May 2023

Drought Emergency Ended

On April 18, 2023 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to end the local drought emergency it had declared two years ago.  The Board did strongly encourage the public to continue to conserve water. 

Nearly 3 feet of rain fell on Santa Rosa in three months.  Consequently, the two main reservoirs that supply water to Sonoma County exceeded their normal storage capacity for the first time since 2019.  Combined, Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino held 372,000 acre-feet of water on March 20.

An acre-foot is equal to approximately 326,000 gallons which is enough to meet the annual indoor and outdoor needs of three average households.

Some Drought Responses:

  • Sonoma Water collaborated with the S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase the storage capacity of Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino over winter.  The initiative, known as Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, reduced water releases from the two reservoirs by using advanced weather forecasts to predict the timing and intensity of winter storms.  Consequently, the region is heading into summer with an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water in storage – enough to supply around 90,000 households for a year.
  • The Board of Supervisors allocated $400,000 to revive three dormant wells.  Sonoma Water activated the first well in October 2021, producing up to 1.6 million gallons per day and providing an alternative source for residents and ranchers in areas experiencing severe water shortages.  The water agency won a $6.9 million state grant to activate the two remaining wells and retrofit all three wells to pump water back into the aquifer during wet years which creates new storage underground for future droughts.

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.               Benjamin Franklin

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