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joe_OC

California Reservoir Levels

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joe_OC

With all the rains we have been getting the last couple of days, I thought it would be interesting to see what our water situation looks like.  Here is a very useful link that shows how much water is currently in our reservoirs:

 

California Reservoir Levels

 

We are currently OVER 100% of historical average.  That's without today's values.   

Here in Huntington Beach, CA, we have accumulated over 1.25" of rain for 12/6/2018.  Haven't seen this level of rain in a while.  

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Josue Diaz

Check back in the Spring when the snows begin to melt. From where I am at the foot of the Sierra you can see as far as the Great Western Divide on clear days and it is covered in snow at the moment - There is usually snow at that elevation year round, especially on the east and north sides of tall peaks, but to be able to see snow cover in the mountains, means it's accumulating like it should. A welcome sight after years of drought. All of those rivers are fed by snowmelt from the Sierra - with the exception of San Luis Reservoir which is filled with water from the Delta via the CA Aqueduct, and possibly Castaic, Pyramid and Perris which I believe are also fed by water from the Aqueduct and staged for delivery into Southern CA. I live on alluvial flood plains of the San Joaquin and let me tell you, when spring comes around and the snow begins to melt, that river swells and the reservoirs fill up. Rain does the job of filling the reservoirs, but not like the massive amounts of snowmelt. The headwaters for the San Joaquin river begin at Thousand Island Lakes, and all of the snow that accumulates in that basin drains into it. I am fortunate to have backpacked in that area. It is incredibly beautiful and water is plentiful. Here are a couple of photos from that area. All of these pictures are from mid-summer hikes and you'll notice snow in just about all of them. 

this is Alta Peak (11,207 feet) and the Great Western Divide (13,807 feet) in the background. There is usually snow on the north sides in the shadow of these peaks year round. Snowmelt from west of the divide drains into Lake Kaweah. beyond the divide lies Kern Canyon and all of the snow that accumulates east of that divide and west of Mt. Whitney (14,508 feet) drains into the Kern River (Lake Isabella). 

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And this is the Ansel Adams Wilderness northeast of that divide. This area drains into the San Joaquin. 

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This is Thousand Island Lake. This basin is massive. Just about all of the water that accumulates here drains into the San Joaquin River. 

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This is Mt Donahue, which drains into the Tuolumne River (Don Pedro, Hetch Hetchy, and Cherry Valley).

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Edited by Josue Diaz
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Silas_Sancona

^ Agree w/ Josue.. How the overall Water / Snow pack situation looks towards the end of April is more defining that how it appears now.. Though things are off to a better start compared to last year across the state, especially down south. If regular rains keep up, this might be a good year for the spring Wildflower season, especially in the Desert also. 

Great shots from the Sierras btw Josue..

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joe_OC

Oh yeah, it's all about the snow pack.  But, going through summer and having a good amount of water in the reservoirs is a welcomed site.  You need to remember though, We could have a record year of rain/snow, but the reservoir capacity is the capacity.  With the Oroville dam still under repair, they are only keeping it less than 30% of its capacity.  All that snow and run-off will just go to the ocean once the reservoirs are at capacity.

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Josue Diaz

I think it's great we'll have the rivers connected to the ocean again. There was a landmark ruling sometime ago (2014 maybe?) that required the San Joaquin River to be reconnected to the Ocean in order to re-establish Salmon runs. Freshwater flowing into the Delta also helps balance the salinity of the marshes and wetlands and recharges groundwater supplies along its channel (recall residential water wells going dry as water levels dropped at the peak of the drought, and cities and farmers having to outpace each other to dig deeper wells in order to reach groundwater.) Farmers have plenty of water here, I think there's reluctance to change which is where most of the push-back comes from - infighting about who gets water first and how much they'll have to pay for it. Also reluctance to change from flood irrigation to more more efficient drip irrigation, and changing from water-demanding drops like corn to less water intensive crops - I suspect that as the "water wars" continue to escalate, the price of water will determine which crops are profitable and which are not, then corn will be grown in the middle states where water is plentiful.  As dire as the situation gets, Southern California cities will never go without water - at the peak of the drought, farms went dry, hundreds of acres of citrus orchards, vineyards and fruit orchards were left to die, wells went dry... but for cities in So Cal and in the Bay Area, there were no real effects. Agriculture, as any other industry, will need to adapt.

 

The San Joaquin River use to be connected to Pacific Ocean. There was even a ferry that shuttled passengers from Fresno to San Francisco up until the river was dried up in the 1930s. Currently, the river only runs for about 20 miles past Friant Dam, then dries up. The ruling established how much water would need to be released into the river channel in order to reconnect it for the first time in nearly 60 years. Unfortunately, the drought called for a delay in that process, so the river is still dry right now. Quite a shame to look at actually. I drive over it often and there are usually cows pasturing in the dry river bed.

Here's a link to a short documentary on the San Joaquin. Quite an interesting overview of the history of it and the 2014 (?) court ruling.

https://youtu.be/TUDH2kuNmww

And if you have an hour to spare, here's the full hour-long documentary. 

https://youtu.be/-hZ7mAJyfFI

Edited by Josue Diaz
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Josue Diaz
1 hour ago, Silas_Sancona said:

^ Agree w/ Josue.. How the overall Water / Snow pack situation looks towards the end of April is more defining that how it appears now.. Though things are off to a better start compared to last year across the state, especially down south. If regular rains keep up, this might be a good year for the spring Wildflower season, especially in the Desert also. 

Great shots from the Sierras btw Josue..

It will be nice to see a super bloom again! I was in Joshua Tree several years ago for one and the diversity of wildflowers was spectacular!

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Josue Diaz

The sierras are a beautiful place. Allow me to share more :)

Sunset on the San Joaquin 

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Lakes in the Kaiser Wilderness. These feed into the the San Joaquin. 

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This is the San Joaquin River gorge in wintertime. This is where the river meets Millerton Lake. 

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This is the feather river, I think. someplace near Mount Shasta. 

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This is Nevada Falls on the Merced River

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Edited by Josue Diaz
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joe_OC

Yeah, used to go up there a lot before kids.  Started taking them up there in the last few years.  But haven't gone on any extended backpacking trips with them yet.  That place is my church.  You feel so at peace up there.  If you haven't gone, take the John Muir trail to Palisades Glacier.  Great hike that can be done in a day.  

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Silas_Sancona
23 hours ago, Josue Diaz said:

It will be nice to see a super bloom again! I was in Joshua Tree several years ago for one and the diversity of wildflowers was spectacular!

It is for sure. Hoping maybe, if this year is good, the peak of the show will fall around the time we're headed west. 

If you haven't already traveled to, Carrizo Plain Nat. Monument is also a must visit for spring wildflowers.. Had planned a trip there, and to Vasquez Rocks the spring before leaving CA back in 2013. Between work, and the other trips down south that year, just wasn't able to fit everything in. Poppy Preserve near Antelope Valley is another famous spot, but apparently you can't bring the fur brats along if so inclined. All 3 places are at the top of my " trip list " once outta here.

Saw the Monument itself recently added several hundred acres to it's overall size in a news article from Santa Barbra this morning. 

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