San Luis Reservoir is expected to fill in the next two weeks for the first time since 2011, a sign that users likely will have all the water they need this year, according to water officials.
The 2 million-acre-foot storage space west of Los Banos is 92 percent full, according to the state Department of Water Resources. An acre-foot is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land a foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons.
The amount of rainfall the region has seen during the wet season is a relief after years of drought, said Maury Roos, the chief hydrologist for the department.
“For all practical purposes, it will be filled if things keep going (as they are),” he said Tuesday.
More storage would be in order in these types of years.
Chris White, the general manager of the Central California Irrigation District
At 1.87 million acre-feet Tuesday, the reservoir has more than twice the amount of water it had a year ago, according to state numbers. Roos said the water flow into San Luis is not great enough to cause any alarm, but noted the dam does have a spillway in case of an emergency.
Oroville Dam, about 30 miles southeast of Chico, reached capacity and threatened catastrophe on Sunday, when nearly 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate after officials detected erosion on the unlined hillside emergency spillway. With the crisis stabilized for now, authorities said Tuesday that the evacuees can return home but should be prepared to move again if necessary.
That San Luis Reservoir is on the verge of filling is good news “for obvious reasons,” said Chris White, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District.
The 1,900 users he supplies in Los Banos, Dos Palos, Mendota, Gustine and other West Side cities likely will benefit, he said.
With most of the state’s reservoirs filling this winter, and some letting water flow downstream, users are reminded of what they see as a lack of storage.
Percentage of San Luis Reservoir that is filled
“We started into this wet spell with storages pretty well depleted around the state, and, boy, in short order reservoirs are filled,” White said, noting that reservoirs are letting water out into the ocean to make space.
“More storage would be in order in these types of years,” he said.
The wet season is not done for the central San Joaquin Valley. Beginning late Wednesday, Merced County could see rain daily through the week that follows, said William Peterson, a meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Patchy fog early Wednesday will give way to rainfall, he said. There is a 40 percent chance or higher of rain in each of the next seven days.
“Basically, what’s happening is a bunch of Pacific storms are lining up and getting ready to come through California,” he said.