Storms boosted LA County water supply, but there's still more work to be done

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Thursday, January 19, 2023
Los Angeles County collected 33M gallons of water from recent storms
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About 33 million gallons of rainwater were captured locally in the intense rains and snow storms slamming into California recently, according to Los Angeles County officials.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- About 33 million gallons of rainwater were captured locally in the intense rains and snow storms slamming into California over the last three weeks, according to the Los Angeles County Public Works Department.

So what does all that extra rain water mean for California's ongoing drought?

A state expert says it helps, but there's still more work to be done.

"We did essentially move from about the driest three years on record to potentially the wettest three weeks on record," said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources. "And what that means is all this rain has made a terrific dent in our drought, but we don't really have the full picture yet."

Nemeth spoke to "Good Morning America" about California's incredible rainy start to the winter weather season.

"We have several snow surveys of our Sierra Nevada mountain range," Nemeth said. "And that's going to give us a much fuller picture of how these storms have impacted the drought and whether or not we're really out of the woods. But it's a terrific start."

She's referring to a map that shows the southern Sierra snowpack - which feeds water to Southern California during the summer as the ice melts - is nearly 300% percent of average, with the whole state near 250% of average and 124% of the April 1 total, which is considered the end of the rainy season.

But the incredible rain also comes at a cost. Accuweather says the storms caused up to $34 billion of damage in California.

"So we had an enormous number of trees fall, caused significant damage to homes and roadways," Nemeth said. "And then in addition, levee breaches with the intensity of these storm events in communities that generated flooding, we've had evacuation of schools.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has fast tracked $8.5 billion in infrastructure spending to capture rainwater and rebuild damages across the state.

President Joe Biden is visiting California's central coast Thursday to see areas devastated by the extreme weather.