanded their water systems to keep up with population growth for decades. It’s that simple. It isn’t global warming so much as global stagnation.

D Matteson
March 30, 2011 7:59 am

—- Headlines —-
Drought caused by previous administration ended by quick action of Jerry Brown.

March 30, 2011 8:30 am

California has not been in a drought. California doesn’t have enough water storage. The long term average rainfall for where I live seems to be about 30″. Here’s what I’ve received over the last 6 years.
Rainfall Year – Inches
05-06 – 33.94
06-07 – 21.67
07-08 – 23.0
08-09 – 25.50
09-10 – 37.41
10-11 – 42.53
The 10-11 season isn’t complete yet. The driest year was 72% of average. How is that a drought? We have a real problem if we declare a drought every time we have a below average year.

March 30, 2011 8:48 am

Hey, we always have the levees to worry about! (just making sure I’m on record of saying “told ya so” when it happens).
I’m hoping to have the recently purchased 1983 Subaru Brat smogged and snow tired for a trip to the snow covered Sierra Nevadas in the next week. One of the great things about living in Fresno, is that Yosemite is practically in my back yard. I may not be able to see Russia from my house, but I can see bits of the mountain tops of Yosemite National Park!!!

March 30, 2011 8:54 am

I agree with Chuck. Based on capacity we will always be in a “drought” (when there just isn’t enough capacity). We probably won’t get through the summer without the “driest since XXXX” news starts again. Meanwhile, my real concern is how the Delta Smelt is holding up with the flood conditions. =)

March 30, 2011 9:31 am

Chuck says:
March 30, 2011 at 8:30 am
You have it right, Chuck, California was never in a drought the past 3 years. Sub-normal precipitation years give way to Extra-normal precipitation years as the water cycle seeks to balance to the mean. The real problem with Californias’ water supply is over subscription to the southlands and special interests.
Water hoarding mentality fueled by AGW drought fears have led to a perilous flood control situation…once again. Aging levees cannot handle what they use to, and dam operators are desk-oriented ‘looks good on paper’ panic release button pushers.
Stupidity squared feeds into AGW hotter & drier GCMs, and the dog chases its tail in a vicious circle of reasoning.
How long has it been pouring (the past 6 weeks) while the reservoirs and the snowpacks piled up?
Steps need to be taken ASAP to toss the reckless dam operators and water storage managers out on grounds of gross incompetence.
What they are doing now: Dumping Shasta (a primarily rain reservoir) and throttling back the Sierra reservoirs (primarily snowpack runoff storage).
If the Old Farmers Almanac is correct, this is far from over.

March 30, 2011 10:12 am

“California governor to declare end to drought”
Knowing the mental quirks of Gov. Jerry “Fruitfly” Brown, he’s as likely to declare fairies in the bottom of his garden as an end to the drought.

March 30, 2011 10:33 am

Snow is caused by global warming, right. At least that is the new mantra, so why is California fighting warming? They need the water. So it was cooling that caused the drought. Then there is carbon emissions and then there is C02 emissions, I get so confused. Now where did I put that Lamb’s Navy dark rum, I need a drink?

March 30, 2011 10:50 am

Sonicfrog says:
March 30, 2011 at 8:48 am
I can’t see Russia from my house in N. Ca. either, but if I go near Sacramento, I can see a reasonable facsimilie of that former Empire’s mentality.

George E. Smith
March 30, 2011 11:07 am

“”””” At Friant Dam, officials have been running flood release operations for more than a week now. “””””
Now what did I tell you about the “Precautionary Principle” rocket scientists who are going to waste the water we already have to prepare for the water they think they are going to get.
If it wasn’t for the green weenie dogs in the manger, California could easily build the reservoirs required to contain the run-off water that we get in these wet years; of course as weell as allowing proper river flows to maintain the habitat for fisheries nurseries, and other wildlife interests. Of course they always build the reservoirs right in the middle of the river (when they do build one) so then they need to make artificial fish ladders to get the fish around those dams. Put the damn reservoir OFF the river, and provide for a switchable diversion so that you can divert the EXCESS runoff to the storage reservoirs; when you have an excess; and not before.

March 30, 2011 11:24 am

jorgekafkazar says:
March 30, 2011 at 10:12 am
Jerry Brown is just enough of a maverick in his own party to fire the Greens that have run the State into the ground. He can start with the water supply managers, who are obviously overpaid and incapable of performing thier jobs.

March 30, 2011 11:29 am

George E. Smith says:
March 30, 2011 at 11:07 am
There is but one place in the Sacramento Valley to store water off-river and not get in the way too much. Even if they did that (the Lost Valley referred to by the former Gov. Arnold) you would still have greedy interests willing to sell it all to promote new desert cities. California has no hope is it does not confront the rampant greed over water.

