Friday March 31, 2023


California has one of the most complex water systems in the world. And so, the factors giving rise to our region’s floods are more complicated than the simple cascading of rain and snowmelt downhill during a rainier-than-average wet season.

We are well into one of the wettest winters on record in the San Joaquin Valley. Historic precipitation levels have buried the high Sierra Nevada under more than 50 total feet of snow. And parts of the Valley, stricken for years by severe drought, are underwater.

The water in our region is delivered by rivers. Most of the major rivers in our region flow through reservoirs and dams, which, during normal years, help prevent flooding, but now are being forced to discharge huge volumes of water.

Meanwhile, many of those rivers don’t actually flow all the way to the ocean – and all the water that drains here is overtaking the infrastructure that typically keeps it contained.

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