Weekend storm puts small dent in drought

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors, 2 p.m. Tuesday, 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora.

Weekend precipitation nearly doubled the amount of rainfall collected in the Mother Lode this season, but was still far too little to break an historic drought.

As of this morning, snowfall over the high country since Friday had ranged from a few inches to more than 40 inches at the highest peaks.

Foothill locations received more than 3 inches of rain. Sonora, which got 3.39 between Friday and this morning, now has a seasonal total of 7.92 inches. It's far short of Sonora's average rainfall total of 28 inches for this time of year.

Jeanine Jones, of the state Department of Water Resources, called it a "very small down payment."

"It would take major, major unlikely rainfall to catch up," she said. "It's a drop in the bucket relative to what we need."

Tuolumne Utilities District's Board of Directors is scheduled Tuesday to meet on the local water supply. The district is particularly vulnerable to this year's drought because the TUD is almost entirely reliant on three small reservoirs for water - Phoenix Lake, Lyons and Pinecrest. In addition to suffering from little rainfall and snowfall, the district says it also lost some of its precious water due to firefighting efforts related to the Rim Fire.

A Manteca water district this week is set to consider making a "humanitarian water transfer" to the county, the district's meeting agenda shows. The South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which has rights to 300,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water each year, some stored behind New Melones Dam, is scheduled to meet on the matter at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.

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