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Spring rain means no water worries for Sonoma County

There wasn't as much rain as usual on the North Coast over the past 12 months, but because much of it fell in the spring, reservoirs are full and there is plenty of water for nearly all residents and agriculture.

It was not enough rain, however, to forestall fire season, which Cal Fire officials said opened a week early.

"It is looking to be a maybe more active (fire season) this year, based on weather conditions," said Capt. Bob Farias, who is with Cal Fire's division covering Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties. "This is normal, but it might be a week early."

Santa Rosa received 22.29 inches of rain for the weather year, which runs from July 1 to June 30 and ended Saturday. That is about 70 percent of the annual average of 32.42 inches.

March was the wettest month this year with 7.84 inches of rain. It was followed by 2.43 inches in April.

"We are in a really fat water supply position at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino," said Don Seymour, Sonoma County Water Agency principal engineer. "It was the timing of the rain. We were able to store it."

The water agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically begin stockpiling more water in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino beginning in March, as the potential for flooding diminishes.

With the late rains, Lake Sonoma is now 97 percent full and Lake Mendocino is at almost 80 percent.

That ensures there will be plenty of water for the 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties that rely on those reservoirs for water.

It also means there is enough water in Lake Mendocino for a normal summertime flow in the Russian River and a fall flow for chinook salmon, which are on the federal threatened list.


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