In spite of recent rains, reservoirs are still in trouble

California reservoirs are still suffering from the drought in spite of the recent rains. Many reservoirs are still significantly below their historical levels for the same time of year. Contrary to what some people may believe, it takes significantly more rain than what fell in the past few days.
One of the most crucial factors that affect the amount of water that enters reservoirs is where the rain is falling. For example, rain or snow that falls on the tops of hills will either seep into the ground or run down creeks that progressively get larger, and then enter our reservoirs. This is the most beneficial rain and snowfall because it directly enters our reservoirs and helps to raise the water level.
Rainfall, however, that falls into low-lying cities is often seen as a burden. A significant portion of water that falls on cities lands on non-permeable surfaces such as roofing on buildings, parking lots, and city streets. This water is then diverted into sewage drains where it flows through sewage treatment plants and then typically into the ocean. The small portion of water that falls on permeable landscaping such as grass or dirt is often able to soak into the ground and replenish our underground aquifers. While this is undoubtedly beneficial, the amount of water that seeps in is nowhere near the amount of water that is drawn out for agricultural, commercial, residential, or industrial uses.
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Brian O’Neill


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