Snow survey reveals below average water supply

Apr 2, 2014 7:56 PM

"Throughout PG&E's service area, we're looking at about 50 to 60% of the normal level for this time of year," said Tony Orozco, a hydrographer for PG&E.

Despite February and March rain showers, snow levels are looking bleak.

"Last year's wet season wasn't all that great either, but unfortunately this year is much worse, and what we're doing at PG&E is we're very strategically managing our water supply so that we will have our reservoirs as full as possible before the start of summer," said PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno.

Crews flew into a snow field in the McCloud River Watershed in Southern Siskiyou County, and trecked in on snowshoe, to determine just how much water they'll have for hydroelectic power generation.

PG&E samples snow five times a year, using tools like a snow tube, which measures depth and water content.

"The more dense the snow, the more water content it contains and more water is expected in the form of runoff into our reservoirs," Orozco said.

The situation sounds dire, but PG&E officials have been preparing for the worst.

"We have scaled back on how much power we have generated in the spring, and we've been banking that water in our reservoirs so it's going to be available come summer, not only available for hydropower, but available for streams, for fish, and also for downstream water users," Moreno said.

PG&E has already conducted three manual snow surveys since January.

The company's last survey of the year is scheduled for May.


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