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Placer Sentinel

Storms Bring Optimism for Water Supply and Hydropower

Feb 03, 2022 12:00AM ● By PCWA Press Release

AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Following two consecutive dry years from 2020-2021, storms in Water Year 2022 have delivered not only record-breaking precipitation and snowpack, but optimism for regional water supply and hydropower generation. This welcome news was shared with the Placer County Water Agency (“PCWA”) Board of Directors at its meeting on January 20.

At Lake Spaulding, a Pacific Gas & Electric facility that supplies nearly 90 percent of PCWA water demands, precipitation totals sit at roughly 45 inches, or 142 percent of average for mid- January. Snowpack in the watershed encompassing PCWA’s Middle Fork American River Project (MFP) measured 125 percent of average on January 20, with a snow-water equivalent of 20 inches.

Much of the rain and snow that fell in the region came in two major storms, one in October and one in December. October precipitation measured 17 inches at Lake Spaulding compared to the 50-year average of 4.1 inches. In December, Lake Spaulding received 20.7 inches of precipitation; the 50-year average is 11.9 inches.

The effect of the storms on PCWA’s hydropower operations was also significant. In the three months following the October storm, the MFP generated nearly a third of the hydropower generated in the prior nine months, which included summer months when statewide demand for energy peaks. Although water supply and hydropower generation this year still rely heavily on the rainfall yet to come, there is optimism that 2022 will fare better than 2020 or 2021.

 

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