El Niño is having a beneficial side effect on the long-running California drought, filling many reservoirs to capacity. Unfortunately, it’s only affecting Northern California, which has been rocked by a series of soakers over the past few months. All that rain, a byproduct of the naturally occurring El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has blanketed the state, filling once-dusty lakes like Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville. They have either reached capacity or surpassed historical levels. Some are even using their floodgates.
The LA Times notes that the “growing snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, are important because both are key sources of water for California. The snowpack now stands at 92% of normal statewide, with the northern area now at 102% of normal.” That’s great news for a state being hammered by a four-year-long naturally occurring drought.
Previously, Governor Jerry Brown has blamed global warming for California’s long-running drought despite numerous studies indicating that natural variability and mismanagement of water resources were to blame. Now California residents are complaining about having to pay a drought surcharge on water, while nearby reservoirs are full or at capacity and releasing water via their floodgates.
Currently, California’s water issues favor the agriculture industry, which eats up over 80 percent of all water used in the state. And after four years of drought and a strict water conservation mandate, many California residents are wondering why they still have to pay these surcharges and abide by onerous watering restrictions. San Diego has requested relaxing these conservation efforts and may get some relief.
There was so much water dumped on the northern half of the state in December and January that “engineers began releasing water from Folsom Lake near Williams’ Granite Bay home for flood control reasons.” Now March is ending up being another wet month as even larger reservoirs are filling “up to and above their normal levels.” There’s only one problem. The mandates and fines for using water are still in use even as overages in many reservoirs are being released.
Consumers who don’t meet the governor’s restrictive “water conservation requirements face fines of $500 per violation per day.” Regulators argue that they still aren’t out of the woods and have extended the mandates into the fall, even as they dump excess water from reservoirs that have reached capacity. All of which is infuriating residents.