According to Inyo County Water Department Director Bob Harrington, the Owens Valley drainage will experience the lowest amount of water runoff this year since records were first kept in 1935.
Harrington made this statement at the April 2 meeting of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors in Independence.
Referencing the chart pictured here and taken off the LADWP website, Harrington said that as of April 1, the Southern Sierra was at 40% of normal snowpack (geographical boundaries defined as Deadman’s Summit south to Owens Lake) and 50% of normal water runoff.
Previously, said Harrington, the lowest water runoff [measured as percentage of normal] percentage recorded as of April 1 was 52%, occurring in 1960-1961, 1977 and 1990.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Director of Water Operations Marty Adams, who was present at the meeting, added that water runoff “will be below 50% … It’ll be a dire year.”
According to Adams, this year could feature the least amount of water exported from the Owens River drainage since the L.A. Aqueduct was built. We’ll know for certain when LADWP’s annual operations plan is released on April 20.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that California had suffered its driest January through March period since records were kept in 1895, and declining snowpack measurements recorded by the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) are reflective of that.
On January 2, statewide snowpack was 134% of normal.
By January 29, that number had dropped to 93%.
By February 28, snowpack was 66% of normal.
By March 28, snowpack had dropped to 52% of normal.
The water situation is less dire for Mammoth Lakes, according to Irene Yamashita of the Mammoth Community Water District, because snowpack levels at Mammoth Pass (82%) are relatively normal.
“We’re confident our supplies will be good,” she told The Sheet.