2023 Drought Update

Lake Sonoma, February 2023
Dry lakebed with sign, "No Lifeguard Swim at Your Own Risk
Lake Sonoma, November 2022

Thank You for Doing Your Part

Following a series of atmospheric river storms in January 2023, our region’s water supply reservoirs have rebounded from record low levels in November 2022 to be at or near full. This is truly great news after three consecutive years of low rainfall and dwindling surface water supplies at Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino. Our sincere thanks go out to everyone that did their part to use less water and that helped to bring us through this drought crisis.

While it is important to celebrate this positive change and applaud our community’s water saving efforts, it is also important to recognize that drought will continue to be a regular occurrence in California. Consequently, the water saving practices learned and implemented in the last few years should not be abandoned now that the rain has come, and instead must be a regular practice. Our communities must continue to apply lessons learned from drought years if we are going to achieve the needed balance between water for people, for fisheries, and for other essential environmental and economic services that our waterways provide. The path to get us there includes continued efficiency gains and the elimination of wasteful practices. In fact, if there is a single take away lesson from the last few years, it is the reminder that during drought, or during years with abundant rain, there is never enough to waste.   

Finally, our reservoirs have refilled quickly, but the recovery from the negative effects of a three year drought will be much slower to achieve for our natural landscapes and for the groundwater aquifers that are an essential part of our regional water supplies. It will take consecutive years of normal to above normal rainfall for this drought recovery to occur, and as we learned in 2022, early winter rains can quickly shift back to drier conditions. So celebrate January’s abundant rainfall, while continuing your water saving practices, and know the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership is here to help by bringing you programs, new information, and tools that support making water conservation a California way of life.

Water Saving Tips and Best Practices

The North Bay region has been working hard to save water. Irrigation accounts for approximately 50 percent of summertime water use. To save water, start by inspecting your irrigation system or broken, clogged or misdirected sprinkler heads. Just one broken sprinkler head could waste up to 25,000 gallons of water between May and October.

Private Well Owners

Worried about the effects of drought on your well? Our local groundwater sustainability agencies have tools and tips to help.