Snow Survey Results Confirm California Is In Critically Dry Year by ACWA Staff Apr 1, 2021 Water News The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the fourth snow survey of the season today and the results confirm that California is in a critically dry year. The survey recorded 49.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 21 inches, which is 83% of average for this location. While there is some snow in the Northern and Central parts of the state, measurements from DWR’s 130 electronic snow sensors scattered throughout the state indicate that statewide, the SWE is 16.5 inches, or 59% of the April 1 average. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and April 1 is typically when the snowpack reaches its peak water content. “The snow survey results make it clear that now is the time for state and federal investments to strengthen our aging water infrastructure to create a resilient and diverse water supply for the state,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton. “Our members continue to rise to the occasion and ACWA supports and applauds their local investments in innovative projects that increase resiliency. We’ve been here before and we are prepared to be here again knowing that adapting to these climactic extremes will require a combination of state, federal and local investments.” Rain has also been below 50% of average, which ties this year for the third driest on record. These below-average results for the state were not a surprise. On March 23, DWR reduced the State Water Project (SWP) allocation for the 2021 water year from 10% to 5% of requested supplies. The U.S. Drought Monitor is also reporting that more than 90% of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions and California’s reservoirs are also seeing an impact from a second consecutive dry year. As of March 30, Lake Shasta, the state’s largest surface reservoir, was at 52% capacity (65% of historical average). San Luis Reservoir in Central California was at 55% of capacity (61% of historical average) and Castaic Lake in Southern California was at 76% of capacity (85% of historical average). The amount of water expected to enter the state’s reservoirs from snowpack melt is projected to be only 58% of average. “While there is some snow on the ground today at Phillips Station, there is no doubt California is in a critically dry year. State agencies, water suppliers and Californians are more prepared than ever to adapt to dry conditions and meet the challenges that may be ahead,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth stated in a news release. Preparing for dry conditions also means preparing for other effects of climate change. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office just announced an emergency fund expenditure to hire additional seasonal firefighters before the start of fire season. 2020 saw five of the six largest wildfires by acreage in California’s history and ACWA continues its advocacy for fire resiliency and support of the “Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Action Plan.” Earlier this week, ACWA released a toolkit to assist member agencies with drought messaging as they engage with customers, stakeholders and the media. The toolkit includes urban and agriculture-related talking points and a climate resiliency handout. The tools are available for members on ACWA’s website.