By LENORE RUTHERFORD
New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs should remain at safe levels this summer based on their water levels as of April 1 and snow remaining in the high country.
Don Pedro Reservoir was at about 73 percent of maximum capacity Tuesday. With the help of a high country snowpack at about average levels, the reservoir is expected to provide valley farmers with enough water for crop irrigation, area water officials said.
The reservoir is not expected to be filled to capacity this year, however.
New Melones Reservoir was at 67 percent of capacity on April 1, which is about 112 percent of average for the date, according to the April 1 California Cooperative Snow Surveys Bulletin, published by the states Department of Water Resources.
A PG&E crew headed by Terry Moore, based in Angels Camp, measured the snowpack at about 90 percent of average on April 1 in the Stanislaus River Watershed, which includes most of Tuolumne County.
The same crew measured the snowpack at 101 percent of average on the Mokelumne River Watershed, which includes most of Calaveras County.
The overall water outlook for California is much better than last year except to the far south.
Tony Walker of the Turlock Irrigation District, which gets much of its water from Don Pedro Reservoir, said farmers in the San Joaquin Valley will have their irrigation seasons water allotments reduced for the second year in a row. They were reduced last year to 42 inches per acre from 48 inches per acre the year before.
This summer, farmers will have allotments of 36 inches per acre.
The season usually runs from about mid-March to about the end of October depending on weather, said Walker.
That doesnt mean the farmers will not get as much water as they need, he said. But they will be encouraged to conserve by being charged more for water they use above their allotments.