Dry Season Forces State to Lower State Water Project Delivery Projections to 50%
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Water Agencies Receiving 10% Less Than Earlier Predicted
Sacramento, CA—The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced today that water supplies from the State Water Project have been reduced to 50% from 60% due to this winter’s dry conditions. Last year’s abnormally wet conditions allowed for a higher projection earlier this year because of healthy amounts of water already in the state’s reservoirs.
However California simply has not received enough precipitation so far this year to sustain a 60% allocation. DWR rarely lowers allocation projections. In fact, the last time allocations were reduced was in 2001.
Each year, DWR provides water agencies with periodic estimates of how much water they will receive from the State Water Project during the year ahead. The estimate is quantified as a percentage of the amount of water the water agencies have available to them under their contracts with the state. Water agencies rarely receive 100% of their allocation. Regardless though of how much is actually delivered, State Water Project contractors are required to pay for 100% of the amount of water included in their contracts.
“While the state plans and predicts as best possible, the fact is we just can’t know for sure how much snow and rain each winter will bring,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. “We see these wild swings in precipitation from year-to-year sometimes, and it shows us how necessary it is for water agencies to receive ample deliveries during wet years and save it for dry years—the only way that can happen is if we build a more reliable conveyance system.”
California’s water supply outlook is notoriously tenuous. Even in extremely wet years, deliveries have been limited due to environmental conditions and ongoing litigation over regulatory restrictions. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) has proved to be a highly unreliable pathway for much of the state’s water supply. In an effort to establish a more reliable system that simultaneously supports environmental goals of protecting fish species and providing reliable water supplies, public water agencies have been working with the state and federal governments alongside environmental groups and other stakeholders in a process called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The BDCP is a comprehensive habitat conservation plan that would ultimately pair reliable conveyance with significant environmental actions in and around the Delta.
For more information on the state’s water conditions, please visit www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/. For more information on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, please visit http://www.swc.org/issues/delta-disrupted or www.baydeltaconservationplan.com.