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580 Billion Gallons. That's How Much Water Was Added to Reservoirs by Recent Storms

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Recent storms have brought in around 580 billion gallons of water to California reservoirs. (iStock)

The round of storms that soaked California in recent weeks has brought a huge influx of water to the state.  According to a new analysis by The Mercury News, California reservoirs are now holding an additional 580 billion gallons compared to the start of the year. And the snowpack also got a big boost.

The report utilized data from 47 key reservoirs monitored by the state.  Mercury News reporter and KQED Science Managing Editor Paul Rogers reported the story, which was published Wednesday.

Rogers spoke with KQED Science Editor Danielle Venton about the analysis and what it means for the state’s water supply.  Here are excerpts from that conversation edited for length and clarity.

580 billion gallons sounds like a lot of water. Is there a way to put that into context?

The amount of water we’re talking about is enough for the needs of 9 million California residents for a year.


What does this influx signal for the state’s water supply in 2019?

That is really good news for California’s summer water outlook. The amount of water that we had stored in these reservoirs was below the historical average until the January storms.

We had kind of a lackluster November and December.  Now with all this rain and snow, the the reservoir levels are brought up to normal [for this time of year].

It also had a huge impact on the Sierra snowpack, which went from 69 percent of normal on New Year’s Day to 114 percent of normal today.

California’s three wettest months are December through February. Given it’s still January, how important are the current totals?

After the misery of the five-year drought we had recently, just getting anywhere near normal is cause for celebration for a lot of water managers and water agencies around the state.

KQED’s Danielle Venton and Peter Arcuni contributed to this story.

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