Winter Storms Pack Mountains with Snow, Bring Water to Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES—Final snow surveys for the 2023-24 winter season showed the Eastern Sierra snowpack measured 103 percent above normal, meaning a “secure and sustainable” water supply source for the city of Los Angeles, water officials announced April 11.

Each year, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power conducts snow surveys from February to April at five snow courses in the Eastern Sierra, where snowmelt feeds into the L.A. Aqueduct, delivering water to the city. While underwhelming at first compared to record-breaking measurements in 2023, the year’s snowpack increased significantly in February and March.

“While our reservoirs are full following two wet winters, we are still seeing the impacts of climate whiplash across the state,” LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams said in a statement.

He added, “We know we have to stay focused on our investments in local water supply projects as LADWP continues to evolve and balance the needs of our customers with the challenges associated with extreme weather patterns, more than anything else, we encourage our customers to stay vigilant in their water wise practices, which have helped keep water conservation citywide near-record highs.”

After record snowpack and runoff from 2023, LADWP’s reservoirs are full, and allowing supplies from the aqueduct to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water demand—or about 114 billion gallons of water, equivalent to supplying more than 207,000 households annually, water officials said. The remaining water supply comes from groundwater sources, recycled water and purchased water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which delivers water from the State Water Project and the Colorado River.

The consistent winter storms Southern California experienced this year also helped boost the lake level of Mono Lake. The officials April 1 elevation reading was 6,384 feet, an increase of more than 5 feet since 2022.

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Since last fall, LADWP estimates 30 billion gallons of stormwater has been captured, enough to meet 20 percent of the city’s annual water demand.

“While the improved water supply is welcome, recognizing that California’s weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable, makes water resources management an ongoing priority,” Senior Assistant General Manager Water System Anselmo Collins said in a statement. “LADWP is doing everything possible to prepare for the intensifying swings in hydrological conditions by the expansion of local water supplies and pushing forward numerous water conservation programs and stormwater capture projects.”

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