Kurtis Alexander
Updated 6:40 am, Friday, February 28, 2014

Fresh snow is blanketing the Sierra this week, but not enough to put a big dent in the statewide drought.

State surveying crews, making their monthly trek on skis and snowshoes to high-elevation weather stations, said Thursday that the snowpack is just 24 percent of average for this time of year. That means the mountain runoff that normally fills reservoirs and makes up a third of the state’s water supply will amount to little more than a trickle.

Although there’s more snow than there was a month ago – when the accumulation was just 12 percent of average and surveyors found bare ground in some spots – it’s likely that cities and farms that depend on the Sierra for their water will come up short in the summer.

“It’s not a good situation for us,” said Steve Ritchie, assistant general manager for water for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which delivers water from the Sierra to 2.6 million Bay Area customers. “We’re waiting for the snow to melt and come down and fill our reservoir, but it ain’t happening.”
Voluntary cutbacks

The district is among several Bay Area agencies that are asking people to reduce their water consumption by 10 percent, while hoping late-season storms will head off the need for mandatory rationing.

Some North Bay communities, which depend on local supplies, and Sacramento have already imposed mandatory cuts.

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