Sierra Nevada Snowpack Hits Biggest Level in Nearly 30 Years

Most snow since 1995; hopes increase for an end to California drought, but flood concerns remain

From The Mercury News –The statewide Sierra Nevada snowpack — the source of nearly one-third of California’s water supply — is at its highest level since 1995, boosting hopes that an end to the drought is near, but also raising concerns that a few warm spring storms could melt it too early and trigger major flooding. The huge bounty is the fourth largest statewide since 1950, when consistent statewide records began, according to a Bay Area News Group analysis of historical data. Only 1952 (267% of average) and 1969 (230%), and 1995 (208%) had larger amounts on Feb. 1. In a few places, like Highland Meadow in Alpine County, the snowpack is the largest in recorded history. (more)

California’s Sierra Nevada Gives the Central Valley More Water than We Thought

From KVPR – Argus is the lead author on a new study showing that more groundwater from below the Sierra is funneling into the Central Valley’s aquifers than previously thought. The data has potentially big implications for water managers. “We’re measuring how much water is gained and lost in California,” Argus says. So what does Argus’ bathroom scale – the Sierra – tell us about the water supply? The space agency’s research shows the Sierra’s mere presence is slowly helping recharge overtapped aquifers in the face of drought. (more)

USACE: Sacramento Weir Widening Project: First major Upgrade in Sacramento Weir’s 106-Year History

From USACE Sacramento District -The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding expansion of the Sacramento Weir. The approximately $350 million project involves widening the 1,950-foot weir an additional 1,500 feet north.

The weir’s 48 manually-operated gates will remain intact. The expansion is constructing a passive weir to essentially allow excessive floodwaters to flow over the river channels and into the bypasses — in turn widening the surface area, and meaning the Sacramento Weir will be used less frequently for more severe flood events.  The Sacramento Weir Widening Project is split into two projects:
1.  The Sac Bypass Widening which is currently awarded and under construction by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Please contact DWR at the below link if you have any questions with regards to the Lower Elkhorn Basin Levee Setback (LEBLS) Project.
2.  The Sacramento Weir Widening Project is being run by the Sacramento District USACE and projected schedules for advertisement can be found below.

The Corps, Central Valley Flood Protection Board, California Department of Water Resources and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency plan to break ground on the Sacramento Weir expansion project in 2023, and estimate the project to be complete by December 2026. (more)

Mother Nature Sent a Memo to California’s Leaders: Flood Control Must be a Priority| Opinion

From the Fresno Bee – California is starting to dry out after its weeks-long deluge caused by atmospheric rivers, and nowhere in the San Joaquin Valley is that needed more than Merced County. The Merced River runs north of the city bearing the name Merced. And yet an estimated 1,600 people were displaced due to flooding of not the river, but Bear Creek, the main waterway coursing through the city. About 26 businesses were also shut down when the creek overflowed its banks and water rolled into the establishments. Farther east, outside of Merced, a different creek caused problems for the community of Planada. Miles Creek overflowed into the town, and left neighborhoods underwater. About 5,000 residents at one point were told to evacuate. (more)

For All Their Ferocity, California Storms Were Not Likely Caused by Global Warming, Experts Say

From the Los Angeles Times – As California emerges from a two-week bout of deadly atmospheric rivers, a number of climate researchers say the recent storms appear to be typical of the intense, periodic rains the state has experienced throughout its history and not the result of global warming. Although scientists are still studying the size and severity of storms that killed 19 people and caused up to $1 billion in damage, initial assessments suggest the destruction had more to do with California’s historic drought-to-deluge cycles, mountainous topography and aging flood infrastructure than it did with climate-altering greenhouse gasses. (more)

WEF’s Water 101 Workshop Returns on Thursday, Feb. 23

Registration is open for the Water Education Foundation’s (WEF) Water 101 Workshop. The workshop offers information on the historical, hydrological, legal, and political facets that influence water management in California. It will be held in Sacramento on Thursday, Feb. 23. The following day there is an optional watershed tour that runs from the Sierra Nevada foothills along the American River to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

For more information:

State Allocates Up To $4M for ‘Critical Repairs’ on Sutter Bypass Levee

From Colusa County Sun-Herald  – Officials announced last week the signing of a partnership between the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency (SBFCA) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) for the design, environmental and permitting work that will be needed for critical repairs to four areas of the Sutter Bypass east levee. Even though more than $300 million already has been invested by local, state and federal agencies in repairs to the west Feather River levee since 2010, properties south of Yuba City are still vulnerable to potential flooding from other sources, such as the Sutter Bypass, officials said. In order to address that issue, the partnership between SBFCA and DWR was made official. (more)

500 Mudslides, Flooded Communities, Broken Bridges: California Faces Long, Costly Storm Recovery

From the Los Angeles Times – The storms, which began after Christmas and continued until this week, dumped rain across the state, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 people. The storms brought “significant” damage to Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties, as well as Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Benito along the Central Coast, Ferguson said, adding that there will be “extensive” costs for 30 to 40 counties. (more)

These Are 6 of the Worst Floods in Sacramento History. One Made an ‘Inland Lake’ to the Sierra

From the Sacramento BEE – he capital region has faced a series of brutal storms since New Year’s Eve, which have flooded homes, cut power to thousands of families and killed five people in Sacramento County alone. California has sought to control its rivers for 173 years, and the storms will only get worse: The Department of Water Resources has acknowledged that climate change has intensified the risk of flooding in the Central Valley. The state and federal government have built levees and dams, but the possibility of a major flood remains. Here are some of the worst storms to hit the Sacramento area since John Sutter showed up. (more)

Storms Put California Levees to the Test

From the Associated Press – With multiple powerful storms continuing to bear down on California, state officials have warned that rural areas are the most at risk of flooding because the levees that protect them aren’t built to the same standards as others that shield more populated cities. These rural levees — many of which are owned and maintained by private land owners — mostly protect farmland from flooding and pose minimal risk to most homes. But failures can cause major thoroughfares to flood, as happened on New Year’s Eve when a major highway in Sacramento County flooded and one person was killed. (more)