Heavy rains prompt water releases at some reservoirs, Tahoe snow level rises
KTVU San Francisco
Recent unseasonably heavy storms have required operators to drain water from reservoirs in Solano and Santa Clara Counties while 10 inches of snow fell overnight at South Lake Tahoe, water agency officials said.
The Warm Springs Dam near Healdsburg in Sonoma County rose by 11,984 acre-feet on Sunday alone from rainfall and runoff, according to Sudhakar Talawki, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources.
The spillage prompted the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which oversees the dam, to drain more than 6,100 acre-feet out of Lake Sonoma and another 3,400 as of Tuesday, Talawki said.
"We are definitely at more (rain) than what we would expect for this time of year," Talawki said.
In Santa Clara County, the Coyote Dam north of Gilroy has risen nine acre-feet since Sunday and the Santa Clara County Water District had to release 302 acre-feet to save space for possible flood waters, according to Mark Merritt, associate engineer for the district.
Water levels at the 10 reservoirs overseen by the Santa Clara district lifted by more than 88,000 acre feet as of today, an increase of upwards of 16,000 acre feet since Sunday, Merritt said.
"If you looked at all Decembers over the last 20 years, we're at 109 percent above our average levels," Merritt said.
"In terms of reservoir storage, we are above average, which is a good thing," Merritt said. "Compared to last year, this is much better. We had a very dry November and December last year."
The district this week released waters from four of its reservoirs into to creeks and ponds as levels reached safety limits set for the dams, Merritt said.
At the Lexington Dam near Los Gatos, the water level rose by one acre-foot between Tuesday and this morning and eight acre-feet since Sunday, Merritt said.
Early rainfall in California has also expanded the snow pack statewide to 146 percent of normal for this time in December, according to the state water agency.
At the state's Heavenly Valley measuring station at South Lake Tahoe, falling snow boosted the accumulated snow level from 48 inches on Tuesday to 58 inches today, the water agency reported.
The Heavenly Mountain Resort, a ski facility, has seen a record amount of snowfall this December, according to Russ Pecoraro, resort spokesman.
"We're heading into our snowiest months, January, February and March, so it is shaping up to be a great year for snowfall," Pecoraro said.
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