Wrapping Up Water Year 2023

October 13, 2023

October is the start of a new Water Year (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30), and like any new year, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. Statewide, the theme of Water Year 2023 was weather whiplash. Illustrating the dramatic extremes of California’s climate, the governor’s emergency proclamations for both drought and flood were in place simultaneously in the latter part of the water year.

Here in Sonoma County, we moved from historic drought to torrential rain and even some remarkable snowfall in a matter of weeks. The rains brought much needed relief; over the last 12 months the Russian River Watershed accumulated 129% of average rainfall for the year, at 58.54 inches. Our reservoirs have maintained their highest levels of water storage for this time of year, with Lake Sonoma now at 231,122 acre-feet and 91% of water storage curve and Lake Mendocino at 76,756 acre-feet and 71% of water storage curve, a dramatic shift compared to this time one year ago, when Lake Sonoma was only at 44% and Lake Mendocino was at 64% of their target water supply curves.

Climate change is expected to amplify naturally occurring variability in the long term, potentially resulting in a shorter wet season for California but one with more extreme atmospheric river storms and potentially greater flood damage risk. With this extreme variability Sonoma Water is committed to managing our reservoirs and water supply systems strategically, using new technologies to monitor forecasts, strategically store more water in our reservoirs when it is plentiful, while also mitigating for flood conditions, and we join with our community in the effort to conserve water as a way of life, since there is never enough to waste.

This post was originally published in the Sonoma Water E-Newsletter, October 11, 2023.
To sign up for Sonoma Water E-News: https://www.sonomawater.org/e-news