PCWA waits to determine water cutbacks

Recent storms turn around dry winter
By: Staff Report
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Current wet weather patterns have turned around what had appeared to be a critically dry year, officials at the Placer County Water Agency said last week. “Our water supply looks to be much healthier and far more robust than it did just days ago,” General Manager David Breninger reported at the March 15 PCWA Board of Directors meeting. The board heard water supply updates from several staff members and decided to wait until April 5—when results of April 1 final snow surveys and water supply projections are available—to determine if this year’s water deliveries will be adversely affected or not. “While seasonal precipitation and snowpack runoff are still expected to be well below average for 2012, the mid-March storms have reversed what appeared to be the 12th driest year on record,” said Senior Engineer Tony Firenzi. He noted that the driest year on record was 1977. He mentioned the so-called “March Miracle” of 1991 when the month of March, in that year, produced an astounding 30 inches of precipitation turning around what at that point had been projected to be the driest year on record. The current series of storms were expected to produce perhaps at least half of that amount. Director of Field Services Mike Nichol said storage in Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) owned reservoirs on the Yuba-Bear river watershed remains above average for this time of year. This source supplies most PCWA and all Nevada Irrigation District (NID) customers with surface water supplies. Nichol said that in order to preserve adequate carryover storage for next year, PG&E has asked the water agency and NID to reduce water use from the Yuba-Bear Rivers’ supply this year. The only surface water supply available to NID is from the Yuba-Bear watershed. Accordingly, NID directors, last week, took action to ask their water customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 10 to 15 percent.