How Much of SD's Rain Was Captured for Our Water Supply?

After a long drought, Lake Hodges is finally starting to look like a lake again. Not all of San Diego’s water reservoirs rose this past week, but the downpour of rain helped replenish local sources. NBC 7’s Steven Luke explains all the different factors that influence our water levels. (Published Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017)

San Diego got a lot of rain over the past few days, but how much of it was actually captured for our water supply?

Thanks to the heavy rain throughout January, the City collected 4.36 billion gallons of local rain and runoff, according to the City of San Diego Water Department. For perspective, the City uses about 200 million gallons a day.

Then and Now: Dramatic Photos of CA's Drought and Recovery

That means the City could have relied on just local rain for its water supply for most of January.

However, capturing rain typically amounts for just a small portion - 10 to 15 percent - of the City's water supply during an average year. The City generally imports the rest of its water.

The impact of days of heavy rain are apparent at lakes and reservoirs around San Diego, like Lake Hodges.

Not long ago, the pedestrian bridge at the lake spanned above just weeds and shrubs. By Wednesday, the water below the bridge had returned.

Strongest Storms in Years Soak California

Visitors at the lake said the progress was visible.

Dick March, who was walking through the park on Wednesday, said he stopped by the bridge to check if there was water under the bridge after the storms.

"That's progress, you look around you, it's green," he said. "Greener than it was last year."

The last time the Lake was this full, he said, was when they were building the bridge.

"There are birds and ducks down there feeding, so it's a sign things are coming," March said.

Others, like visitor David Bennett, were excited to see the water return - but said the heavy rain had damaged other parts of the park. The surrounding trails, for example, needed maintenance, he said.

"It's beautiful, brings out more birds and I just think it needs to be cleaned up a little with all these dead trees," he said.

However, he said, he could still remember the last time it rained this much, and the positive impact on the lake. He said it was great to see the water returning.

"The last time we had the heavy rains like this, it was all the way up to the top of the rocks and the top of the dam and it actually looked like a full lake again," Bennett said.

Dean Huseby, who was visiting the lake, said it was wonderful to see the water and lake come back to life.

"It's a sign that may be the end of the drought, which I think we've all been very concerned about," Huseby said. "I know from here on out we'll have to be conserving more and more, but rain is a good thing."