El Nino predictions from NOAA. Courtesy image
El Niño predictions from NOAA. Courtesy image

Water conservation will continue to be extremely important in the coming months because of continued uncertainty over the impact of El Niño, officials with the San Diego County Water Authority said Thursday.

The agency held a briefing on the first day of the so-called “water year,” which runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

While weather forecasters project above-average rainfall in Southern California due to El Niño, it’s not clear how much precipitation will fall in critical watersheds in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, according to the SDCWA.

Much of the state’s drinking water comes from the mountain snowpack.

“There’s no guarantee that El Nino will deliver water when and where we need it most,” said Dana Friehauf, a water resources manager for the Water Authority. “Even if we get substantial precipitation statewide, it almost certainly will take more than one wet winter for California to emerge from the current drought, which is among the most severe in recorded history.”

The recently completed water year was the warmest ever recorded for California, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The SDCWA said current projections are for temperatures to remain above average statewide during the fall and winter — conditions that would make it harder to conserve water and could reduce snow levels.

Agency officials said water being saved now by user conservation efforts is being stored in local reservoirs, which could come in handy if it rains less than expected this year.

— City News Service