What the lack of Sierra snow means to Roseville

Last Updated: 3/30/2015

Think of a glass of water with a full pitcher standing by for refills. That’s a good picture of the relationship between Folsom Reservoir and the Sierra Nevada snowpack before the drought. Rain and runoff from local creeks filled the reservoir during the winter months. As temperatures warmed, the melting snowpack sent down a steady stream of water to refill the lake as more than a half million people used its water for drinking, washing, irrigating, etc. and government agencies released it downstream for the environment.

Today, and thanks in large part to federal agencies agreeing to release less water, Folsom Reservoir is right about normal for this time of year. The Sierra snowpack, however, is not. So while our reservoir glass is full, the lack of snow means there’s very little water in the refill pitcher. Once we use what’s in the lake, we’ll have to find water from other sources.

Thankfully, we began planning for drought years ago and have installed groundwater wells that supplement supplies in drought years. These same wells allow us to recharge the groundwater basin by injecting treated drinking water into the underground aquifer during times when water is plentiful.  We also implemented a recycled water program many years ago that uses highly treated wastewater to irrigate city parks and landscapes, golf courses, and streetscapes.

Even with those efforts, it’s going to be a difficult year. We will all need to do what we can to save water—whenever, wherever, and however we can. Our call for a 20 percent reduction in water use is still in place and we thank you for continuing to do your part.