El Niño rains only a drop in the bucket for drought - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

El Niño rains only a drop in the bucket for drought

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The recent storms that caused major flash flooding around San Diego County were only a drop in the bucket when it comes to easing years of severe drought. 

The amount of rainwater that San Diego captured in its reservoirs, while much appreciated, did not do anything to put a real dent in the five-year drought. 

"So we have a long ways to go before we can see any measurable filling of those reservoirs," Dana Friehauf, San Diego County Water Authority said.

San Diego collected roughly 800-million gallons of water in nine reservoirs over the wet week. According to a spokesman for the city, that amount equates to less than five days of the amount of water San Diego imports. 

According to Friehauf, on average San Diego receives seven percent of its water from rain.

"So even in a strong El Niño like 1998, where our reservoirs did fill, it still only provided about 20 percent of our water needs. About 80 percent still came from areas outside our region, she said.

The statewide mandate to "conserve" remains in full effect.

Travis Pritchard of San Diego Coastkeeper says more could be done here in San Diego to capture and store rainwater. Such as large ground aquifers that Los Angeles and Orange Counties already use. Each of those counties collected more than 3 billion gallons of water from this week's storms.

"We would like to see that here, also. We don't want to be left behind and known as the Southern California region that uses their water the least efficiently," Pritchard said.

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