The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will conduct its fourth manual snow survey, Wednesday, March 30, at 11 a.m., near Echo Summit off Highway 50.
"We are looking at a good water supply year as we prepare for this summer’s peak demand period,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “This is great news so long as we can control floodwaters. Our up-and-down cycles -- drought followed by flood threats -- remind us that assuring an adequate water supply in California is always a juggling act, and we can’t afford to forget the lessons of conservation even in brief periods of plenty.”
Today’s electronic readings from sensors up and down California’s mountain ranges indicate that snowpack water content is 159 percent of the April 1, full season average. April 1 is when snowpack water content normally is at its peak before the spring and summer runoff.
Following six dry weeks in January and February, a series of storms has been sweeping across the state, with wet weather expected to continue through this weekend.
Manual surveys are conducted up and down the state's mountain ranges on or about the first of the month from January to May. The manual surveys supplement and check the accuracy of real-time electronic readings as the snowpack builds, then melts in spring and summer.
Most of the state's major reservoirs are above normal storage levels for the date. Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s principal reservoir, is 106 percent of average for the date (81 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity). Lake Shasta north of Redding, the federal Central Valley Project's largest reservoir with a capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet, is at 114 percent of average (92 percent of capacity).
(An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, enough to cover one acre to a depth of one foot.)
DWR estimates it will be able to deliver 70 percent of requested State Water Project (SWP) water this year. The estimate may change as hydrologic and regulatory conditions continue to develop.
In 2010, the SWP delivered 50 percent of a requested 4,172,126 acre-feet, up from a record-low initial projection of 5 percent due to lingering effects of the 2007-2009 drought. Deliveries were 60 percent of requests in 2007, 35 percent in 2008, and 40 percent in 2009.
The last 100 percent allocation – difficult to achieve even in wet years due to pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish – was in 2006.
The SWP delivers water to more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland. The mountain snowpack provides approximately one-third of the water for California's households, industries and farms.
The news media is invited to accompany DWR snow surveyors near Lake Tahoe on March 30. The location is Phillips Station at Highway 50 and Sierra at Tahoe Road, approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento. Reporters and photographers should bring snowshoes or cross-country skis and park their vehicles along Highway 50.
Results should be available by 1 p.m.
Statewide snowpack readings are available on the Internet at
Electronic reservoir level readings may be found at