Up the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the snowpack is near normal, which means rivers will continue to flow strong and refresh the reservoirs as snowmelt steps in to replace the lucre of falling precip. Nine months ago, after three years of significantly below normal precipitation, many reservoirs were at record or near-record lows; the U. S. Government said 99.9 percent of the Golden State was in drought. Now with many reservoirs filling up and spillways here and there opened to create capacity for snowmelt or future rains, Uncle Sam says 98.6 percent of the state is still in drought.
Look see at the Drought Monitor put out by USDA, NOAA and the Department of Commerce (if a rating system has three government agencies and all their Schedule C appointees, life-tenured bureaucrats and scientists behind it has gotta be really, really good).
California's largest reservoir filling too fast thanks to El Nino, must release more water
The El Niño-fueled storms that have swept through Northern California in recent weeks have swelled some of the state’s largest reservoirs to encouraging levels even as the state's drought persists.
One of the biggest beneficiaries has been Lake Shasta, a keystone reservoir of the Central Valley project, which serves California growers.
To make room in Shasta for water from last weekend’s storms, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation ramped up releases from 5,000 cubic feet per second to 20,000 cubic feet per second on March 18. It was the first time since 2011 that the bureau released water into the upper Sacramento River at such a rapid rate, said spokesman Shane Hunt.
Officials began slowing the releases again on Wednesday, Hunt said. The rate is expected to return to around 5,000 cubic feet per second by Monday.
“We never got to the point where the increased releases drew the lake down at all,” Hunt said. “We just slowed how fast we were gaining.”Lake Shasta is the most important water resource in the state.
Lake Shasta, he added, is “still gaining storage and will continue to do so.”
Shasta Division consists of a pair of large dams on the Sacramento River north of the city of Redding. The Shasta Dam is the primary water storage and power generating facility of the CVP. It impounds the Sacramento River to form Shasta Lake, which can store over 4,500,000 acre feet (5,600,000 dam3) of water, and can generate 680 MW of power.Shasta Dam functions to regulate the flow of the Sacramento River so that downstream diversion dams and canals can capture the flow of the river more efficiently, and to prevent flooding in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta where many water pump facilities for San Joaquin Valley aqueducts are located. The Keswick Dam functions as an afterbay (regulating reservoir) for the Shasta Dam, also generating power.
The Sacramento Canals Division of the CVP takes water from the Sacramento River much farther downstream of the Shasta and Keswick Dams. Diversion dams, pumping plants, and aqueducts provide municipal water supply as well as irrigation of about 98,000 acres (4,000,000 dam2). The Red Bluff Diversion Dam diverts part of the Sacramento Riverinto the 110-mile (180 km) Tehama-Colusa Canal, the 21-mile (34 km) Corning Canal and a small reservoir formed by Funks Dam. Five pump plants take water from the canal and feed it to the Colusa County water distribution grid.
Here is the up-to-date water storage graph for Lake Shasta. Notice last week's kink caused by the Bureau of Reclamation spillway openings.