January 21, 2010 | by Lisa Mattson

Over the last six days, our region has been blanketed with rain. Because the grapevines are currently dormant — and Sonoma County has experienced drought for four consecutive years — we welcome this heavy winter rainfall. While we’re pleased by these last series of storms, we continue respecting and responding to the need for water conservation throughout our community (meticulously monitoring vine growth during the growing season, using supplemental irrigation ONLY when necessary and recycling water for agricultural use).

A few statistics released today:

– Lake Mendocino (really important water releases for fall Russian River chinook salmon runs) is at 69% capacity as of 1/21/2010. It was previously around 38% in late 2009.

– Lake Sonoma (really important water releases for Dry Creek Steelhead and salmon run to the fish hatchery at Warm Springs Dam) is at 90% capacity as of 1/21/2010. In late 2009, capacity was around 74%. (Lake Sonoma is also the primary source of domestic water for the 600,000 customers from Windsor to San Rafael.)

These rainstorms have also refilled Jordan’s irrigation lake and continue to replenish our soils, which need ample water supply in early spring when the grapevines come to life. For the few vineyards that require supplemental irrigation, we can conserve water and irrigate later in the year, thanks to the winter rains.

Our last year of normal or above average rainfall was 2005-2006 (rain years are measured July 1-June 30), and we’re optimistic about the beginning of our 2009-2010 rainy season:
– 2006-2007 rain totals = 27.57”
– 2007-2008 rain total = 28.57”
– 2008-2009 rain total = 27.83”
– 7/1/2009 to 1/20/2010 = 19.46”

We’ve included two videos, which were recorded today at the Jordan Estate’s lower lake and upper lake. Unfortunately twitvid’s embed player no longer works with our blog, so only video links could be provided.