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California to deliver more water to cities after heavy rain storms

David McNew/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) — January’s record rain and snowfall on the West Coast has had a positive side effect for over 27 million California residents.

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Thursday that the extra rainwater will allow the State Water Project (SWP) to increase deliveries to 29 local water agencies this year.

In December, the agency announced that it would initially allocate 5% of requested supplies to the local agencies, but now it will allocate 30% of those requests.

“The SWP’s two largest reservoirs (Oroville and San Luis) have gained a combined 1.62 million acre-feet of water in storage — roughly enough to provide water to 5.6 million households for a year,” DWR said in a statement.

Several rain and snow storms left parts of California with flash floods, downed trees and other damage during for weeks starting at the end of December. More than three feet of rain fell in California during those storms and the Sierra Nevada Mountains surpassed seasonal averages for snowfall, according to state data.

Extreme drought, the second-highest level of drought, in California fell from 27.1% to 0.32% Between Jan. 3 and Jan. 10, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Severe drought, the third-highest level, fell from 71% to 46%, during that same period, according to the monitor.

“These storms made clear the importance of our efforts to modernize our existing water infrastructure for an era of intensified drought and flood. Given these dramatic swings, these storm flows are badly needed to refill groundwater basins and support recycled water plants,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement.

The agency warned Californians to still conserve their water use as the state could see a return to warm and dry conditions prior to April 1, which is the end of the wet season.

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