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Reservoir levels growing, but drought measures remain (w/video)

  • David Elliot commutes to his job in Sebastopol by way of a closed Sanford Road at the Laguna de Santa Rosa on Monday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

The sun came back out Monday but four days worth of rainfall continued pouring into the region's reservoirs, raising Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma from three to four feet, with days left to go — maybe a week, even — before the water levels were expected to crest.

Despite the strong storm and heavy runoff, local government officials said drought measures, including mandatory cuts for water users in Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Willits, were still on. The Sonoma County Water Agency's request for voluntary 20 percent cuts for its municipal contractors, covering most other cities in the county, also remains in place.

Four-day rainfall totals for Sonoma County included 15.41 inches in Cazadero and 11.70 inches in Guerneville, according to AccuWeather.

Santa Rosa received 6.46 inches over the same four days, AccuWeather reported.

Typically, the runoff from this kind of storm would take about a week to find its way into local reservoirs, though thirsty ground from months of dry weather would absorb a large amount first, water officials said.

But already, the storage in the two reservoirs had risen more than 12,000 acre feet beyond what lay behind the dams as of Friday, said Mike Dillabough, chief of the Operations and Readiness Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's San Francisco District.

Water flowing into Lake Mendocino, measured Friday morning at just 31 cubic feet per second, had increased by a factor of 32 over the weekend, measuring 996 cfs on Monday morning, Dillabough said.

At Lake Sonoma, the in-flow rate rose from 168 cfs to 1,462 cfs over the four-day period, he said.

“That's good,” Dillabough said. “That means a lot more water's coming in.”

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