State, federal water sellers increase allocations
April 21, 2016
• Wetter winter, fuller reservoirs help
• “Conservation is the surest and easiest way to stretch supplies”
Customers of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project are getting some better news – water allocations are being increased for many.
The state Department of Water Resources has increased its water delivery estimate for most recipients to 60 percent of requests for the calendar year.
DWR’s initial State Water Project allocation, announced in December, was 10 percent of requests. As storms developed, the allocation was increased to 15 percent on January 26, then to 30 percent on February 24 and 45 percent on March 17.
The latest boost to a 60 percent allocation is mostly due to March storms that soaked Northern California after a mostly dry February.
Still, the state’s historic drought is far from over, DWR quickly adds.
The storms that have nearly filled key northern reservoirs, including Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, largely skipped the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California where reservoir storage remains low and some communities have seen their wells go dry.
It normally takes more than one wet year to erase the impacts of multi-year droughts, and decades to replenish groundwater levels.
“Conservation is the surest and easiest way to stretch supplies,” says DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We all need to make the sparing, wise use of water a daily habit.”
The 29 public agencies that receive SWP water, known as State Water Project Contractors, requested 4,172,786 acre-feet of water for 2016. With today’s allocation increase, they will receive 2,527,629 acre-feet.
News from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which managed the parallel Central Valley Project system, is not quite as good.
It is increasing allocation to the Friant Division contractors of Class 1 water supply from 40 percent to 50 percent. The initial Friant Division water supply allocation announced on April 1, was 30 percent Class 1water supply and an additional 100,000 acre-feet of “Uncontrolled Season” supply to be scheduled and delivered by the end of April.
Class 1 is generally considered the supply that can be dependably managed through storage regulation over the season and delivered at the contractor’s convenience. The Class 1 supply will continue to be reassessed at weekly intervals until further notice.
Uncontrolled Season scenarios are generally descriptive of Class 2 supplies, in that they must be evacuated from the reservoir in the near term to avert flood control concerns, are generally undependable in character with regard to predicted volume and duration, and may not necessarily be scheduled at the contractor’s convenience.
Reclamation is able to make this announcement and notify Friant Division Class 1 contractors of their increase in water supply based upon improved forecasted hydrologic conditions, commercial power operations in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin, current storage in Millerton Lake, and cooler weather demand patterns.