Rain Proves Need for Storage Projects Progress

Taylor Hillman Water, Weather

Storage projects
The uncommon wet weather continues in California. The excessive precipitation shows the need for more water storage, and citrus leaders say progress on projects is necessary.

Last October, Tom Dunklee of the National Weather Center turned heads at the Citrus Research Board’s annual convention. Dunklee, who is the main weather forecaster for California Citrus Mutual (CCM), said this winter would be a drought-buster. “Yeah, that was a pretty good prognostication on his part, and he pretty much got the timing right — late December and January. That is exactly what we are seeing,” CCM Vice President Bob Blakely said. “We’ll certainly take it, and we are especially pleased with the snowpack in the Southern Sierras.”

Snowpack levels have been okay in the northern end of the state, even during the last few years of the drought. This winter, however, the snow is coming down much farther south and more often. “This year, the Southern Sierras are getting their full share, and that is all going to be helpful next summer,” Blakely said. “That’s assuming it’s managed in a way where we can capture some of it, and it’s not allowed to go out to the ocean like they’ve done in the last few years.”

Many in the industry agree with the need for more storage, and California seems to be on the path to building more. The storage projects have been approved, but Blakely said we need to start seeing some progress. “We just need to get the funding in place and start moving forward with Temperance Flat and some of the other reservoirs that have been approved,” he said. “Congress passed that bill (in December), and that was promising. Hopefully, we will see more of that and maybe a trend toward a more proactive, progressive approach to get these projects that are on the books actually completed.”