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Future still cloudy: Recent rains still not enough to end area’s drought worries

Bill Warner, Ojai Valley News reporter
Nearly an inch of rain fell in the Ojai Valley during the 24-hour period ending Jan. 19 at 10 a.m., adding another one-10th of a percent to the water volume in Lake Casitas. It made for nearly 10 inches of precipitation gracing the valley since Oct.1.
And while the drought has been declared over for much of Northern California, water providers and experts agree that is far from the case in Ojai’s neck of the woods.
“Ventura County remains in a state of extreme drought,” said Ron Merckling, water conservation manager for the Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD). He recommends bookmarking the California drought map found at www.droughtmonitor.uni.ed, the official U.S. Drought Monitor website. It delineates the state’s one remaining pocket of “exceptional drought,” which runs along the South Coast from Gaviotta Pass to Ventura, then mushrooms inland to form a sort of anvil top across Ventura County. The Ojai Valley is right in the heart of that.
So even with the rain to date, Merckling said, there has not been enough in the Ventura River to begin diversions into Lake Casitas, whose water volume Jan. 19 stood at 35.3 percent.

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