California experienced record levels of rain and snowfall last winter, thanks to several atmospheric rivers that per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, transport water vapor through the sky, later released as rain or snow. But once the snow cover began to melt, the region’s reservoirs began to fill up and agricultural areas began to flood, reported ABC News, “We haven’t really been able to plan that way,” David Feldman, director of the research center Water UCI, told the outlet. This area has been suffering from drought for decades.
Now, California is looking for ways to divert that extra water, with H2O expected to move from full reservoirs downstream to more empty reservoirs. That said, the state’s river system isn’t exactly suited for it, Greg Reiss, a hydrologist at The Bay Institute, told ABC News. “We have confined the rivers so much that in some cases a breach in the embankment can be catastrophic,” he said. “So if we set those dams back with more room, we can actually take more water out of our dams, reservoirs right now, and lower them so they can absorb this pulse of slowing that’s coming.” “
Experts are particularly concerned about floodwaters reaching Tulare Lake, which has resurfaced after being dry for 80 years. To divert lake water, which would threaten nearby acres of farmland, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an agreement executive Order allowing the state to open a “seldom-used” relief valve that will direct water to the California Aqueduct, “a complex system of tunnels and pipelines that transport water from northern California and the Sierra into the state’s arid central and southern expanses.” leads,” explained Los Angeles Times,
Experts say that despite the complications, storm water and snowpack should prove to be a valuable water resource for the state in the future. “We’re going to have to prepare our infrastructure to harvest and store that water and consider it a central part of our water supply planning,” Feldman explained. “We want to harvest as much as possible.”