Drought not over in SCV

Heavy rain falls as Caltrans workers set up a ramp closed sign at the entrance to the south-bound 5 Freeway from the Old Road near Rye Canyon Road in Valencia on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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While the rest of California remains awash in post-drought news – reporting above average rainfall and a healthy normal snow pack in the Sierra Nevadas – the northwest part of Los Angeles County and Ventura County are still gripped by severe drought, according to local water officials.

The Santa Clarita Valley received triple the amount of rain it got compared this time last year, according to the latest figures tabulated by water officials at the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

Normally, for this time of year, the SCV sees 12.9 inches of rain in what agency officials refer to as a “historical average” amount of rainfall.

At least 19.5 inches of rain fell on the SCV this year.

Despite the rain, however, the SCV is still considered drought-stricken, according to CLWA water resource experts.

When members of the  Water Resources and Outreach Committee meet Thursday at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant on Bouquet Canyon Road, they’ll find some very un-drought-like statistics.

As of the last two weeks, no area of California is considered in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to a report prepared for the committee by Dirk Marks, the agency’s water resources manager.

“Last year at this time, extreme drought covered 61 percent of California with 38 percent considered exceptional,” the report reads. “Approximately 62 percent of California is (now) considered out of the drought completely.”

Santa Clarita Valley, however, remains drought-bound.

Marks noted in his report that precipitation has been greater than average across California.

One particular “8-station North Sierra index” shows precipitation as 222 percent of average.  Snowpacks in the white-topped Sierra Nevada mountain range are described as 154, 193 and 213 percent of normal for mountain areas in the north, central and southern parts of the range.

Big dams in California are filled with water. Lakes Shasta, Oroville and the San Luis Reservoir have all exceeded their historical averages to date.

Even Castaic Lake, which dried up continually over three years, is now 108 percent of its historical average and is 93 percent full to capacity.

But, we’re still in a drought.

On a positive note, the same committee is expected to learn Thursday that the state-mandate calling for communities to form their own groundwater sustainability group is pressing ahead as planned.

The idea of the grass roots groundwater group forming is to better manage whatever water made its way back into the SCV groundwater.

Three work groups are expected to meet this month with at least one of those meetings open to the public.


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