Is the drought over?

Many people are wondering, perhaps hopefully, if the drought is over. While water supply conditions have certainly improved, the drought continues to affect our region and the state of California.

On the positive side, the Sierra snowpack in April was far better than the prior year, when Governor Brown joined Department of Water Resources employees to an empty field to measure a non-existent snowpack. And two key reservoirs, Shasta and Oroville finished the winter with above-average storage. Locally, rainfall was near normal, and our overall reservoir storage nearly reached average levels. As a result, the Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to use much of that water to begin the process of replenishing our groundwater supplies which have carried us through four years of drought.

This brings us to the less positive side—our groundwater basins have a long way to go before they rebound to normal. Even with increased groundwater recharge activities, the district projects that groundwater levels will still end up far below normal at the end of 2016.

Continuing the excellent efforts to reduce water use will help these groundwater aquifers rebound quicker. This is important if next winter turns out to be dry. The more we save this summer, the better prepared we will be if the drought continues.

Making water conservation a way of life was a theme echoed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors on April 24, when board members chose to continue their call for a 30% water use reduction at least through May. On June 14, the board will be discussing whether or not to alter the call for water use reductions through the rest of 2016.

In 2015, county residents and businesses reduced water use by 27% compared to 2013, exceeding the savings achieved by the state as a whole. Impressive savings have continued through the winter and early spring months. Clearly, most people are getting the message: let’s continue to fight the drought, inside and out.

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