In the US West Coast, storms during the first three weeks of January brought seasonal rainfall and snowpack levels to average or more, while also increasing reservoir levels and bringing cautious optimism to California farmers, who hope to see improved water supplies in the coming year.
After seeing the Sierra Nevada snowpack increase from 70 percent of average on Jan. 1 to 105 percent of average at the start of this week, farmers said they're encouraged—but noted the winter still has a long way to go.
"We've received fair precipitation up until now, so we're hopeful it continues for another two months," said Bill Diedrich, who chairs the board of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District. Diedrich farms in Fresno and Madera counties, growing nut crops, pomegranates and processing tomatoes, and said he faces varying degrees of water supply certainty, depending on where his fields are located. The San Luis district and other Central Valley Project contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ultimately received a 50 percent supply from the CVP last year, and Diedrich said he hopes for something similar in 2019.
"We know that the allocation is likely not going to be dire or drastic such as 0 to 10 percent, but I think most people are feeling pretty confident that there's going to be an allocation somewhere between 40 and 45 percent," he said. "It could go even higher, but there are supplemental arrangements that we have made in the district to where we are going to be fine."