Auburn, Calif.- Late season snow and precipitation has boosted the Placer County mountain snowpack to 154 percent of average for this time of year, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) reported on Tuesday (Apr. 27).
PCWA Power Systems Manager Steve Jones said that snow surveys were conducted for the Agency by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company on Monday, April 26. The surveys measured snow depth and water content at four different snow course locations in the Sierra above PCWA’s Hell Hole and French Meadows reservoirs. ‘They found an average snow depth of 64.9 inches and an average water content of 30 inches,’ Jones said. ‘This is about 154 percent of average and it tells us that we should expect a good year for water supply, power generation and public recreation.’
‘Heavy rain and snow again on Tuesday (Apr. 27) will only add to the positive water supply outlook,’ Jones said. While the numbers look good for water supply, they may not tell the entire story, cautioned PG&E water specialist Gary Freeman. ‘Care should be taken in putting too much weight on the percent of average May numbers, as they suggest a delayed melt cycle for this time of year, rather than a large snowpack.’
Meanwhile, by Apr. 26, other north state reservoirs had risen to above average levels. These include Shasta (109 percent), Bullards Bar (103 percent) and Folsom (107 percent). A month ago, the annual April 1 snow surveys showed 103 percent of average water content on the American River watershed in Placer County and 94 percent of average water content to the north on the Yuba-Bear river watersheds.
Local reservoir forecasts are showing that Hell Hole Reservoir will be full by June 1 and that French Meadows Reservoir, where a major improvement project is under way on the dam, will climb to 116,040 acre-feet, which is 86 percent of capacity. PCWA General Manager David Breninger said that as the abundant snowpack melts, it can happen quickly and create unsafe conditions for recreating in or near the American River and its tributaries. He warns the public to use extreme caution when recreating near the river and to be especially alert to hazardous conditions of very high and cold water mixed with swift turbulent flows and debris.
Breninger also said that for this year the agency expects to have adequate water supplies for drinking water and irrigation water customer needs throughout the agency’s vast water system service area. In addition to its regular customers of over 38,000 accounts, on Apr. 1, the PCWA board declared that up to 17,000 acre-feet of irrigation water would be available to nine commercial growers in far western Placer County.
Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.