Wet weather good for local reservoirs

January 31, 2008 7:43:11 PM PST
January's rainfall has had a huge impact on Bay Area reservoirs. The storms have turned a critical water outlook to one that's looking more normal.

In mid-December, the water level of the Lexington Reservoir was 15 percent of capacity. Now it's at 38 percent of capacity.

The South Bay's largest reservoir, Anderson, near Morgan Hill, is now close to 65 percent of capacity.

Overall, January rains have had a huge impact.

"About a month ago, we were 41 percent of capacity for our 10 reservoirs and now we're at 60 percent," says Susan Siravo of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. "So we've really captured a lot of rain in our reservoirs and in our groundwater basin."

The Hetch Hetchy, which serves 2.4 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, is also well on its way to recovering from near-drought-like conditions.

"For January, we're running about 175 percent of normal in precipitation and that has brought us up to almost normal for this time of year," says Michael Carlin of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Water districts certainly aren't declaring victory quite yet. Even as January ends with more rain, those watching reservoir levels are hoping for a wet February and March.

The valley floor has gotten about eight inches of rain this season. A normal season calls for 15 inches.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District also relies on the Delta for half of its water supply. Because of a judge's decision to protect the Delta smelt, water deliveries from the Delta have been reduced and that puts more pressure on reserves and a continued emphasis on conservation.

"We're still at a point with uncertainty with the Delta so we still need people to cut back if they can," says Siravo.

That same message is coming from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. They're counting on conservation just as much as more rain.