Key California reservoirs are storing more water this water-year than they were this time last year. Early winter storms have added what was a improved carryover from last year. The water-year started October 1.
Starting at the top Shasta Reservoir as of December 2015 was at 1.32 million acre-feet. But as of December 4, 2016 the lake is at 2.92 million acre-feet and on a pace to reach 3 million AF by the New Year.
The lake drains over 26,000 square miles and delivers on average around 17 million acre-feet of runoff down the Sacramento River each year.
Some runoff heads out to sea through the SF Bay holding back salt water from ruining the delta. The dam produces power too – rated at 625MW and set to generate 710MW next year.
For the Westside of the Valley hardest hit by drought due to no natural river runoff – there is no more closely watched reservoir than San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos. The off-stream reservoir is a joint venture between the feds and state.
A year ago this Pacheco Pass lake had 360,000 acre-feet but now has some 918,000 acre-feet. This is still just 74% of average for the date but also the best yet for early December in the past four years of drought. The prediction is that San Luis may fill this water year, water that farms and cities can use this next summer.
How about Pine Flat above Fresno County? A year ago Pine Flat stood at 134,000 acre-feet. Today, a year later, the lake has 211,000AF. Rains this fall have not been so heavy in Central California as they have been in Northern California. Still, the water picture is brighter for cities and farms below.
How about those poor folks in Santa Barbara? How is Lake Cachuma doing this year. The lake is a puddle of its former self have held 57,000AF this time 2 years ago but just 14,800AF now, a little better than a month ago. It’s a good thing Santa Barbara will be using desal water to meet 30% of its supply starting next month.