Early last spring, the forecast looked especially bleak for residents of drought-ravaged California. Bill Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River Resources at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, says the river basin was expected to get less than half as much spring-summer runoff as normal – raising concerns there would not be enough water for thirsty California.

Hasencamp: “And then the miracle began in May. May was about almost 300 percent of average rainfall in the Colorado basin. May was actually the wettest month in the history of the United States.”

The heavy rain fed the Colorado River – creating a surplus in Lake Mead, and providing enough water for Arizona and Nevada to share with drought-stricken southern California.

But Hasencamp says the storms only provided short term relief for a problem that will persist even after the drought ends, since the Colorado River resources are over-allocated.

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Hasencamp: “Like in Las Vegas, the house always wins. In this case, Mother Nature will win and there will not be enough water to meet our long-term demands.”

So he says the seven states that depend on the river will need to find new solutions since they cannot count on a “miracle May” every year.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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Water managers dodge bullet with ‘May miracle’ rains

Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...