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Oroville reservoir at 100% capacity, Mammoth with 97 inches at base is open for skiing thru end of July
SJ river
The San Joaquin River flowing beneath the Airport Way bridge on Sunday was at 25.6 feet.

What a difference a year makes.

On June 12, 2023 the:

*San Joaquin River at the Airport Way bridge crossing south of Manteca was at 7.86 feet.

*Mammoth Mountain ski resort southeast of Yosemite National Park had no snow.

*Oroville Lake — the state’s second largest reservoir, was at 32 percent of average capacity for the date.

Today the:

*San Joaquin River at Airport Way is at 25.6 feet.

*Mammoth Mountain has 97 inches at its base — or almost 8 feet.

*Oroville Lake is at 127 percent of average capacity for this date meaning it is basically at 100 percent of its 3.5 million acre foot design capacity.

It is against that backdrop officials tasked with California’s water management are noting that while the state may have dodged a bullet, it is far from being out of the woods.

"People might be wondering why we should be worrying about saving when Tulare Lake has re-formed, and I think it's really just being aware that we are facing these long-term challenges," Charlotte Ely, conservation supervisor with the State Water Resources Control Board.

Ely noted that hotter and drier conditions could diminish 10% of existing water supplies by 2040.

"And so all of the water-saving habits that we have cultivated over the last decade are going to continue to serve us in the face of long-term aridification," she said.

Saving water in the face of more frequent drought years punctuated by wet period is do-able, according to the Pacific Institute, a water think tank.

California, on average, used 85 gallons of water per person in 2020.

A study by the Pacific Institute indicated daily water use could be reduced by another 45 percent to get as low as 25 to 35 gallons per person per day.

The study says that can happen by the universal adoption of existing technologies, efficiency standards and low-water use landscaping.  

California water managers are cobbling together an effort dubbed "Making Conservation a California Way of Life".

The endeavor establishes unique goals for its more than 400 urban water retail suppliers to spur long-term savings statewide.

The Legislature is also considering bills that could lead to more savings, including one prohibiting the use of potable water on some decorative grasses. The other would require nonresidential projects to transition to low-water and local native plants.

California is also facing reduced water supplies from the Colorado River.

As such, conservation is crucial for California’s environment, health, and economic well-being

The San Joaquin River — which peaked at 29.67 feet on March 19 — is expected to continue flowing high at least through the end of July.

As for Mammoth, the unusually high mid-June snow at its base has prompted the resort to make plans for skiing through the end of July.

Mammoth is a 4 hour drive from Manteca once Tioga Pass over the Sierra on Highway 120 is cleared of snow.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email