Californians may finally receive some relief from the drought they’ve grappled with for five brutal years. Recent storms drenching the state with rain and snow could enable at least Northern California to leave the drought in the past. National Weather Service specialist Tom Fisher said Southern California is seeing the highest rainfall “in at least five years,” while Northern California experiences their highest rainfall “in at least 10 years.”
The United States Drought Monitor said Northern California has at last escaped the drought, but Southern California is still grappling with dry conditions. About 30 percent of that region is still experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. Other officials warned it may be too early to claim a full victory over the drought, as California weather conditions can change. Los Angeles Department of Water Resources spokesperson Ted Thomas said the state sometimes begins with a wet winter, only to see dry conditions prevail later on in the season. According to the US Drought Monitor, over 26 million people are estimated to live in areas still dealing with drought.
The extreme conditions have inspired California farmers to come up with creative ways to store water. Terranova Ranch general manager Don Cameron flooded the ranch’s vineyards during the winter, allowing all that water to seep underground to replenish aquifers. As it rarely rains during California summers, and during the drought farmers couldn’t obtain the water they needed from surface reservoirs, they often had to pump water out of the earth to water their crops. But as the drought persisted, wells dried up, and aquifers were depleted.
Cameron’s idea worked – the water sank into the ground and didn’t harm the crops on the way down. Other farmers are working with University of California, Davis groundwater hydrologist Helen Dahlke to apply the innovative yet simple method of water management as storms dump water on the state.
Cameron told NPR, “This is going to be the future for California. If we don’t store the water during flood periods, we’re not going to make it through the droughts.”