December rain only inches Bay Area out of drought

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- All this rain is certainly welcome, but it's not raising the levels of regional water reservoirs -- at least, not by much. Most are seeing negligible, if any increase.

Looking at the Guadalupe River in San Jose, it's a little disappointing looking at the water level. Still, this is not unexpected. Local water agencies say the rainfall we've had in the Bay Area isn't producing enough runoff to fill reservoirs, even as some of our local creeks are seeing an increase in flow.

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The Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos is one of the most visible reservoirs in the South Bay. Thousands of drivers pass by it when they're on Highway 17. Even though the surrounding watershed has received 3-10 inches of rain this season, Lexington is only at 13 percent of capacity.

The rainfall is getting absorbed by the soil and not draining into the reservoir.

Gary Kremen is chair of the Valley Water District Board. He told ABC7 News, "The ground is so dry, the water is just really seeping in there. I mean, it's good from a groundwater point of view, but the reservoirs aren't looking higher, so we need a lot more."

Among the district's 10 reservoirs in Santa Clara County, Chesbro is the lowest at 11 percent of capacity, while Vasona is at almost 57 percent.

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"I was shocked. I haven't been here since this summer, and it's significantly fuller than the last time I was here. So, that's a good sign," Los Gatos resident Katja Kane-Foempe said.

Kane-Foempe is home from college for the holidays. She's talking about the recharge pond at Los Gatos Creek Park. Stored water is moved around to help recharge underground aquifers.

Steve Holmes from the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition is also happy how an army of volunteers has cleaned up Los Gatos Creek of 126 tons of trash during 92 cleanup sessions.

Grocery cart artwork marks one of the cleanup spots. While the drought reduced flow and even dried up some sections of the creek, it's hoped this will become a spawning ground again for Chinook salmon and steelhead.

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"It really afforded us the ability to get into these areas and get a lot of this trash that was impacted down into the riverbed area and really give it a thorough cleaning. So I think it's been sort of a mixed blessing," Holmes said.

The Valley Water District points out only a fraction of the water supply is stored locally. Much of it comes from snowpack and other sources. So the entire state, not just one region, needs to see a lot more rain.

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