El Niño year has mixed results for Central Coast water agencies

Mar 31, 2016

Sierra Nevada snowpack numbers released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Wednesday show a mixed story for Californians. 

The Northern Sierra had above normal readings, while the Southern Sierra was well below. DWR said the overall water content is just 87 percent of the historic average.

It's a huge improvement compared to last year, but nothing close to drought-busting.

One area where the improved snowpack levels will help is in state water project deliveries. Communities that rely on this source could see allotments jump from zero to 45 percent, as of the latest estimation.

Goleta Water District Assistant GM David Matson said Wednesday that groundwater is the district's main source this year, as the Cachuma Reservoir is at historic lows. He said the addition of state water will help, but conservation measures need to stay in place.

"We do not anticipate an additional shortage, so there's no plans to increase those restrictions in the immediate future, but as the summer goes on that's something we'll have to take a hard look at," said Matson. "We're hoping that current efforts will continue and people will be water-wise."

San Luis Obispo is not on state water and relys on a variety of local reservoirs instead. Utilities Services Manager Mychal Boerman told KCBX that this year's rainy season is an improvement and residents see green hillsides, but the rain received hasn't changed the city's drought status.

"We really need at least as much conservation as we had in 2015 and we need people to try to remember that we are in a drought," said Boerman.

The National Weather Service shows no opportunities for a significant storm system in the near future to boost Central Coast rain totals.