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Final snow survey yields bad news

April 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The final Sierra snow survey of the year is not good news for water-starved Southern California.The report indicated the snowpack's water content was 66 percent of average for this time of year.

That's down from 72 percent of average last year, and marks the third straight year of below-average rain and snowfall in Southern California.

The Sierra snowpack runoff fills the state's reservoirs, and supplies about two-thirds of the state's freshwater.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked Californians to voluntarily cut their water usage by 20 percent.

Department of Water Resources spokesman Frank Gehrke says the snow survey results weren't all bad news, but that the state's water supply is certainly less than normal.

"The measurements we're making today in terms of the snow water content, as well as what we're seeing in terms of stream flow, still point to a very serious situation in terms of water supply," said Gehrke. "Stream flow in central sierra isn't too bad, upwards of average, but in those areas that are the major water producers for the state, it's well below average."

The state's smaller reservoirs were at or above normal levels, but the largest reservoirs were well below normal.

Shasta Lake was at 76 percent of normal, Lake Oroville at 70 percent, and Trinity Lake, just 62 percent of normal.