It turned out not to be such a bad water year after all

Wow, what a rollercoaster it has been this year with the water supply. It rained and snowed into July last year. There was so much water careening down the mountains it filled reservoirs for months deep into the summer. As a result, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, like many other suppliers around California, came into the summer with a bountiful supply with its reservoirs full to the top.

But it didn’t take that long, a dry November and drier December with no help in sight in January or February for it to become one of the driest times in the District’s history. For EBMUD’s 1.3 million water customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, it looked like another drought was imminent on March 13 when precipitation and snowpack totals were so scant they measured lower than any recorded in the District’s 89-year history for that time period.

Then it started to rain and snow in the District’s Mokelumne River watershed where 90 percent of the water derives from snowmelt. And it rained, snowed and rained and snowed some more. In fact, during the last two weeks of March, it rained more in the Mokelumne River watershed than it had in the preceding three months. Similarly, in the East Bay, it rained more during those two weeks than it had in the previous eight months combined.

EBMUD still considers this a dry year because it expects to fall far short this November of where its supply totals were a year ago. But the District will have enough water to avoid seeking a supplemental supply under its federal contract or imposing any drought-related restrictions.

So, what can we learn from this topsy-turvy natural water delivery system? As EBMUD Board President John A. Coleman puts it succinctly, “We escaped a drought but we encourage you to continue to use water wisely.”