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Snowpack still below average

April 2, 2009 |  3:22 pm

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The latest snow survey pegs the statewide snowpack at 81% of normal for the date -- a significant jump from early winter but about the same as a month ago.

With precipitation at least 90% of average in the Sierra Nevada (90% in the northern range, 95% in the south), reservoir levels have been rising. At the end of February, Lake Oroville, the largest in the State Water Project system, was at 37% of capacity. It is now more than half full. Shasta Lake, a key federal reservoir in Northern California, is at 64% of capacity. Overall, statewide reservoir storage is at 80% of average for the date.

Winter storms have improved the water supply picture, but the state remains in the third year of a drought, and both federal and state water managers say they will have to cut deliveries this year. "We face severe water supply problems in many parts of our state," Lester Snow, state water resources director, said in a statement released with the survey results. "Californians must continue to save water at home and in their businesses."

-- Bettina Boxall

Photo: Frank Gehrke, left, chief of snow surveys for the state Department of Water Resources, takes a measurement near Lake Tahoe. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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