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Lathrop water use inched up last month
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Residents of Lathrop used slightly more water in February than they did in January.
According to numbers released by Lathrop City Hall, a total 59.46 million gallons of water were used last month – up from 58.87 million gallons in January. Despite an early wet winter and occasional storms February was a drier month than January was, and led to some concern when the Department of Water Resources issued their monthly snowpack report on March 1 and announced that the total snowpack for the state was at only 83 percent.
It’s the second month in a row that Lathrop has failed to meet the mandatory 34 percent reduction required by the State of California for residential water use – only a 14 percent decline from the 2013 numbers that California is using as a baseline to measure progress.
When averaged out over the course of the year, however, those numbers are much more favorable for Lathrop residents who cut back tremendously during the warm summer months as the city instituted its strictest watering policy in history in order to comply with new California mandates. Typically the months of December, January and February are the lightest in terms of water use, but this year a gap in the El Nino system that has brought rainfall that has exceeded historic averages for California and warmer temperatures gave the initial impression of an early spring arrival.
The numbers that are recorded by the City of Lathrop are submitted to the State of California for management purposes.
 While the drought won’t be over this year, new forecast models for late spring show that at least portions of California that have been hit hard will see much needed relief and the reservoirs in those regions – the largest in California – will continue to rise to levels not seen in years.
New long range forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives a glimpse of hope that the drought – the worst one that California has seen in more than four decades – could be improving.
While large portions of the San Joaquin Valley are still going to be under drought conditions this summer, the northernmost portions of the state – which have been getting pounded by warm El Nino rains this month – could see an upgrade if the three-month forecast that calls for warmer temperatures but also above average rainfall hold true.
That won’t directly impact water conditions in the Northern San Jaoquin Valley, but California’s largest reservoir – Lake Shasta – hit 108 percent of its historic average earlier this month after wet weather shot the level up 46 feet. And it’s not the only one. Folsom Dam, which attracted lots of onlookers over the summer scouting out landmarks that hadn’t been seen in decades, rose 44 feet in January, and Lake Oroville – which is almost as large as Shasta – went up 77 feet and is only 46 feet from spilling over the top.
The City of Lathrop gets much of its water from a series of ground wells with the rest being surface water provided by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.