.Despite Recent Downpours, Drought Conditions Persist

Santa Clara County remains in a drought

With seemingly constant rain storms pummeling the South Bay so far this winter, a federal drought monitoring program recently downgraded most of Santa Clara County from “Severe” to “Moderate” drought. But local water supply authorities warn that residents and property owners should continue to conserve water and behave as though drought conditions will persist through the winter.

“In spite of the recent rain, Santa Clara County remains in a drought emergency,” Valley Water spokesperson Matt Keller asserts.

In 2021, the eastern California Sierra mountains saw record snowfall in December, but the following month was the driest January on record. “It is still too early in the wet season to determine if this rain and snow we’ve received will have a lasting impact,” Keller says.

Authorities from Valley Water, the water district that supplies water and flood control for Santa Clara County, won’t have a more definite picture of drought conditions and the impact on the water supply until April or May. Keller explains, “There are many factors in determining if we’re still being impacted by the drought, including our local groundwater levels, water use levels, reservoir levels, reservoir capacity, snowpack, state reservoir levels and imported water allocations from the state and federal governments.”

On Jan. 3, after more than a year, the U.S. Drought Monitor moved nearly three-quarters of Santa Clara County’s geography from the category “Severe Drought” to “Moderate Drought.” About 26% of the county is still experiencing Severe drought, while .57% of the county’s area is in the “Extreme Drought” category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor website.

Before Jan. 3, the entirety of Santa Clara County has been in a severe drought since before January 2021, according to the website.

According to precipitation gauge reports on Valley Water’s website, areas of southern Santa Clara County have received from 20-40 inches of rain so far this winter. The average annual rainfall for South County is about 24 inches. The rainy season ends in May each year.Valley Water continues to urge residents, businesses and property owners to continue to conserve water. Learn more at valleywater.org/watersavingsorg.

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