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Late rains help water supply
Property owners in the Corning Water District can give a sigh of relief.
The district, which provides agricultural-use water to residents west of Corning, sent a notice to its 550 customers in March that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had announced the Corning Water District would receive only 30 percent of its contract supply this year.
That was bad news for the district's 325 customers who are actually using district water, said District Manager Jim Lowden.
"But we were just notified the district will be receiving 100 percent of our contact," Lowden said. "The increase is due to the fact Shasta Lake, and other reservoirs in the north va ley, have come up quite a bit since the previous announcement. Water storage carried over from last winter and spring, which were both great in rain and snow pack, will also be used."
Shasta Lake, the federal Central Valley Project's largest reservior with a capacity of 4.5 million acre feet, is at 104 percent of average water level, or 86 percent of capacity. On Monday, the lake was at 1,050.42 feet, and 16.58 from the Shasta Dam crest, about 7 feet more than last year at this time.
However, customers could be paying more in the near future.
The Corning Water District board of directors will be holding a public hearing on May 16, to hear customer comments on a proposed rate increase.
According to the district, the reason for the rate increase is to cover increased service costs due to an 8.8 percent increase in the Bureau of Reclamation's water charges, a 16.3 percent increase in Red Bluff Diversion Dam and Corning Canal conveyance costs, and increases in operational costs such as repairs, supplies and fuel.
"We are going from last year's $39 per acre foot, to $41 per acre foot," Lowden said.
This news comes on the heels of the most recent snow pack announcement made by state Department of Water Resources hydrologists on April 2, stating water content in California's mountain snowpack is only 55 percent of average.
Hydrologists conducted snow pack surveys in more than 100 mountain locations, both manually and with electronic sensors.
April's testing is the most important of the surveying period, between January and May, because that is when snowpack is normally at its peak before it starts to melt, officials said.
According to surveys taken in the Lassen National Forest, the area to have the highest percentage of water content as of April 1, was the Thousand Lakes Wilderness Course, which had 71 percent. Last year, the location had 136 percent of its average water content.
The lowest water content was in Chester Flat, which had only 10 percent of average. Average snow depth there was 1.9 inches. In 2011, the snow depth was 32.4 inches.
Mountain snowpack in the state normally provides about a third of the water for California's households, industry and agriculture, according to the Water Education Foundation.
Last year at this time, the snowpack's water content in the state was 173 percent in the northern mountains, 161 percent in the central ranges, 155 percent in the south, and 163 percent statewide.