California’s New Year’s resolution: less drought, more kiwis please

The first snow survey results are in for the 2010 – 2011 season. Measurements taken by the state Department of Water Resources show the snowpack on California’s Sierra mountain range is standing at 198 percent the average for the date. That is up from 85 percent of the average the snowpack’s water content showed this time last year.

 

     “This boosts our hopes that we will have an adequate water supply for our cities and farms as we continue to shake off effects of the 2007-2009 drought,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.

 

Close to 25 million Californians depend on the Sierra snowpack for their water needs. It also supplies nearly one million acres of farmland with irrigation. Before Tuesday’s readings, DWR estimated that it would be able to deliver only 50 percent of requested State Water Project (SWP) water in 2011. It’s too early to tell how much water will be allocated. That, the DWR says, will depend on the weather between now and the spring.

 

The Colorado River, a key source of water for Southern California, has also seen improved snowfall this season. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation snow sensors in the Colorado River Basin show 150 percent of the average precipitation so far. After several years of below-average precipitation, the reservoirs along the river have a chance to recover from their dismal levels.

 

In related farm news, California’s substantial Kiwifruit harvest has come to an end and met increased demand. According to the California Kiwifruit Commission, farmers sold almost 9 million trays full of kiwifruit, about 2 million more than last year. The California Farm Bureau says demand for California fruit has increased because weather in other Northern Hemisphere countries hurt kiwifruit production there, while the state’s crop was spared any significant frost or rain damage.