The Department of Water Resources on January 21 increased its
projected 2011 deliveries of State Water Project water to 60 percent of contractors’ requests, up 10 percent from the December forecast.
In 2010, the State Water Project delivered 50 percent of a requested 4,172,126 acre-feet, up from a record-low initial projection of 5 percent due to lingering effects of the 2007-2009 drought.
“Today’s allocation increase reflects robust early winter precipitation and an impressive Sierra snowpack,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “But prudent water planning dictates caution as we monitor the rest of California’s rainy season.”
Despite mostly dry conditions this month, precipitation so far this winter is over 66 percent of average for the entire water year (October 1-September 30). December precipitation was 195 percent of average. And near-record snowfall in the Sierra and other mountain ranges assures above-drought runoff into reservoirs and streams this spring and early summer.
Statewide, snowpack water content is more than 150 percent of average for the date and 79 percent of the average, April 1 seasonal total. In addition, most major reservoirs are above normal storage levels.Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s principal reservoir, is at 101 percent of normal storage for the date after gaining 550,000 acre-feet in December.
It currently is holding 2.34 million acre-feet. Remaining winter weather will determine whether if fills to its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity. Lake Shasta north of Redding, the federal Central Valley Project’s largest reservoir with a capacity of 4.5 million acrefeet, is at 113 percent of normal storage for the date (75 percent of capacity).
The San Diego County Water Authority said the state Department of Water Resources’ announcement Monday of a low initial allocation of water deliveries to the State Water Project was expected due to continuing dry conditions this fall and serves as the latest reminder of the region’s need to increase voluntary water conservation.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its initial allocation for water deliveries to SWP contractors in calendar year 2008 would be 25 percent, a significant reduction from the 60 percent initial allocation for calendar year 2007. This is the lowest initial allocation since 2003.
The lower initial allocation was expected because of current dry conditions in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, whose rivers convey runoff from the Sierra mountain range to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and the State Water Project pumps, and because of lower-than-average storage levels in major reservoirs in Northern California. The initial allocation also takes into account the projected impacts from the federal court decision in August 2007 aimed at protecting Delta smelt. That court decision will restrict State Water Project pumping starting December 25, 2007 and through 2008.
“Usually, DWR begins with a conservative allocation, so it is too early to tell what the final amount of water deliveries from the State Water Project to our region will be,” said Fern Steiner, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “As the water year progresses, that allocation can increase based on winter storm conditions. DWR typically determines its final water delivery allocation to the SWP by May 1. If we have another dry year we most likely would not see a significant increase, which reinforces the need for our region to meet our target of reducing our water use by 20 gallons per person, per day.”
About 40 percent of all water used in San Diego County comes from the State Water Project. SWP water is distributed among 29 long-term contractors that serve more than 25 million Californians. The Water Authority gets its SWP water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the SWP’s largest contractor.
SWP contractors had requested 4,145,124 acre-feet of water for 2008. DWR’s initial allocation for 25 percent of the water contractors’ total request equals 1,038,861 acre-feet. An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons, the approximate amount of water two families of four use in one year.
Steiner said the Water Authority will continue to monitor weather and water supply conditions and developments from the federal court decision that may affect SWP water deliveries. If necessary, she said, the Authority will implement additional steps in its Drought Management Plan. The plan can be viewed at www.sdcwa.org/manage/pdf/DroughtManagementPlanFinal.pdf
November 27 Contact: John Liarakos Office (858) 522-6703 Mobile (858) 761-2544; Jason Foster Office (858) 522-6709 Mobile (858) 761-5950