View All Posts

Mar 08

From the desk of Tim Barr, Director of Water Resources

Posted on March 8, 2016 at 9:46 AM by Torrey Webb

It’s been hot out…

We’re now finally getting some rain. Yes, we’ve all been pondering the same thing: What happened to El Nino?

Although we received a good amount of rain, roughly 7.5 inches (11 is the annual average for Riverside) up until this recent storm, the hotter days in January and February made us all concerned that our El Nino wouldn’t be as intense as projected.

How hot has it been? According to data from the nearby CIMIS station at University of California, Riverside, February 2016 had an evapotranspiration rate – the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth’s surface – 24 percent higher than any other February the past five years.

Average of Monthly ET
Year Total
2011 2.93
2012 3.81
2013 3.59
2014 3.25
2015 3.82
2016 4.75

However, experts such as Bill Patzert, who tracks the climate for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a recent newspaper article that there’s still a lot of warmer than average water in the Pacific – the hallmark of El Nino – meaning there’s a chance for these type of late-season storms in March and April.

Regardless, snowpack in the Northern Sierra Nevadas – the main water reservoir for the entire state of California – is in decent shape, receiving approximately 85 percent of normal precipitation to date.

All this being said, we always knew that whether drought or no drought, using water wisely is the best course of action. Being water efficient must now always be an everyday thing. And the place to focus your attention is in the outdoors where upwards of 60 to 70 percent of all household water is consumed. When we get significant rainstorms, you can turn your water off for several days or possibly even weeks.

We’re also working hard alongside you in our water supply management efforts. The next blog will focus on some examples of our water resource management projects that help drought-proof the region.