As farmers welcome rain to the San Joaquin Valley, they’re also watching snow in the mountains.
Melting mountain snowpack provides irrigation water the rest of the year.
Selma farmer John Chandler says, “It’s a critical part of our water supply. We pull water from the Consolidated Irrigation District, which gets its water out of the Sierra Nevada mountains and that’s all snowpack.”
When there’s little snowpack or restrictions on its use for environmental reasons farmers must find water elsewhere.
Without snowpack we get much more reliant on groundwater and because of that we have to start pulling more water out of the ground and it costs energy to do that if we're running electric pumps and we run all electric pumps. That can be quite costly and adds a lot to our overhead.
It’s can be so costly that for places on the Valley’s West Side, it can actually cost more money to pump well water than farmers can make from the crop.
Nearby mountain snowpack levels are currently near 60% of average.
This storm system will boost that only a few percentage points.
Still, these levels are far better than the near 25% of average last year.
Valley crops were still successful despite the low rain and snow because of extra water stored from the winter of 2010-2011. That extra is now gone.