Marin, Santa Cruz may relax water restrictions

It's been almost a month since the Bay Area's last atmospheric river and the hope is there will be more rain in the coming weeks, so water restrictions can be eased.

California can hope that's the fairytale like water story in Marin and Santa Cruz comes true statewide: eased restrictions. The two major atmospheric rivers and some other healthy rains came to the Bay region since October, working wonders for water supplies. So, the Marin Municipal Water District and the Santa Cruz Water Company are both seriously considering easing their water restrictions.

In Santa Cruz, Loch Lomond Reservoir is currently at 81% of capacity and just ten feet short of where the spillway would release water down stream into the San Lorenzo River.

"If Loch Lomand is full, we're good for at least that next year. If it's not full, but pretty full then we take a little bit more cautiously optimistic kind of view," said Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard.

Given that there's at least six to eight weeks of peak rainy season left, the odds are Santa Cruz will be full and the restrictions gone.

"It's on or off. We're not gonna phase them in our phase them out," said Menard. 

But, Santa Cruz would continue to ask its customers to continue conserving, which most already do and will.

Like Santa Cruz, Marin's watershed has been thoroughly soaked, allowing for more runoff  to get into the reservoirs. In the last nine days. Nicasio Reservoir has gone up two feet. If all of that water were in a one square acre water tank it would have to be a tank almost 1700 feet tall — twice as high as San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid.

In Marin, in the Mount Tamilpais watershed Lake Lagunitas reservoir has received more than 43 inches of rain, more than four times last year's rain and almost twice its historical rainfalls.

Its seven reservoirs are at 95% of capacity compared to 57% this time last year and well above its 77% historical average on this date.

Historically, California's five biggest reservoirs have averaged to be about 61% full on this date. In reality, right now, they average only about 36% full which means for most of California, the drought is still very much on, as well as statewide restrictions.