SAN JOSE, Calif. - October was a welcome water wonderland, but November was pretty much a dry bust for the Golden States. Was California's wet October a sucker punch to the state's all important reservoirs?
"Historically, 1976, which was historically dry, started off with a wet October, so we're not counting our chickens yet," said East Bay Municipal Utilities District Public Information Officer Andrea Pook.
Ski resort conditions tracker SkiCentral.com, says of the big 25 California resorts it tracks, only three are open and on a very limited basis.
Mammoth, the most active, has 40 runs open which is only a quarter of its runs. Boreal Mountain has two runs open; 6% of its runs. Alpine Meadows has two runs open; just 2% of its runs. The rest, closed for now. Ski resorts say, December through February are their big snow months.
But, with modern technology, cold temperatures will do. "The efficiency of snow making systems, the ability to turn them on a moment's notice, the ability to monitor things electronically, it has changed dramatically and that has helped," said Ski California President Michael Reitzell.
Affecting far more people, the reservoir situation. Looking at the five largest California reservoirs, Shasta, the largest, is only a quarter full. Usually on this date it would be at 46%; Oroville, 30% now, 60 historically. Trinity, 29% now, 50% normally. New Melones, 36% full, 66% usually. Don Pedro, half full now, three quarters normally on this date.
"This is looking like a La Nina season, which means less effective precipitation, which is bad news," said Valley Water Board Vice Chairman Gary Kerman.
California's $50 billion agriculture industry is seriously threatened by drought, global warming and climate change. This year, California’s rice growers, a huge industry, is not planting 108,000 acres, an area slightly less than all of San Jose. The New York Times reports, that by 2040, 535,000 productive acres of the San Joaquin Valley, more than 1 in 10 of its farmed acres, will go unused.
California Trout environmentalists say we are all in this together with only so much water. "It needs to be more efficient, across the board, there are some places that do well with that, so sectors that do well with that, others that don't. We need to invest in water infrastructure and upgrades," said Curtis Knight of California Trout.
Some say, we can stabilize supplies by importing water, expensive as it will been, through pipelines, desalination and even mega tanker ships.