On March 28, the State Department of Water Resources came up to Phillips Station and pronounced the snowpack at 52 percent of normal.
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“All the water purveyors are on reservoir watch this year. Our storage will get us through, but we will need heightened awareness next year,” said snow surveyor Frank Gehrke after measuring the snow and water content.
However, on page 2 of the same issue that carried the report on the snow survey was the weekly report of lake levels. Folsom Lake is only at 50 percent of its capacity as of Friday, March 29. It was only within that last several weeks that Folsom Lake stopped releasing more water than it was taking in. Clearly it needs to reposition its storage protocols. Once the emergency spillway is completed it can get back to being a storage facility more than a flood control facility. Shasta Lake, by comparison, is 83 percent full.
And the El Dorado Irrigation District has sent some of its canal water through the Hazel Creek Tunnel to bring Sly Park’s Jenkinson Lake up to 98 percent of capacity as of March 26.
That tunnel was the brainchild of the late Mark Nielsen when he was on the EID board. Then the idiot that was general manager at the time gave it to PG&E, which owned the canal at that time. Fortunately, farsighted people like Dick Akin, Jeff Sellwood, Jim Doolittle, Doug Leisz, John Fraser, the late Albert Hazbun, John Kessler and retired EID manager Harry Dunlop, all helped motivate EID to purchase Project 184 from PG&E. So, now EID owns the canal and the Hazel Creek Tunnel plus the four manmade alpine lakes and the powerhouse.
Because EID has complete control over its water system it has been able to assure its farmers and residents that there will be water to irrigate crops this year.
Despite the downbeat report on the snowpack by the state at Phillips Station the rainfall total is looking pretty good. The Mountain Democrat rain gauge has recorded more than 30 inches, putting it at 80 percent of normal for this point in the rain year that ends June 30. In terms of the 39.62 inches that is the 139-average for a year, we are 76 percent of the way there. Of course 14 inches of rain in December really helped. Anytime rainfall totals more than 30 inches it is a decent year. Not great. But not a low water year.
In the meantime, EID has water and we praise the management and hydro staff for making sure Sly Park is full. And for that we can thank the aforementioned people who battled to get control from PG&E of one-third of the district’s water and battled disruptive forces who later got on the EID board and wanted to dump what has been a water lifeline to this community since 1875.