MID pleased as reservoir begins to fill

Warm storms provide more rain than snow

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comDecember 25, 2012 

— The Merced Irrigation District said it's still very early in the rainy season, but the region has received a steady accumulation of snowpack and precipitation.

"We are tracking on average for this time of the year, which is good," said Hicham Eltal, deputy general manager of water resources. "If I get average all the way to the end, I'm a very happy man."

The storage reservoir at Lake McClure has about 403,000 acre-feet of water, or 40 percent of capacity. The 45-year average for December is 460,500 acre-feet.

Last year at this time, the reservoir held roughly 650,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot of water covers one acre, one foot deep.

Over the next three days, the city of Merced could likely see an inch of rain, according to the national weather service. At the same time, the Yosemite Valley is expected to get 3 inches.

"We'll take as many small storms like that as we can get," said MID General Manager John Sweigard.

The Merced River has run as high as about 1,000 cubic feet per second after several recent storms storm, Eltal said.

"We had some warm storms, which means less snow and more rain, but since I have so much room in our reservoir, we were happy to see the water because we can hold it all," he said.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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