Rhys Jaggar
March 30, 2011 11:40 am

If you look at the variability of snow/rainfall in California, you’d have thought they needed a multi-year strategy for water management, as it’s patently stupid to be running off excess if you regularly have droughts of 3 plus years……….
At least it does if you have 100m people living there!
Particularly if they like to water their grass…….

Richard Patton
March 30, 2011 12:14 pm

Some of the comments reminds me of the time I spent a summer in Southern Georgia. There was a spell of about two weeks without any rain and they were talking about a ‘severe drought.’ Here in Portland-despite the propaganda we love to publish-four or even eight weeks without rain in the summer is no big thing.

March 30, 2011 1:44 pm

Water doesn’t flow into the CA Aqueduct, it gets pumped in. From there it gets pumped up into storage in San Luis Reservoir, which is now full, or goes down south to be sucked up by the water hogs in L A. They should have to build and pay for desalination plants, instead of getting cheap NorCal water that’s needed for agriculture and to get the river systems some semblance of health again.
San Francisco Bay is due for a good flushing, so we’re getting some benefit from that excess. If they don’t dump water from the reservoirs now, we could end up with another April 1969 situation, when warm pineapple express rains washed a huge snow pack down and flooded large areas of the Valley and the Delta.
We could have had more storage in another reservoir to be built above Millerton, but that got killed a while back. The Temperance Flat Dam would have allowed for more storage, and more consistent and colder flows to help re-establish the San Joaquin River and the resulting salmon, striper, shad and steelhead runs that will find their way back. If they’ll pull the fish screens near the Merced River, there’d be dozens of salmon below Millerton this fall.
The greenies wouldn’t think of allowing that dam, due to all the deer habitat loss, as well as all the other “endangered” species that would go down. They listed the Pacific tiger salamander and the spade foot toad as species of concern in a feasability study in 2005. I’ve got both of those breeding like flies on my property in the flatlands a few dozen miles away near there.
I also have hundreds of fairy shrimp every year in 3 small vernal pools I constructed, but that’s another “endangered” species story.
In 1985, another flood year, salmon made it to the base of Pine Flat Dam on the Kings River and spawned successfully in a side creek. THAT incident was hushed up big time!
We rarely have a “normal year”, and seem to mainly flip flop between low snow pack and high snow pack years.
Shaver Lake, above Millerton, has been frozen over most of the winter for the second time in my lifetime. The last time was in the early 70’s, back in the “coming ice age” scare days. Good to see that natural cycles continue.
Yosemite’s falls are going to be booming again this year, get up there to see them before the crowds of summer.

March 30, 2011 3:27 pm

Good. I for one grew tired of the newspaper articles every other week regarding the alleged “drought.” There has also been a recent policy shift to allow more water to leave the Sacramento delta to save smelt fish. This dried crops in the central valley and I think the articles were more or less propaganda.

March 30, 2011 7:26 pm

Let me see if I understand the global warming doctrine:
Global warming has taken control of the climate.
California’s drought has ended.
Therefore, global warming has ended the drought.
Global warming is bad, and only causes bad events.
So the end of the drought is bad.
If ending the drought is bad, then drought must have been good.
So global warming has ended California’s perfect weather of drought, and children may never see weeks on end with no rain. What a terrible shame.
Oh, the evils of CO2.

John David Galt
March 30, 2011 10:17 pm

I mostly agree with Chuck. California only has water shortages because it won’t build the needed dams.
Of course southern California, with most of the state’s population, grabs water supplies from the north; that’s old news. (Gov. Brown deserves credit for the fact that when he was in office the first time, he put the Peripheral Canal proposal to a referendum and abided by the “No” the voters gave him. Now that the last legislature enacted it without consulting us, I hope that Brown can be prevailed upon to stop it again.) But if SoCal ever stopped doing that, the “shortages” would just shift to them.
The right and only answer is to build more dams, and if needed, desalinization plants. And start charging farmers the same price for water as home users, so as to move the water-intensive forms of agriculture to the Mississippi basin where they belong.

March 31, 2011 9:42 am

A 3 year drought? Snowpack wise, 2 of these last 3 are the wettest years on record. And 5 of the last 7 are the top wettest years. In the last 10 years only 2007/8 was even far enough below normal to be called a drought year.
How do you get 3 years of drought out of that??

Tim Clark
March 31, 2011 1:23 pm

But all that excess water isn’t staying in the Valley; it will likely flow into the California aqueduct and into the Pacific Ocean.
Allowing this to happen to save a toad is manifest ignorance.

Seamus Dubh
March 31, 2011 6:43 pm

Why not pump this ‘EXCESS’ water to the lakes they’ve run dry in their quest for more water.
Here’s another idea why not pump it to desert liken to the Desert Aqua-Net Plan.
This is man made climate change I could deal with.
Never mind the great greenie people rejected something similar to this 9 years ago.

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