Breathing room — but not enough

This graph from the Department of Water Resources shows three months' worth of storage levels at Don Pedro Reservoir. The lake has dropped 11 feet since Feb. 22, but has a long way to go to be able to accommodate expected snowmelt.

After coming within a few inches of capacity on Feb. 22, Don Pedro Reservoir has dropped about 11 feet.

You can thank this extended dry spell for that.

Officials have managed to dump about 138,000 acre-feet of water during that time. But is it enough?

The Tuolumne River system will likely see anywhere from 2 million acre-feet to 2.9 million acre-feet of snowmelt runoff from April through July, according to the latest projection from the state Department of Water Resources.

If runoff totals, say, about 2.3 million acre-feet, that would be 191 percent of normal.

Look, April through July is a long four months. If the snow melts slowly and the runoff eases into Don Pedro, maybe we can handle it.

Still, the numbers speak for themselves. Somewhere north of 2 million acre-feet of water will be headed our way (I’m talking to you, Modesto, Lathrop and Stockton). At the moment there is 142,000 acre-feet of room in the river’s largest reservoir.

Don’t be fooled by the dry weather. This is nowhere near over.

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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